Walks

Blencathra

2nd August 2016

 

Whenever I visit family in the Lake District I always have to try and cram in as much as possible and that usually involves a hike on the journey back home. And this usually involves a morning of frantically trying to find a suitable walk that is not too long but is still challenging and rewarding.

The usual route back home involves travelling along the A66 and Blencathra is a summit I’ve passed many times and observed but it’s never been on my radar despite it being a name that’s very familiar.

Route Profile

Blencathra

After some research I opted for the ascent via Hall’s Fell Ridge rather than Doddick Fell and avoiding the more challenging Sharp Edge. The route was around 5 miles long which I estimated should take me around about 3 hours or less.. At over a mile and an ascent of around 1,500ft, climbing Blencathra via Doddick Fell is no walk in the park.

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The Walk

I parked the car on the outskirts of Threlkeld village in a designated car park which was free but asked for voluntary donations for the village which I was happy to contribute to.

Leaving the car park you ascend pass a small waterfall and then head west across a field. Keeping Blencathra on your left you have the option of scaling Hall’s Fell Ridge, Doddick Fell or walking further around via Scales Fell which judging by the OS Map would be a more established route.

At the bottom of Doddick Fell you are faced with a long, winding climb that hides what would turn out to be the most challenging part of the climb near the summit. It’s a long challenging climb that gradually and relentlessly gets steeper and steeper and more technical. The gravel path becomes rockier with larger outcrops you either have to step up onto or find a way around.

Eventually you hit a large rocky outcrop and you have to start scrambling over and around it. The path becomes vague and it’s difficult to work out exactly where it is but as you know you have to head straight up you are always close to it.

Certain parts do involve a certain level of ‘climbing’ and on a wet, foggy or day with low-light I would be reluctant to choose this route. With one or two drops I also would be reluctant taking a dog along this route.

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Despite the precipitous nature of the terrain, I did encounter a pair or runners descending one of the most challenging sections. One runner certainly looked less experienced that the other as she grabbed onto every rock whilst her partner bounded down like a mountain goat.

Reaching the top and turning back you get a stunning view of the ridge just scaled and on a clear day you can see both Crummock Water and Derwentwater. But in the Lake District, you don’t always need good weather for a good view.

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After a refuel I headed east along the ridge towards Blease Fell and seized the opportunity to get a selfie sat on a rocky outcrop courtesy of the iPhone propped up on the grass and the Apple Watch used as a viewfinder and timer.

Descending down Blease Fell I encountered a lot more people using this route for the ascent and they had probably parked at the Blencathra Centre. There was a good mixture of ages and abilities with dog walkers and children. Whilst this is no means an easy climb coming from this approach, it’s far easier than Doddick Fell or Sharp Edge.

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Rather than following the more established route back down towards my starting point, my route took me almost directly down the steep slope which I couldn’t help but think how fun it would be bounding down during a run. After the descent you rejoin the initial path near the waterfall before returning to the car park. Total time for walk including breaks was just over 2 hours.

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