Monday, 10 September 2012



868 metres 

We put our boots on in the parking space at the foot of Mousthwaite Comb, just above the hamlet of Scales. Blue sky overhead and a favourable forecast for the's 'rambler' walk was much anticipated.

There was no gentle introduction today. No gradual loosening of limbs. The putting on of the boots was the warm up. 
Looking down from the footpath on Mousthwaite Comb

A single track, clear pathway snaked its way up the steep west side of Mousthwaite Comb. Another footpath climbed round and up the 'bowl' towards the rim of the fellside and Souther Fell. Our route was the former. Thankfully, we were able to stop and catch our breath every now and again. We gained height quickly, the main A66 road seeming far below us. It wasn't long before we reached the col where we could have turned to head up onto Souther Fell.
Footpath on Scales Fell parallel with River Glenderamackin

We had walked the next part of the route a few weeks previously on a very wet Sunday in August. It was lovely to take in the views today with sunshine on it. The footpath followed a contour on Scales Fell, populated by sheep, high above the River Glenderamackin. After a while, we came to Scales Beck. Today we crossed it with ease. It had been a somewhat more tricky crossing when it had been swollen with heavy rainfall on our previous visit.

The footpath at the side of Scales Beck climbed the hillside steeply for some 300 metres or so. To our right, the sun illuminated the crags of Sharp Edge. In front of us was the bowl shaped 'wall' of Tarn Crags. While, at its foot lay the tranquil Scales Tarn. It was a beautiful spot for our coffee break. It would have been lovely to have had longer here watching the steady flow of ant-like people carefully making their way along Sharp Edge. Our view of the tarn was not obscured by cloud today.

Scales Tarn from southern footpath
Onwards and upwards. The tarn was merely an appetiser for the main event - the summit. A clearly visible and very steep path on the southern side of the tarn was our route up to the top of Tarn Crags. The main climb of the day was now over. It was just a short walk south to the summit OS ring embedded in the ground. The views all around were breathtaking. 
Blencathra Ordnance Survey summit ring

Naturally, it was cooler at the top, but we were soon on our way again heading along a broad, south-westerly ridge. To our left, the ground of Hall's Fell and Gategill Fell dropped away vertiginously. 
Part of the ridge route

Surprisingly, far away in the distance, we could see the youth hostel at the back of Skiddaw where we had camped for a night. It was truly isolated. As the footpath zig-zagged down Blease Fell, we were able to make out the route we had taken on the Cumbrian Way, in 2011, to get there. Relatively protected from the wind, it was here that we had our lunch stop.
Helvellyn range and St. John In-the-Vale

Fabulous views of the Hellvellyn range and St. John-in-the-Vale, High Rigg, Derwent Water, Keswick and the Lakeland fells beyond. One day we may come to recognise them all. (On a clear day the distinctive shape of Blencathra can be seen from Nine Standards Rigg.)
Latrigg (foreground) & Derwent Water

Our return was at low level, mostly on the edge of access land. We crossed Gate Gill and Doddick Gill with only Scaley Beck to go. It was a bit of a scramble down one side (including a bit of careful shuffling on the bottom over rock). 

Scaley Beck

The way up the other side from the beck was relatively easy. Soon after, our path was climbing the fellside of Scales Fell once again. The small hamlet of Scales was down to our right. Eventually, we had come full circle. The walk was to end with a down... descending the steep path that we had walked up from the parking space.

It had been a super walk without the burdens of navigation. Good weather, good visibility, good food (lovely homebaked goodies), interesting walking companions and a thoughtful leader. 

Boots off and to the pub... for a pot of tea!

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