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Lakeland Fells - Blencathra - Routes, Pictures, Conditions, Maps, Weather

Updated on March 14, 2011


This article will look at the English Lakeland Fell known as Blencathra. We will discuss routes up Blencathra, view pictures and photos of Blencathra, check out conditions on the mountain and have a look at a map of the area. If you plan on climbing Blencathra then look no further.

The Summit

A Mighty Mountain


Blencathra or Saddleback is one of the Lake District’s most impressive mountains. Located in the north of the National Park Blencathra stand at an impressive 2848ft above sea level. Classed as one of the Northern Fells, Blencathra is located just off the A66 on the road between Keswick and Penrith. There are several routes up the mountain ranging from easy to very challenging. The most well known assent is Sharp Edge, said to be one of the most exciting ridge walks in Lakeland.

Viewed from the south Blencathra looks like a mighty impenetrable fortress of a mountain. Sharp ridges and steep cliffs give this mountain a very threatening vibe. However viewed from the north Blencathra can look quite tame, long steady slopes amble up to the summit and the mountain shows a completely different side. For these reasons Blencathra is the kind of mountain that has something for everyone.

Hall's Fell Ridge


There are several different routes up the mountain. The most famous is without a doubt Sharp Edge. This razor sharp ridge has some extreme exposure and some tricky scrambling. You set off from the A66 at Scales, here head north round the bottom of Scales Fell and find the path that leads you up to Scales Tarn. From here the path veers right up onto Sharp Edge. The ridge is very exposed but not to long, it only takes five minutes to traverse the edge. There is also a tricky scramble at the end of the ridge, this takes you up onto the top of Blencathra and it’s just a short walk to the summit. For the route down take Scales Fell as this is relatively easy and takes you back to your starting point.

The classic route up Blencathra is via Hall’s Fell Ridge. This is a good scramble with a fair amount of exposure and some stunning views. Park on the A66 at Doddick and find the path that runs along the bottom of the mountain. Pass Doddick Fell on your right and then start the ascent up Hall’s Fell. The ridge runs straight up to the summit and there are some wonderful views and some excellent little scrambles. This is a good summer walk but much more tricky in winter conditions. For the route down take either Doddick Fell or Scales Fell.

If you want to climb Blencathra but have little scrambling skill or you just want a nice easy safe walk then Scales Fell is for you. Park on the A66 at Scales and follow the path up the fell. The way is clearly marked and there are no dangerous sections on this route, it’s just a nice easy walk to the summit. Heading back down the same way is the easiest option but if you want a challenge try coming down Doddick Fell.

If you want to see Blencathra from a different angle head up via Gategill Fell. Park at the village of Threlkeld and find the path that heads up the spine of the mountain. This again is not an overly difficult route but you get to walk along the long sloping summit of the mountain. This route possibly offers the best views of the surrounding mountains and you can also see back down into Keswick.

Me On The Summit


In the summer months when the weather is set fair all routes are fairly manageable. Sharp Edge and Hall’s Fell Ridge do require some grade 2 scrambling but should not pose any real problems. If you are new to ridge walks then it may be wise to head up with a guide who may also bring along a rope just to give you that added bit of security. On a wet day the rock can be very slippery and extra care should be taken on any ridges that are attempted.

In full winter conditions Blencathra can be a very dangerous walk. Sharp Edge and Hall’s Fell Ridge should not be attempted unless you have ice axe and crampons and the ability to use them. In ice and snow there are many tricky sections that require a high level of skill and confidence. Conditions in the mountains can change quickly, you may start walking on a mild March morning, but on the summit you could easily be caught in a fierce blizzard. It’s important to take spare gloves, hat, warm clothing and also an emergency bivy bag if you are walking up Blencathra in the winter. Also a map and compass and the ability to use them, if the mist comes down you don’t want to wander off a cliff face. Make sure you have a goo supply of water or energy drinks and also plenty of food, things such as Trail Mix are ideal.


Blencathra truly is one of the Lake Districts most impressive mountains. There are some magical views from the summit as can be seen from my Blencathra pictures and photos. Although the weather on Blencathra can change suddenly if you do get a nice clear day there are few better mountains in England. My favourite route up is Hall’s Fell Ridge but there are so many great ways up this mountain and this means you can climb Blencathra again and again and never get bored of it. Blencathra really is one of the best mountains you will find anywhere in England.


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