Blencathra via Sharp Edge from Scales

Sharp Edge is the highlight of this Lake District walk to Blencathra's highest point at Hallsfell Top. Sharp Edge is challenging mountain environment and needs treating with respect. The views from the Top are stunning covering most of the Lake District's highest fells.

Technical sheet
No. 292929
A Threlkeld walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Update : 08/08/16
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h50[?]
Distance Distance : 4.48mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 2018ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 1893ft
Highest point Highest point : 2766ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 748ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Area Area : Lake District
Location Location : Threlkeld
Starting point Starting point : N 54.631915° / W 3.023072°
Arrival Arrival : N 54.632761° / W 3.023906°
Download : -
The view south from Blencathra

Description

(D/A) The walk starts from near Scales Farm. Park in one of the lay-bys on the A66. At busy times of the year you may have to park some way from Scales. Once parked, take the short footpath (Grid ref NY340267) that provides access beyond the intake wall and onto the fell. Once through the wall, turn right and begin to climb almost immediately with the intake wall on your right. In recent years there have been some path diversions and realignments so maps may not always be too accurate. At grid ref. NY344273 the path leaves the wall and turns north. Follow the path past some crags ignoring paths turning right and left off the main path. Once past the crags, marked as Level (dis) on OS maps, the gradient begins to ease and you reach a broad grassy col between Scales Fell and Souther Fell with Mousthwaite Comb to your right.

(1)Do not descend to the River Glenderamackin; instead follow the clear path that heads north-west across the eastern flank of Scales Fell. This gains height steadily offering views ahead to Sharp Edge. At the junction of paths (Grid ref. NY333282), fork left and start the climb up to Scales Tarn. Reaching the Tarn, take the less defined path that heads half right and continues climbing up to Sharp Edge. There are a number of paths along the edge with many preferring to take the highest line along the crest. The main path has one obstacle where a rock appears to impede progress. However with a little care this can soon be overcome, with many people sitting down to cross the smooth slab below the overhang. In general Sharp Edge is not for those who suffer from vertigo. It is also worth noting that there are no straightforward routes along the ridge so scrambling cannot be avoided. Also there are a couple of awkward moves that require some agility.

(2) Having completed the traverse of the ridge, you are faced with a steep and rather unpleasant climb towards the summit of Foule Crag. This ascent starts on rock but the way ahead deteriorates and you have to struggle up through loose scree. However, most forget about this inconvenience after the exhilaration of Sharp Edge. Reaching the top, turn left and follow the broad path towards the trig point on Hallsfell Top. This is the highest point of Blencathra and offers a superb panorama across much of the Lake District.

(3) The descent starts now. There are a number of choices and the route described over Scales Fell is probably the fastest and kindest on the knees. From Hallsfell Top retrace your steps for a short way. Keeping the drop on your immediate right, bear right at the first fork to descend across Scale Fell towards the path used on the outward route. The main route of descent is well trodden and the gradient ideal for making fast downhill progress. Realignment and reconstruction of paths on the lower slopes of Scales Fell may mean significant changes to what is shown on your map. However all that is required is to follow the clearest way down and you will soon reach the path used on the initial descent. Turn right and you will soon be back at Scales Farm feeling pleased with yourself that you have completed one of the great Lakeland ridge routes(D/A).

Waypoints :
D : mi 0 - alt. 748ft
1 : mi 0.8 - alt. 1509ft - Head north-west
2 : mi 1.93 - alt. 2205ft - Sharp edge
3 : mi 2.51 - alt. 2766ft - Hallsfell Top
A : mi 4.48 - alt. 873ft

Useful Information

Blencathra is an iconic mountain and the approach via Sharp Edge is the most technically difficult. Requiring a head for heights, the route needs to be treated with respect especially in high winds and under ice and snow. Over the years there have been a number of accidents including fatalities and this should be taken into account when selecting this route.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Opinions and comments

Average

Global average : 3.5/5
Number of opinions : 2
Description quality : 3/5
Routemap quality : Non utilisé
Walk interest : 4/5


Walker
on Mon 31 Oct 2016 22:18:08 CET

Global average : 3.5 / 5

Date of walk : 25/10/16
Description quality : Average
Routemap quality : N/A
Walk interest : Good

We set off from the lay-by on the south side of the A66 at about 9.45am. A steep climb lay ahead but after five or ten minutes it levelled out as we veered right and a much easier, less steep, walk ensued. The instructions were a bit unclear (that's my excuse, anyway) and when we got up onto Blencathra it was soon evident that we'd taken a wrong turn quite early on and we had to make a minor adjustment to get back down to the tarn. As we approached the crag -about fifteen minutes in to the trek - we turned left instead of going ahead (it was like a crossroads and the map seemed to suggest we had to veer left but we should have gone ahead).

A small re-route was all that was necessary though and we were soon back on track. We had our lunch on the sunny side of the tarn (the weather was glorious!) before we set off on the short walk up to Sharp Edge. As we traversed Sharp Edge, several people ahead of, and several behind us, we were fine. Things got tricky as the Edge was very slippery (as it was wet in places especially on the north facing side) and I do not have any faith in my relatively expensive Berghaus boots in wet conditions. That said I swapped on to the south facing edge and was fine until we were held up by a family ahead of us when we all reached a tricky slight overhang. We all got round it without incident but one young man coming the other way was put off by the difficulties he had witnessed and turned back. The scramble back up on to Blencathra wasn't too difficult though it was slippery in places - but with decent hand grips and foot holes it was OK.

I was expecting Sharp Edge to be difficult but the fear it breeds is simply a result of the vulnerability that I felt whilst up there: the level of difficulty is average -apart from the section near the end - you just need to hold your nerve and exercise caution.


Walker
on Mon 31 Oct 2016 22:11:14 CET

Global average : 3.5 / 5

Date of walk : 25/10/16
Description quality : Average
Routemap quality : N/A
Walk interest : Good

We set off from the lay-by on the south side of the A66 at about 9.45am. A steep climb lay ahead but after five or ten minutes it levelled out as we veered right and a much easier, less steep, walk ensued. The instructions were a bit unclear (that's my excuse, anyway) and when we got up onto Blencathra it was soon evident that we'd taken a wrong turn quite early on and we had to make a minor adjustment to get back down to the tarn. As we approached the crag -about fifteen minutes in to the trek - we turned left instead of going ahead (it was like a crossroads and the map seemed to suggest we had to veer left but we should have gone ahead).

A small re-route was all that was necessary though and we were soon back on track. We had our lunch on the sunny side of the tarn (the weather was glorious!) before we set off on the short walk up to Sharp Edge. As we traversed Sharp Edge, several people ahead of, and several behind us, we were fine. Things got tricky as the Edge was very slippery (as it was wet in places especially on the north facing side) and I do not have any faith in my relatively expensive Berghaus boots in wet conditions. That said I swapped on to the south facing edge and was fine until we were held up by a family ahead of us when we all reached a tricky slight overhang. We all got round it without incident but one young man coming the other way was put off by the difficulties he had witnessed and turned back. The scramble back up on to Blencathra wasn't too difficult though it was slippery in places - but with decent hand grips and foot holes it was OK.

I was expecting Sharp Edge to be difficult but the fear it breeds is simply a result of the vulnerability that I felt whilst up there: the level of difficulty is average -apart from the section near the end - you just need to hold your nerve and exercise caution.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.