We hadn’t intended going up Blencathra at all. We were just going to have a little walk out from Mungrisedale to Mungrisdale Common, that long bowl of fell that Wainwright despised so much.
But it was a glorious warm day as we came to the Glenderamackin – and there’s a mouthful for a beck. Apologies to the chap we disturbed skinny-dipping, amazed there was enough water after these weeks without rain. Even the very vocal cuckoo above Mungrisedale seemed to be urging us on.
And it all looked so splendid as we climbed the long track up the side of The Tongue, with its great views across to Bannerdale Crags. We never see that rocky cliff without thinking of the miners of old times who worked its interior.
So we came past Bannerdale Crags and saw the wonderful rocky slopes of Blencathra ahead – Foule Crag and Atkinson Pike. And it was, as I’ve said, a beautiful day, so it would have been awful not to go up.
We crossed the Glendaramackin Col and went up the rocky slope – and, while they might have been queueing up on the south side of Blencathra, they certainly weren’t on this lovely line of ascent. We chatted to just one fell-runner and saw another in the far distance. I just hate queuing!
The Foule Crag route is actually quite an easy way up Blencathra, with enough dramatic scenery to make it worthwhile. It took us very little time to get to the top. And there were a few dozen folk on the top who had come up the more conventional ways. But all nicely spaced out.
So next time you do this grand mountain, I commend the back-door route to you.
We wandered up and down the ridge, looking down on Naddle Fell, where we wandered the other day. It looked positively flat from this great height.
And such superb views across northern Lakeland and the Forest of Skiddaw. And the whole long line of the Solway, with the much-missed Scottish hills beyond. We watched, for a time, the long procession struggling up Sharp Edge.
It was hard to tear ourselves away, as we made our way below Atkinson Pike and across Mungrisedale Common.
For anyone who hasn’t been there, its like one of those broad and relatively flat bits of southern Dartmoor. Not dramatic, but nowhere near as bad as Wainwright makes out in The Northern Fells. There are lovely views over to Skiddaw and back down to Derwent Water.
Wainwright writes it off as all bog and peat-hag and advises that you don’t even bother to go there. A bit unfair! And when Lakeland walkers claim something as a bog, I’m always tempted to remark “come down to Dartmoor and I’ll show you what a bloody bog looks like!”
We strolled back to the Glenderamackin Col and returned much the way we had come via Bannerdale Crags.
A memorable day out on the fells, all the more special because so much of it was unplanned.
A nice bit of stravaiging.
(c) Text and Pictures J and A Bainbridge