Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bowscale, Bannerdal Crags and Atkinson Pike

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 13 November 2011
Walkers - Steve Smith, John Parkin
Accommodation - Keswick Youth Hostel
Start Point - Mungrisdale Village Hall (GR NY36373 30258)
Start Time - 08:36
Finish Point - Mungrisdale Village Hall (GR NY36373 30258)
Finish Time - 15:14
Duration - 6hrs 38mins
Average pace - 1.63mph
Distance Walked - 10.79miles
Height Ascended - 1076.84metres

Peaks visited
Nuttalls (253)
Bowscale Fell (210)
Bannerdale Crags (211)
Atkinson Pike (212)
Blencathra - Hallsfell Top (20) first visited 08/01/2009
Hewitts (178)
Bowscale Fell (148)
Bannerdale Crags (149)
Blencathra - Hallsfell Top (14) first visited 08/01/2009
Marilyns (176)
Blencathra - Hallsfell Top (7) first visited 08/01/2009
Wainwrights (214)
Bowscale Fell (127)
Bannerdale Crags (128)
Blencathra - Hallsfell Top (8) first visited 08/01/2009
Souther Fell (129)
Birketts (541)
The Tongue (231)
Tarn Crags Top [Bowscale Fell East Top] (232)
Bowscale Fell (233)
Bannerdale Crags (234)
Atkinson Pike (235)
Blencathra - Hallsfell Top (14) first visited 08/01/2009
Blencathra - Doddick Fell (236)
Blencathra - Scales Fell (237)
Souther Fell (238)
Deweys (185)
Souther Fell (34)
HuMPs (444)
Blencathra - Hallsfell Top (9) first visited 08/01/2009


