Mountain Days

The New Blencathra Summit Stone

Our Mountain

The first walk I did with John Beamson of Robustours, and the first day I met him, was a Winter ascent of Blencathra. We had that moment when you’re meeting someone you’ve never seen before in a car park, checking each other out, getting round to asking, ‘Are you… ‘.

We had a great day, both training for our Mountain Leader Awards and have talked or messaged each other every day since!

Blencathra was John’s first ‘mountain’ so he has a special love for it. I’ve also been up there several times as well from all directions and had a caravan across the road with a view of the range.

Blencathra Summit Stone Stolen

After the summit stone was stolen last August John has been hell bent on replacing it. Before you knew what was happening, he’d set up a fundraiser, enrolled the mountaineering community and raised £1000 to pay a stonemason to craft a replacement (from sandstone) and engrave the words that the original ring stone bore.

It’s a bigger stone, something that will be seen even in snow, something that demands more attention, it’ll definitely get in more photographs!

Ordnance Survey Trigonometrical Station

The Old Blencathra Summit Stone – Photo: Nicola SmithThe Old Blencathra Summit Stone – Photo: Nicola Smith
The Old Blencathra Summit Stone – Photo: Nicola Smith

The OS trig is buried under the summit and the stone ring, phosphor encapsulated in concrete, stood on top waiting for a theodolite to be mounted on it to be used in geodetic surveying or some such nonsense. What concerned the community was that it had been there since June 1953, part of the mountain’s make up. It was like the soul had been removed.

Saddleback (Blencathra) Trig – Ordnance Survey’s record of maintenance – Laid 01/06/1953 – Maintained 01/09/1984

Laying The Stone

On Saturday 30st March 2019, John and a group of friends carried the stone from the car park at Mousthwaite Comb up Scales Fell and onto a cloudy Blencathra summit. I pinned my orange Trailstar tarp to the slate and David Ector and I spent the next two hours drilling and gluing the 18-inch sandstone ring, The New Blencathra Summit Stone, to the concrete base that Ordnance Survey had laid in 1953.

This is the VERY first photograph of the stone in place, we were under the tarp and the sun was starting to go down.

Four of us camped on the summit to guard it while the resin set. ‘Twas a wee bit chilly that night let’s say.

The Unveiling

Next morning I dropped to the tarn to update the rest of the group, John went to the White Horse to accompany a group of what would end up being 60 strong back up to the summit, John’s third ascent up this 868m mountain in 24 hours.

Some of the group would ascend Blease Fell, two in electric wheelchairs, one of which was John’s dad Colin!

At midday on Sunday 31st March John said a few words and lifted a multicam bergen off the stone.

The event was attended by Alan Hinkes, Steve Birkinshaw and other well known Lakeland heros, a group to which in some people’s eyes John now belongs.

Limited Edition Map

Ordnance Survey agreed to print me a one-off limited-edition Explorer map which covers the whole of the Northern Fells, including Blencathra but notably showing ALL 24 Wainwrights. This coverage would normally be on 4 sides of two maps.

We thought it would be good to have something special to commemorate this historic occasion in Lakeland history. If you fancy a copy of the limited edition map you can get one here – The New Blencathra Summit Stone Map.

Thank You

If you donated to the cause thank you very much from John and I, we really believe that you’ve contributed to an event that will be remembered for decades to come as…

The day that Blencathra got it’s smile back!