Blencathra walk

Blencathra walkBlencathra is one of the finest fells in the Lake District. Wainwright believed it to be, ‘one of the grandest objects in Lakeland’. It is one of the most northerly of the great fells and its imposing southern front is a memorable welcome to the Lake District if heading towards Keswick on the A66. The mountain rises steeply and in isolation above a broad valley and the village of Threlkeld. This dark, towering backdrop has almost perfect symmetry with Blease Fell to the west and Scales Fell to the east providing balance to the scene. Four ravines divided by three lofty spurs shape the southern aspect, ‘as though a giant hand had clawed at the mountain, each finger scooping out a deep hollow, with narrow strips of ground left undisturbed between’ according to Wainwright. Along with Blease Fell and Scales Fell they make up five buttresses. There are many routes to the top, the finest of which is via Hall’s Fell Ridge which leads directly south from the summit, and includes traversing an aret aptly known as Narrow Edge. Equally fine is the ascent via the celebrated Sharp Edge (pictured above), a rising crest of naked rock. It is more of a challenge than Striding Edge and has sections that require scrambling. From Threlkeld the easiest route up Blencathra avoiding any steep precipices is via Roughten Gill to the west of the village and round the back of Blease Fell. Other approaches are possible from Mungrisdale at the eastern foot of the massif. From the summit a distinctive small depression (The Saddle) leads to the prominent top of Foule Crag, from which the alternative name Saddleback derives. The Saddle is well worth crossing to Foule Crag and then continuing onto Bannerdale Crags with striking views back to Foule Crag and Sharp Edge.