Author Topic: TR - Blencathra  (Read 972 times)

richardh1905

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TR - Blencathra
« on: 20:58:17, 05/04/21 »
Blencathra

3rd April 2021

On Friday evening we decided that it would be a good idea to make use of our newly restored freedom and the good weather, and head for the hills. We hastily decided upon Blencathra, a mountain that had defeated us last summer during the June heatwave, and set the alarm for Seven.

We were late in getting up, and even later in getting away, as is often the case with family outings, and we were lucky to bag a place in the small car park on the minor road heading east from Scales – this was full when we arrived, but an early bird came down from the hill so we were able to take their space. The forecast had been correct, and the weather was gorgeous, despite being a little hazy. We were on our way just after Ten.



A nearby gate gave access to the open fell, and a good path led up into steep sided Mousthwaite Cove. This split after a short while, a path to the left heading directly up the slopes onto Scales Fell above, but we wisely stuck to the main path, which passed below an old lead mine and traversed across the steep headwall of the valley, a pleasant way up, despite the climb. We had to explain to our son that it wasn’t a good idea to drink from a stream coming out of a lead mine!


The start of the Mousthwaite Cove path. Gorgeous colours.


Great Dodd and Clough Head from the top of the Mousthwaite Cove path

After negotiating a short rocky section, the path disgorged us quite suddenly onto the flat grassy ridge between Scales Fell and Souther Fell, and we got a good view of the saddleback top of Blencathra, and of Sharp Edge. We largely have Alfred Wainwright to thank for the widespread re-adoption of the wonderful name ‘Blencathra’, rather than the nondescript ‘Saddleback’, the name by which this magnificent mountain was often known.


Blencathra comes into view as we climb onto the grassy ridge above Mousthwaite Cove

Sharp Edge was out of the question, as we had Tess, our excitable springer spaniel with us, and rather than just plod up onto Scales Fell, we decided to take the path that heads up the southern side of the Glenderamackin valley, visible in the photo above, and then climb Blencathra from the north. An alternative would have been to drop down into the valley, cross over the footbridge, and then take the path up the northern side of the valley, below the steep southern slopes of Bannerdale Crags, but we didn’t fancy losing any of the height that we had just gained. In retrospect, I suspect that this path would have given us some fine views of Sharp Edge as we ascended; I will try it next time.

On the subject of names, I love Glenderamackin, and the similar Glenderaterra, the beck on the western side of Blencathra.


We took the path (left) that cuts across the slopes on the southern side of the Glenderamackin valley


Looking back towards Souther Fell and the Glenderamackin footbridge.

The traversing path was good, a real pleasure to walk, and we soon reached Scales Beck, where the path split. Most people head on up to Scales Tarn and Sharp Edge, but we continued along the now much fainter path into the upper reaches of the Glenderamackin valley – it would appear that not many people come this way.

We stopped for a drink and a snack at the small stream that drains the northern side of Sharp Edge, a cascade of water spilling down shaley rock into a small pool making this a very pleasant spot in the sunshine. But, distracted by the stream, I had missed the significance of the path that climbed up and across the shaley slope just before the stream, and as we continued along the lower path, it petered out in a bog on a steep slope. Climbing up a grassy spur, we soon re-gained the real path, and continued on towards the head of the valley without further mishap. This mistake would be unlikely to happen when descending by this route.

Popping out of the head of the valley, we were greeted with a fine view of the wild land ‘Back O’Skiddaw’ – heather clad Great Calva and Knott. The grassy top of Bowscale Fell was visible beyond the western shoulder of Bannerdale Crags – we were up there last year, but had failed to climb Blencathra as planned, as it was so hot. Today there was a light breeze from the north, which kept me cool as I tackled the steepening slopes to the south – ideal walking conditions.


Great Calva and Knott from above the head of the Glenderamackin valley.

We hadn’t met anyone since crossing Scale Beck, but there were more people about here, and we were soon passed by a group of young men, charging up the steep slope. Slow and steady for me though, and the gradient eased after a while. We came across some patches of snow, the remains of cornices on the eastern lip of the ridge, much to the delight of Tess, who loves to dig.


Tess indulging in her passion for digging.

As we climbed the views on both sides of the ridge unfolded:


The view south eastwards down into the upper Glenderamackin valley; Sharp Edge to the right. The rounded hill in the centre is Great Mell Fell


Skiddaw from the shelter wall at the foot of the Blue Screes, the Grasmoor hills far left, and the grassy plateau of Mungrisdale Common below.

