Blencathra & Neighbours

22nd June 2024

It's been almost two months since the trio were last together, with Michael joining the gang today brought the numbers up to four, Calva, Five. With the forecast going up and down like a yo-yo, we left it until Thursday to check if our pre-planned walk up High Cup Nick was good to go. The forecast was changeable but remaining dry, with the best of the brightness being over the northern lakes, but we could cope with that, so after arranging to car share with David from Brougham Castle, the plan was to meet Rod and Michael in the village of Dufton at 7:30am.

It was a cloudy start, and by the time I'd reached junction 39 of the M6 I had a clear view of the North Pennines, all of which were blanketed by cloud down to their lowest slopes. Jeez,  it wasn't looking good. After collecting David and Calva, it took us about a quarter of an hour to reach Dufton, by which time it had started to rain. Double drat! Rod and Michael arrived at the arranged meeting time of 7:30am and our chances of climbing High Cup Nick had gone from bleak to grim. Before leaving the M6 at Penrith, I could see the promised brightness developing over northern Lakeland, which David confirmed once I'd picked him up. There was only David, who had walked High Cup previously, and despite us all looking forward to the walk, we decided to call it off and head back to the Lakes, Mungrisdale being the closest starting point for a 'make-it-up as we went along walk' over Blencathra and its neighbours.

Wainwright Guide Book Five
The Northern Fells
On the evening of Midsummers Day 1745, a line of marching troops, cavalry and even carriages was seen travelling along the summit ridge of Souther Fell. The ground over which they appeared to move was known to be too steep for such transport, but the procession continued unabated for some hours until night fell, constantly appearing at one end of the ridge and disappearing at the other.

Ascent: 2,818 Feet - 858 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Bowscale Fell - Mungrisdale Common - Blencathra - Souther Fell
Visiting: 2, Atkinson Pike - Scales Fell
Weather: Sunshine & High Level Cloud. Feeling Cool Where Exposed. Highs of 19°C Lows of 11°C
Parking: Mungrisdale Village
Area: Northern
Miles: 9.8
Walking With: David Hall, Rod Hepplewhite, Michael Cox & Calva
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 5 Hours 35 Minutes
Route: Mungrisdale - Bannerdale - Bowscale Fell - Glenderamackin Col - Mungrisdale Common - Atkinson Pike - Blencathra - Scales Fell - Top of Mousthwaite Comb - Souther Fell - Low Beckside - Mungrisdale

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA11 0XR
Grid Reference: NY 364 730
Notes: The village of Mungrisdale is quite a small village with limited parking. The lower right arrow points towards a grass verge on the left prior to entering the village with room for around five cars, parking here is free. The lower left arrow points towards the Mill Inn which has a car park to the rear and is for guests only. The upper right arrow is the main car park in the village which is found opposite the village hall where a sign advises users to use the honesty box outside the village hall. The upper left arrow points towards street parking found at the northern edge of the village, to locate, turn left once the red phone box is reached.


Map and Photo Gallery


Bowscale Fell East ridge from Mungrisdale 8:10am 9°C
While I drove back to Brougham Castle to collect David's car, Rod and Michael went ahead and were kitting up by the time we arrived in Mungrisdale about five minutes later. The contrast of weather between thirty miles apart was remarkable, resulting in warm sunshine allbeit, a tad cloudy in parts. It was too warm to add soft-shell jackets, so I added my trusted Rab hoodie over a technical T and shorts while Rod pulled his legendary Paramo wind-proof smock on which he said was nearing fifteen years old. David was impressed having not seen one in years that he was going to check if they were still available and, if so, get one for himself. Mungrisdale was quiet, and once kitted up, we left the layby with room for at least three more cars. 

Bannerdale View Cottage, Mungrisdale.
We sort of had a plan on where to walk considering Bannerdale Crags East ridge before we all agreed gaining it, would be too wet and boggy along the banks of the River Glenderamackin so we opted for the diagnal path on the Bannerdale side of The Tongue which is the fell you can see directly behind the cottage.

Bannerdale Crags East Ridge, Bannerdale Crags and The Tongue.
Still not quite believing how sunny it was we left Mungrisdale behind for Bannerdale where we were treated to fantastic views of The Tongue ahead.

Bullfell Beck.
Any grey cloud had now made way for blue skies and sunshine as we passed over the stone slabs and crossed Bullfell Beck by the familier footbridge. The area of lowland to the left is Bullfell Beck seen here over a sea of bracken.

Bannerdale Crags East Ridge and Bannerdale Crags.
The path rises slightly under the nose of The Tongue from where we were treated to fabulous views of Bannerdale Crags east ridge. Not seen in the photo are a large group of walkers who we would later pass during our descent of Bowscale Fell.

Flanking The Tongue with views in Bannerdale below.
Top tip , don't do as Rod and I did (on separate occasions) and leave the path up ahead thinking Bowscale Fell summit is just over your right shoulder, it isn't, it's a steep pathless drudge all the way to the summit. Do as we did today and follow the path all the way to the head of the valley.

Views back down the path towards Souther Fell.
With a little height gained the North Pennines came into view beyond Souther Fell which were still below cloud, we all agreed we'd definitely made the right choice.

Bannerdale Crags, Atkinson Pike and Blencathra come into view.
Seen here as we gain the head of the Bannerdale Valley. From here we head right towards Bowscale Fell.

High Pike (Caldbeck) and Carrock Fell from Bowscale Fell.
With just 150ft of ascent to reach Bowscale Fell we reached the summit within minutes at the same time as two young lads who were just about to leave.

