Walk Date – 9th October 2016
Distance – 7.4 miles
Weather – warm sunny spells with lots of cloud
The view back down the path as we start out for Blencathra via Blease Fell, and wait for the GPS to ‘find’ us. Maybe we should look up and wave at the satellite!
The satellite having registered our presence on the planet we continue on up the slopes of Blease Fell. The sun is very bright but there is a lot of cloud around so the camera will have a bit of a struggle today. The view behind us at the moment is of Clough Head, the Dodds and the Helvellyn range.
Another look back toward the north western fells from further along the path, with just a hint of Derwentwater showing below them. The bracken has really gone over now with only the odd stubborn bit of greenery remaining on it. It was very pleasant walking up here, the path is firm underfoot as it winds its way steadily up the fell, and we had a lengthy spell of sunshine as we climbed.
A view towards St John’s in the Vale as we stop to remove a layer. The little sliver of water to the left of centre is Tewit Tarn which is situated on the sunlit Low Rigg.
The grassy slopes of Latrigg are also bathed in sunshine but the vivid colours of summer have been replaced by the softer autumnal hues and tones.
We’re high enough now to have a good view of Lonscale Fell which we walked up on 1st August, just two months ago, on a much colder day than it is today.
The view ahead of us as we continue up the grassy slopes of Blease Fell with a constant stream of walkers coming down towards us. As you can see the path is easy to follow, the gradient isn’t too steep and there’s no scrambling to be done so its a good little route if you just want a sunny Sunday afternoon walk.
At the cairn the grassy path gives way to a laid track which begins to zig-zag its way up to the top of Blease Fell. We’re still meeting hordes of walkers making their way down. We, on the other hand, are the only ones going up which is a cheery thought as it means the summit ridge to Blencathra should be relatively quiet by the time we get there.
A group of walkers congregate at the cairn as we continue up the zig-zags.
Huge clouds billowing above us as we near the top and, although we still have some sunshine, I’m thinking it won’t be too much longer before we lose it for a while.
From the same spot as the previous photo I turn around for the view behind us with another couple of walkers about to disappear below the crest of the path. I don’t know how many walkers passed us as they made their way down, I reached the 40+ mark and then got distracted and forgot to count any more. They were in large groups, in threes, in twos and just solo walkers, there were so many it must have been like Blackpool promenade earlier in the day along the Blencathra ridge, so I was pleased we had waited until the afternoon before setting out.
Five minutes later and we have reached the ridge and are standing above Knowe Crags looking towards Gategill Fell top with the ridge path running up to it. In the distance the Pennines are looking in sombre mood.
We begin to walk across the ridge pausing every now and then to peer down into the steep ravines between the various ridges. This is looking down Blease Gill with the slopes of Gategill Fell alongside it. There is a path over Gategill Fell up to the summit ridge but as is obvious from the photo it is a very steep one, with the last section up to the top being particularly steep. Definitely not a route for a hot humid day or a very windy one either.
Having walked all the way up in warm sunshine, just as we set off to walk along the ridge along comes a big bank of cloud. That plunges the temperature a few degrees, which together with a breeze which has just made its presence felt, means that the jackets go back on again. However, the lower slopes below Skiddaw still have a patch of sunlight on them for the time being.
Splashes of sunlight here and there as we peer down into Blease Gill, but for the most part its looking decidedly gloomy as the clouds join forces.
A solitary walker making his way back over Knowe Crags to Blease Fell.
Still a few stragglers coming over Gategill Fell top as we approach it. We could have done with some of that valley sunshine up here because it quite nippy in the breeze and under the cloud.
High Pike seemed to be especially favoured today as it held on to this patch of sunlight as we walked the length of the ridge. It was particularly noticeable because everything else was in deep gloom and it was beginning to feel as though we’d seen the last of the sunshine for the day.
Things were no brighter beyond Gategill Fell and Derwentwater with everything reduced to a grey smudge.
We reach the summit of Blencathra which is right where the Hall’s Fell ridge path comes to an end, so I took a few steps forward for this view down the ridge.
From the summit and immediately below is the path coming up over Doddick Fell, behind which is Scales Fell. Behind and to the left of Scales Fell is White Horse Bent and behind that is Souther Fell. Over in the distance it looks as though Penrith is getting rained on.
