MUNGRISEDALE COMMON, BANNERDALE CRAGS, BOWSCALE FELL & THE TONGUE from MUNGRISEDALE

 


Summary

Date - 31st May 2014 Distance - 10.75 miles
Ascent -
2130ft
Map - OL5 Start point - Mungrisedale (by phone box) (NY 3618 3031)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Mungrisedale Common 2077 633 NY 3105 2922
Bannerdale Crags 2240 683 NY 3352 2902
Bowscale Fell 2306 702 NY 3334 3054
Bowscale Fell - east top 2185 666 NY 3404 3104
The Tongue 1814 553 NY 3476 3016

 

Preface

It was Thursday, and just three days since we had climbed four summits ending at Helm Crag, that marked our pal Little Eric's completion of Wainwright Book 3 Central Fells.

He Southey and Allen were sitting in front of the laptop, as Allen navigated to the folder containing the pictures of this walk.

Allen said, "Dad has already edited the pictures, and there looks to be a sufficient number that will be good enough to include in a story."

"Yes", agreed Southey, "it is essential that your achievement is duly celebrated."

"What about the shot of me on my own with the book open, at Helm Crag?, he asked. "It looked to be rather dark on the camera review screen."

Paging down, Allen clicked on it and brought it up full screen. "Dad's editing has made it really good, a must for the story."

"Great", replied Little Eric, "I am glad about that."

Just then they were interrupted by the arrival of Shaun and Grizzly with the flasks and cakes.

"Just what I wanted, I'm gasping for a cuppa", enthused Allen.

"You're always ready for tea", replied Shaun, laughingly.

"Did the mincemeat slice turn out OK?", asked Little Eric.

"Yes pal", replied Grizzly, "and I have made some cherry and ginger scones."

"Lovely", said Southey who had returned with the mugs and plates. "Can I have one of each please."

So, all was well with the world as we reflected on our last adventure, with steaming mugs in paw and cake and scone on plates.

A few taps on the laptop keyboard, and Little Eric had opened the Wainwright Fells page on our website. "I love that I now have my own column in the completed books table."

"Well pal, you will very soon be much closer to having a second entry", announced Tetley, as he trotted in. "Thanks, Shaun", he then said accepting the mug of tea."

"Have you tea and cakes, first", said Grizzly.

So we waited patiently, then Tetley continued. "I have just seen Dad, and he feels that his recovery is complete, so intends to turn his attention to your outstanding summits in Book 5 Northern Fells. The plan is to go on Saturday to Mungrisedale and tackle those round Bowscale Fell."

"Wow, that's great" cried Little Eric, in glee.

More soberly Grizzly said, "that means taking in our least favourite Wainwright, Mungrisedale Common, and The Tongue, that is intolerably steep."

"Yes, we went up The Tongue last time, and either way up or down it will be very hard on Dad's legs," agreed Tetley. "However Dad thinks that overall the gradients will be easier if we do the walk in reverse this time, meaning The Tongue will be left to the last and be our descent route."

"It will mean a long walk in to get to Mungrisedale Common, along the Glenderamackin Valley in the opposite direction to when we walked it after climbing Souther Fell", said Allen.

"About 5 miles", replied Tetley,"but then we will have already done half of the walk."

"Here's to Dad", cheered Little Eric, raising his mug. "The best Dad in the world!"

"And here's to a good day on Saturday", added Southey.

 

The Walk

Dad had said that he wanted to be walking by 09:00 at the latest, so this meant we would be setting off from home about 07:30. With this in mind we made the sandwiches the night before and put them in the fridge. Up bright and early we were all ready in good time and Dad was true to his word with the departure time.

It was the M6 route to Penrith, then west on the ever so familiar A66, and soon Blencathra was coming into view and to the right the fells we were to tackle today. Taking the narrow road right, this led us to the village of Mungrisedale, Dad parking on the left side of the unmade lane, by the telephone box. If you think that other walkers had the same idea about and early start, we would point out that this shot was taken at the end as we were leaving.

Dad put the parking fee of £2 in the honesty box, then with us safely tucked in the rucksack, he shouldered it and about 08:50 set off along the lane towards the gate leading to the open fell. The signpost at the road end of the lane had indicated that this was indeed the route to our first objective.

We were to have a dry day, sunny periods with a cool wind at times, that while Dad was in shorts, meant he kept his jumper on.

Past the houses and through the gate to open fell the view before us was immediately dominated by The Tongue.

"Wow", breathed Little Eric. "I see what you mean about it being very steep."

"It was March 2007 when we last did this walk, but even now I recall how much effort was needed to get to the top", replied Dad. "I am thankful not to have to do that today, but nevertheless getting down will be pretty hard."

Strolling on, just minutes later Tetley, said, "Look Little Eric, Southey, there is Bannerdale Crags, above the Glenderamackin Valley, which will be the second summit. The highest point is towards the right end."

