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Mungrisdale Common



Michael Graham

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Height: 633m (2,077ft) GPS: NY 31059 29231 Walking Routes

Mungrisdale Common is a fell in the English Lake District and although Alfred Wainwright listed it as one of the 214 featured hills in his influential Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells it was his least favourite. He commented that it "has no more pretension to elegance than a pudding that has been sat on".There is some speculation that Wainwright included the fell in his guide simply as a way to fill space, although this has never been proven.

Mungrisdale Common is oddly named as it is a number of miles from Mungrisdale village  which lies in a different river catchment.

Mungrisdale Common lies north of Blencathra, of which it is an outlier. Gently graded grassy slopes fall from Atkinson Pike, Blencathra's northern summit. Upon meeting the head of Blackhazel Beck this shoulder divides in two, the north eastern arm connecting to Bannerdale Crags and the north western branch continuing to descend to Mungrisdale Common. Beyond an almost imperceptible depression the reascent is only 6 ft.

After the brief plateau of the summit the descent continues westward toward Skiddaw Forest. Confusingly this forest contains no trees other than the windbreak of Skiddaw House but is a marshy upland area at around 1,300 ft surrounded on all sides by higher fells.

Three streams flow from Skiddaw Forest, dividing the Northern Fells into three sectors. Dash Beck runs north west, the River Caldew north east and the Glenderaterra Beck south.

The three ranges of the Northern Fells are the Skiddaw massif to the south west, the Blencathra group including Mungrisdale Common to the south east and the area colloquially known as 'Back o'Skiddaw' to the north.

Skiddaw House, the lone building in the forest, has variously seen service as a shepherds' bothy and a Youth Hostel.

The Glenderaterra Beck lies to the west of Mungrisdale Common and its tributary Roughten Gill, forms the southern boundary.

A further feeder on this flank is Sinen Gill whose waterfall is one of the fell's most notable features. The River Caldew lies to the north, across which is Great Calva, most southerly of the Back o'Skiddaw fells.

Despite its uninspiring appearance Mungrisdale Common does therefore stand on the important Eden to Derwent watershed, though it is not well defined at this point.

Water from the southern flanks reaches the sea at Workington while rain falling on the northern side heads for the Solway Firth via Carlisle. This watershed continues across Skiddaw Forest between the headwaters of the Caldew and Glenderaterra, linking onward to Lonscale Fell in the Skiddaw range.

Mungrisdale Common carries a very small cairn at the approximate summit, only constructed since Wainwright first encouraged climbing of the fell by including it in his 1962 guidebook.

Two more prominent ancient cairns also grace the fell, one to the west of the summit and the other on a tongue of ground between Sinen Gill and Roughten Gill. A small stone pillar (marked 'stake' on OS maps) stands on the watershed at the head of Glenderaterra Beck and a further prominent Cloven Stone marks its continuation higher up the slope. Both have served as boundary stones.

Wainwright's displeasure was not restricted to Mungrisdale Common's profile and he also remarked that "Any one of a thousand tufts of tough bent and cotton-grass might lay claim to crowning the highest point...A thousand tufts, yet not one can be comfortably reclined upon, this being a summit that holds indefinitely all the water that falls upon it"

The summit view includes a striking window to the south west between Lonscale Fell and Blencathra, revealing unexpectedly a run of high fells from Pillar to Crinkle Crags. Elsewhere the view consists of those nearby fells surrounding Skiddaw Forest.

"For people who won't be told" Wainwright suggested ascents from Keswick or Threlkeld via the Glenderaterra valley.

An alternative would be from Scales or Mungrisdale via the Glenderamackin col but most ascents are likely to be as part of a climb of Blencathra, the intervening ground being gentle of gradient.

Walking routes near Mungrisdale Common



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