We are still in the gloom at the circular trig point on Blencathra, notice the sunshine in the distance? Yes, its lucky little High Pike still enjoying its patch of sunshine. Oh come on, fair do’s and all that, so isn’t it time some of that came over here.
As the surrounding views were limited to what looked like blue-grey sludge, thanks to the intense gloom, we didn’t stay long on the summit and began making our way over to Atkinson Pike for the next part of our walk.
Here we’re crossing the saddle, the dip between the summit and Atkinson PIke, and passing by the tarn we made our way over to the path on the right so we could take a peek down Sharp Edge.
Here we are, at the point where the Sharp Edge path brings walkers, who have traversed the ridge down there on the left, out on to the safety of the grassy top of Foule Crag where they will no doubt pause to get their breath back and their heartbeat back to something like normal. Just below the rocks in the foreground is a very steep scramble, which is why there seems to be no obvious link between this point and the ridge on the left. While getting their breath back walkers/scramblers could also enjoy this view down to Scales Tarn, whilst offering up grateful thanks to the scrambling gods for not having dumped them into it on the way up.
From our diversion over to Foule Crag we made our way back over to Atkinson Pike and its rather untidy summit cairn. From here we’ll drop down and take the path down to the summit of Mungrisedale Common. I know that sounds a bit odd but you’ll see what I mean in a minute.
On the way down from Atkinson Pike and over to the right of us is the junction of paths leading to Bannerdale Crags if you took the right hand path, or Bowscale Fell if you took the left hand one. Its looking worryingly dark over the Pennines and those clouds are heading this way I think.
It was now getting on for half past three and I decided that it wasn’t going to get any warmer so I stopped to put my jacket back on again. This shot shows the path leading down to the summit of Mungrisedale Common, which is the large expanse of grass and moss stretching out in front of us.
A few minutes later and I was wishing I hadn’t bothered putting my jacket back on because the cloud which had hung over us all the way along the ridge suddenly shifted and we were back in hot sunshine again. The sun is behind me and is lighting up the grasses and the clouds quite beautifully, and the darkness of the landscape below the cloud only adds to the drama of it all.
A look back at our route as we descend from Blencathra to the summit of Mungrisedale Common.
Well, you can’t complain about the steepness in reaching the summit of this fell can you? Downhill over grassland all the way and, although it was a little squelchy in places, surprisingly dry today. Looking back at Blencathra from the cairn you can see that its another of those fells which has a tough front face but benign grassy back slopes. There wasn’t a soul to be seen in any direction so don’t walk around here if you like lots of company.
From the cairn a view of a sunlit Bowscale Fell silhouetted against the dark and threatening sky.
Still at the cairn and a little further to the left is High Pike, still getting more than its fair share of what sunshine was on offer today. Anyone walking over there would no doubt feel well pleased with their choice of fell today.
Right behind us is the Skiddaw range and over on the far left are the lower slopes of Lonscale Fell, and that’s the direction we will be heading towards in order to pick up the next path we need.
This little cairn, set atop a cluster of rocks amidst the blond grasses, was standing out nicely against the approaching clouds. Can we get back to the car before they reach us?
We’re dropping down alongside Sinen Gill now and will eventually meet up with the path you can see over there on the lower slopes of Blease Fell. I hope its still in sunshine when we get over there.
A derelict building below Blease Fell, it looked a bit too tall and small to be a sheepfold, but neither did it look tall enough to have been a building either, so what its purpose once was I can’t say.
We’re back on the laid path once again passing alongside yet another derelict building which does seem to have been turned into a sheepfold thanks to the rather rickety fence around it.
Making good progress as we cross Roughten Gill …..
….. and then this un-named gill with its attractive set of falls.
We’re on the homeward stretch of the walk now with a nice view of a sunlit St John’s in the Vale, and a rather gloomy view of the fells beyond. Just beyond the bend in the track along there is …..
….. Clough Head, now bathed in sunshine. At the end of the track just beside that group of trees is the car park so that’s the end of our walk for today. A bit less cloud and more of the sunshine would have helped improve the photographs, but we’ve had a good afternoon’s ramble in favourable weather and you can’t expect a whole lot more than that as autumn rolls on.