Today’s walk was a last minute thought as Tim my walking buddy had to pull out of a planned day on Skiddaw & its satellite fells due to Tim’s unforeseen cover in work…I guess if I said that Tim was unhappy at having to do this it would make it the understatement of the year.
I still had to go with the forecast & seeing as I was already heading in that way & that time was a little precious I decided to stop off at Scales where I more or less had a whole morning on the fells without seeing a single soul.
ASCENT: 2,700 Feet – 823 Meters
WAINWRIGHTS: 2, Bannerdale Crags – Blencathra
WEATHER: Hazy, Warm & Sunny, Strong Winds On Tops, Highs Of 19°C Lows Of 10°C Feels Like 6°C
PARKING: Roadside parking, Scales, Threlkeld
WALKING WITH: On My Own
ORDNANCE SURVEY: OL5
TIME TAKEN: 5 Hours
ROUTE: Scales – Mousthwaite Combe – River Glederamackin – White Horse Bent – Bannerdale Crags East Ridge – Bannerdale Crags – Atkinson Pike – Blencathra (Halls Fell Top) – Hall’s Fell Ridge – Path Above Doddick Back To Scales – Scales
Wainwright Book Five
The Northern Fells
-Bannerdale Crags East Ridge
The most direct route and the one recommended, is that via the easy ridge – the obvious key to the ascent of the mile long escarpment. Towards the end this becomes a grand scramble in an impressive situation – a bit of real mountaineering.
Scales 08:10am 10°C
I couldn’t believe my luck as I thundered to a stop after arriving at what is considered to be the busiest layby in the whole of Lakeland. It’s Bank Holiday Monday with a good days forecast ahead so where is everybody?
As I kitted up the predicted cool wind worked its magic howling up my back as I laced the boots up, the laces will have to wait as I toed towards the backseat where I threw on my jacket from within the protection of the car, it’s cold alright & a million miles away from the warmth of our Buttermere kit up where the jacket stayed tucked away in my pack from beginning to end.
Every now & again a car or a lorry would pass shaking my car in the process, I can only akin kitting up here in Scales this morning as to changing a tyre on the motorway when all you want to do is get it over quickly.
After the fastest kit up in history I cross the A66 & head along the tarmac lane in the direction of Mousthwaite Combe, a place where I have traversed the top of but never ascended, or descended for that matter.
The skies offer a tinge of pink blocked out by a vicious cool wind & haze that would make Hong Kong look like one of those dreamy scape’s you see on a desktop computer background.
If I said that I could only just make out the Mell Fells which were less than a mile away then I guess you know that today isn’t a day for the camera, but it is a great day for fell walking once the sun burnt through.
But that’s all in a little while.
Ascending Mousthwaite Comb.
It didn’t take long for me to heat up which I guess shows just how steep the little climb through the Comb is, or the KFC I had the previous night might now just starting to take its toll…
The cloud lifted a little with my ascent which timed well as the sun began to break more & more through the wall of haze.
Things were most definitely looking up.
Despite my slow-ish progress I managed to make the top of Mousthwaite Comb in decent enough time as gaps in the haze produced trails of bright blue sky from behind, it’s always kinda surreal to witness the cloud lift from within your own presence.
Here looking back as the cloud lifts to reveal Souther Fell.
Once I crested the col at the top of Mousthwaite Comb I had a matter of moments to witness the cloud as it lifted to reveal the Glenderamackin Valley as it rounded White Horse Bent.
Even Sharp Edge can be seen further up the valley which lifted spirits in that maybe now, I wont be summiting Blencathra in the cloud.
A distant Sharp Edge emerges through a haze of cloud.
The cloud within a mile of my radius had now began to lift enabling the sunlight to penetrate the fell side where I pick up the narrow path before descending down towards the small wooded foot bridge that crosses the River Glenderamackin, here I would make a right where I would then pick up the narrow path seen heading out of the photo as it navigates its way around White Horse Bent.
A silhouetted Souther Fell seen while crossing the River Glenderamackin.
After leaving White Horse Bent behind the east ridge of Bannerdale Crags appears along the course of the River Glenderamackin which is just to my right flanks.
Bannerdale Crags east ridge.
Sights are on a section of Bannerdale Crags east ridge seen here as I head to the base of the ridge as seen in the previous photo. You can pick up the bulk of the ridge that leads directly towards Bannerdale Crags summit from here by using this grassy path, but that isn’t for me today as I want to take in the whole ridge.
Bannerdale Crags east ridge.
From the end of the ridge the route ahead is appealing but not the most attractive of Lakeland ridges, but this morning isn’t about looks, it’s about enjoying a morning on the fells.
Bannerdale Crags from the base of the east ridge.
It was time to layer down now that the sun had been making the hard work attaining the ridge much harder, down goes the pack, off comes the jacket & out come the walking poles.
From the base of the ridge you can choose to ascend from one of two paths, one which sticks with the backbone of the ridge & one that detours slightly away towards the left, if you mix your ascent up as I did today by using both paths you get the best of both worlds.
Here looking down Bannerdale Crags east ridge from just beneath the summit.
