Sunset on Blencathra

6th June 2019

With the prospect of a wet weekend ahead I took advantage of this evenings sunshine and decided to do another sunset walk hopefully with better luck than I had on my last one on Coniston Old Man. I'm still very much getting over Monday's epic Ennerdale Horseshoe with limbs still aching slightly and if given the chance I would have left it a few more days before I put my walking boots on again but I guess, we can't control the weather and besides, looking at this evenings forecast it was a chance not to be missed.

For anyone who knows me will know how much I love a good sunset which I usually capture while out on local dog walks which I share on my social media pages so I thought why not try and experience a Lakeland sunset from a handful of my favourite summits which I aim to do throughout the Summer. There is no greater experience than being on the fells at dusk where just the tiniest of changes mean so much to me whether it be the brilliant late afternoon light or that feeling that maybe, your the only person around for miles, it's a strange but wonderful soul searching experience and I for one won't mind admitting that being up on the fells so late can feel emotional too.

Initially my plan was to climb Hopegill Head from Braithwaite but upon arriving in Lakeland I noticed the north western fells looked far cloudier than the northern fells so I made a quick decision to head up Blencathra instead, it was still hit and miss whether I'd see a sunset, after all cloud may obscure it as it did during my Coniston venture but today changing my mind at the last minute paid off.

Wainwright Guide Book Five
The Northern Fells


This is a mountain that compels attention, even from those dull people whose eyes are not habitually lifted to the hills. To artists 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.


Ascent: 2,144 Feet - 653 Metres
Wainwrights: Blencathra
Weather: A Bright, Cool Evening Ideal To Watch The Sun Go Down. Highs of 14°C Lows of 7°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, A66 Scales
Area: Northern
Miles: 5
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 3 Hours 45 Minutes
Route: Scales - Mousthwaite Comb - Scales Beck - Scales Tarn - Blencathra - Atkinson Pike - Doddick Fell - Scales Fell - Scales

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA12 4SY
Grid Reference: NY 343 126
Notes: Another popular layby which gives access to the ever so popular Blencathra. The layby is found at Scales opposite the White Horse Inn on the A66. Due to the popularity of Blencathra during peak seasons the layby can fill up quite quickly, there is room for around six to eight well parked cars. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Starting the ascent behind Scales Farm 19:00pm 14°C
It was thundering when I left home and the heavy rain continued up the M6 with heavy downpours throughout my drive north, however as I approached Lancaster I could see the south Lakeland fells were free from cloud which was a good sign. The further north I drove the brighter it got and I stopped off at a lay by to check the local forecast and it was there I made the decision to change todays walk. I continued along the A66 and pulled in at an empty lay by and started to kit up behind my car. The temperature is in the mid teens, not quite warm enough for June but warm enough to be walking without a jacket so mine gets folded away into my pack before heading out along the road towards Scales Cottage where I hook a right onto open fell side.

Great Mell Fell seen over Scales Farm.
I passed through the gate and started the ascent instantly feeling the burn in my calfs, well all it took was half a dozen steps and already Im in pain! Pray for me lol.

From further up the path...
...I took this photo looking towards Clough Head, White Pike and Great Dodd.

Older and still non the wiser.
Rare selfie taken at Mousthwaite Comb.

Souther Fell seen over Mousthwaite Comb.
With The Tongue seen over on the left.

Souther Fell beyond Mousthwaite Comb.
The late afternoon light never fails to impress me.

Bannerdale Crags and White Horse Bent
It was here I made the conscious decision not to include Sharp Edge into todays walk after encountering running water underfoot which reflected recent rain. It maybe warm and dry now but the polished rocks on Sharp Edge has a reputation for being greasy during, or after rain meaning it just wasn't worth the risk. My plan is to head to Scales Tarn anyway then ascend towards the summit, this way I'll have the comfort of a grassy descent via Scales Fell once the sun has gone down later.

