The expanse of Blencathra from the summit of Great Mell Fell
For many people, the first sight of the English Lake District is coming off the M6 at Penrith and hitting the A66 towards Keswick. It is all so natural to sit in the car and be wowed at the beautiful lofty heights en route. The Helvellyn range towering over to the left and the great Blencathra standing majestic to the right, with its towering rows of ridges and peak tops. Many travel to this mountainous area, not just to play some elite game of getting to the top of the highest mountains, but to enjoy grabbing the glorious views looking up, or take in some Cumbrian peace and culture. There is never a need to climb the highest to grab some of the best views. On that road, opposite Blencathra, to your left, sits what seems an unassuming little mound of a hill. A top accessible to all who like to wander. But my word, I go oft to this place as it offers some of the best views of the northern and eastern lake district. Great Mell Fell.
From bottom to top it is a mere walk of just over a mile. Of course the uphill needs to be considered but with all the time of the day it is a quick summit in well under an hour for the fit, or a glorious few hours spent for the wanderers and those that like to admire what is around. Not a disappointment I can assure you. It is a hill I like to get up to sit and watch the sunrise over the Pennines across the Eden valley, or to sit in total quiet, viewing a wonderful expanse, without having to spend up to half a day getting up somewhere. There are only so many photos I can stick on here. And I wanted to show you some delights on the path up too, below, so I will save some of the views for you to go and see yourself 🙂
The start point… drive down the lane that heads South, a turning about 3 miles East of the Troutbeck turnoff on the A66. Follow the lane for approximately two and a half miles until it suddenly gets wooded. You can’t have missed the pudding shaped hill of Great Mell Fell on your right to this point. A rough track leads off to your right and at this junction I find best to park and start. Walking up the dirt lane and starting through the woods. A wonderful start at any time of the year.
Within 10 minutes, the second gate on the right, a wide gate with a style on its right is the signal to climb over and get on the path up, from there it truly is follow your nose, up and up to the top.
The windswept trees become fewer and fewer and as the views out open up the views beside you get different all the time. I stopped to look around and flying from tree to tree, making a nice noisy racket, was a flock of Long Tailed Tits. In fact they seemed to follow me for a bit, always a tree behind.
Even half way up you get a great sense of expanse and views, never mind what was to come. To the East the wide open Eden Valley with the Pennines towering in the distance, and to the West the Helvellyn Range, often covered in sweeping cloud as I pass here, shows its edges and pointed tops.
A great part about this walk is that you see so many great views on the way that when you get to the top you are absolutely spoilt rotten! As in the first picture the whole of Blencathra and beyond lies in front of you. The valley holding the A66 opens up left to right and the road full of cars below just look a tiny blip on the landscape.
Alas, it was time again to head down. Back through the open grass, through the pines and oaks, listening to the birds singing in Autumn sunshine and all the while with views to stare at.
Take a look at this pic below. The hill looks nothing like the stony high mountains of the district. Alone and lump shaped. But I dare you step foot up its slopes and not look around in wonder 🙂