Blencathra

Back to the Lakes for the first time in 3 months, with friend John. Everything looked very green compared to my last visit when there was still snow on the peaks. We seem to have missed spring in the hills this year.

I was keen to avoid the busiest routes so we started from Mungrisdale and walked north along the road to Bowscale before following the track to Bowscale Tarn. This is one of my favourite places in the northern fells and the tarn is hidden from view until the last minute. The area is known for its rounded, grassy hills, yet here is a perfect glaciated cwm with steep walls and a deep tarn.

We carried on up the steep path to Bowscale Fell then headed towards Blencathra. We had hoped to climb Sharp Edge as John had never done this before but I was mindful of the deteriorating weather forecast. Sharp Edge in the wet is no fun and I have crawled on hands and knees across the slabs in the rain on at least one occasion. The rocks on Blencathra are Skiddaw Slate, a sedimentary rock made from mudstone and siltstone and they are very slippy when wet.

It started to rain just as we approached Sharp Edge so we had a change of plan and headed up grassy slopes to the north of Sharp Edge towards Foule Crag and so onto the summit of Blencathra.

I also had no wish to be caught in thunderstorms which were also forecast for today, but there were no signs of these at present. I was actually struck by lightning about 20 years ago whilst doing the washing up in Cwm Dyli, my climbing club hut in Wales. Other people in the hut reported a flash of light and I felt dazed for a few minutes but amazingly suffered no ill effects. A very lucky escape that has resulted in me being cautious in thunderstorms – although they say that lightning never strikes twice.

Back to today’s walk. We descended over Scales Fell and returned to Mungrisdale via Souther Fell. This is where the ghostly army was seen by numerous people on the evening of Midsummer’s Day 1735 and again in 1745 when no such army was nearby. I must bivvy up here one Midsummer’s Day, maybe in 2035, 300 years after the original sighting, to relive the scene, although I may be a bit old for bivvying by then.

The sting in the tail of this walk is the half mile detour right at the end where the local farmer refuses to let walkers over 50m of field. It did however mean that we got to see a red squirrel scampering along the road in front of us, the first I have ever seen in the Lakes – is this a consequence of there being fewer people here over the last few months?

Published by alpinejane

Explorer, hill walker, mountaineer, climber, backpacker, scrambler, fell runner and lover of wild places

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