This picture is also a good illustration of our path, with Shaun now instructing, "we cross the footbridge, then just yards on, take the narrow path going left up the Glenderamackin Valley."

This meandered ever on with the river down to the left, and beyond dominated by Souther Fell. "In all our experience this has been a bare valley, but this is set to change in a few years, with the large number of trees that have recently been planted on either side of the river", remarked Tetley."

"Well we will be able to remember it as it is now, as I do not expect we will come here again for a long time if ever", said Grizzly.

Eventually the path rounded the slopes of White Horse Bent and soon below was the tiny footbridge over the river.

"Even with my limited experience of walking, I recall we crossed that when we had come down from Souther Fell", piped up Southey. "The rest of you have so many memories of past walks and places you have visited, and this will be the case for me too as time goes by."

"We ignore the river crossing and keep on ahead today", said Shaun.

The path climbed steadily upwards with Bannerdale Crags on the right, but our attention was drawn to the dramatic view of Sharp Edge on Blencathra.

This is one of he most difficult routes for walkers in all the Lake District, and is not for the faint hearted, especially when the rocks are wet. The edge leads to Atkinson Pike above Foule Crag on Blencathra.

"You have not been over that Lads", said Dad. "The main reason being that to climb to all the summits on Blencathra, which we will be doing soon, so that you can complete Book 5 Little Eric, the best route is via Scales Fell. I have only come down this way, and that was not by choice. It was a long time ago when I first climbed the mountain with my sister Elaine. It was thick mist and we went up via Hallsfell ridge that leads directly to the highest point. The intention then had been to descend via the ridge to Doddick Fell, but the mist disorientated us and we crossed to Atkinson Pike instead. It was a rather scary descent being wet too, but at least we all lived to tell the tale. I am not sure that I will ever take you up by that route."

"We are not bothered", replied Shaun.

Along this path we met the first walkers today a couple coming down with their dogs. They stood to let us pass and Dad chatted briefly. Shortly the gradient steepened a bit to finally reach the col and a cross of paths at about 2000ft.

Shaun said the path left leads to Blencathra and right to Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags. That will be our way later, but for now we go ahead for Mungrisedale Common."

We were trying to find the path branching left, and would too if Dad had walked a little further on past the gully, where there was a small cairn marking the junction. Being over seven years since we were last here, it was hard to remember, so instead we struck off left up the fell, and only after a while realised we were going in the wrong direction. Shaun said, "Dad I think we should be going more to the right, heading generally in the direction of Skiddaw Little Man that was distantly on the skyline."

"Yes Lad, you are quite right", agreed Dad.

We finally found the path which was horribly wet and boggy, so much so that for the most part it was better to walk to one side or the other. We passed a walker who we had seen standing by the cairn, and Dad chatted briefly. He was Wainwright bagging, but Dad did not ask how far he had got. Strode on and fairly soon we closed in on the summit cairn, the only redeeming feature! The little pool makes a nice shot of the otherwise grassy and boggy terrain. The backdrop is formed by Skiddaw Little Man (2837ft) and Skiddaw (3053ft). Now those are proper mountains!

Quite why Wainwright included this in his 214 summits is a mystery, as he himself admits it is just a flat area at the rear of Blencathra, and there is no significant drop off for it to be considered a separate fell. There is nothing to recommend this summit, apart from the rather arty cairn, which we settled on of course for our picture. We were glad that it was not too windy, as the prospect of falling into the surrounding pool, did not fill us with joy.

What can be said of Mungrisedale Common are the wide open views of the fells and mountains, and before we left Dad took these shots. First to mighty Skiddaw. Lesser Man (2674ft) and Little Man (2837ft) are to the left,

and then more to the right this of Great Calva with its twin summits. This is accessed from the Skiddaw Forest behind Skiddaw. The ascent is hard through rough heather.

Tetley remarked, "we last climbed that in July 2010 with Uncle Eric."

Allen added, "we nickname it 'Big Chopper'." This made Southey laugh.

Meanwhile Grizzly, had turned his attention west. "Seems that any one in Borrowdale is not enjoying such a good day weather wise as us."

"Well that is so often the case, and something we have experienced ourselves", replied Tetley.

"Right lads, time to get settled again", said Dad. "That is the third time I have climbed to this summit, and as the saying goes, 'the third time pays for all', so I do not intend to return here ever again, if I can help it!"

We did this hurriedly, and then set off back along the same boggy path to join the main path at the correct point, seeing the small cairn marking the junction. Then on to regain the crossroads.

"We go left, but then almost immediately take the wide grassy track right", instructed Shaun.

This climbed steadily the 250ft to Bannerdale Crags, where the first cairn we encountered was the summit, being about 10ft great altitude than the main cairn where the ridge path from Bowscale Fell comes in.

