Walk 3470 - printer friendly version
Blencathra via Foule Crag from Scales Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 8.0 miles / 13 km
Ascent - 2900 feet / 879 metres
Grade - mod/hard
Start - OS grid reference NY340267
Lat 54.631094 + Long -3.0239026
Postcode CA12 4SY (approx. location only)
Blencathra is an iconic mountain dominating the scene on the approach to Keswick along the A66 from Penrith. There are many interesting routes to the summit and the walk described here approaches from the east and uses quieter paths for much of the way. The route described is not technically difficult and allows you to see many of the interesting features of Blencathra and the views that it provides from the summit.
The walk starts from near Scales Farm. Park in one of the lay-bys on the A66 - on a good day spaces may be hard to find! - to take the short footpath (Grid ref NY340267) that provides access beyond the intake wall and onto the fell. After breaching 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.
There are a number of paths in this area and you need to take the clear path that heads north-west across the eastern flank of Scales Fell. This gains height steadily offering views ahead to Sharp Edge. Reaching a junction of paths (Grid ref. NY333282), take the right fork and continue along the valley side path. The climb is never steep and quite soon you arrive at the col between Bannedrale Crags and Blencathra (Grid ref. NY327291). The hard work starts now. Turn left and climb the steep mainly grass slope to the summit of Foule Crag. This vantage point offers a birds eye view of Sharp Edge and Scale Tarn far below. It is a perfect place to rest and you can watch the walkers dealing with the challenges of Sharp Edge.
To continue, walk south across the "saddle" of Blencathra to the Halls Fell summit (the highest point on the mountain), which is marked by a trig point. The view from here south across the Lake District is superb and you will enjoy variants of this view for the next mile of so of the walk. Often ignored is the panorama to the north, which includes many of the less well-known fells at the Back o'Skiddaw. Following the main undulating path along the edge with the drop on your left, you will eventually reach Knowe Crags (Grid ref. NY311270).
A long descent now follows with the main path heading southwest. Lookout for a path junction at grid ref. NY306260 where you turn sharp left. The path descends, quite steeply in places to reach the intake wall (Grid ref. NY313259). A well blazed path leads through a walled field to cross Gate Gill (Grid ref. NY324262). From here the onward route follows the intake wall, keeping it on your right. Apart from the need for a little scrambling near Scaley Beck (Grid ref. NY336268) you should encounter no problems reaching the short footpath back to the A66 before Scales Farm.