Start/Finish: Car park beside the Blencathra Centre
Distance: 7.6 miles
Time Taken: 7.5 hours
A walk in the Keswick area of the Lakes was planned for today but, a final decision on the route to be completed had not yet been taken as we were fully aware that the weather forecast should not be relied upon! (Lesson learnt from our walk in the Cheviots last week lol.) However, the final decision on the walk route could wait until we were approaching Keswick but, the early set-off time was not negotiable.
So, the 5.15am alarm tone from my mobile phone worked a treat and I was up and ready to go - bright eyed and bushy tailed - by 6am. I set out on the drive to our designated meet-up point at a car park at the junction of the A1 with the A69. At this point, it was difficult to tell what the weather prospects were for the day but I held on to the fact that the forecasters had at least said that it would be better in the west than it would be in the east. Good job I was feeling wide awake this morning as, on my drive along the quiet road through Lamesley to join the A1, a deer decided to chance its luck and cross the road directly in front of me. Oh my - what a start to the day - I've never seen any deer in this area before and I was shocked and stunned. This must be a good omen for the prospects of the day ahead, I thought!
As usual, Mick and I arrived at the meet-up point within a couple of minutes of each other and, with my gear safely transferred to the boot of his car, we were soon heading along the A69 towards Lakeland. The journey was pleasant and, thankfully, uneventful and we made good time with the skies brightening and clearing all the time as we got closer to our destination.
Once we joined the A66 and were heading ever closer to Keswick we began to discuss which walk route we were going to choose for today. Basically, although I had 4 routes uploaded to my GPS, the decision to be made was between a lower level circuit taking in Walla Crag and Bleaberry Fell or the high level alternative of a circuit of Blencathra and Mungrisedale Common.
Now then, an ascent of Blencathra has been Mick's 'burning ambition' for some time and it had already cropped up in our conversations on many occasions (hence how we had our preferred route already picked out) but, there were still a few niggling doubts as to whether or not it was do-able for him and, on my part, I thought it was do-able for me but I had my concerns about how I was going to get down once I had got up there!
Anyway, after a bit of discussion and few ummings and ahhings, we agreed that we should go and have a look at the start point of our Blencathra route and make a final decision whether or not to attempt it once we had taken a sneaky peek :-)
Suffice to say that, once parked up at the start point, we decided that the weather conditions couldn't be better (it was still a little cloudy, but the temperature was good, there was a bit of a breeze and we could see blue skies heading towards us), it was early and we had the whole day ahead of us so, we'd be able to take our time, and this was too good an opportunity to miss!
So, on the understanding that no heroics were allowed and that 'take it slowly' was the phrase of the day, we decided to give it a go and set off on our ascent via Blease Fell at about 8.30am.
(I apologise now for the amount of photos but, I'm going to include each and every one because I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this walk and I don't want to forget a single moment of it!)
Only a few hundred yards up the ascent route and the views began.
As we climb higher, the views get better....
Could this be the final stretch of the ascent?
And, finally, we make it to the top and arrive at Knowle Crag. Woohoo! :-)
A happy boy? :-)
A happy boy who needs a rest? :-)
A few shots of the surrounding views...
After a bit of a rest, and a look at the map to try to work out which fells we were looking at - I think we agreed in the end lol - we continued along the ridge path heading towards Blencathra summit.
A look back at Knowle Crag...
....and a few views along the way.
I really don't know how many 'Wow's' and 'Mint's' I uttered on this walk bit I can tell you that I thought it was all just awesome!
A view looking back along the ridge...
.....and a happy boy on the summit :-) ...
..well, I think it's a happy face :-)
We eventually made it along to view the Scales Fell path, Scales Tarn and Sharp Edge.....
We followed the path to take a closer look at Sharp Edge but I have to admit that at this point the camera did not come out to play as my hands were firmly gripping my poles and my heart was in my mouth! :-(
Thankfully, Mick decided to give that route a miss too so we headed back up the path to find a resting spot close to the tarn between Blencathra Summit and Foule Crags. It was here that we began to contemplate our route down. Arrgghhh.....I'd almost forgotten I had to get down from here somehow so, instead of resting and eating, I scouted about a bit to see if I could find an easy escape route. After a few minutes, I decided that there was definitely as easy option so, feeling comforted, I finally had a few minutes sit down! :-)
Rest time completed, we headed up onto the top of Foule Crags and enjoyed the views again....
However, all too soon, the descent had to begin and whether or not this was wise decision, we decided to have a go at the extremely steep descent path on loose shale/scree from Foule Crag to Mungrisedale Common. All I'd like to say on this one is that my descent was exceptionally slow, extremely scary, knee and ankle killing and I take my hat off to Mick (who counted his way down I believe whilst I sang quietly to myself!) as I have no idea how much more of an ordeal it was for him than it was for me. But....we made it, safe and sound, without incident or injury - another Woohoo moment :-)
A couple of pics of Foule Crag and Sharp Edge from part way down....
...and a couple of views from the same spot (while I breathed again!)
A look back up at the scary path.....
....and finally we were down and heading onto Mungrisedale Common
...and the path to the summit cairn (!) of Mungrisedale Common
From here we turned left and headed across the Common, passing Skiddaw House on our right (follow this link for a little bit of info http://www.skiddawhouse.co.uk/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3)
I can well imagine that to a lot of people reading this report that this part of the route would be considered no more that a trudge but, to me, this was a very fine part of the walk. The views are amazing, the peace and remoteness remind me of the Cheviots and the terrain is reasonably comfortable underfoot. What more could a girl want :-)
However, the descent from here was one that both Mick and I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of. Following on from the steep and scary descent from Foule Crag, the descent on pathless, boggy, uneven terrain was hard work for my weak knee and ankle and both Mick and I needed some flatter ground to walk now.
The relief of getting to the bottom was soon rewarded by an even better sight as we followed the track around a couple of bends.....the perfect spot for a rest break!
As we continued on our way, we passed some disused mine workings and then came across another waterfall.....
....I love waterfalls....
....but, we had to continue on our way....
...and, finally, feeling totally sad that it was all over but, totally chuffed that we had completed our route and our challenge, we made it back to the car. This is where I decided to take a couple of photos of our start point that I was remiss in taking at the beginning of our walk in my eagerness to get going! :-)
Well, I hope you enjoyed the read. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk and my thanks go to Mick again for a brilliant day out in excellent company. I really don't think we could have had a better day on which to complete this walk. The weather was perfect, the walk was perfect and the company was perfect too! :-)