Blencathra and Mungrisdale Common

Walk date – 21st September 2020

Distance – 7 miles

Weather – warm and sunny, very hazy, thin cloud, slight breeze but windy on summit


Good weather is still with us so J chose Blencathra via Blease Fell as our destination for today’s walk. Its four years since we were last on Blencathra so a return visit was well overdue. My long standing back problem has been niggling away at me recently, not quite as severely as in the past but enough to let me know it hasn’t really gone away and just enough to be a bit of a hindrance on a very warm and steepish climb. No matter, the good weather is coming to an end apparently so a bit of a rest period will do things a world of good, hopefully!


Parking area above Blencathra Centre – Blease Fell – Knowe Crags – Gategill  Fell summit – Hall’s Fell summit – Atkinson Pike – Mungrisdale Common – Cumbria Way – Parking area above Blencathra Centre

Latrigg and some of the north western fells as we climb the path from the parking area. With the sun to our backs and hardly any breeze we know its going to be a shiny face walk up Blease Fell.

Lonscale Fell comes into view. Odd clumps of cloud occasionally materalise and then vanish just as quickly. A solitary sheep notes our presence as we appear above the rise.

Looking beyond Latrigg to the north western fells again. Most have blended one with another in the haze but Grisedale Pike, the pointed peak on the right skyline, is distinctive enough. So too are Causey Pike, Sail and Crag Hill over to the left.

Looking across St John’s in the Vale towards Bleaberry Fell, beyond which a very extensive cloud inversion seems to be taking place.

From the cairn just below the start of the zig-zag path I took another look back to see how the inversion was progressing. It seemed to be increasing in volume with even the high fell tops gradually becoming enveloped.

The view back down the zig-zags as we pause to wipe very moist faces.

Another look back to check the inversion, which grew to such an extent that, with the exception of Cat Bells, it eventually covered the tops of all the fells beyond Derwentwater. There was nothing at all happening where we were although …..

….. as we topped out on Blease Fell it suddenly turned very cold and very windy. As can be seen in the shot a thin bank of mist also began rising up from the A66 side, it never amounted to much though and within minutes it had vanished. The cool wind remained though so on went our windproof jackets and we swapped shiny faces for streaming eyes and runny noses.

The same sort of thing happened over the Skiddaw massif too, so thanks to some meteorological quirk the northern fells were never overwhelmed by the inversion.

As we walked over towards Gategill Fell summit we could see that over to the west, beyond Great Calva, the same thing had been taking place although by now the inversion over there was starting to break and disappear.

Only a couple wisps of cloud remain over the Skiddaw fells now and they remained clear for the rest of our walk.

Approaching the top of Gategill Fell …..

….. and a look back at Blease Fell as we walked across.

Part of Gategill Fell’s ridge.

From Gategill Fell top a look ahead towards Hall’s Fell and the summit of Blencathra. On the skyline is the dark hump of Cross Fell and front and right of it is part of the cloud inverson which has now crept along the Eden Valley. That’s where we live and when we left home earlier there wasn’t a trace of mist, fog or cloud anywhere to be seen.

The Hall’s Fell ridge up to the summit.

Looking ahead towards the summit with Atkinson Pike just visible behind it to the left. As you can see there weren’t many walkers around today.

Looking back to Gategill Fell top. The inversion seems to be decreasing as more fell tops start to reappear.

Looking across Mungrisdale Common towards Knott and High Pike.

View of the Gategill Fell ridge from Blencathra’s summit.

Also from the summit area a look back along the ridge we’ve just walked over.

From the summit the view down towards Doddick, Scales and Souther Fells. The inversion still lingers in the Eden Valley.

The replacement trig ring, only installed in April 2019, is already damaged. The loose stone beside it is not the broken off part. The roses placed inside the ring marked the very recent dispersal of someone’s ashes all across the outcrop next to it. I can understand the desire to respect someone’s last wishes but perhaps somewhere a little less busy would have been a better idea. As it was, when walkers arrived at the summit they were naturally looking at the views, not looking at what was under their feet. Perhaps those who placed the ashes there hadn’t fully considered what would happen, but a little bit of foresight might have made them realise that several pairs of boots unwittingly treading across them might not be the best way to respect their loved one’s memory. It was sad to witness; a quieter spot just a little off the beaten track would have been so much better and a lot more respectful.

Gategill Fell ridge from the summit.

The Doddick Fell ridge.

We left the summit via the path to Sharp Edge in search of a couple of views of Scales Tarn. Bannerdale Crags is across the middle foreground, sandwiched between Souther Fell, behind it, and Scales Fell, in front of it. A lone walker is on the path below us making his way up to the summit from Sharp Edge.

The inversion clings on in the Eden Valley as we make our way down.

Looking towards the nameless tarn on The Saddle and Atkinson Pike beyond it as we make our way down the path.

A glimpse of Scales Tarn way below us …..

….. with a much better view  of it a little further along the path.

Before leaving the path a look ahead for this view of Sharp Edge.

Atkinson Pike from the white cross on The Saddle.

On Atkinson Pike now and directly opposite we have Bannerdale Crags leading over to Bowscale Fell and Carrock Fell on the skyline behind.

The Skiddaw group from our descent via the slip-slidy Blue Screes path. An early lunch break was taken in the nearby shelter as we reached the bottom of it.

An enjoyable, if slightly squelchy, tramp across Mungrisdale Common.

Carrock Fell and Bowscale Fell from the cairn on the Common.

Looking back to Foule Crag as we leave the cairn and head south east to join the Cumbria Way path along the Glenderaterra Valley. The greyish area just to the right of Foule Crag is the Blue Screes area we have just descended.

A short stop by the old cairn on the way down to remove the windproofs followd by a very sunny, but dampish, tramp across the moorland …..

….. towards the Glenderaterra Valley. We crossed Sinen Gill and then squelched our way over the eternally wet ground in that area before reaching the drier ground further down.

Almost down into the valley now which gives us this fabulous view of Lonscale Fell. A little further down we joined the Cumbria Way, part of which can be seen towards the right of the shot.

On the Cumbria Way path now and crossing Roughten Gill and …..

….. then a little further along another gill crossing which has some lovely waterfalls but doesn’t appear to have a name.

Great Calva peeping up above the head of the valley and its lovely autumnal colours .

 Its been a very warm and sunny descent but we’re on the homeward straight and the parking area isn’t too far away now. Walla Crag and Bleaberry Fell fill the centre of the shot.

The heat haze is obliterating almost everything beyond Latrigg and the woodlands around it.

As Clough Head, the Dodds and the Helvellyn group come into view we know that the parking area is just around the corner so our walk is almost over. Its been grand to go over Blencathra again, especially as we haven’t been up there since 2016, and to do so in really favourable weather just made it all that more enjoyable. And finally, in keeping with the hiking theme …..

….. or if you prefer a nautical version …..