Our picture taken Dad then turned the camera to get this shot of Blencathra. Atkinson Pike at the top of Sharp Edge is clearly seen right, and the saddle, left to Hallsfell Top, the actual summit. This clearly illustrates the alternative name of this mountain, Saddleback.

Dad chatted to some walkers at the main cairn, before we headed off on the ridge path towards our next objective Bowscale Fell. This passes above Bannerdale Crags, and round lonely Bannerdale. To the left rises The Tongue, while the right side is enclosed by the east ridge of Bannerdale Crags. Souther Fell forms the backdrop.

The path round the rim of the crags eventually drifted to the left, joining the main path from the crossroads, and climbed steadily on to the shelter that is the summit of Bowscale Fell. There is also large cairn just a few yards on, but this is at a slightly lower level.

We had just got ourselves settled for our picture, when a couple arrived with their two dogs. They saw us so Dad explained and there was some laughter. He also told them that some of us had completed all the 214 Wainwright summits, and about Little Eric's progress. In a similar manner one of their dogs had also done the 214, and they were in the process of doing them again for the other one. They had about 80 to go, which coincidently is about how many Little Eric still has to do. They then headed off to Bannerdale Crags.

Now Dad took our picture and then we sat here to have our lunch. He also phoned Uncle Brian to see that he was OK. He was enjoying a nice quiet day with Dad being out on the fells with us!

During lunch Tetley had explained, "there are two summits on Bowscale Fell. This and the one to the east are included in the Birkett listing, so Dad is going to take us to the east top, so that you, Little Eric and Southey too, can bag it."

"Great!", replied Little Eric.

It was only a half mile of gentle descent and then similarly gentle ascent to the small cairn.

"The route to The Tongue is pretty pathless, so there does not seem to be much point in returning to the main summit of Bowscale Fell", said Shaun. I know it will be rough going, but it would seem to make sense to contour round the head of the valley of Bullfell Beck."

"I agree lad", said Dad, putting best foot forward.

There is quite a descent from Bowscale Fell about 600 ft in all to depression towards The Tongue. It was pretty hard going totally trackless and pretty boggy too. Part way we passed another walker heading for Bowscale Tarn before then heading to the fell summit.

Dad stopped to chat briefly. The gentleman said, "the climb to the The Tongue is very steep."

"Yes", agreed Dad. "I remember from the last time when I did it. Hard going here too with no path."

He replied, "there is one a bit further on over to the right side, in the direction you are going."

We made our way over to the right and indeed it was not too long before we found a path that climbed steadily first over the 541m spot height and then on to the summit marked by a cairn.

"Come on", cried Little Eric, "let's get settled for our final picture of the day."

So that was it five Birketts and three Wainwrights done and bagged by Little Eric and Southey! "There is just Blencathra to go pal, for you to complete book 5", said Allen.

"I can't wait!"

We paused to look around. "That's Coomb Height in shadow beyond the ridge off Bowscale Fell. Then behind and right Little and Great Lingy Hill, Hare Stones & the distantly the highest fell, High Pike", said Tetley. "We were last up there in February 2011."

"What I remember most was the first time we climbed High Pike in December 2004, when there was snow everywhere", said Grizzly. "There was just enough room for us to squeeze on the seat."

We settled in the rucksack again for the last time today, and Dad set off to start the descent, pausing after a few yards to take this shot of the cairn on The Tongue, and give some idea of the distance we had come from Bowscale Fell. Bear in mind too that the summit hides more of the traverse.

At first the descent was not too steep, but as expected soon it got very steep and on the lower slopes we got to the right of the path, but this was not easy to follow as not too many walkers we guess go up and down here!! Finally it was done and we gained the track from Bannerdale, but not before Dad had stopped a little way above, to take this shot, which we do think illustrates the steepness.

"Phew!", said Dad with feeling, "I'm glad that's over and that we do not have to go up or down that ever again!"

The track was followed left to once again cross the footbridge and walk to the gate to the unmade lane by the house. There was a group of three walkers ahead, the lady having got a bit behind the other two gentleman, so as a result the gate was held open for us.

"Thank you", said Dad.

He then chatted briefly to them until we reached the car. They had parked further on by the village hall, and Dad waved to them a bit later as we passed on the way to Grasmere.

"That was a great day and I am very pleased with my performance", said Dad.

At Grasmere, we went of course to the Wordsworth Hotel. We went in too, and sat on the lovely sofas in the bar. Dad enjoyed his usual brie, avocado and tomato ciabatta and refreshing tea with a pot of extra hot water. We were pleased too to see that Kim was on, but she was rather busy. However Dad did get to have a couple of brief chats, and on leaving was able to give her a hug and wish her well for the future. She finishes next week and moves to Manchester. Sad that we will not see much of her now, but as she said sometime she will try and pop in to see us in Morecambe.

As we drove home, Little Eric said on behalf of us all, "thanks Dad for another great adventure."

"You're welcome. It would not be half as much fun if you were not with me."

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