Archive walk: Bannerdale Crags

Bannerdale Crags

Gary Richardson’s fell hike climaxes with adventures on the riverbank

Archive: May/June 2015

The exterior of The Thornhill Arms, located in Yorkshire's Calverley

TERRAIN: good paths and tracks, wet in places
DISTANCE: 7 miles/11.25 km
TIME: 3-4 hours
CLIMB: 1,710 ft/510 m
START/FINISH: car park opposite Mungrisdale village hall (honesty box) (GR: NY363302)
MAPS: Harvey Maps’ 1:25,000 Superwalker XT25 Lake District North; OS 1:25,000 Explorer OL5; OS 1:50,000 Landranger 90
TRANSPORT: 73/73a (seasonal) Caldbeck Rambler (Traveline, 0871 200 22 33,
ACCOMMODATION: camping, hostels, inns and B&Bs in and around the Mungrisdale/Caldbeck areas

On the eastern edge of the northern fells lies Bannerdale Crags, whose 2,230-foot (670m) summit – a Wainwright top – offers great panoramas over to Blencathra and out across the Eden valley.
After scaling the crags, this walk returns to Mungrisdale village along the tranquil valley of the River Glenderamackin.

In its short life, from rising on Mungrisdale Common to joining St John’s Beck at Threlkeld to become the Greta, the Glenderamackin flows first southeast before being forced north by Souther Fell’s bulk; it then turns east, around the northern end of Souther, south down the other side of the fell, before finally turning southwest to Threlkeld. How many other rivers can claim so many direction changes within the distance of a little over just ten miles? 

Bannerdale Crags and The Tongue from Mungrisdale


1. START Head north from the car park to the telephone box, turn left and follow a lane past cottages, going through a gate and out on to open moorland. Continue along the track, towards The Tongue, to cross the footbridge over Bullfell Beck. Take the track to the right to begin the climb to Bannerdale Crags (the path left, along the River Glenderamackin, will be your return route). Climb steadily for the next mile to the col between Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags. Rounding The Tongue’s shoulder, you will see the track sloping directly up the side of The Tongue: keep an eye out for a small path-side cairn to avoid staying on the lower path into Bannerdale’s old mine workings. As you gain height the views back across the Eden Valley and over Souther Fell open out.

2. 2 MILES/3.2 KM On the crest bear left to curve around the head of Bannerdale, to the summit. There are great views into Bannerdale but care is needed where the path hugs the crag edge. From the summit take the faint path heading initially southwest, as if towards Blencathra, then northwest to a col. The views to Sharp Edge and Foule Crag are particularly good here.

3. 3.4 MILES/5.5 KM From the col bear left into the Glenderamackin valley – steep and eroded in places – to an abandoned lead mine, from which a better track leads down the valley to a footbridge across the river.

4. 4.5 MILES/7.2 KM Don’t cross; stay on the track along the north bank, which will keep you company all the way back to Mungrisdale village.

5. 5.9 MILES/9.5 KM There’s no bridge at the confluence with Bannerdale Beck, so a bit of a balancing act is required to cross it on larger stones. From here the path deteriorates, crossing several rather wet sections. Further care is required where the river has eroded its banks. Eventually the footbridge over Bullfell Beck is reached: re-trace your steps back to the village.

Walking can be strenuous, and it is up to you to approach it with caution and if you are inexperienced to do so under appropriate supervision. You should also carry appropriate clothing, equipment and maps, and wear suitable footwear. The details given here were believed to be correct at the time of going to press but neither the author nor Country Publications Ltd can accept responsibility for inaccuracies.


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