A single tree on a grassy hill. In the background you can see a mountain range.

The impressive views from Great Mell Fell


Over the Eastern side of the Lake District, near Penrith, you can find two smallish fells; Little Mell Fell & Great Mell Fell. 

They’re a couple of the less commonly walked fells, due to being not that tall and not that interesting to hike. Though the views from the top are impressive, they were made better for us by the recent snowfall in the higher altitudes.

We set out to walk both, but once again changed our mind after reaching the top of Great Mell Fell. This time, however, it wasn’t because we weren’t in the mood – we were just too cold and hungry and wanted to get home to thaw out.

A boggy start in the wrong direction

After parking up at the bottom of Great Mell Fell, we followed the National Trust signs to Great Mell Fell./

Whilst you could technically take any ascent here, we quickly found that the route we took, was not a good one for the winter. After trying to find a route where we wouldn’t immediately sink, we decided to turn back and attempt a different direction.

The anti-clockwise ascent up Great Mell Fell

Once we picked up a more suitable path, the ascent was rather easy. A clear path, a gradual gradient, and very few obstacles made for an easy walk.

As we got above the low-level tree line, the views were wide and open. 

The few trees that remained were windswept and grew sideways.

Looking back over towards the Fairfield range we were presented with a snowcapped mountain panorama.

We found a great app called PeakFinder. It lets you point your phone at any mountains to see what they are! It’s very helpful with learning the area and getting your bearings.

Here are the mountains we could see from here:

Hill-top woods

As we got near the top of the fell, we passed through another patch of trees. This was very welcomed as it provided a bit of shelter from the wind – which was bitter cold today.

The trees really were the only thing interesting on the fell itself. I enjoyed picking them out for a nice photo.

A few trees on a hill. Dry grass blowing in the foreground, and nothing but sky behind them.

The summit of Great Mell Fell

We reached the top of Great Mell Fell, indicated by a small, underwhelming pile of rocks. 

In his book of the Eastern Fells, Alfred Wainwright describes these as “a few unexpected and unhappy stones, looking quite out of their element.”. Whilst these may not be the same stones, they certainly felt out of their element still as the rest of the summit was short, grazed-upon grass.

With the wind blowing us away, we quickly snapped a few photos of ourselves at the top, and with the cairn.

A moody sky and a quick descent

Shortly after these photos, because of the wind, the clouds came in thick and fast. The dark skies and snowcapped mountains made for excellent photographs.

From the top of Great Mell Fell, one of the best rewards is the North Western views of Blencathra. Alfred was right when he said that “the highlight of the view is Blencathra undoubtedly”.

The mighty Blencathra in a dark moody scene with snow on top. You can even make out a zig-zag path up the side.

As we descended, a little bit quicker than the way up (mainly in an attempt to stay warm), I took a few more photos, taking advantage of the moody skies.

A Wainright cynic and a quick sandwich

As we reached the lower forest again, we passed an elderly gentleman on his way up. We stopped for a friendly chat where our non-Cumbrian accents gave away that we weren’t from around here. After explaining that we’d just moved to the area, and were on a mission to walk the 214 Wainwrights, he made it quite clear that he wasn’t a fan of Alfred Wainwright.

“They’re not Wainwright hills, I’ve been walking these long before he came along.”

A pleasant guy nonetheless, we moved on and chuckled about the experience we just had. Reflecting on the idea of what times were like before he had come along and documented everything in his books. 

We decided to take a seat on a fallen tree, sheltered from the cold winds, and have our sandwiches. We were getting quite hungry by this point as we had delayed eating until we found somewhere out of the wind. 

A cheese and ham sandwich (in a soft white roll).

It was here that we decided that we were a bit too cold and hungry to go on and tackle Little Mell Fell. Though in hindsight, we wish we had just pushed on and ticked it off. The views would be very similar and it’s quite a way for us to drive with no other connecting fells nearby – so we’re going to have to do another dedicated drive up there in the future for this one.

Whilst the fell itself wasn’t all that interesting (with the exception to a few trees), the views were beautiful. The walk was pleasant and as always, the company was the best.