Blencathra, and a change of plan.

We hung around Bowscale Fell summit for a few minutes until the cool wind got the better of us. We began our descent and while Michael added a base layer it dawned on me that I hadn't visited Mungrisdale Common in years, four to be exact so I asked the lads instead of looping around to Bannerdale Crags why don't we head for Mungrisdale Common instead, needless to say they didn't need asking twice.

Just in case your unaware Mungrisdale Common sits on the grassy northern slopes of Blencathra, I don't think Wainwright was a big fan describing it as unappealing and not to mention boggy but if you're a fan of wide open spaces as we are then Mungrisdale Common is just the fell for you.

Sharp Edge, Foule Crag and Atkinson Pike.
Seen from the Glenderamackin Col, it's here we head right for Mungrisdale Common.

Views over Blackhazel Beck...
...towards Pike, Knott, High Pike and Coomb Height.

Atkinson Pike on Blencathra from Mungrisdale Common.
With the scree slope of Blue Screes earning its namesake in the morning sunshine.

Calva in front of Great Calva.
Calva looking mighty proud of the mountain he was named after.

Heading for Atkinson Pike.
Mungrisdale Common was in fact the busiest we'd ever seen it passing a couple of solo walkers who had just left and joining half a dozen who arrived at its summit the same time as we did. After a quick chat the group left in the direction we had come leaving us with a few moments of the summit to ourselves. By now our boots had been treated to the famous Lakeland Olympic sport of bog hopping and with more trails ahead we were looking forward to reaching the steep scree zigzags below Atkinson Pike summit.

Bakestall, Great Calva and Knott as we look back on Mungrisdale Common.
With a little height gained we left the bogs behind for firmer ground before we reached the base of the zigzags.

Lonscale Fell and the Skiddaw Massif.

Looking back on Blencathra's saddle towards Atkinson Pike.
With the base of the of the zigzags reached we took in a quick breather before beginning our ascent; gaining Atkinson Pike in less than ten minutes. After another breather we walked the saddle all aware that Blencathra's summit was packed with around thirty plus people some that we would later discover were unaware they were on the summit because there was no trig column, the circular trig point was soon pointed out by other walkers. While myself, Rod and Michael head for a quick nosey, David and Calva hang back.

Peering down on Doddick Fell top and Scales Fell from Blencathra summit.
I hadn't seen the long line of folk who sat from the circular trig point all the way to the top of Hall's Fell Ridge, it was more like thirty plus now and after a quick photo it was time to leave.


Splendid views towards the Eastern and Central fells seen here over the Hall's Fell Ridge.
With Thirlmere see in the centre of the photo.

Sharp Edge.

Cloud was building as we began our descent towards Scales Fell while taking in the views down the Doddick Ridge. By the time the sun re-appeared we had missed the views over Scales Tarn where we could see a wild camp had been set up. Sharp Edge was looking busy but not as busy as I'd thought although with that said, there were a few heading up from the tarn.

We stopped to watch a trio who had traversed Sharp Edge who had strayed too far left on Foule Crag and found themselves above the grass square you see on in the photo. Realising there was no way up (just the one way down!) they tracked back and centralised their ascent on the rock wall.

Looking back on the Doddick Ridge, Doddick Fell Top, Hall's Fell Ridge and Halls Fell Top (Blencathra summit)
With Sharp Edge seen to the far right from Scales Fell.

Souther Fell seen over Mousthwaite Comb.
Back in the sunshine now we began our descent from Scales Fell while looking forward to a refuel on Souther Fell.

Blencathra and Sharp Edge from the top of Mousthwaite Comb.
We crossed the top of Mousthwaite Comb in hot sunshine and while the lads de-layered again I kept my hoodie on telling myself I'd remove it after lunch.

The view back to Scales Fell and Blencathra with the River Glenderamackin below and White Horse Bent seen right.
We passed a few people in ascent and a few more as we crossed the top of Mousthwaite Comb. Compared to Blencathra's summit this side of the fell was relatively quiet.

Bannerdale Crags East Ridge, Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell seen from the Shepherd's Cairn on Souther Fell.
After four and a half hours on the go it was time for lunch at the Shepherd's Cairn. Despite visiting Souther Fell recently I rarely make the short excursion to the cairn and had forgotten how great the views are from here.

Souther Fell bound.
With lunch packed up we all groaned to a standing position and linked back up with the summit path under hot afternoon sunshine.

Blencathra and Bannerdale Crags from Souther Fell summit.
The walk was starting to feel like a ten miler but because we'd made it up as we went along we guessed it 'about ten mile' turns out we were 0.2 of a mile out.

Great Mell Fell with Little Mell Fell beyond.

After a few moments spent at the cairn, we immediately began our descent by dropping from the summit pathless from where we'd link back up with the diagonal path on the east slope. You can't see the path; it's the line of bracken that gives it away which will descend us gently all the way back to Mungrisdale. It was much hotter now, and I complained probably much to the anoyance of Michael that I was overheating after forgetting to remove my hoodie back at the Shepherds Cairn, as had David, but he stopped where I was to stubborn too, insisting that I was too close to the car. 

Because of this, the sun glared down on me, and thankfully, by the time we had reached the old road below, we were met by a breeze, so I could at least unzip my hoodie and let the air flow around my body. We hooked a right and passed through sun-speckled woodland before crossing the Glenderamackin for the last time. Our cars were now in sight, as were half a dozen others yet despite this, Mungrisdale kept its queitidude with the exception of an old tractor that chugged away on the opposite side of the river bank.


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