Walk 1188 - printer friendly version
Blencathra via Hall's Fell ridge from Scales Farm Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 6.0 miles / 9.8 km
Ascent - 2230 feet / 676 metres
Grade - mod/hard
Start - OS grid reference NY340267
Lat 54.631094 + Long -3.0239026
Postcode CA12 4SY (approx. location only)
Blencathra is one of the great mountains of Lakeland also referred to as the Saddleback. For those approaching Keswick from Penrith along the A66, it provides an awe inspiring sight as it climbs steeply from the road. Seen from further away it appears as though some giant has gouged four great marks on its southern face giving the mountain a rather ominous dominance on the landscape.
The Lake District 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 left and follow the path at the base of Scales Fell to cross Scaley Beck where a little scrambling is required to exit the valley. Continue along the lower slopes of Doddick Fell and Halls Fell to reach Gate Gill. This is where the ascent begins.
Halls Fell is a wonderful approach to the summit of Blencathra. Besides being direct and leading straight to the summit is never tedious except perhaps in the early stages as you gain an initial foothold on the mountain. True it is a steep climb in places but as height is gained the view improves with wide ranging panoramas over the fells to the south. Eventually the going becomes rockier and there are a number of places where mild scrambling is the order of the day although for the more adventurous you can choose harder routes.
Arrival at the summit gives one an immediate sense of achievement. Suddenly you have a 360 degree view with Skiddaw and the Northern Lakeland Fells appearing. After scaling the steep southern slopes of Blencathra the tamer northern slopes are in complete contrast. There are many routes off the mountain but the way described offers an excellent look at some of the more interesting features of the Saddleback. From the summit cairn turn right and head east and then north to reach the subsidiary summit of Atkinson Pike. By doing this you traverse the saddle and are treated with a superb aerial view of Sharp Edge, which drops precipitously to Scales Tarn far below. From here you can safely decide whether a traverse is within your capabilities ...!
Retrace your steps south and then take the descending path that leads across Scales Fell - for this walk ignore the path descending Doddick Fell - and continue towards Mousthwaite Comb. Do not descend to the col but instead turn south on a narrow path that contours along the fellside. This offers an easy and delightful route back to the start. Finally it is worth saving this walk for a fine day as the views are tremendous. Good weather is also essential if you are to enjoy the ascent as you clamber upwards amongst the crags. Finally do not be put off by the "look" of the ascent - It is one Lakeland's greatest.