Saturday, 24 May 2014
Wainwright #147, #148 & #149
Yesterday we walked in cloud and the only hills where we could see the summits were the low fells to the north of Ullswater. So today, with a similar forecast, we set off to climb all three of these smaller hills in separate walks.
The first hill is Little Mell Fell (1,657ft/505m). This is a very short ascent from the road and took us twenty minutes of walking – an uphill slog all the way. Wainwright dismisses this hill, questioning why he included it in his guide books, but its location as the last significant bump at the North Eastern edge of the Lake District provides it with a good view of all the hills in this part of England.
Next, is the nearby Great Mell Fell (1,762ft/537m) a hill with a similar shape; but a completely different ‘feel’. Little Mell Fell, like most Lakeland fells, is grazed and the sheep keep the surface a smooth, treeless green grass slope. Great Mell Fell in contrast is fenced and has no sheep, the result is a tree covered hill.
Now owned by the National Trust, Great Mell Fell was previously the site of a firing range and Wainwright’s guide, written many years ago, advises not attempting to climb it – for fear of getting shot! The result is a climb through a fabulous wood with trees bent and blown over by the prevailing South-Westerly winds.
The summit is grassy and the cotton grass was just flowering – leaving a field of small white fluff balls blowing in the wind as we descended back to the car.
The final climb for the day was Gowbarrow Fell (1,579ft/481m). This is the knobbly brown hill that lies behind the popular waterfall of Aira Force.
We walked up the paved pathways from the busy National Trust car park to the waterfall. Stopped to take some photographs and then set off following our noses (rather than the map) towards the top. Our aim was to get up and down before the rain forecast for mid-afternoon.
Gowbarrow Fell reminded me very much of Loughrigg Fell (1,099ft/335m) or Silver How (1,296ft/395m), a low hill with a bump coated top, lots of false summits and paths winding in all directions. We followed what seemed to be the main path and were surprised at how long it took before the summit finally came into view.
We got back down and ate an ice cream in the car park, which was full of visiting Sri-Lankan cricket fans visiting the waterfall the day before the first match.
Three separate walks, starting from three different locations:
Little Mell Fell: at the road (NY424235).
Great Mell Fell: at the road (NY407247).
Gowbarrow Fell: at the National Trust car park (NY401201).