Sharp Edge downhill: Blencathra from Mungrisdale
by simon-b » Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:42 am
Wainwrights included on this walk: Bannerdale Crags, Blencathra, Bowscale Fell, Souther Fell
Hewitts included on this walk: Bannerdale Crags, Blencathra, Bowscale Fell
Date walked: 08/06/2015
Time taken: 5.3
Distance: 14.8 km
Ascent: 918m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
With a day off work on Monday 8 June, I booked a room at Netherdene B and B in (the northern) Troutbeck for the Sunday night. I wanted some ridge scrambling practice as I was going to Glen Coe later in the month to do, among other things, the Aonach Eagach. So Sunday was spent doing a Helvellyn round with the other two famous Lakeland Edges. So to Monday, and I drove to Mungrisdale. This round of four Wainwrights would often be taken clockwise, generally the better way to do it. I had reasons for going in the other direction:
1. Tackling Sharp Edge downhill would be good practice for Aonach Eagach.
2. Bowscale Fell was on my 'direct ascents to do' list.
3. I'd done the circuit twice before clockwise, the second time adding Mungrisdale Common. Each time I'd used a different descent from Bowscale Fell. An anti-clockwise circuit gave the opportunity for a 3rd variation, The Tongue, which was better done uphill.
So I set off from Mungrisdale, the weather ideal.
It was quite a steep ascent onto The Tongue, and a climb I enjoyed.
Then followed a trudge across sometimes marshy grass to Bowscale Fell.
Next it was on to Bannerdale Crags.
I'd also climbed this hill the previous year by direct ascent via the east ridge; a good way up.
Then it was time to go for Blencathra.
I reached the summit (Hallsfell Top) to be greeted by superb views in the fine weather.
Next it was time to move off along the eastern edge of the summit plateau...
...heading north above Tarn Crags.
Sharp Edge came into view and looked just a bit intimidating when approached from above. I began the steep descent east towards the edge. I've climbed this way twice and this section then presented no difficulties. Coming down it was a bit more awkward and just a little hairy.
The views of Scales Tarn all the way down via the ridge were beautiful.
Moving down a bit further, I encountered a Cumbrian scrambler coming up. He said he'd climbed up Sharp Edge hundreds of times, but could count on the fingers of one hand the times he'd descended this way.
The bad step was reached. This bit also seemed to cause more adrenalin taken in this direction than on the two previous occasions when I had ascended this way.
Once past the bad step, moving down the arete became enjoyable, with spectacular scenery all around. Plenty of care was still required, though! One or two more people were coming up the ridge.
Before long the descent of the edge was over.
I took the path leading to Mousthwaite Comb. On the way I met two women on their way to Sharp Edge. One of them had done it before, and was looking forward to going up again. But she said she wouldn't fancy it downhill!
Mousthwaite Comb was reached before long, and I moved onto Souther Fell.
Then I began the descent NE.
Although not too far south of the Scottish border, I'm always struck by how typically English the scene is when looking down at the Mungrisdale area from these hills.
Back at the village, it was back into the car and home. 15 days later in Glen Coe, I met up with Cat, a WH member from Fife, and we conquered the Aoncah Eagach.
by ancancha » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:06 am
by trailmasher » Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:09 pm
by dav2930 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 7:49 pm
by simon-b » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:25 pm
Ancancha, it was good practice, which would also have worked vice versa. I learned a lot on Aonach Eagach which would have facilitated a more efficient and less fearsome descent of Sharp Edge.
Cheers, trailmasher. Blencathra is a fine hill. Coming down Sharp Edge, you really notice how polished the rocks are, even when they're dry.
by johnkaysleftleg » Mon Jul 13, 2015 3:36 pm
by ChrisW » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:07 pm
by simon-b » Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:33 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:I can certainly see the value in practice terms for bigger things but having looked down upon Sharp Edge I'm not sure I'll be trying it any time soon. It's a very nice corner of the Lakes round that way.
It is a great place, Anthony. Remember, Wainwright appears to have done Sharp Edge both ways. He may have used the bypass path, but this doesn't dodge perhaps the trickiest bits. He didn't get up the Howitzer, which you did! You should be OK taking on Sharp Edge uphill, at least.
Thank you, Chris. I'm sure there are plenty of Canadian views which do your heart good too.
by johnkaysleftleg » Mon Jul 13, 2015 8:56 pm
simon-b wrote:It is a great place, Anthony. Remember, Wainwright appears to have done Sharp Edge both ways. He may have used the bypass path, but this doesn't dodge perhaps the trickiest bits. He didn't get up the Howitzer, which you did! You should be OK taking on Sharp Edge uphill, at least.
Perhaps one day when I'm feeling reckless The difference between Sharp Edge and the Howitzer is what happens if you slip.