Little Mell Fell and Great Mell Fell

Wainwright is a tad harsh about these two discrete fells, which rise to the north of much of the Lake District. Okay, they are modest and easy heights, but impressive in their way – and there to be enjoyed and not rushed.

Great Mell Fell Summit

If Little and Great Mell Fell were in some other area, apart from the surrounding majesty of the Lake District mountains, folk would be queuing up to climb them.

Little Mell Fell Summit

And they are easy. I see, occasionally, requests from people wanting easy Lakeland fells to climb as they set out on their exploration of the Wainwrights. Both of the Mell Fells would come into that category.

Great Mell Fell

So easy and so obvious, that we had not gone up them until yesterday. Driven past. Walked nearby. Admired from a distance. Glanced at as we drove along the A66. Yep, we’d done all of those. Everything but been up them. So fancying an easy morning and with the weather ideal for views, we set out.

Little Mell Fell

Wainwright says you can get up Little Mell Fell in 15 minutes. It took us 18 minutes, though I’m twenty years older than AW when he wrote them up for his book The Eastern Fells. The path is steeper than I’d imagined, but the journey short.

Track to Great Mell Fell

The top is a delight, with far-ranging views over Ullswater and the northern Lakeland fells, then down to the Helvellyn range, of which the Mells are distant outliers. Then over Penrith to the North Pennines. And all to the accompaniment of soaring skylarks.

We were down again in about ten minutes.

On a lane between the two fells we came across a great many rabbits, and had a clear view of a young fox. Rather lovely countryside too, with a host of interesting paths.

Trees of Great Mell Fell

The ascent of Great Mell Fell begins on an ancient trackway, then climbs on a clear and winding path, clustered with trees much of the way. Wainwright talks of bleached old trees close to the summit, and many are still there, suggesting that this great round hill was much more wooded in the past than it is now.

Bleached Trees

In Wainwright’s day, Great Mell Fell was a War Department firing range. Happily it is now free. Perhaps the Ministry of Defence could do a land audit and set free some other firing ranges, particularly in National Parks.

Foxgloves

The view from the top is wonderful and makes the half-hour climb well worthwhile.

Ringlet Butterfly

On the descent we got a good view of a Ringlet Butterfly and a crest of rocks covered in thyme. Those little extras that make any walk even more worthwhile.

Thyme

So please don’t write off those modest Wainwright heights. They can be a delight.

Text and pictures (c) J and A Bainbridge

By John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

14 comments

  1. I’ve always liked Great Mell Fell but don’t think I ever found the correct way up it – once I bashed up through trees and undergrowth from the track you show (maybe I didn’t follow it far enough?) and another time I can’t remember any path going up but found a path on the corner of the fell coming down (the corner facing Gowbarrow). I love the trees on the fell, especially the blasted, leaning trees near the summit.

    I think there’s still a rifle range on the back of Great Mell Fell isn’t there (the A66 side)?

    I never really liked Little Mell Fell as a walk – but the view from the summit is superb – better than Great Mell I think.

    Did you find them okay to park for or did you just set off really early?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We parked okay, but we were early. From the road, up the track and take the SECOND gate on the right. A very clear path to the top. I think the rifle range packed up a while ago.

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      1. Did you go right or left along the track when you left the road? I thought it went both ways. I think the first time, when I bashed up through trees and undergrowth, I’d gone right for quite a way. The time we came back down the corner of the fell facing Gowbarrow, we ended up coming back along the branch of the track which goes left from the gate

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      2. No, the track from the usual car parking space only goes in one direction, leftwards along the foot of the fell. Then you take the 2nd gate on the right.

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  2. Fantastic views of Blencathra from Great Mell Fell if I remember correctly. You picked a perfect time of year to do it, the foxgloves and thyme carpeted rocks are wonderful—great swathes coffee purple.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Climbed Great Mell in a pea souper so saw nothing from the summit pf that one. Little Mell has some great views across to Hallin Fell. Nice shot of the Ringlet as well

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