Blencathra & Beyond

11th June 2011 - Walk 1

Blencathra is a special mountain, on the flanks of the A66 we drive past its buttresses on a daily basis sometimes with out batting an eyelid. Not me. I drive past it like a man scorned, like a beautiful woman I cant help but stare-we all do it yes? While trying to keep my eyes on the road I glare at Sharp Edge ‘I wonder if there’s anyone on her today’ & by the time I reach Scales & the lack of cars parked up my question is answered’ or maybe I’m too early because usually on my return the lay-bys are over run with badly parked cars & the grass verges go ruined by vehicles maiming them.

This is what Blencathra does.

Alfred Wainwright dedicated a whole 36 pages in his guide book to this one mountain, Wainwright loved Haystacks so much so that he chose to have his ashes scattered there, but he also loved Blencathra, if ever there’s a visage of Wainwright, pencil & paper in hand for me he is traipsing Blencathra’s numerous routes & ridges, how could he not be? Wainwright knew this was a special fell & that is why he spent so much time, energy & passion writing about it in his guide book number five ‘The Northern Fells’.

My reason for being here today was Mungrisdale Common, a fell I had yet to grace, but I didn’t  want  to gain Blenctahra’s summit then onto the grassy mosses of Mungrisdale  as I have in the past from Scales, today as Wainwright wrote, I was to do it the hard way, exercise for the legs & prolonged agony as Wainwright described this route. I’m not too sure about his words as I found it enjoyable, then again I was tipped head to toe in Gore-Tex this & Vibram that & not heavy rain soaked cloth attire & leather shoes having walked the last 6 miles to get to the start of the walk in the first place.

I should climb Blencathra more.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Northern Fells

Blencathra is one of the grandest objects in Lakeland. And one of the best known. Seen from the south-west, the popular aspect, the mountain rises steeply and in isolation above the broad green fields of Threlkeld, a feature being the great sweeping curve leaping out of the depths to a lofty summit-ridge, where the skyline then proceeds in a succession of waves to a sharp peak before descending, again in a graceful curve, to the valley pastures far to the east.

This is a mountain that compels attention, even from those dull people whose eyes are not habitually lifted to the hills. To artist and photographers it is an obvious subject for their craft; to sightseers passing along the road or railway at its base, between Keswick and Penrith, its influence is magnetic; to the dalesfolk it is the eternal background to their lives, there at birth, there at death. But most of all it is a mountaineers mountain.



Ascent: 2,000 Feet, 609 Meters
Wainwrights: 2  Blencathra & Mungrisdale Common
Weather: Warm & Sunny, Fresh On Tops, Highs Of 14° Lows Of 10°
Parking: Car Park Behind Blencathra Centre, Threlkeld
Area: Northern
Miles: 6.5
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL4 & OL5
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Chop chop wake up (no pun intended) I didn’t quite stumble upon these sheep sleeping as I almost had to wake them up by talking loudly at them & by the way, me talking to sheep is common knowledge round these parts.


From the steep track you are greeted by this fine view of the north western fells & Derwent Water.


If Lakeland has a favourite horseshoe or ‘round; this is mine, the Coledale Horseshoe seen here over Latrigg, It incorporates up to 9 Wainwrights depending on what route you choose.


Clough Head & The Dodds.


Together this time with High Rigg, Low Rigg, Tewit Tarn & the High Seat ridge.


This is one of the main reasons I choose my route, to see the top of Gategill Top & Knowe Crags, it really is a spectacular sight & I’m blessed with all round visibility, although I am feeling the chill with the wind now blowing in along the summit top, its not cold enough for the jacket so I opt for the beanie to keep my ears toasty.


The Skiddaw massif incorporating Lonscale Fell,  Skiddaw Little Man, Skiddaw & Bakestall.


Gategill Fell Top.


Ahead & towards Hall’s Fell summit (The main summit of Blencathra to the right) the wind is blowing straight through my beanie & I’m now thinking of donning gloves, the forecast was ‘freezing above summits’ and they haven’t got that bit wrong although I’m quite adamant I will not phase & don the jacket, its June for goodness sake is all I kept muttering to oneself. I take a look behind me & spot the first two people of the day, stopping to put there jackets on, me I’m as stubborn as an owd mule.


Blencathra’s Ordnance Survey Ring in oppose to the usual pillar trig point, I will look in the use of the circular brass ring a little more as this does interest me, in the background is the Halls Fell ridge.


The apply named ‘Saddle’ forming the ridge in between Blencathra’s summit & Foule Crags seen ahead, but first there was a few interesting things I wanted to see along its top.


This being the first & smallest of the two white crosses found on the Saddle.The White Cross, quartz in origin this was put here by unknown persons dedicated to the memory of Harold Robinson of Threlkeld.


This much larger 16’ x 10’ Stone Cross was put here by Harold Robinson himself on his love for Blencathra from numerous summit visits during  1945 & onwards.


Looking down on Doddick Fell & Scales Fell.


Skiddaw from Blencathra’s summit Tarn.


Foule Crags from the summit shelter, my next visit was a short descent down to Sharp Edge.


Sharp Edge looking as menacing as ever, It was here I sat a while taking it all in & watching to see the many hikers queuing to take there turn on one of Lakelands razor sharp edges.


I’d watched three men up from scales tarn. I’m sat down in almost shelter like conditions, with no wind just listening to  the song from the birds, however down there on Sharp Edge I’m guessing it was blowing a hooley along that ridge, the three men averted to the path flanking the ridge top, I think they had all intensions to walk Sharp Edge when they set off that day, I could hear the boisterousness in there voice as they walked the steep path from the Scales Tarn ready for the ridge walk.

I think they made the right decision.


Sharp Edge together with Scales Tarn, to the left of the picture is White Horse Bent forming Bannerdale Crags, in the very background is Souther Fell.


Looking over the crest of Atkinson Pike with Bannerdale Crags on the right & Bowscale Fell taking centre.


Now heading for Mungrisdale Common ‘A place where a man can think’


Mungrisdale Common summit cairn with the Skiddaw massif in the background. I would of been incredibly lucky if I didn’t manage to get my socks & boots wet while walking along the drenched moss to get here, it was here I was cursing myself for not water proofing the boots for a long time, well from here it was another landmark I wanted to visit, marked ‘Cloven Stone’ a distinctive feature on an otherwise bleak landscape.


The Cloven Stones Mungrisdale Common.


And while on the subject of bleak, the bleak yet aspiring image of Skiddaw House.


Great Calva from the Cloven Stones.


Now making my way back along the western fringe of Blease Fell (L) with Glendaterra Beck taking centre & Burnt horse forming Lonscale Fell (R) it was here I decided it was to early to return home (11:30am), with my legs still feeling relatively fresh I needed to think of somewhere else to walk this afternoon.


Lonscale Fell.


Looking back up the valley at Great Calva’a spectacular northern dominance.


The day was turning ever pleasant which really didn’t make it hard on choosing to stay on the fells for the rest of the day, here we have the High Seat Ridge & a glimpse of Derwent Water & the NW fells.


Clough Head & the Dodds as I towards  the car park within the tress ahead, my mind had been made up on what choice of fells I was to climb, the only thing is they were 13 miles away which meant a half hour drive giving chance for my muscles to go into ‘going home mode’ which is exactly what they did.

Its not very often as a walker in the Lake district you are blessed with with levels of beauty & grandeur as I had today, you may be on your favourite fell in horrible weather or a fell your not that accustomed to in fine visibility & wishing you were somewhere else. Today I had it all & I couldn’t help drive to my next destination with a grin on my face.


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