Click on photograph to view slide-show

Walk Description
The scope of the walk was to visit the three outstanding Nuttalls in the south east corner of the Northern Fells; Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Atkinson Pike while at the same time make a circular walk to include various Wainwrights and Birketts along the way. Oh and by the way nip along Sharp Edge as an added extra.
As I was relying on public transport to get to the start point, which is at best paltry if not non-existent, following Clive’s return home I was grateful of a lift and being joined by John Parkin who was joining me from the north east.
We parked outside Mungrisdale village hall where the car park was full of ½ dozen RAF Mountain Rescue vehicles along with another 3 getting ready to set off loaded up for the day. I guess they were on a training day, probably along Sharp Edge.
Setting off from the car park to the village phone box, the walk started easily enough down the footpath along the River Glenderamakin. Very soon we saw the head of the first Birkett - The Tongue beyond the property, Bannerdale view.
The plan was to follow the path to the south of The Tongue then take the easiest path up the steep side in a diagonal to the top, avoiding the steepest part which ascends at a 45° angle at its steepest point. Looking at the map (without glasses) I thought I saw a path and thought it extended down to the path we were following. So we set off zigzagging up fairly steep contours in the expectation of finding the path and hence the easiest way up. It turned out I had mistook crag markings for the dotted line indicating a path even on the double sized 1:25000 explorer map printed from Anquet at 1:12500. I really must accept I need glasses were there is a heavy concentration of symbology on the map.
As I reached the top of The Tongue, sweating and out of breath, John was already there ready for the off. I could see I was going to have a job to keep up today.
From The Tongue the obvious route was to follow the path and head straight for Bowscale Fell, but Tarn Crags was on the route and because we wanted to keep a circular route we stayed low to the north of the peat bog and contoured around the head of Bullfell Beck. On reaching Tarn Crags cairn the cloud had moved in over the top for the first time obscuring our onward route to Bowscale Fell. It then cleared as quickly as it came leaving some cloud in the valleys making a truly picturesque scene.
From here we followed the ridge to Bowscale Fell and after a short detour to what turned out to be a false top, bagged the first Nuttall of the day. The cloud on the tops had now cleared completely giving clear views of both Saddleback and Skiddaw, but the col between Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags hung onto thick cloud. As we descended the temperature dropped with the visibility requiring us to keep a regular eye on the compass and a wary eye on the drop to the left enabled us to successfully navigate round and up out of the cloud to reveal the Bannerdale Crags at the end of the path in front of us. The view down Bannerdale Beck was spectacular made even greater  by the steep drop and proximity of the path close to the edge just above the disused mine workings below. Time I think to leave the path where it was crumbling into the drop and get away from the edge, picking up the path a little higher up and heading straight for the cairn on Bannerdale Crags and Nuttall number 2 of the day.
Next on the agenda was Sharp Edge. There was always an option to miss this out if conditions were not right or too dangerous. Apart from the intermittent cloud and subsequent dampish rocks after discussion with John it was decided to miss it out and approach Atkinson Pike via Foule Crag on the basis the descent was too great along with the re-ascent on top of the remaining ascent we had to do for the outstanding tops on the route. This would have put at least another 90 minutes onto the walk turning what was a comfortable trek into a race of getting off the fell before dark.
After all as John pointed out “ will still be there next time.” In hindsight this was clearly the right decision. The purpose of the trip is to tick off the Nuttalls. Sharp Edge is not a Nuttall or a top of any description, but definitely deserves the respect to be the main attraction of any walk in the Northern Fells.
After a photo shoot on Foule Crag, it was onto Atkinson Pike and then onto Blencathra - Hallsfell Top. How different it looks in clear conditions to the perceived threat of fog and being lost and benighted during my last visit in January 2009. The views over Skiddaw, from the small tarn between the two tops was greatly in demand to be captured on photo. Both John and I joined the queue for pictures and joked how good this view would be without anybody else being about.
In the shade of the wind on the north side of Blencathra, it was like any other Sunday afternoon destination with lots of visitors, many of whom were picnicking. One guy even turned up in shorts and T-shirt. A different breed these Fell Runners.
From Blencathra it was follow the ridge home along Doddick and Scales Fell, including lunch overlooking Scales Tarn accompanied by some very friendly sheep only 4-5 feet away whilst we ate lunch.
After lunch it was head over Souther Fell and descend to the car at Mungrisdale. A fallback option was to descend Scales Fell then down onto path along River Glenderamackin if daylight was short. However, it was not and the low cloud on the top , did not qualify the conditions as bad enough to descend either.  So we took the option to stay high and bag the final Wainwright of the day.
As we ascended the cloud closed in requiring use of the compass to stay on track. There is a path, but I have followed too many blindly away from required destinationin fog to make that mistake this time. As it was the rounded top produced several false tops  but in the end plumped for a rock and solitary large stone to take the usual photo.
All that was left now was the descent through the cloud which clung to the hill top surprisingly low down, but once below the cloud we were able to track our route up The Tongue opposite and see the track to the car park in Mungrisdale.
The walk concluded with what was becoming the mandatory river crossing. At the bottom of the hill we could see the car park beyond the pub, but as you can see from the route above I had not downloaded this square at 1:25000 from Anquet and we took the most direct option to the left and the wall, rather than to the right and over to the road.  We found a sign a convenient point to cross the wall and field to the pub, but this stated it was private, so we continued further and cross the wall further to the west and dropped down to the river. Unfortunately there was not a footbridge or a ford or an obvious crossing point. Tracking along the bank found several likely points to cross, but each one included a deep part and associated increase in flow. Returning back along the bank to where we started proved to be the best point and although it was calf deep managed to get across with a few quick steps without too much water infiltrating over the top of our boots. Now all remained was to follow the path back to the car and finish in good time to all a bit of nosing around where we found a disused Kiln along with associated sign explaining its use.
Back at the car by 3pm. A good day’s walk with good company. We will do it again, possibly in the Cheviots.

If you have an alternative route to any of these hills or there is anything of interest in the area of this walk feel free to send me the URL via the comment page below and I will include a link here.

1.) Caldbeck village, The Howk (a limestone gorge with waterfalls). An old bobin mill
2.) Blencathra - The Hard Way and not via Sharp Edge. Alternative route up Blencathra taken by The Cumbrian Rambler

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If you have visited any of the peaks, places or areas mentioned on this page/post and have photo albums, routes, blog or web page please put the URL here.
I will then include link on this page.
The aim is to provide alternative routes for all visitors (be they new or regular visitors) giving information about places of interest or features to look out for whilst out on the hill.
Like-wise if you have a similar facility on your page I would appreciate a link to this page.