Blencathra is a favourite for people heading up to the north Lakes for the day, due to its ease of access from the main road to Keswick and the fact that two fantastic easy ridge scrambles (Sharp Edge and Hallsfell Ridge) can easily be combined with the summit in only a few hours. On this occasion however, we’d decided to take a slightly more esoteric approach from the north via the relatively unfrequented Bowscale Fell (2303 ft) and Bannerdale Crags (2241 ft).
I wanted to approach Bowscale Fell via Bowscale Tarn as I was intrigued by the legend that it is inhabited by two immortal fish. Sadly there were not in evidence on our visit. It was also a popular spot with Victorian romantics, but seems to have fallen from the tourist radar in more recent times.
It’s a pretty steep climb up to the summit from the tarn and there were still a few bits of snow about, but nothing serious.
Heading now for Bannerdale Crags, we left the path to follow the rim of the corrie, which gives superb views down into Bannerdale itself.
The summit lies a little way behind the crags, but still gives excellent close-up views of Blencathra.
Having plenty of time to spare, we decided on reaching Glenderamackin Col that we would make a detour out to Mungrisdale Common (2077 ft), famed as the most boring and pointless Wainwright of the lot! With a reputation like that, I could hardly resist finding out for myself what the fuss was about. The walk to it was certainly not pleasant – the flattened and yellowed grass suggested that it had until recently been covered by snow and I quickly discovered that my boots were no longer waterproof. The summit itself isn’t especially exciting, but it does have decent enough views and overall, I think it is still a worthwhile diversion.
Heading back towards Blencathra via Foule Crag, we encountered large patches of rapidly-melting snow as we gained height.
Blencathra’s summit (2847 ft) was as usual, rather busy, but who could begrudge company in such magnificent surroundings?
Leaving Blencathra’s summit with reluctance, we headed down to Mousthwaite Comb, looking across towards the scramblers on Sharp Edge as we went. We had considered descending via Sharp Edge, but the steep grassy slope above it was covered in melting slow and we weren’t carrying ice axes. The edge itself would probably have presented us with no problems, being below the snow line.
Beyond Mousthwaite Comb, we left the popular paths behind again and headed for Souther Fell (1713 ft), our final summit of the day. Like Bowscale Tarn, this too has a legend attached, no fewer than 26 people having claimed to have witnessed an army marching across its summit one summer’s day in 1745, but one that left no trace of its passing. Spooky, eh?