Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Bannerdale Crags & Souther Fell

Bannerdale Crags & Souther Fell

8 miles

This was a walk organised and led by volunteer rangers of the Lake District National Park.
It was a grey day and the forecast was for rain as we started out from Mungrisdale village hall.
Bannerdale Crags from Souther Fell

Out route took us quickly onto access land and the gently rising footpath initially followed the River Glenderamackin.  Before long, the gradient increased as we made our way up the southern side of The Tongue. An impressive ridge rose up to our left which appeared as a buttress to Bannerdale Crags.It seemed as if we were heading up the side of a huge ampitheatre - our path clear before us. In the distance small figures could be seen silhouetted at the top against a grey sky. It seemed a long and steady climb. At times like this I'm short on conversation. All energy is concentrated on getting enough air into the lungs and willing the legs to put one foot in front of the other. Fortunately, our guides took a steady pace which was fine by me!
Towards Bannerdale Crags

Almost as soon as we reached the rim of the bowl-like hillside, the first drops of rain fell. It was on with the waterproof jacket and hood up. By the time we had walked along the path on Bannerdale Crags to the summit cairn, the rain was unrelenting. No... it was more than rain... hail stones hammered down. It would have been a great spot for lunch, as there would have been a great view of the valley and Bannerdale Beck. As it was,there was no view and no shelter and a crack of thunder rumbled; we quickly headed down the hillside on Mungrisdale Common before joining a small path skirting underneath Foule Crag. Needless to say, it was soggy underfoot. The ground was saturated and in one place, close to the path, water was bubbling up through the vegetation like a geyser. In front of us was Sharp Edge. It was hard to imagine that anyone would want to tackle it on a day such as this.
Summit Cairn

Eventually, a sharp descent brought us to Scales Tarn. The rain had virtually stopped and, although chilly, we stopped for our much anticipated lunch. It was a beautiful spot. The still tarn was nestled as if in a basin; steep fellside virtually enclosing it on all sides. As we sat munching, tiny figures walked like ants high above as they made their way along the summit ridge of Blencathra. Thankfully, it was not our objective for the day. A few minutes later, the sky closed in on the tarn and the water could not be seen. It was a good reminder, if any were needed, of how quickly conditions can change. A few moments later, the tarn reappeared. 
Scales Tarn
 We cooled down quickly, and we were pleased that we didn't linger long over lunch. Our route followed the side of Scales Beck before traversing it lower down.
Scales Beck

The footpath ran in a south-easterly direction, running parallel with the River Glenderamackin. Our route followed the curve of White Horse Bent on the opposite side of the valley, heading first down and then climbing up onto Souther Fell. We walked the length of the broad ridge, pausing for a little refreshment at the highest point. Cloud hung around in the valley to our left. The route that we had taken earlier in the day, up the side of The Tongue, could be clearly seen.
White Horse Bent, River Glenderamackin & Souther Fell

It was steep and slippery in places on the descent through bracken on the fellside. At the edge of the access land, we joined a minor road for just a small distance back to Mungrisdale.

It was a great walk in the company of knowledgeable walk leaders who knew the 
area well enough to be able to offer alternative routes to suit the ability of all on the walk given the weather conditions. Would we have ventured out that day on our own? Probably not. Hats off to those who volunteer to lead walks in fine weather and foul!

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