2 friends and the coast to coast walk

Blencathra (Saddleback) by gleavem
May 5, 2010, 11:35 am
Filed under: Lake district, weather | Tags: , , , ,

We had a list of peaks we wanted to tackle in the Lakes, but we soon realised that (as always) we weren’t going to manage many of them (there’s just not enough days in a week!).  One of those peaks was Blencathra (meaning the bare hill-top shaped like a chair); sitting away from most other peaks and with such a distinctive profile it held much appeal.  So when we awoke on Thursday to a beautiful bright, sunny day, it seemed that fate was on our side for once.  We drove to Threlkeld, parked up and donned our boots, happy not to have to wear our waterproof trousers again.  We began by heading NE out of Threlkeld, crossing Kilnhow Beck in the process.  Passing through Gategill farm, we soon picked up the path which runs along the wall at the base of Blencathra, which we  followed for a few miles, crossing a few becks and encountering a scramble or two.  We met a chap coming the other way who had turned back as the scramble down at Scaley Beck was too tricky; forewarned, we continued and managed (with some awkwardness) to scramble down and safely cross the beck.  Eventually be began to turn north, heading around Scales Fell to pick up the path towards Scales Tarn. 

Heading up to Blencathra

Let me pause to make a comment about navigation.  At this point in the walk my better half took a look at the map; I’d been navigating up to now, not that it had been very challenging so far.  I was confident about where we were and where we were heading, but Sid jus couldn’t get his head into the map.  He was getting quite frustrated as he just couldn’t connect our surroundings with the features on the map.  This is something I’ve noticed happen before; if you haven’t been navigating from the start you haven’t had time to absorb the map, to get used to the orientation and the features around you, and consequently you can find it difficult to place yourself on the map.  …Lesson: leave the navigation to one person (unless they ask for help), or both use the map throughout the walk. 

Shell by the tarn

Sid checks out the map 3

Back to the walk…  Once again as we climbed to wind increased (Sid in particular hates the wind) and the cloud descended, and so we were forced to decide if Sharp Edge was an appropriate approach on this day.  We got as far as the tarn (why is it that tarns like this have such a special feeling, it’s really quite mystical), sat down to consult th map, have a snack and review our options.  We decide to approach the summit via the alternative path (not on our OS map) from the tarn rather than from Sharp Edge (another time!).  As we climbed we entered the cloud and there was a fair bit of snow on the ground… clearly (ha) we would not be seeing any great views today after all.  There weren’t many people around Blencathra today, but we were joined on the summit by a lone walker who took a lovely pic of us on Blencathra’s rather bleak summit:

Blencathra summit

Our return route took us SW along the ridge and down to Knowe Crags.  Most of the descent was easy-going; we were even chuckling at one particular section where many, many zig zags have been created to make the ascent easier (very easy on the way down).  It was nice to come out of the cloud and see some reasonable views over Keswick.  After a while we cut back SE, encountering some steep, slippery sections, and some worn out moany students and their bored leader, finally we returned to Kilnhow Beck and Threlkeld.  We were so chuffed to have completed this walk (including the summit) and only a little disappointed not to have tackled Sharp Edge.  Overall, highly recommended!