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Mellbreak and a muddle

Mellbreak and a muddle

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:50 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Mellbreak

Date walked: 23/10/2016

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Somewhere in the night I discovered why I'd felt quite so exhausted the day before - I was definitely coming down with a cold, and feeling all blocked up and just not right.

Buttermere by daylight, though, was a lovely place, with a special line in hills behind hills - just the tips showing above the nearer bumps. This time I could find the village, but I could also see why it had been such a mystery the night before - there's not a lot to see from the main road.

Once again I'd waited for the cafe to open so that I could buy some lunch, but today it was a waste of time, as although they'd advertised takeaway sandwiches on their website, they had none. So back to the Plan B of lunch at Loweswater, and wishing I'd just gone with that from the beginning.

From across the flat land between the two lakes the hills behind hills business was becoming ever more obvious - it was a stunning view, and I loved that all this was still new to me, five years in.

Hills behind hills

I crossed the river with the very odd name (a dub is a puddle to me!), and turned along towards Crummock Water (which for some reason I can't think about with going 'but it was the BEST butter'...), sticking to the path nearer the shoreline when most people turned uphill, presumably for Scale Force.

Crummock Water

A little bridge took me towards the foot of Scale Knott, where I could see the path zigzagging up through the bracken.

Scale Knott

Scale Beck and Grasmoor

Scale Knott, after those first bends, was another steep slog up over grass - drier today, and less mixed with rocky bits, but hard going when I didn't have much bounce left, and much windier - it was blowing me onto the hill so far, but I wasn't at all sure what it would be like further up, or trying to come down the other end. The view was always a good excuse for a rest, though.

Two lakes

Scale Force

Eventually, after a long toil upwards, I reached the corner of the fence and set out towards the summit of Scale Knott - I didn't quite have to cross the highest point, but it didn't seem worth avoiding it.

Scale Knott summit and Mellbreak

Above that the slope rose again, but more gently - a broad grassy place with a good path running up it. Obviously I hadn't tried any other walks from Buttermere, so this may well be the worst, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with it from my point of view - there was a good view behind, but I could see two better ones as I climbed just by turning my head - the green and yellow curves of the Floutern Pass to the left, and the starker grey and brown outlines of Grasmoor to the right.

Floutern Pass

Back towards Honister

The summit was a highest tuft one - good surroundings, but not much else, and even the views had been better without the flat foreground.

Mellbreak summit (and Grasmoor)

So I didn't linger, but headed on to the second summit, which was a decent walk away - there are plenty of places on ridges where closer tops are counted as separate summits!

To the second summit

From the dip between the summits there was a good view over to Hen Comb and Mosedale in between - I was hoping to get off the far end, but was aware that I might have to retreat and go down from here, depending on the wind.

Hen Comb and Mosedale

The second summit was a much more definite one, with a good cairn, and a view to Loweswater. Oddly, this summit looked higher both from the other summit and looking back - the optical illusion doesn't usually work in both directions.

Mellbreak north top and Loweswater

The path down the north end turned out to be fairly sheltered, and a nice path for most of the way down, winding through heather to find the easiest route, because it was definitely steep.

From the descent I had a good view of my next objective, looking surprisingly low (compared to where I was) and surprisingly high (compared to the surrounding land) both at once.

Low Fell

I stopped at the promontory for my peek back round the corner along the two lakes, but the view ahead was good at well - at first the wide view over Loweswater to where the hills ran out and the hills of Scotland started up again beyond, and then focusing more on the patterns of the fields below - which sometimes looked very directly below!

Round the corner

A long way down

Eventually, however, the nice twisty path ran out, and I had a very unpleasant time on some loose yellow scree - some of it you could avoid at first, but the lower parts you couldn't, and I ended up with a very yellow bottom from sliding down where I couldn't keep my feet.

Yellow scree

Still, I reached dry land eventually, and passed through a band of trees to follow a walled lane to the junction by the pub - which still has a supposedly helpful signpost, although not quite the same as the one Wainwright drew!

The helpful signpost

After all the slow descent I was just in time to order lunch - Loweswater is nothing like Wasdale, really, but it had the same kind of pub with extra places everywhere, and I had the same kind of good-for-colds lunch, having found myself a little table in a kind of corridor place with a good view.

The onwards and upwards kind of plan was to cross Low Fell and Fellbarrow on the way to Cockermouth - which was getting a bit tight for time not so much because of the hills as because of the distance I still had to walk at the other end, but it looked like it would be fine if I pressed on determinedly.

I was a bit mixed up in rural roads now - checking the maps at corners - but I found my way round to Foulsyke, where another helpful sign pointed across the fields.

The way to Low Fell

According to Wainwright's map, I had to walk along the edge of a wood for two sections between fences, and then at the third fence slant uphill across a tiny field to get onto the hillside.

But something went wrong between the two maps and reality, so that when I eventually came out of the edge-of-woodland paths and into a field, in was uncrossable - not impassable, although it was a bit full of bracken, but just endless, so that I slanted up for ages and got nowhere, and began to feel that I was far too far along the hill, although it was hard to tell from below.

After a while I stopped to take stock - I couldn't find the right way, I was tired out, and hunting around for it had taken enough time that even if I found a way I didn't really have time to go over and catch the last bus - whereas if I dropped out to the Lorton road I should just catch the last bus up to Keswick from there.

Looking back to the hills

So I turned back over the fields, to do more dodging round the corners of tiny roads. But there wasn't a stop at the junction with the main road, and by the time I had walked up to the next farm there was still no stop and still no bus, and I was sure I had just missed it at the junction (I hadn't, actually, partly because it was late, but mostly because I had greatly underestimated the amount of tiny wiggly road between me and Buttermere).

So I knew there was a bus going round the loop the other way which became something like the 17:39 from Seatoller, and thought I should meet it at Lorton if I kept going - but then a bus going that way came sailing along, and I stuck out my hand anyway, and it stopped - and actually, going round that way was the best plan, because I had an amazing scenic tour of all the places I'd been over the weekend, rather than ending up with time to kill in the dark in Keswick - but I just wish I'd kept my head enough to buy a day ticket!

Fortunately after that the rest of the journey home was uneventful, and even included time for dinner at Penrith. And my knee didn't hurt once through the whole weekend, which was definitely an upside!

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Re: Mellbreak and a muddle

Postby ChrisW » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:31 pm

Wow, what a beautiful day Nighe, shame about the meanderings toward the end but great that the knee held up throughout :clap: :clap:
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