Blencathra (868m)

Monday 16th March 2020

Distance: 14kms - Duration: 6hrs - Group Size: 4

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It was at least 20 years since I had last walked in the Lake District, our favoured hills when living down south in England; and so, I was looking forward to four days of walks during our stay at Patterdale. Unfortunately, as things transpired, with the current Covid19 situation, four days were curtailed to only one day. But what a day. A magnificent walk on Blencathra.

We had decided on a circular clockwise route, starting at the car park just above the Blencathra Centre in the outskirts of Threlkeld, and so, from here we headed up the well defined track on the south western slopes of Blease Fell as it initially headed slightly east before swinging north west and contouring the lower slopes at a fairly steady incline before swinging northwest for a straightforward climb up a fine, broad path towards the 804m shoulder at Knowe Crags.

Compared to the previous few weeks, the weather was brilliant; high, scattered clouds and blue skies, although a stiff breeze kept the temperature to quite a chill. The views were fantastic, and as we stopped on the minor top for a short snack, we had the wonderful aspects west over Lonscale Fell to the broad summit of Skiddaw, and east along the stunning crags, fells and ridges radiating southwards from the Blencathra plateau. South of us, beyond Keswick and Derwent Water, the mighty massive of Dale Head and the Newlands range of mountains appeared a dark blue against the lighter blue of a fine spring sky.

The hard work was done, and the climbing was over as we walked the final kilometre and a half from the 804m top of Knowe Crags to the 868m summit of Blencathra, an easy walk along a broad path, which still held the remnants of the recent snowfalls as we crossed some stretches of hard pack snow, giving the mountain a winter feel, appropriate to the cooling of the air, as the stiff breeze slowly increased to a fairly blustery and strong wind.

Having taken the obligatory photos on the summit, we detoured slightly to take the short walk to the edge of Atkinson Pike, and gaze as best we could over the upper reaches of Sharp Edge, not quite close enough to appreciate the edge in full, but a point which offered some fine views over the crags and dales below.

Retracing our steps, we returned back to a point, just short of the summit where, hidden in the snow, but easily identified by the footstep, we picked up the track which zigzags down the initial steep edge of Hallsfell Top before leveling and gently descending towards Scales Fell. Beyond Scales Farm, a narrow path skirts between the walled farmland and open hillside as it winds its way up, down, and over the streams of Scaley Gill, Doddick Gill and Gale Gill. A throw-away sentence, but not quite; I should mention that negotiating Scaley Gill was quite tricky, with a short but steep scramble down to the water, and then a very awkward and challenging scramble on flat slate rock back up the other side. The scrambling aside, the return from Scales Farm back to the car park was accomplished without further problems, although I think the general consensus was, that this was the least rewarding part of what was a fine mountain walk.

Thanks all for your company on a fantastic day.


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