The haze sadly is still affecting any long distance views.
Bannerdale Crags east ridge after topping out on to the summit plateau.
The wind that I had been shielded against whilst ascending the east ridge now hit me with full flow which saw me reaching for the jacket again not twenty minutes after fastening it into the hood of my pack.
The wind roared over gully constant & never faded for a moment, I stood to listen thinking that this is one hell of an awesome sound, little did I know it would be accompanying me for the next few hours as I crabbed my way to Blencathra’s summit.
But that is a little while away yet.
Blencathra from Bannerdale Crags east summit cairn.
Despite the wind I now had enough reason to progress towards my next summit after seeing views such as this, the light was purely fantastic now that within my mile circumference my views were opening up just nicely.
Blencathra, Sharp Edge together with Atkinson Pike taken from Bannerdale Crags main summit cairn.
Bowscale Pike seen shortly after leaving Bannerdale Crags.
One of the last memories from todays walk was this view towards Bowscale fell over Bannerdale Crags as the deep blue sky contrasted against the wild grasses.
Sharp Edge & Atkinson Pike.
With my jacket firmly secured under beating sun I took in the lovely descent towards the steep ridge that forms Atkinson Pike. I hadn’t paid it any attention but I still hadn’t seen a soul as of yet which was unusual for a Bank Holiday.
Perhaps walking like a crab isn’t everybody’s idea of fun!
Sharp Edge together with Foul Crag contrasted against a deep blue morning sky.
During my drive up today the thought had passed me to take in Sharp Edge should the forecasters had got their readings wrong, as you know it didn’t take me long to stand corrected but not the walkers who I watched traverse the first part of Sharp Edge before having the right idea to turn around.
A Sharp Edge profile taken shortly before my ascent on Atkinson Pike.
Again, more time was spent in awe listening to the wind howl over the Valley of Glenderamackin.
Mungrisdale Common with the Skiddaw Fells, Great Calva & Knott seen far right.
I was now getting myself ready for the steep pull up Atkinson Pike yet the roar from the wind as it crested over the top of Foul Crag was just too magnificent to leave behind, so here, I sat myself down & just listened until the sweat on my back got too cold to sit there any longer.
Sun drenched ascent on Atkinson Pike.
The Memorial Cross seen on ‘The Saddle’ of Blencathra.
Once I crested Atkinson Pike I had the whole view of The Saddle together with Blencathra’s main summit all to myself, here I de-shoulder to pack the walking poles away…little did I know I would be needing them again in under ten minutes time, which just goes to show that I hadn’t planned my route of Blencathra as of yet.
Blencathra’s summit Tarn.
As I made my way across the Saddle I noticed that the wind had dropped so here without a fight I took a picture of a less breezy summit Tarn.
Knowe Crags from Blencathra circular summit Trig Point.
Although I could see walkers heading up via the Scales Fell ridge my summit time was spent on how I was going to get down because right now I’m contemplating an un-planned descent via the Halls Fell Ridge.
The wind was still strong yet the pull from the Halls Fell Ridge was too strong I thought I’d head out to the top a do a ‘tester’ where I deemed the wind & indeed the ridge a safe route of descent, far below I spot a walker in a t-shirt which kind of made me think that things looked pretty comfortable down there.
I was right & down I went.
The Halls Fell Ridge.
Beneath the summit the wind still howled but not as menacingly as it had when left in the wide open, here Blencathra’s buttresses shielded the vast majority of the winds strength which made for a more comfortable descent.
Halls Fell Ridge in full hazy delight.
I hadn’t noticed the guy as I passed below him & he certainly hadn’t noticed me due to wearing headphones.
I just don’t get why you would want to listen to music while out fell walking.
But, that’s just me I guess.
The Doddick Fell Ridge from my descent of the Halls Fell Ridge.
Here looking back up the Halls Fell Ridge.
By now I had started to pass more & more walkers all heading up the ridge, here I down pack once more to tie in the jacket for the last time all the while masking the pain from my right knee.
During my descent from the ridge I somehow managed to recur an old football injury in my right knee, I first felt the tendon ‘twang’ & then viciously twitch all within a matter of seconds, this had happened to me on more than one occasion when my knee actually popped out its socket whilst playing five a side football, another time my knee popped out whilst sat cross legged plumbing in a washing machine, the latter event being the more horrendously painful but yet thanks to a muscle spasm it popped itself back in again, that happened almost eight years ago & today I’d had the closest reminder of that day.
Like then I was able to walk instantaneously almost like when someone would pop their collar bone back in.
Anyway, I managed my way down with little to no thought just a sub cautious niggle in the back of my mind that I’d just avoided a close shave, it was only the morning after during my time in work did I realise that the previous mornings episode had a blooming effect on my knee cap.
So here I write whilst walking wounded, my knee is packed on/off with ice (such the correct method I believe) together with a pack of 400mg Ibuprofen tablets to ease the swelling…I guess its my cue to take a few weeks away from the fells if not only to help with the swelling.
It’s only minor & temporary & I’ll be back very soon, but still a close shave!