Saturday, May 9, 2015

Around Gowbarrow and Little Mell Fell

Little Mell Fell summit cairn 

On Thursday I sort of had to pass through Penrith and along the A66 on my way home from a work meeting.  Great excuse for a stop off at one of my favourite running spots, Gowbarrow.  I had worked out a route I wanted to try out.  My plan had been to work around the familiar trails over to Little Mell Fell (small road section) and then have a go at contouring my way up Little Mell Fell.  I parked at the usual spot at the side of the road in the old quarry.  This has now been made into a National Trust car park and had a bit of a spruce up so National Trust membership is needed to park here unless you pay (although you're probably fine in the evenings).

I headed across the field, over the footbridge and along the usual path but carried on along the path rather than turning up along the wall to Gowbarrow summit.  The path splits at some farm buildings, keep to the right, and then it follows the wall around Norman Crag and up to Ulcat Row, where I went on the road for about a mile and a half.  At Little Mell Fell, after a short dash over a very muddy section, I began the weaving up the steep ascent of Little Mell Fell.  My plan was to weave left and right, zig-zagging my way up.  On fresh legs I think I would have managed.  it starts off steep and then has a rounded top.  I had to resort to a power hike about halfway up, where my track stops zig-zagging and goes straight up.  A challenge for another day, perhaps parking at the bottom.

favourite trails around Gowbarrow and through Swinburn's Park

Towards the top it got a little boggy but I was very pleased when the summit cairn came into view.

Little Mell Fell is a relatively small fell but from the top there are great views to the east over the Eden Valley and over to the Pennines.  To the North I could make out some Scottish hills.  To the west and south great views over the Eastern Fells as well as Blencathra.

There was a path off to the East which I considered.  Looking at the map, it looks like it would link up to the singletrack road, or I could always have contoured back to the way I came up.  I decided to head back down the way I came and then followed the road along, taking a right turn and then picking up the footpath on the right which goes past Priest's Crag.  There have been a lot of trees felled here but there are still beautiful wooded paths, made soft by leaves and dark by the tree cover.  Great to run on when it's hot and your feet are a bit sore.

heading into the woods

This track leads onto the open fell at Gowbarrow Park and what is probably my favourite secion of trail in the Lakes.  Winding singletrack, rocky in places, mostly downhill, steep drops to the left and great views over Ullswater.

This trail winds gradually downhill, getting significantly steeper and rockier towards the path junction where I joined the popular Aira Force track.

Feeling pretty tired by now, I took it easy along the side of Aira Force and the rest of the way back, checking out the various bits of art and sculpture that have been put in the woods.

I'm really pleased with this route, it's got some really nice runnable sections as well as the direct climbing of Little Mell Fell and even a bit of road if that's your thing.

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