Walk date – 18th January 2023
Distance – 2.8 miles
Weather – dry, sunny, ferocious north westerly wind
We may have only walked quite a short distance today but by the time we got back to the car we were as ragged as if we had completed a ten miler. The forecast had mentioned that the north westerly wind speeds would be in the range of 25 – 35 mph and possibly higher occasionally. Thinking that lowly Souther Fell, at a little over 1700′, and being in the lee of the higher fells to the west of it, wouldn’t be too badly affected off we went. The off-road parking areas at Low Beckside were all available so parking up was no problem but once out of the car we knew we were in for a windy walk, just how windy we were as yet unaware. All the photos I took as we struggled across the summit plateau were taken in extremely high winds, so strong that I was amazed to find that the shaky scene I was seeing in the camera viewfinder did not appear on any of the photographs. All I can say is ten out of ten for the anti-shake feature on the camera because it most definitely was working overtime today.
Low Beckside – Souther Fell – Low Beckside
Bowscale Fell from our off-road parking area at Low Beckside farm. The road is too icy to cross just here so we walked over the snowy grass verge until we reached the ice free patch of road just up ahead. Having reached it we crossed over and followed the path down to the footbridge over the Glenderamackin river. With a zoom in it might just be possible to identify the signpost which indicates the start of the path.
There’s not much to be seen of the path thanks to the snow but there is one nevertheless. The ditch to the left was waterlogged as was the crossover point when we reached the bottom of the slope. After crossing the ditch we go through the handgate and make our way over to …..
….. the footbridge across the river. The wind had dropped as we walked the short distance to the bridge but it was only a temporary lull.
A view of Low Beckside farm from the other side of the bridge. From here we had a short walk up to the double gate which led us out onto the back access road which begins behind the Mill Inn at Mungrisedale and terminates at Scales.
Low Beckside farm as we leave the back road and begin the climb up to the path we will be using today. A zoom in will show where we were parked, on the other side of the wall to the red slurry wagon. We could hear the slurry wagon being filled when we got out of the car.
The back road, on the left, continues on towards Scales, we take the snowy path rising up towards the right of the shot and begin the climb up the eastern slopes of Souther Fell.
Little and Great Mell Fells across the snowy fields of Mungrisedale as we climb the equally snowy path.
A little further on, when we stop for a breather, we notice that the farm buildings are about to disappear from view. Apart from the gusty wind along here its a beautiful morning, blue skies and sunshine with just a light patchwork of cloud here and there.
Looking ahead as the path climbs steadily. This is the first really snowy walk we’ve done since last winter but fortunately the path has already had quite a few people walk over it so its well compacted and we are spared the hard work of breaking untrodden snow. Despite that the gusty wind is now right in our faces making the climb much harder than it would have otherwise been. Eventually we reach the path junction and bear off right to climb the last few feet up to the little col between the slightly lower south top of the fell and the actual summit. That right turn brought us up to the col and straight into the full force of the wind …..
….. where I could barely stand up to take this shot towards Bannerdale Crags. I was intending to walk across and get a little closer but the extreme wind put paid to that idea. Before starting this report I had a look at the fell top assessor’s report for this day and noted with some surprise that he had recorded a maximum wind speed of 22.2 mph at 1.00 pm on Helvellyn summit, that the average wind speed up there was 9.5 mph and no indication that the wind was making walking difficult. However, given that we were back in the car by 1.00 pm when he took his reading it may be that the wind speed had dropped considerably by then as it often does during the afternoon. It was most definitely much more than that up here this morning.
The east ridge of Bannerdale Crags on the left and the long sweep across the crags over to Bowscale Fell. It just wasn’t possible to stand around, look for good camera angles and compose a decent shot so the photographs taken from the summit plateau were a matter of point, click and hope for the best. J did a sterling job of standing behind me and holding onto my pack straps to stop me from being blown over. That also applies to the rest of the shots taken along the plateau.
On the left is the snow covered summit of Bowscale Fell and to the right is the slightly lower east top. If the winds were so extreme along here what must things have been like up there.
Looking back across the little col towards the south top where once again there wasn’t a soul in sight. Well, not everyone is as daft as us I suppose. With a zoom in you might be able to spot the little cairn situated over there on the right.
A big lump of cloud obscuring today’s view of Great Dodd and Clough Head.
