banner
home guide ldp stay links guest
Blencathra via Sharp Edge Walk
Statistics: Map of the walk
Start:
Scales Farm
Start (OS ref):
NY343269
Map (1:25,000):
Parking:
Lay-by onf A66
Distance:
8.2 miles (13.2 km)
Time:
4 hours
Difficulty:
Very Hard
Climbing:
869 metres
Hazards:
Grade 1 Scramble
Refreshments:
Keswick

Elevation profile of the Blencathra via Sharp Edge walk

Summary:

To put it bluntly I had avoided this classic ridge walk on previous visits to the Lakes. I had always looked in awe at Blencathra as I drove along the A661 from Penrith to Keswick. It's an awesome mountain to look at as you drive past and the distance glimpses of Sharp Edge from inside the car were frightening. I had done Striding Edge but the books had always painted Sharp Edge as more precarious and I wasn't going to do it until I was resolved to do so. And what better time than on my Stag weekend with all my walking buddies with me. And so, on this special occasion I set out with Deke, Dave, Steve, Chris and Ally to conquer my fears and finally notch up Sharp Edge once and for all.


The Story of the Walk:

Cloud rising over Sharp Edge on our approach
Passing Scales Tarn on the approach to Sharp Edge
Cloud rising over Sharp Edge on our approach
Passing Scales Tarn on the approach to Sharp Edge

We were so lucky as we woke up to a glorious sunny morning with a promising weather forecast that predicted calm conditions, perfect for walking. Especially with Sharp Edge in prospect. Deke was the only one who had done Sharp Edge before and he was encouraging us all that it would be no problem. I felt reassured but still nervous as we drove from Keswick to our starting point at Scales Farm. I glanced at the sky during the short drive to our beginning. True enough the clouds were few and far between, great stuff. We prepared and then set off on our journey, intrepid walkers banded together in anticipation and some awe about what laid ahead. The walk began gently enough, climbing steadily, in sunshine to Scales Fell. We made our way over the first ridge and only then while walking along the River Glenderamackin did the target of our fears come into view, our first sight of Sharp Edge. Darn it, cloud was rising from Scales Tarn below and wafting over the ridge, I hope that's gone before we go for it!

Approaching the lower part of Sharp Edge
Deke juggles on Sharp Edge!
Passing Scales Tarn on the approach to the edge
Deke juggles on Sharp Edge!

Luckily for us the cloud lifted and cleared from Sharp Edge just as we reached Scales Tarn. We all set off to the first real challenge at Brunt Knott with Steve in the lead and the rest of us in a line behind him. Just as I reach it Steve emerges from over the Knott on his way back "I've just had a look and I'm not bloody doing that" were his exact words. I tried to encourage him by saying "I'm not exactly easy about doing it either you know, but we've come this far, we have just got to do it now" It was to no avail, he didn't even pause as he headed down to Scales Tarn below. What has he seen? I wondered but went on just behind Chris and Ally who were reviewing what lies ahead. As Steve met Dave on his way down to the tarn he spoke to Dave. What he said was enough to put my brother off. They headed past the tarn and walked up the other side of the tarn to Blencathra top.

Crossing Sharp Edge in perfect conditions
Beginning the scramble section on Sharp Edge
Crossing Sharp Edge in perfect conditions
Beginning the scramble section on Sharp Edge

As I rounded Brunt Knott and saw the options of crossing Sharp Edge I could not see what had put Steve off. Yes, there is only one option really, staying on the ridge top which could be worrying in wet and icy conditions but the visibility was perfect, it was very dry and as I could see it, no problem at all. In fact it looked easier than Striding Edge had done to me on my first occasion there. And so I began my crossing of Sharp Edge with no qualms at all with Chris and Ally just ahead of me and Deke right behind. In fact it seemed so easy to me that I even enjoyed the views with Deke as he picked up three small stones and did a juggling act on the edge itself! OK, I can understand it being a bit worrying on the narrow central slab in the wet, but this was easy.

Chris and Ally prepare to scramble to the top...
...and I follow on behind them
Chris and Ally prepare to scramble to the top...
...and I follow on behind them

After crossing the level slab the edge goes up becoming steeper the further you go. It has to be scrambled here, no question. The use of your hands and feet is necessary from here until you complete the edge and reach the Blencathra plateau but although it is a tiring scramble it is not a precarious one. I never felt as exposed as I did on Jack's Rake on Pavey Ark. And I did look back on the occasions I paused. It is safe to say I never found Sharp Edge a problem at all. I wish Steve and Dave had done it and if they had the choice again I'm sure they would do it easily. I promise I will do it with you both one day in the future guys. Once the scramble was completed we rested on the plateau just bellow the summit of Blencatra while Deke who had taken a sojourn on the Edge made his way up to us.

Steve applies running repairs to yours truly
Contemplation after the drama
Steve applies running repairs to yours truly
Contemplation after the drama

Sharp Edge, coupled with the steep descent of Heron Crag to Rydal the previous day had left me with one legacy though. My right knee was now shot. After reaching the summit of Blencathra and meeting Steve and Dave we began to make our way down to Threlkeld via Knowe Crag and Blease Fell. For me it was absolute murder and I am indebted to you Chris for hanging back and encouraging me down. Thanks. At about 500m we stopped for a break and Steve bandaged my knee up to add further support. Again, thanks to you Steve as it helped a lot. After a lovely break we all headed back to Scales Farm on a lovely track skirting Blencathra, a now conquered mountain. We did the last part down a grassy field on our backsides, very funny, always remembered. This was a fantastic walk on a fantastic day during a fantastic weekend. It was a major achievement for me and I am certain it would be a memorable experience for any who choose to do it. It was simply brilliant!

Valid XHTML 1.0!
This site conforms to W3C XHTML 1.0, HTML 4.0 and CSS standards.

logo
Copyright © 2003 - 2014 Walking Englishman. All rights reserved.

Valid CSS!
This page is built using validated W3C XHTML 1.0 & CSS codes.