Tuesday, 14 August 2018

More Wainwright Bagging – Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Crags and Souther Fell.

Due to an enforced layoff from mountains due to re-occurring problems with plantar fasciitis, Moira and I were keen to get back to the Lakes again and enjoy a few more Wainwright’s.

We needed something that wasn’t too taxing and the area to the west of Mungrisdale looked like it would fit the bill as there were a couple of hills there, namely Bowscale Fell (702m) and Souther Fell (522m) we had not climbed. Set between these two hills was Bannerdale Crags (683m), a hill we had previously climbed back in 1999.  It would certainly be no hardship to do this again and after a look at the map we soon came up with a pleasant route that would take them all in. 

An 8.00am start saw us making our way out of the village of Mungrisdale to take the track beside the river Glendermackin up to a flood damaged area by a bridge. Here the path splits with one bearing left to follow the river and the other continuing along the southerly flank of the Tongue.    Taking the right hand path we had good views of the east ridge of Bannerdale Crags.  

Bannerdale Crags and its east ridge.

At this point we had a bit of a "wish we had chosen the east ridge moment", as the rocky nature of the upper section looked like it would make a nice scramble towards the top.  Unfortunately it would mean a long down and up from here, so we mentally added it to our ever increasing list of routes to do and plodded on.

It’s a bit of a long pull up to the col between Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags, but in the cool of the morning it was no hardship, especially so given the great views back down the valley.  Once at the broad grassy col we headed north to the summit of Bowscale Fell. 

A welcome cup of coffee in the summit shelter

We couldn't leave without a quick detour to the north top of Bowscale Fell

Backtracking to the coll we then headed up to Bannerdale Crags.  Staying close to the craggy escarpment gave us good views down into Bannerdale and beyond to the North Pennines where Cross Fell and the Dun Fells could be seen despite some haze.

Bannerdale and the view out towards the Pennines

The summit Cairn of Bannerdale Crags

From the summit we headed northwest to the col between Blencathra and Bannerdale Crags itself.  This led us along the upper reaches of the River Glendermackin on an easy path that gave cracking views of Blencathra - particularly Sharp Edge.  It looked busy over there and even from down here we could see lots of little stick like figures making their way along the ridge.

Sharp Edge from the north

Looking back to sharp edge from the south
At the point where the river swung in a loop around the southerly nose of Bannerdale Crags, marked White Horse Bent on the map, we crossed over the river via a footbridge and then made our way up onto Souther Fell.  

Souther Fell (left)

Easy walking took us to the cairn Wainwright sketched for his books.  

Bannerdale Crags with Blencathra behind from Souther Fell

This is not the summit however, and after a quick photo we wandered over several high points until we reached the true summit at the northern end.  

With no sign of the ghostly “Spectral Army of Souter Fell” that is said to walk this ridge on certain days.  Click here for an account of the tale we made a steady decent down course grassy slopes to a point where the path skirts rightwards. Here the path led us through chest deep bracken to bring us out on the road above the in-bye land.  A short walk down the road brought us to our start point.  A nice pint in the Mill Inn rounded off a great days walking.

Distance 14k

96 to go.

© David Forster

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