I reckon few have Lingmell in their top 10 fells, so why do I ? It’s quite remarkable considering it’s the most recently climbed fell on my list of favourites and has had to compete with the likes of Scafell, Bowfell, assorted Langdale Pikes etc. All of which it has beaten.
The answer is that I just had a brilliant day on the day I climbed it, and especially so when compared with the expectations I’d had before starting out.
Still tired from the previous few days when I’d explored the fells around Ennerdale and then walked into Wasdale, I didn’t feel up for a big walk that morning. And a night in the youth hostel in a 14 bed room that was virtually full meant I didn’t start the day in the most positive frame of mind. But as I walked alongside Wastwater towards the head of the valley, a patch of blue sky appeared in the distance behind Great Gable and Lingmell and seemed a bit like an omen that everything would be ok.
The climb up Lingmell’s ridge from Wasdale Head was long and, being fully laden, slow. But it gave me the opportunity to observe the herd heading for the Scafells and to enjoy the views back down into Wasdale, which as the sun came out were stunning. This meant that when I approached the summit of Lingmell, I was feeling better, and resting and lunching at the summit, the views all around made it all worthwhile.
Great Gable to the west looked its usual pointy self, but much closer than I was used to seeing it. And of course in the other direction were Scafell Pike and Scafell, along with their attendants of Broad Crag down to Great End. In the distance to the north I could make out Skiddaw and further away to the east, Helvellyn. Below me were Round How and Middleboot Knotts, two minor tops that somehow, despite being lower than everything around them, have enough prominence to qualify as Nuttalls. Standing on Lingmell gave me a great opportunity to make sense of what is a quite crowded part of the map, and which is in reality much simpler than it looks.
It turned out to be quite a long, lingering lunch break because of everything I could see before me, and this killed any possible desire to tackle Scafell Pike. But that was just as well because of the difficult descent that I later created for myself by a wrong turn on the Corridor Route to Sty Head. Later that evening, once the trauma of crossing ravines had started to fade in my mind, the memories of being on Lingmell came to the fore to remind me of what had been good about the day.
Lingmell is usually seen as an extra rather than one of the main actors in the story of the Scafells. Large parts of it are grassy rather than rocky. But it does two things really well.
First of all it gives amazing views back down into Wasdale and in the other directions too. It truly is worth the climb just for these.
Secondly, Lingmell enables a walker to enjoy being in the highest part of the lake District, and thereby England, whilst not being overwhelmed by the masses making a beeline for Scafell Pike – which is, in any case, close enough to tack onto a visit. Even Scafell suffers from its popularity to a certain degree, although nothing like Scafell Pike. Lingmell doesn’t, and most visitors are either connoisseurs who appreciate it for its own merits or merely passing through on their way to or from its bigger siblings. And some of the best features of Scafell, for instance, are best seen from another fell, for which Lingmell is ideal.
And as a viewpoint, or somewhere to simply contemplate my surroundings, life, the universe and everything, I’d choose Lingmell any day over its neighbours. The views are better and I’m less likely to be disturbed in my reverie.
For all its value as a crowd-less viewpoint, I fully recognise that there are “better” fells out there, and that Lingmell has probably punched above its weight in coming in at number 6 on my list (as of early 2012). I know there are fells which currently rank much lower that are likely to overtake it on a revisit, but for now I’m going to let Lingmell enjoy its position in the table – a place which it has nevertheless fully earned.