9th January 2010

Blencathra at its best


Walk Overview
Time 09.20 to 14.25
Duration 5 hr 5 min
Distance 7.5 mile
Ascent 2550 ft
Walking with Andrew Leaney
Scales - Scales Fell - Blencathra - Atkinson Pike - Mungrisdale Common - Bannerdale Crags - White Horse Bent - Mousthwaite Combe - Scales
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, Scales, Threlkeld

I'm sure anyone who has driven along this stretch of the A66 will have noticed the line of cars along both sides of the road. To hazard a guess, I'd say almost all of the occupants had headed out for a walk up Blencathra; and probably via Sharp Edge.

There is actually space for quite a few cars along here, but thoughtless parking often reduces the number of cars that can manage to get a spot. Parking is free, but it does fill up pretty fast, at all times of year.


Route Map

This was one of those incredible days you have on the fells when everything is about as perfect as it could ever wish it to be. Snow from start to finish, sunshine for almost the whole walk, and for such a popular place we only met a handful of other people.

Walking above Scales and looking across towards Great Mell Fell. You can see the main A66 road snaking its way through the middle if the picture.


Traversing the fellside above Mousthwaite Comb.

Souther Fell. This photo was taken near enough to the point where we joined the Scales Fell ridge itself.

Looking across to Sharp Edge.


Looking ahead to summit.

Clough Head and Great Dodd on the left hand side of the picture, and dozens of other fells spread out across the rest of Lakeland.

The view back down Scales Fell.

Blencathra summit; perhaps getting closer, but we still had the final steep section to walk up first.
Notice the amount of snow along the edge of the ridge. Needless to say we didn't get too close.


A long distance view back down the ridge.

Standing at the summit of Blencathra with the north western fells on the left, and the Skiddaw fells on the right of the picture. Notice the dark patch on the right hand edge. This is Skiddaw House or rather the trees around the house.

I think I can confidently say that these guys got back down before we did.

Looking back across the ridge to Blencathra, and I have to say we had true winter conditions across this section of the walk. The wind had picked up a little, the powdery snow was blowing around us and the temperature plummeted for a while. I really must get myself one of those little weather station, wind speed, temperature recording gadgets you can buy (I can't remember exactly what they're called, but you probably know what I'm talking about).

The Skiddaw fells, seen from Atkinson Pike.

I didn't expect this picture to come out too well, but I've still used it, just to show you the amount of snow down the edge of the ridge.

This is one of my favourite parts of the Lake District and it was fantastic to be here in these conditions, , , , but today, heading across Mungrisdale Common was such hard work; to be honest, energy sapping describes it better. Thankfully, someone else had been across here before us so we hijacked their footprints in the hope of making the journey a little bit easier for us. I suppose it must have to some extent, even though it didn't feel much like it at the time. Almost every step we took saw us breaking through the thin crust of frozen snow and sinking above ankle deep. Obviously we then needed to step out of every hole we'd made, only to begin again with the next step. As I said "energy sapping".

Not only were we treated to spectacular views all around us showing nature on a grand scale, we also had countless examples of nature in miniature at out feet.

The Skiddaw Fells taken from Mungrisdale Common summit cairn.

Still at the cairn and now looking towards Great Calva.


Great Calva and Knott seen from the route across to Bannerdale Crags.

Looking in almost the same direction as the previous picture, but from much further along the route.

Bannerdale Crags summit. The two high points behind are Bowscale Fell and Knott.

Another picture from the summit. This time looking to Blencathra and Sharp Edge.

Sharp Edge, taken from our off path route down the strangely named section of fellside called White Horse Bent.

A close up of Great Mell Fell.

The final part of the walk took us along the narrow road back to Scales. On route the snow was blowing off the fell and creating these little snow drifts.


David Hall -
Lake District Walks