Blencathra and the Mungrisdale Round.
beautiful autumnal day. Mist in the valleys, stillness
on the lakes and the prospect of sun on high.
had suggested a circuit of Bowscale Fell / Bannerdale
Crags / Souther Fell from Mungrisdale (north-east of
Keswick) - about 6 miles and 2500 feet of ascent. I
couldn't understand why anyone would do this without
taking in Blencathra until I realised that this wasn't
needed to be ticked off on Bryan's second time round
the Wainwrights. Nevertheless he was happy to include
parking at Mungrisdale, Bryan and Stan offered Tony
and me a choice- easy route or scenic route. We
chose the latter. The walk started gently enough
as we strolled through Mungrisdale, disturbing a couple
of red squirrels on the way. But as we set about
the ascent of Raven Crag it was clearly a very steep
start to the day. It made Nab Scar seem like a
minor training exercise in comparison. However
the benefit was that we got much of the hard work over
early and could enjoy the much gentler slopes (and boggy
paths) of Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags (and the
precipitous drops from the latter).
Tarn from Bowscale Fell
The path to Bannerdale Crags , Blencathra
was taken on the lee side of the watershed between Blackhazel
Beck and River Glendermackin, earlier than some would
like but Tony was getting desperate! For me, it
served to stiffen up my legs and made the steep ascent
of Foule Crag rather an effort. Not so for Stan
however- he bounded up. He later confessed that
he had a group of three walkers in his sights and was
determined to reel them in until he realised that one
was wearing lycra and running shoes and Stan was perhaps
not quite the man he was. Geriatric was a word
he had used about himself quite a lot in the car!
Edge and Scales Tarn
we neared the summit of Blencathra we had a good view
of quite a number of people on Sharp Edge- some making
heavy weather of it, others moving freely. It
is definitely not a route I want to attempt- far too
much exposure for my liking.
on top I made to take the team picture but was told
this was not the summit but the higher point we could
see in the distance was the actual peak. We duly
made our way along and I took the team picture whilst
Stan and Bryan were pointing out the spectacular ridges
down from the top to the south.
Knee Wreckers Ridge
picture not on top of Blencathra
this point a debate erupted as to whether this in fact
was the top or the previous peak, which now looked the
higher. This was no mere academic exercise- our
route off depended on identifying exactly where we were-
there was no way I wanted to go down "Knee Wrecker's
Ridge", never mind Sharp Edge. Map consultation
was indecisive so for the first time this year the GPS
came out and served its purpose, proving beyond all
doubt that our first summit had been the true top. We
made our way back, the GPS confirming it as 50 feet
higher (although the other did still look deceptively
superior) so a second team picture was taken.
picture on top of Blencathra
deceptive false top of Blencathra
route down was a motorway to Scales Fell, stopping part
way for our second lunch. Shortly after restarting
we had the ignominy of being passed by five men ranging
in age from youths to fit looking 40 somethings. This
obviously rankled with Stan, as it did with me, so when
we started to climb again up to Souther Fell and we
noticed that some of them were starting to flag- yes,
you know what happened- the stride lengthened and they
had to be reeled in. Reeled in they were, but
the problem with that is that you cannot let them re-pass.
Souter Fell turned out to be a rather longer and
false summitted ridge than we anticipated so the pressure
had to be kept up until we had put adequate distance
between us and them to prevent the re-pass. Unfortunately
this meant not being able to wait for Tony and Bryan,
much more sensible individuals who don't seem to have
this "they shall not pass" mentality.
route back to Scales Fell
Blencathra from Souther Fell
it turned out, that cost them at around a mile. The
map had indicated that we would need to come off the
right hand side of the ridge down to an unfenced road,
but the path on the ground marched right on to the end
of the ridge. As we came down there was a sign
directing us back to the south but on reaching the wall
it was not clear which way to go. We opted for
the direct approach to Mungrisdale. Fortunately
we saw a consultant with whom we had chatted briefly
on Bannerdale Crags who did what consultants always
do- he told us we were heading in the wrong direction!
So we did what one should always do with consultant's
advice- listen politely to it and then do something
different again- we climbed the wall and headed straight
across the field to the road, ignoring the fact that
there were two houses there, obviously occupied and
with the potential to turn the dogs on us. No
such problem and back to the car within five minutes.
minutes later, when Bryan and Tony had not turned up
and there being no phone signal by which to make contact,
I set out on a mini search for them (first checking
the pub). Then I saw them strolling along the
road. They had found a sign telling them to head
south until the wall met the road and they had been
good boys and done what they were asked.
late now, sadly, for a pint, we had to make our way
was my first time on Blencathra and it is splendid fell.
Not particularly for its distant views (although
we could see virtually the whole length of our Queen's
Head to Queen's Head walk (BB0617)), but for the structure
of its ridges and valleys. I am so glad we did
it in fine weather and by possibly the least exciting
13th October 2006
miles (Stan & Don) plus multiple zig
Fell, Bannedale Crags, Blencathra, Souther
Two red squirrels and
a circling raven.
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