My first ascent of Mellbreak took place last year on the day that I finished the north western fells, by making it a circular walk from Buttermere around Crummock Water, also taking in Rannerdale Knotts. And it’s ironic that the day I started the north western fells, was also the day I first saw Mellbreak.
On that day in April 2007, as I climbed Whiteside to start off the Crummock Horseshoe, I looked down at the fell across the lake behind me and it looked so much more impressive than on the map. Although not on my itinerary that day, I looked forward to the day I would climb Mellbreak.
Four and a bit years later I found myself in Buttermere, one of my favourite places in the Lakes, having walked in from Keswick via Barrow, Outerside and contouring around Sail, Wandope and Whiteless Pike. Feeling quite tired I decided to have a “see how I go” sort of day. Originally I’d intended an epic peak bag of the fells to the left of Crummock Water – Mellbreak, Hen Comb, Gavel Fell, Blake Fell and Burnbank Fell – but at a distance of 17 miles or so because of the long way back afterwards, I didn’t fancy it, especially as the next day I’d have a big walk over into Ennerdale. So I meandered along below Red Pike and Starling Dodd heading towards Floutern Pass, making it up as I went.
I took a detour to look at Scale Force waterfall and then headed up onto Scale Knott, the first level on the way up onto Mellbreak. I paused a while to take in the views back down to Buttermere.
The views got better and more extensive the higher I got, and these spurred me on to the summit, a pretty miserable spot, compared to what was to come. I continued across a depression and up to the lower north summit, which is a vast improvement on the true summit. And there spread in front of me was the view down to Loweswater.
Having no stomach for continuing the walk down and back up over Hen Comb, I decided to make it a circuit of Crummock Water. So I descended the north ridge of Mellbreak, which is a much better way up than down, becoming steep in places with a few runs of scree.
I reached the bottom, had a lunch break and then continued in an amble around Crummock Water, stopping off on the shoreline just to take in the views. Of course, a major part of these views was Mellbreak, which shows its eastern scree face to the lake, rising impressively from the shore.
And this is what makes Mellbreak look so good. Indeed, it’s what makes Buttermere so good, as several fells rise out of the water, or appear to, making for stunning scenes. But of all of the fells in this area, Mellbreak has become my favourite and it’s because the views back down from the top match the views up from the bottom. And those views are in several directions.
But next time I’ll do the walk the other way, taking the steeper harder north ridge in ascent and the gentler southern slope over Scale Knott as the descent. And there will be a next time…