Bowscale Blencathra Blencathra Bannerdale

The summit of Bowscale FellI parked at Mungrisdale, on a grass verge near the village hall; after I walked through the village I came to track on the left. It is an immediate steep climb uphill through bracken that is dense enough to hide the path from a few feet away; close up it is a very obvious path, steep and eroded in places. The gradient eased and the bracken was left behind, and I eventually reached the first cairn at the lower end of broad summit ridge. I walked up the gently rising grass slope to the next cairn, the view of the shapely back of Blencathra is intriguing even though it hides most of its charms.

Climbing Sharp EdgeI walked up to the shelter cairn at the summit of Bowscale Fell, and started the easy descent towards Bannerdale Crags; instead of following the obvious path to its summit, I walked across a green shoulder and down to the col. From the col, I started the climb towards Atkinson Pike, but at a cairn I found a faint path off to the left. The path took me round the back of the corrie below Sharp Edge, the path was obvious enough except for a couple of marshy places; when I looked upwards I could see the walkers on the crest of the ridge above me.

A narrow path, clinging to the side of a steep slope, climbs up steeply to the start of Sharp Edge. There is some straightforward rocky clambering at first, then the ridge narrows; you can shuffle across the top knife-edged crest but I hung on to it on this occasion as I stepped across the exposed rock. You have a choice of an intimidating step up on to flat sloping rocks in order to avoids the more exposed rock step, but the alternative is having to get up the extremely exposed rock step; I saw two refusals at that stage.Climbing Sharp Edge

I chose the first alternative, it's easy once you get onto the sloping crest but it's still a bit scary when you get to the rock step. After getting over that you are then onto the most awkward section, a sloping shiny slab with an upright boulder at right angles to the slab. There is a shallow depression in the slab that isn't quite as shiny as the rest of it, you can walk up that bit whilst hanging on to the upright. At the top of the slab I wasn't brave enough to do anything but sit on the next rock step and swing my feet into the gap.

Scales TarnThe gap can be walked across, but then there is more climbing to be done on sloping shiny rocks; there is plenty to hang onto but you have to feel for the holds. Eventually you reach the top of the ridge, well done, all you have to do now is climb up Foule Crag!

For the most nervous of walkers, there is the not easy option to traverse the eroded base of the crags to find a rocky gully I thought I could be a bit braver with the rocks being so dry. I started to clamber up the rock, thinking I would cross over to the gully as soon as I could, but got myself into a position where I couldn't find the next hand hold! After almost panicking, I calmed down and started to to look for a foothold in order to down, but in doing so my hand found a good hold, and I was able to carry on climbing.Ascent of Halls Fell

Once I got the the edge of the gully, it seemed easier to carry on upwards, than try to drop into it; I found it quite nerve-wracking after not being there for a couple of years. I did feel a bit better from that point on, it was still steep and a strenuous climb but I felt less exposed.

The Summit of BlencathraOnce I reached the top of the crag, I walked along the path, at the side of the summit plateau, until I reached the first descent path; a well-reconstructed path would take you down to Scales tarn, but I took the small easy-to-miss path to descend the ridge of Doddick Fell. It too was steep and eroded, I was going to lose a lot of height; I had thought about descending to the gill and climbing up the gully to Halls Fell ridge. Even though I have climbed it before, it looked a bit too intimidating after having already used up lots of adrenaline.

I walked down to the bottom of the ridge, and walked around to the start of the Hall's Fell path. There is something about losing so much height that makes it feel even harder to gain it all again; the first section on a steep eroded path was hard work. When I got to the rocky part of the ridge my enthusiasm returned, I kept generally to the crest which is good fun when the rocks are dry and the sun is shining, even if the breeze was cold again.View of Blencathra from Bannerdale Crags

The ridge leads directly to the summit of Blencathra, which I had all to myself for a short time! I walked across the saddle-back of Blencathra, there is a faint path that goes past the tarn and the assortment of cross-shaped memorials made out of stones, and climbed up to the cairn at the summit of Atkinson Pike. I walked down the obvious eroded path back down to the col, and then walked up the equally obvious, but relatively easy path the the summit of Bannerdale Crags. I had often looked at the ridge leading down to Bannerdale and wondered if it was a viable descent, and on this occasion I went to have a look.

Bannerdale Beck meets River GlenderamackinTo my surprise, there was an obvious path to follow, it became very eroded near some old quarry workings and it was a lot further to walk down the ridge than I expected. It was a reasonable route down to the junction of Bannerdale Beck and River Glenderamackin, and an obvious path took me back to Mungrisdale.

Andy Wallace 19th June 2010

© 2003 - 2017 By Andy Wallace. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part, including images, and reproduction in electronic media, without documented permission from the author is prohibited.

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