Regular Loweswatercam viewer, John Grayson from Essex, had
contacted me some time ago as he was going to be on holiday
in the Lakes.
He fancied a walk near Keswick to start the week, before moving
down to Langdale to stay with regular fell walking friends in
the hotel there.
A walk with myself and a meal at the White Horse Inn
afterwards would enhance the first part of his visit very nicely.
We met at the junction close to Brownrigg Farm,
on the road that runs north-south between Great Mell and Little
The old fork has gone, cleared away by a litter
picker and the junction has gained a 'free range egg' dispenser
and honesty box for the money.
John and I would start our walk along the track
to the left.
The first gate has a good path on the other
side, but we'll continue on to the second.
As it happened, this would be our return route
a little while later.
My companion today, John who thought to start
his holiday with an easier fell walk.
Great Mell is less than a thousand feet of climbing
and has a gradual, rounded outline with no crags to worry about.
Behind John and across the way, showing a bright
array of yellow gorse, is its partner Little Mell Fell.
Looking to the right, more southerly in direction,
are the darker heather colours adorning the
upper slopes of Gowbarrow Fell.
The second gate on the lane, that would otherwise
take us round the flanks of the fell and end up at the Riding
Centre at Rooking House Farm.
We'll take the lead from the signs and climb
the stile, the gate being rather securely chained up.
The path starts gently enough, but having got
us warmed up from the lane walk, it made us work harder now
as it took a sharp right and headed steeply
up the fell.
Great Mell has a wood on the north eastern slopes
but more individual trees on this side.
This one had a rather nice free-formed shape,
as it was not affected buy any close neighbours that would compete
with it for space.
Some however were not so lucky and as we climbed
up the fell the effect of strong winds became more apparent.
These three adjacent trees were in various states
Higher again and the effect of the prevailing
winds becomes more pronounced.
What remains of both these trees were just the
branches that had grown sideways, bent double by the wind.
The slope eases and above the trees we have
an extensive view east towards Penrith and the distant Pennine
I was lulled into a false sense of 'having
completed the steepest part of the walk'.
Over a slight brow and another climb awaits.
I had forgotten that the path still had to pass through
another arm of the woodland.
Our view of the actual summit of the fell was
still hidden from view.
The well trodden path splits occasionally but
all of the options take you through the trees.
Storm damage, seemingly from many years back.
The larch and Scots Pine all show signs of a
having had a hard life.
Pine has been bleached silver by years of sunshine.
The vegetation alongside
the path has subtly changed now.
Ahh . . . the rounded outline beyond the trees
hints at the true summit is just a short distance ahead.
The summit 'tumulus' marked on the
map is now little more than a flat stoney area,
but some of the stones have been utilised to
make a respectable little cairn.
Ahead of us as we reach the top was the familiar
outline of Blencathra and the Back O'Skiddaw Fells.
Fancy a big look around from this lovely vantage
here or on the photo above for a 360
degree annotated panorama.
The lady you may have seen in the panorama offered
to take our picture on the top, as we did for her and her boys,
so here's John and I on the summit of Great
We'd seen a lower path on the map, the one at
the bottom of the woodland that came out at the gate.
Finding a slight path east from the summit we
headed out for the woods, full of confidence.
Walking down through the heather and bilberries,
with the lake at Cocklakes Farm down below.
This is the only vantage point to see the lake
as it is hidden from the A66 road if you're travelling into
the Lakes from Penrith.
Sadly the path petered out which left us navigating
the tussock grass.
The woodland below was confused by storm damage
and so we chose a clearer, more diagonal descent.
John had a slight problem, complicated by the
fact that he had left his trekking poles in the car . . . but
we managed in the end.
On the lower slopes there were occasionally
some lovely patches of purple flowers in the grass.
This was the perennial herb, Self
heal with its cluster of purple flowers held aloft on a
Our route through the less dense woods brought
us across to Routing Gill Beck, which acted as a guide to reach
the footpath we needed.
In the valley between us and Low Mell Fell there
were several new wildlife and bio-diversity ponds
like the ones that the Rivers Trust have made
over in our part of Cumbria.
The welcome sight of the cars after a slightly
Unlike Little Mell Fell, there's no real circular
path around the fell unless you are prepared for some hard work
we adjourned to The White Horse for lunch.
John had one more surprise
for me . . .
He had drawn a picture of my cottage in black
and white, based on a Google Street View image.
He's been to the cottage before but didn't
have a suitable picture of his own presumably.
This was a lovely gift after an interesting
walk up Great Mell Fell . . . thank you John.
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