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back to Wainwright Classics

by David Johnson - member no. 481

Mellbreak is one of those Lakeland Fells that I drove past many times, thinking it looked rather challenging, but knowing it was there to be climbed – after all, it is one of Wainwright’s 214 Fells covered in his seven Pictorial Guides. You can read AW’s description of it in his Pictorial Guide -Book 7 The Western Fells. Its appearance can seem intimidating especially when viewed from the North, and there is a steep, well-defined path from this direction which takes some effort
over slippery scree in places, but leads directly to the top whilst providing super views, particularly over Crummock Water and beyond. The path may seem a bit exposed in places.

Mellbreak, from near the start of the walk

Wainwright outlines various routes on Mellbreak, one or two not particularly
highly rated by him, but one he describes as ‘highly recommended, being, a
grand way to the top … especially beautiful when the heather is in bloom … the upper part of the path a joy to follow, steep, but no difficulties.’ It is this route, Mellbreak 5 in his Guide, which is described here.

Parking is available at Maggie’s Bridge, with then a walk along the road to Church Bridge, where you turn right towards Kirkgate Farm. A short walk along a walled lane leads to Mellbreak which is seen directly ahead.

A steep and twisting path goes up towards Raven and White Crags where splendid views unfold, in particular, to the left over Crummock Water and an
array of fells beyond.

Crummock Water & Buttermere, Rannerdale Knotts in foreground      

Mellbreak is itself a ridge and, according to AW, ‘like the keel of an overturned boat. It has no links with other fells.’ The last comment, coupled with its intimidating appearance, may explain why it is not as popular with walkers as other fells. Certainly on the day that we were there we hardly saw a soul.

So, how to get down and return to the car? There are a number of options. We carried on along the ridge, southwards, down to Black Beck, heading west along
a well marked path before turning north over Hen Comb and Loweswater Fell.
We then went north-east to take the path at High Nook Farm, leaving a half-mile walk back to Maggie’s Bridge. In all, a walk of about 7 miles.

Ascending Mellbreak

As described by Wainwright there are various alternative return routes from the top of Mellbreak, with probably the shortest total return distance being approximately 5 miles if the eastbound path from the depression between the
two summits is taken down to Mosedale. There are two summits on Mellbreak,
the southern one being higher and should be visited if you are to claim that you have reached the top. This shorter return route requires you to retrace your
steps for part of the way.

If you haven’t yet been up Mellbreak, do consider doing so. It isn’t an ogre,
rather a splendid walk and well worth the effort, with great views all round.

Going down from Loweswater Fell towards Loweswater

back to the Classics Walks index