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" Blencathra via Sharp Edge "
Date & start time: 3rd April 2021. 11.30 am start.
Location of Start : Roadside near The White Horse Inn, Scales, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 339 267).
Places visited : Scales Tarn, Sharp Edge, Blencathra, down Gatesgarth Fell and return.
Walk details : 7.75 mls, 2700 ft of ascent, 5 hours incl lunch.
Highest point : Halls Fell Top (Blencathra) 2,847ft - 868m.
Walked with : Abi, Jenna, Matt, and the dogs, Dylan and Dougal.
Weather : Sunshine and blue skies again, dry, hardly any breeze.
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I thought my daughter came over to look after me after lock-down, but with fine weather she also wants to go out fellwalking.
For a third day we hit the high fells and though tired at the end of the day I do actually think I'm getting fitter !
Blencathra's not one of the big three but it's not far off and with Sharp Edge to climb, this is a fell with a serious side.
Beautiful sunshine again as we leave the A66 at Scales and take the fell path heading towards Blencathra.
Looking back towards Threlkeld and Keswick as we start to gain height.
Looking down into Mousthwaite Combe and over to Great Mell Fell.
The distant Pennines are slightly hazy but visibility the is otherwise excellent.
A respite from the first climb as we head along the upper Glenderamackin valley.
Brunt Knott and Sharp Edge, with the flatter Foule Crag above, begins to dominate the scene.
The arête of Shape Edge comes into focus and our anticipation builds accordingly.
The source of the Scales Beck is Scales Tarn itself, set here in a classic mountain environment.
With the easing of restrictions there are a lot more groups of six about
[ Okay, the other group looks like two groups of four !]
An older couple we met earlier passed on the main climb in favour of a cold water swim.
Well at least the lady did, the gent staying on-shore holding the towel and dressing in a warm quilted jacket !
High above them, the last of the snow cornice points to the probable air temperatures we might find on the top.
The prospect of Sharp Edge . . . seen from a dog's perspective. I wonder what he is thinking ? Photo by Jenna
Zooming in on the people already ahead of us on the ridge.
Another group of lads have completed the first section, now for their steep climb up Foule Crag.
Time for us to hit the ridge . . . please pardon the zipped-off trouser legs but it was a warm day. Photo by Jenna
Health warning . . . 'Skiddaw Slate' is very slippery when wet . . . take extreme care in poor weather.
Today everything is dry and grip is superb.
Climbing high above Scales Tarn now.
Dylan was anxious at one point on the climb, from either not finding himself on an easy route or being worried about us taking a different line.
A few words of reassurance and a point in the right direction saw him okay.
Dougal . . . well he took the whole lot in his junior stride !
Looking down from the patch of snow that we looked up at when we were down on the edge of the tarn.
Heading past the other small cornices with the view away to the Helvellyn fells beyond.
The people on the skyline had walked up the Scales Fell ridge to the left.
Rather than walk direct to the summit of Blencathra or its adjacent Gategill top
we diverted to somewhere quieter to enjoy some lunch.
Passing the white quartz cross on the summit ridge.
All these rocks had been carried up over the years by just one man . . . I think Wainwright's book tells the story.
We visit Atkinson's Pike, the location of the cairn above Foule Crags
where we find a comfortable place to crack open our sandwich boxes and he dog's biscuit bag.
The climb had been straight forward in perfect conditions . . . dry, sunny, warm, no moisture on the rock and no wind.
The lunchtime view . . . watching folk walking up and down the Foule Crag path.
Staring out at the mighty Mungrisdale Common . . . the summit cairn for which is at the end of the boldest path.
[ The photo seems to emphasise the purple of the heather on Great Calva but I don't remember it standing out at the time.]
Check out our full lunchtime view from Atkinson Pike.
Blencathra boasts its own magic infinity pool where dogs can walk on water.
Either there's a big mirror at the other side or this is another of Jenna's pictures.
I suppose the un-named water could be called either Atkinson Tarn, Blencathra Tarn or Tarn Crags Tarn.
It is certainly a wild place to find such a picturesque sheet of water.
However we walk on and soon reach the well trodden summit and the view towards Keswick.
The Halls Fell ridge is one possible route of descent
and is acknowledged as second only to Sharp Edge in the lofty nature of the scramble near the top.
To our right is the secondary summit of Gategill Fell. Photo by Jenna
From there we could chose to descend by the Gategill spur instead.
Which one do you fancy ?
Was that decision due to the attractive second summit
or the chance to play snowballs along the way ?
Dougal wants to play too.
They are a little cold if you catch them Dougal !
Dylan is a little more laid back as usual.
Fun over till the next time we walk on snow.
Walking the ridge we can now enjoy the view across to the Burnt Horse Crags on Lonscale and the Skiddaw fells beyond.
Still a good crown of people on the summit ridge as we make our way to the next high point.
Decisions again . . . do we go on further and down the Blease Fell ridge
or shall we turn here and head over the edge down Gategill ?
I took a more measured route, back a hundred yards then diagonally down this ridge.
Jenn and the others took the direct route, dropping down the broken ground direct to the flatter section below.
If you ever wondered what the view from Knott Halloo liked like . . . now you know.
The darker area to the left, on the lower reached of Clough Head, is the Threlkeld Mining Museum.
The two lakes are Thirlmere and Derwent Water and the skyline here extends from Helvellyn round via the Scafells to Grasmoor and Grisedale Pike.
Below Matt is the village of Threlkeld, St John's in the Vale with High Rigg, Low Rigg,
Tewet Tarn and the Bleaberry fell group in the middle distance.
A steep, rather confusing descent,
navigation made more difficult in places by the path being hidden in the heather higher up the slope.
In trying to avoid all the ups and downs of the outer wall, we gave ourselves slightly more work.
Had we gone down further initially we could have taken a level footpath through the field below, close by the next wall down in the picture.
Never mind, our path did descend nicely in the end, as Dylan navigates us to the next available field gate.
We've reached the Gategill Valley, noteable by the old lead mine buildings just upstream from the crossing.
An old weir that crossed the river has silted up, so much so that the stones are now level with the top.
Managing the river crossing is very easy when the water is as low as it is today.
"There's a sting in the tail" on the next river crossing . . . could be the caption.
After a good day on the fells and the rather steep descent, the legs are getting a little stiff.
However the gate through the next set of fields is blocked and we have an unwelcome, steep climb
up alongside the wall to the right, in order to progress our walk further.
Stopping for a breather, I mean a photo.
It wouldn't have done any harm to let us walk the field track as the earlier footpath had done.
After all, the next wall down doesn't go anywhere near the farm buildings below.
Rumour has it that there used to be a chain to hang onto . . . all that remains is a section of rather polished rock.
We had parked short of the White Horse Pub at Scales
so the daffodils at the exit gate from the fells here came delightfully sooner than expected.
Back to the car, parked in the layby alongside the A66.
- - - o o o - - -
Sadly no ice cream van at the Whinlatter viewpoint, and we missed the ice cream at Lorton shop by five minutes
so the girls thought of another way to relax and cool down.
Abi had brought a wet suit on holiday . . . but Jen braved the water in just an ordinary swimsuit and presumably a slightly forced smile.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures generally taken with my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . .a warm, soft towel at the end of the day.
Previous walk - 2nd April - Great Gable on a Great Day
A previous time up here - 28th April 2011 Blencathra via Three Edges
Next event - 4th April - Easter Garden Make-over