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