A magical morning on Great Mell fell

by backpackingbongos

Sleeping in a metal box is not the best way to keep warm on a sub-zero winter’s night.  Metal really is not a great insulating material.  Thankfully I had made a nest on the floor consisting of a memory foam mattress topper, a duvet, two sleeping bags and a shivering dog.  I woke at first light and pulled up the blinds to see, nothing.  The windows were covered in ice both inside and out.

The £10 stove that lives in the Bongo was sluggish but it did manage to eventually boil enough water for a cup of coffee.  I stood outside in the empty car park with plumes of steam rising from my mug, enjoying the silent morning.  It took a bit of coaxing to get Reuben out and then I realised why, he was a broken dog.  He resembled a crab as he shuffled over to the verge for a pee, limbs appearing to have been removed and put on backwards in the night.  I’m not sure if he was putting it on for my benefit but it was a sorry sight.  The day before we had done the Newlands round and the wind must have got to his brain as he spent the day racing around constantly.  He was now paying for his canine over indulgence.

My plan had been to crack out the spikes and climb Helvellyn, but it was evident that he would not be up for it.  I decided it best to head on home for his sake, a real shame considering the stunning weather forecast.  Over another cup of coffee in the van I could not resist a quick look at my map.  The summit of Great Mell Fell always catches my eye on the drive along the A66.  Reuben would want a walk at some point during the day.  I thought we might as well make it a scenic one.

There is room to park a couple of cars next to the track on the south east of the fell.  We took to this track for a bit before entering the woods through a gate.  I let Reuben off the lead once in the woods where he decided that maybe he was not too stiff for a bit of a run around.  We contoured along a narrow trod for a bit before climbing directly up through the trees.  Boggy patches were well camouflaged by a thick carpet of fallen leaves.

After a while we headed further west and finally picked up the main path to the summit.  Breaking out of the woods the view was of snow clad hills rising above the Matterdale Common.


Further up the hill the path passed through an area of old pine, weatherbeaten from the westerly winds that must hit this isolated hill.


The sun felt warm in the completely still air, there was not even a hint of a breeze.  I really could not have asked for more perfect conditions.  Great Mell fell itself is a bit of a dull pudding, but the views are anything but dull.  The snow topped Blencathra dominated the view and I found my eyes constantly being drawn to its bulk.  Helvellyn would have been stunning but the low light meant that it was just a dazzling flash of light due to the reflecting sun.  I spent a good half hour just quietly savouring the conditions and the views.  Reuben intently looking out for anything that he could provide with a bit of love.





The long drive home was soon calling so I reluctantly set off back down the path, passing three groups on their way up.  I had timed the walk perfectly to get the top all to myself for so long.


Next time you are whizzing along the A66, pull over for an hour or so and climb Great Mell fell, the views are definitely worth it.

12 Comments to “A magical morning on Great Mell fell”

  1. Great Mell Fell has caught my eye several times driving on Route 66. Too obsessed with the big hills for my own good. Hope poor Reuben has recovered now, shame he lost his Mojo on such a great day

    • Reuben quickly regained his mojo as soon as soon as he was let off that lead! Great Mell fell is worth a quick ascent whilst driving to the bigger hills.

  2. Had to look it up on the map as I wasn’t sure whether I’d been up it or not, but I haven’t! Like you say though, the views from it look amazing and Rueben looks like he was taking them in too, despite his wooden legs.

    Poor Reuben, first you forget his meaty sticks, then you break him, bet he’s told Dixie all sorts of other stories too that you’ve never mentioned……

    • Yep, Reuben really does have a hard life. Today involved chasing a ball round the park, laying in his bed, and just now some dinner………

  3. Some cracking shots there James. Conditions look perfect.

  4. You had a great few days there with crystal clear conditions, how the weather changes for worst !

  5. some absolutely stunning pictures there James and a lovely outing to boot. Your stories of walks and camping with Reuben really keep my excited at the prospect of taking Barney for his first proper outing next year.

    Have a great Christmas and an equally good 2013

  6. Great shots! Would love to do the Great Mell soon, hopefully with a hiking buddy like your Reuben.

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