BB0627 Blencathra and the Mungrisdale Round.

13th October 2006

Another beautiful autumnal day.  Mist in the valleys, stillness on the lakes and the prospect of sun on high.

Bryan 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 it.

On 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).

Bowscale Tarn from Bowscale Fell

The path to Bannerdale Crags , Blencathra behind

Lunch 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!


Sharp Edge and Scales Tarn

As 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.

Once 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

Team  picture not on top of Blencathra

At 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.

Team  picture on top of Blencathra

The deceptive false top of Blencathra

The 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.


The route back to Scales Fell

Blencathra from Souther Fell

As 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.

Twenty 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.

Too late now, sadly, for a pint, we had to make our way home.

This 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 of routes!

Don, 13th October 2006


9.9 miles (Stan & Don) plus multiple zig zags

Height climbed:
3,327 feet

Map reference:
See Map

Bowscale Fell, Bannedale Crags, Blencathra, Souther Fell 

Wildlife count:  
Two red squirrels and a circling raven.


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Slipper Strolls:



  • BB0631  Coppermines
  • BB0630  Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
  • BB0629  Stone Arthur and a Mystery Plume
  • BB0628  Knocking off Wainwrights.  Oh! Plus Skiddaw!
  • BB0627  Blencathra and the Mungrisdale Round
  • BB0626  The Deepdale Round
  • BB0625  Les Garçons de la Botte
  • BB0624  The Crookdale Horseshoe and then some
  • BB0623  Selside Pike revisited
  • BB0622  Round the Dunny!
  • BB0621  The Malham Experience
  • BB0620  Newlands Horseshoe
  • BB0619  Old Man Succumbs!
  • BB0618  Kentmere Horseshoe
  • BB0617 QH2QH High Street (the length thereof)
  • BB0616 Thornthwaite Beacon
  • BB0615  Fairfield Horseshoe
  • BB0614  High Street Racecourse
  • BB0613 The Coledale Round
  • BB0612  Well, Well, Well, Wansfell and Troutbeck Tongue      
  • BB0611  Carlin Gill
  • BB0610  Whitbarrow, Yewbarrow and a history lesson
  • BB0609  Clough Head and Great Dodd
  • BB0608  The Corpse Road and beyond
  • BB0607  Grim Fell!
  • BB0606  A Bit on the Side.....
  • BB0605  Angle Tarn with Surprises! 
  • BB0604  Hart Cragg via Dovedale
  • BB0603  Islands in the Sky with Brocken Spectres
    (or High Street via Gardiner's Grind)
  • BB0602  Holme Fell, Black Fell and Electric  Eyes
  • BB0601  Ingleborough
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