Breakfast on Blencathra
Breakfast on Blencathra – 214 summits in 214 days
House martins flashed above the young bracken shoots, white rumps shining in the morning sun. A green woodpecker, cackling as it looped away. It was worth the wait. I’d already been up lonely Binsey after a strong early morning coffee, thick cloud blanketing the higher northern fells. Now parked up by the Mill Inn pub in Mungrisdale, I was enjoying the luxury of another coffee, sun filtering though, warming the air, clouds lifting.
On the steep ridge of Souther Fell, into mobile coverage, a wake up call home. Higher up the summit of Blencathra now clear, basking in sunshine, skylarks singing everywhere, such a contrast to last night’s quiet hills.
Sharp Edge looked irresistible with no one else around, and I ran along the path towards it, crossing a tinkling stream, stone steps polished smooth by the masses.
It must have been more than fifteen years since I was last on this ridge. I’d forgotten how exposed it is, the rock angled, scored by winter crampons, Scales Tarn a shining level below.
Breakfast on the summit, a nourishing muesli bar, full of nuts and covered in yoghurt. It was too cold and windy to enjoy the views for long, and I was off, gathering speed, loving the loose scree, then the canter to the stones marking the flatness of Mungrisdale Common.
Cotton grass bowing with the breeze, wet bogs underfoot, giving just enough for a decent spring.
A bird shit stained, rounded slab of slate on Bannerdale Crags summit, an inviting path around the escarpment, dark green, lush with growth, too steep for browsing sheep.
Getting very warm by Bowscale Fell, another gorgeous ridge line above Tarn Crags, reaching the steepness near the River Caldew, crossing a fenced area, with high grass and bilberry, self seeded rowan and juniper everywhere.
The nearby hillside blackened from a recent fire. I waded across the river, hopped a smaller tributary, then straight up, picking my way through wet rushes and heather, following a stream bed impressively gouged out, a new habitat for nesting birds, lined with foxgloves in flower.
An endless drag, high-stepping through the rough ground, eventually reaching the washed out upper reaches of Brandy Gill, my next summit High Pike within sight.
The first people I’d seen this morning are just leaving, cheery hello’s in the midweek sun, knowing how lucky we all are.
There’s an impressive lonely slate bench at the top, a memorial facing west, into wind, an old man sheltering on the lee side of the cairn. The long roller coaster to my final summit of the morning, Carrock Fell, and my 200th Wainwright of the year.
I’m feeling both strangely elated and saddened at the same time, as my adventure nears it’s end. Both last night’s and this morning’s run are a product of the journey towards a goal, lovely memories that will live with me forever.
The final descent through deep heather, winding along a narrow sheep trod, then down broken lichen covered slates, a pile of rough steep scree, hot in the sun. I stop and enjoy the first sweet bilberries of the year, ripened by the reflected heat, looking down for a line through the gorse.
Jogging along the lane through Mosedale and on to Mungrisdale, admiring the flowers, purple foxgloves, white pignut, pink thyme, a reed bunting calling from the top of a dwarf rowan tree. What a joy to be out amongst it all, in the hot sunshine.
I change and make a cup of tea, letting the sun dry out my withered, whitened feet, sitting on a wooden picnic bench faded grey by the sun, elderflowers alive with bees and hover flies. Two wasps land on the table, paper makers, gathering material for their nest.
Then it’s time to go. I’ve a meeting in Ambleside to get to, and I’ll need some lunch beforehand from my favourite Rattle Gill cafe.
Another 8 Wainwright summits today, that’s 200 down, 14 to go.
© Graham Patten
Wednesday 22nd June 2016