The very top of Blencathra is covered with cloud but Atkinson Pike has managed to put in an appearance behind Bannerdale Crags. Surely no-one has attempted Sharp Edge today. J didn’t have the anemometer with him for an exact reading but we estimated that the wind speed across here was well in excess of 30 mph.
Another look back towards the south top as the cloud moves along and lets the sunlight through.
A zoom in on the east ridge of Bannerdale Crags with Atkinson Pike still clear of the cloud which continually smothered Blencathra while we were up here.
Icy pools here …..
….. there and everywhere. This is the end of a particularly long stretch which straddled the path. Not trusting the ice to hold we diverted around it. Towards the upper right of the shot is Cross Fell and its near neighbours, all with a good covering of snow. As we picked up the path again heading for the summit I noticed two large shadows moving in front of us and turned around to see two tall fellows in winter running gear running up behind us. They gave us a quick hello as they passed, had a brief pause at the scrape of rock marking the summit area and then went on their way complete with ice axes strapped to their backs. How they were able to run in such extreme winds and without getting blown over baffled me, we were having a battle to even walk in a straight line plus walking poles to provide at least a little stability. You have to hand it to fell runners as hardy as these two were.
The Tongue and the path alongside it leading up to the top of Bowscale Fell. Its only just over a month ago that we were walking down that path during the very frosty period we had in early December 2022.
Another look across over towards Bannerdale …..
….. followed by a look down at the many paths below The Tongue and Bowscale Fell. The one directly below the slopes of Bowscale Fell is the one alongside Bullfell Beck which we used on our 7th Dec 2022 walk up to Bowscale Fell summit.
We dropped down into this little hollow for some respite from the wind so I took the above shot while we got ourselves together again. We had linked arms all the way along the plateau in an attempt to buttress each other and used a walking pole in our free hands for stabilization. Several times along the way the wind speed increased, when it did we just sat down and waited until the speed decreased and we could stand up and start walking again.
From the same spot I took another shot, hoping that the cloud might have lifted from Blencathra but it hadn’t thinned out quite enough for a clear shot of the very top.
We are off the plateau now but even as we descended the wind did not abate one iota and J was still on buttress duty as I took this shot looking along Mungrisedale …..
….. and this one for a final view of Bowscale Fell.
Looking eastward from the descent where Gowbarrow is in view just to the right of Great Mell Fell.
Below us is the little hamlet of Mungrisedale. This is a steep descent route so we decided to avoid descending via this path because of the strong wind, cut this corner off and instead take an off path route through the dead bracken …..
….. to the one of the paths just visible in the bottom right of the shot. We weren’t completely out of the wind as we descended and the bracken was a pain in the you know what but at least the risk of being blown over had decreased. The risk of being legged over by the tangled bracken increased commensurately so we proceeded carefully. Anyone who has ever had a fight with dead and tangled bracken will know exactly what I mean.
Low Beckside farm is in view again now that, and despite the bracken’s best efforts, we have reached the path we were aiming for.
Here’s J on the afore-mentioned path having been relieved of buttressing duty. This is the path we would have eventually joined had we taken the steep descent route I mentioned a couple of shots back.
Before long we are at the path junction leading down to the access lane and back where we started. We dropped down to the lane, went through the gate and walked the short distance to the double gate we passed through when we started out and back onto …..
….. the little path alongside the river leading to the footbridge.
Once across the bridge we turned left, walked the very short distance to the handgate, crossed the muddy dip and walked up the slight rise back to the car.
The morning sun has melted the ice on the road, its still a sunny blue sky day and down here the wind has lessened a little. The path we used on our outward leg is clearly visible over on the extreme left of Souther Fell but our return path over to the right is all but obscured by the dead bracken. The lunch boxes remain unopened as an open air picnic was a non-starter today but never mind, those bacon and tomato sandwiches would taste just as good in the car as they would have up on the top of Souther and they did. The farmer at Low Beckside came past us with his tractor and slurry wagon, backed into his yard and began refilling it in readiness for his next slurry spreading trip. The sight of two folk sitting in a car and munching on sandwiches will be a familiar sight to him, this little road is always jam-packed with cars during the summer months so he didn’t so much as bat an eyelid as he drove past us. All in all we don’t seem to have much luck on Souther Fell, this is the third time we have walked over it and each occasion its been in strong winds. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t walked it very often.