The final haul up the Blue Screes to the top of Atkinson Pike, the northern top of Blencathra, is over steep scree, and what with photography and not having the dog to help pull me up the hill, I trailed behind my wife and son. When I at last reached the summit plateau, I couldn’t see them, and I headed off down the grassy slope to the east, wanting to take a look at Sharp Edge. Still no sign of them, so I headed north along the path that skirts the top of the crags above Scales Tarn, enjoying the views down to Sharp Edge and the tarn below. I started to wonder where they were, so I found a rock in a prominent spot to sit on and wait in the sunshine. I wasn’t too concerned – I knew that they would be looking for me as I had the sandwiches!


Sharp Edge and Scales Tarn

We were eventually reunited at Hallsfell Top, the highest point on Blencathra, with stunning views down the steep southern slopes and ridges to the green fields around Threlkeld, to Thirlmere, Derwentwater, and a jumble of hills beyond. There were a lot of people about though, so we didn’t stop long, heading westwards along the airy crest towards the unnamed top above the Gategill Fell ridge, pictured below.


The Gategill Fell ridge from Hallsfell Top; Derwentwater beyond


Another view of Skiddaw

We stopped for lunch on a sheltered grassy bank, just below the crest of the ridge, the ground falling away at our feet. Continuing on, we passed the unnamed top and descended towards the top of Blease Fell, my son not pleased that we were losing some height – height that we would have to regain on our way back.


Derwentwater and the Western Fells from the top of Blease Fell - click on photo to enlarge

After stopping briefly at the top of Blease Fell to admire the view of Derwentwater, we retraced our steps to Hallsfell Top, the re-ascent not too painful, before descending eastwards down the zig zags of the Scales Fell path. I was tempted to visit Scales Tarn for a swim, but common sense got the better of me, and the Scales Fell path proved to be an easy way down once past the upper zig zags. The path branches: the main path descends directly down the steep southern slopes of Scales Fell, but we continued easily along the ridge to the Mousthwaite Cove path, our route of ascent.


Souther Fell from the eastern flank of Scales Fell. We descended into Mousthwaite Comb, visible to the right.

An excellent day out on one of the Lake District’s iconic mountains. Around 8 miles in total.
« Last Edit: 07:27:23, 06/04/21 by richardh1905 »
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Mel

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #1 on: 21:24:19, 05/04/21 »
Lovely.  That's all I can say.


... that and, is Tess laying like a frog in that last pic?  ;D
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gunwharfman

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #2 on: 21:51:22, 05/04/21 »
Excellent photos and description, brings back memories of the Meet I went on, what year was it? We climbed Sharp Edge that
day.

forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #3 on: 22:47:02, 05/04/21 »
Lovely report Richard.  I thought I had sickened myself off Blencathra after doing it so many times during lockdown - yet along comes a TR with beautiful weather on my favourite route up when I'm taking others along.  Must agree with the slow meandering path heading up the valley before you hit the col, it's a beautiful little route and when I was descending it in the snow I was practically humming to myself it was so joyful.


Interestingly I do find a bit of etymological talk enjoyable and it's a bit of a pet subject of mine.  Mungrisdale and Glenderamackin are actually one and the same, Glenderamackin is of Brythonic (ancient British and celtic) origin from Iron Age times, whilst Mungrisdale means the same thing but is incredibly Norse in its morphemes, even to this present day you can pick apart the words from modern day Norwegian and Danish:  gris - pig/swine and dahl valley.  The origin likely from the Danish invasion of the area.  For those interested in the cogitation of the Brythonic - glyndwfr y mochyn is the correlation with 'valley of the pigs'.


The 'Mun' of course stands out as not correlating between the Old Norse and the Brythonic - so where does this come from?  Now, the Danish invasion was circa AD 800 and there was a St Mungo, born in AD 516 who established churches including Mungrisdale Church (AD 550) and Keswick Church AD 553), as well as a further half dozen extra churches still dedicated to St Mungo who was quite a big deal in the North West when it came to spreading Christianity.


Obviously not everyone is bothered about the history of names on a map but with the interesting history of the Lake District incorporating so many different language roots it's a bit of a fascinating subject the deeper you dig. 

