Visitors to Lakeland travelling along the A66 will be familiar with the small individual fell rising up alone from wide expanse of marshland surrounding it. The sight of this charming little fell as I drive along the A66 tells me I am nearly home.
When stopping one of our Lake District cottages in the area (Little Mell, Saddleback or Blencathra, Kity Fold or Kitty Byre) a wander up Great Mell Fell is highly recommended and can be done straight from the door of each of these cottages. It is a very enjoyable fell, standing proudly on its own with a shape not unlike a Christmas pudding. The fell side rises sharply to the North and West however the southeast extension provides a route to the top.
The summit gives a unique view of the Blencathra group, the vale of Keswick to the west and the Eden Valley to the east. A small pile of stones form a cairn, which is believed to mark an ancient Bronze Age burial mound.
The main attraction for me on visiting Great Mell Fell is the quiet solitude to enjoy the rich variety of wildlife. Deer, badgers, foxes, grouse, pheasant, mice, voles and hares, not to mention all manner of birds which can be found inhabiting the woods on the eastern slopes. Heavily planted with Scots Pine, the woods surround the base of Great Mell Fell and provide a simple low level circular walk.
From our Cottages at Troutbeck (Ullswater cottages) it is quite simple to walk through Mell Fell Wood and pass the ruin of the delightfully named Racy Cottage. Join the farm track and turn left to go back on yourself along the edge of the fellside. As you walk up an often muddy path, cross the first stile to the right and follow a narrow but defined path up the fell. You will skirt the edge of the wood as you make your walk uphill.
The path winds its way away from the wood and you will see many ancient trees, bent by years of prevailing wind. As you near the summit, trees become more spread out whilst still maintaining the feel of being in a forest. It can be a somewhat spooky experience walking through this particular part of the fell especially on a misty day.
This route is undoubtedly the easiest and best way up although it is possible to walk up from the old rifle range, a route that is unnecessarily steep and reserved for those seeking penance for their sins.
I recommend this fell to avid walkers and beginners. Sometimes it is nice to step away from the popular fells and seek out a less frequented summit and spend some time exploring.