Souther Fell with the River Glenderamackin seen meandering below.

Just me admiring the evening light again.

Sharp Edge and Atkinson Pike silhoutted by the low sun.
Further into the valley I caught the first glimpse of the sun before it dipped behind the col up ahead, after spending a few moments admiring the light the sun went down about the same time it started to cloud over but luckily at this time of day the sun was low enough not to be affected by the passing cloud.

Looking back on Bannerdale Crags I climb alongside Scale Beck.
It was here I am passed by a young couple who you might be able to spot on the path below.

Sharp Edge from Scales Tarn.

By the time I reached Scales Tarn I caught a view of two couples ascending separately towards the summit who I later found out were carrying camping equipment ready for a wild camp on Blencathra's summit.

It would appear that indeed it has clouded over but with the sun being on't the north side of the summit the south side isn't getting much light at all, the tell tale signs are already starting to show as I climb higher and take in the views over towards Bowscale Fell and High Pike.

From higher up the path Bannerdale Crags, Bowscale Fell, High Pike and Souther Fell are all enjoying the evening sunlight.
With Sharp Edge and Scales Tarn in the foreground.

I had stopped prior to reaching the summit to add my jacket as a cool chill had descended before continuing on towards the summit where I was met by the late evening light I am so fond off. From the summit I had brilliant clarity as far as Nethermost Pike and further east the entity of the High Street range. I kinda feel like a kid in a sweet shop with a pocket full of cash.

Gategill Fell Top from Blencathra summit.
So much so I thought I'd explore the summit under this wonderful light so I start to walk over to Gategill Fell Top but change my mind half way.

The top of Atkinson Pike seen across Blencathra's saddle.
The two groups of walkers are setting up for the night, I'm not sure if they know each other but I guess they will soon enough.

Sheep grazing on the back of Blencathra as the sun goes down over the Solway with Bakestall and Great Cockup in the distance.
If you was wondering why I never made it to Gategill Fell Top here's why.

It's 21:00pm.
With forty minutes left until sunset I establish myself a base camp directly below the summit Tarn.

That's Skiddaw over on the left.
With the rounded summit of Great Calva coming into view centre right.

Here the silhouette of Criffle comes into view over on the right.
I've brought myself a packed lunch so out comes my little polystyrene mat along with my hat and gloves so not to catch a chill.

After snacks I walked back up to the Tarn.
Leaving my walking poles upright so I could easily locate my spot on return.

Placing my camera just above the waters surface.

Then I returned to base to watch the last twenty minutes of sunset.


Skiddaw Little Man, Skiddaw and Bakestall.

I return to the Tarn while I still have time.


Before returning once more to base.
I guess this is it.



A tremendous sunset.

The sun has dipped below the cloud and has set for another day, what a spectacular way to spend an evening.

High Pike, Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags from the top of Doddick Fell.
Even though the sun has gone down it's still light enough to enable me to move around easily without my head torch switched on.

Sharp Edge sunset.

A half moon sits perfectly over the Saddle.

I left the Blencathra's summit at precisely 21:55pm and was still taking photos from the top of Doddick Fell at 22:15pm. It was still light but I was conscious to reach the grassy top of Scales Fell while I still had enough light. My descent wasn't rushed in fact I stopped to take more photos while capturing this wonderful night from one of my favourite summits. By the time I had descended half way down Scales Fell I had no choice but to flick the switch on my head torch and I descended comfortably while watching the headlights of the cars below as they travelled along the A66. I had descended via the popular tourist path and arrived at the junction which I had left earlier for Mousthwaite Comb.

By now it was getting too dark and I let my head torch lead my way although after 10 years I reckon the L.E.D's have advanced somewhat so I make a conscious decision to put a new one on my shopping list. Flanked by bracken I take the lower path adjacent to Scales Farm and soon the rumble of the A66 breaks the silence, my heart is still palpating from this evenings experience on the hill where I vow to myself it won't be my last.


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