Ridge

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #4 on: 23:05:39, 05/04/21 »
Lovely photos Richard.
It looks a great day, I'm not surprised that there were a fair few people about.

Dodgylegs

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #5 on: 23:11:46, 05/04/21 »
What a difference a lovely fresh day with blue skies makes to see all those views  O0

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #6 on: 07:32:11, 06/04/21 »
Thank you all for your comments - glad that you enjoyed the report.  :)
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #7 on: 07:33:57, 06/04/21 »
... that and, is Tess laying like a frog in that last pic?  ;D


Laying like a frog? I thought that hens laid and frogs spawned  :D
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #8 on: 07:36:13, 06/04/21 »
...We climbed Sharp Edge that day.


Despite this being my 3rd or 4th time up Blencathra (I forget which), I still have Sharp Edge to look forward to. Will have to be without the dog, though.
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #9 on: 07:40:26, 06/04/21 »
Interestingly I do find a bit of etymological talk enjoyable and it's a bit of a pet subject of mine.  Mungrisdale and Glenderamackin are actually one and the same, Glenderamackin is of Brythonic (ancient British and celtic) origin from Iron Age times, whilst Mungrisdale means the same thing but is incredibly Norse in its morphemes, even to this present day you can pick apart the words from modern day Norwegian and Danish:  gris - pig/swine and dahl valley.  The origin likely from the Danish invasion of the area.  For those interested in the cogitation of the Brythonic - glyndwfr y mochyn is the correlation with 'valley of the pigs'.

The 'Mun' of course stands out as not correlating between the Old Norse and the Brythonic - so where does this come from?  Now, the Danish invasion was circa AD 800 and there was a St Mungo, born in AD 516 who established churches including Mungrisdale Church (AD 550) and Keswick Church AD 553), as well as a further half dozen extra churches still dedicated to St Mungo who was quite a big deal in the North West when it came to spreading Christianity.


Fascinating. I learnt a lot about Welsh place names during my years in Snowdonia, and knew that there were some links to the Lakes, but never suspected Glenderamackin!
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pdstsp

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #10 on: 08:54:34, 06/04/21 »
Wonderful pictures and report Richard.  I am another lover of the Glenderamackin routes.  I spent Saturday in the office doing our year end - I suspect you had the better time!

snaderson

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #11 on: 08:55:52, 06/04/21 »

The 'Mun' of course stands out as not correlating between the Old Norse and the Brythonic - so where does this come from?  Now, the Danish invasion was circa AD 800 and there was a St Mungo, born in AD 516 who established churches including Mungrisdale Church (AD 550) and Keswick Church AD 553), as well as a further half dozen extra churches still dedicated to St Mungo who was quite a big deal in the North West when it came to spreading Christianity.



Listening to the Countrystride podcast the other day, I learnt that St Mungo and St Kertigern were one and the same and there's a Kertigern walk linking a number of churches dedicated to the saint in both names https://www.countrystride.co.uk/single-post/countrystride-47-lakeland-pilgrims

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #12 on: 09:03:29, 06/04/21 »
Wonderful pictures and report Richard.  I am another lover of the Glenderamackin routes.  I spent Saturday in the office doing our year end - I suspect you had the better time!


Thanks pdstsp - I suspect so too!
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vghikers

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #13 on: 13:36:06, 06/04/21 »
Brilliant day and views again  O0

There are so many variants on ways up Blencathra, still a few left to do.

forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: TR - Blencathra
« Reply #14 on: 14:02:37, 06/04/21 »

Listening to the Countrystride podcast the other day, I learnt that St Mungo and St Kertigern were one and the same and there's a Kertigern walk linking a number of churches dedicated to the saint in both names https://www.countrystride.co.uk/single-post/countrystride-47-lakeland-pilgrims


Indeed!  I don't want to get too 'Christian' on people as some people dislike it when you talk about the Word and how it spread to the area, but that intersection of history, etymology and faith is a fascinating one when it comes to North Wales and the North West in particular. 


I took a look at the Lakeland Pilgrims route and recognised it as something I planned to do a couple of years ago but forgot about, think it'd be a perfect way to enjoy the Lakes and find a place to pause life and enjoy those outdoor spaces.  The authors chained together plenty of scrambles too so by the end of it I'd imagine carrying a camping pack you'd be quite due for a rest by the end of it even if quite fit.  Interesting project.