The link from recent entries to here is subtle and personal.
After the successful introduction of River Mite to the Ratty, talk turned, in due course, to further extension of the fleet, and to the name that might be used now all three rivers of the Ravenglass Estuary had been taken. It was suggested that, in keeping with the tradition thus far, a fourth locomotive might be called the River Bleng.
I’d never heard of this river before, but its relevance appeared to be that it ran into the River Irt not too far above the Estuary, thus fitting it for consideration. But where the Esk ran the length of noble Eskdale, the Mite from shy, beautiful Miterdale and the Irt from England’s deepest Lake, Wastwater, the Bleng drained the unheard of Blengdale.
This valley lies between Wasdale, to the south and Ennerdale to the north, ringed by high fells that turn their back on it. It’s wild, unvisited, difficult to access, empty and, dare I say it? unattractive, except to those who count upon silence and solitude, who will hardly find themselves bothered by conversation – or prospect of assistance in the event of an accident – on a day out here.
To a minor extent, Blengdale fascinated me, though never to the point of an expedition to it, or to the fells that surround it.
In the end, as I closed in on the final summits I needed to complete the Wainwrights, those fells became inevitable. An expedition out of Wasdale, along the valley of Nether Beck, took me a long, arcing way round onto the ridge bearing westwards from Pillar. In wisps of cloud, I reached Haycock, an overlooked fell whose high dome is built on the shoulders of other fells and has no roots in the valleys.
Haycock lies at the head of Blengdale, and so I got to see this valley, as in the picture above. My immediate reaction, which you may share, was that, when this barren, featureless, useless valley was sitting around doing nothing, what idiot decided to set the Forestry Commission loose on Ennerdale?
The rest of my walk took me further along the declining ridge to the summit of the remote Caw Fell, before returning over Haycock and descending onto a marshy plateau between the latter and Seatallan, whose grassy ridge forms the southern flank of Blengdale, and which had originally been part of the expedition. However, from Pots of Ashness, I descended to Nether Beck and followed the valley back to my car, reserving Seatallan to another, more considered day.
Ironically, the Forestry Commission now have plans for a Blengdale Forest, though it appears this will occupy the lower valley, the upper valley being probably unsuited to growing anything useful. I’ve still been no nearer Blengdale, though I’ll concede that, from Caw Fell,Haycock displays a magnificently structured architecture above the valley.
But it is oh so unworthy of being a Ratty train, and the notion has never been resurrected.