They say that familiarity breeds contempt, well it doesn’t when you talk about my favourite mountain, Blencathra (or how it is often incorrectly known as, Saddleback).
I must have been up to the summit 30 times, I have climbed it from all directions, I have twice slept on the summit (once climbing it in the dark) and witnessed some fabulous sun rises over the Pennines to the east and still love it. The rain has fallen, the snow has been on the ground, I have had to retreat from Sharp Edge in the wind and basked in glorious sunshine but it has made no difference to my enjoyment of the hill.
My favourite route is via Halls Fell from the pretty village of Threlkeld. It is a steep climb but the ridge is spectacular and emerges like an arrow right on the summit cairn. In bad weather it has its dangers (excitement I prefer to call it) but with the correct footwear it is not difficult – my,at the time, 6 year old daughter climbed it (sustained of course by lemon bon bons) without too much difficulty and I have taken up many others over the years who are often amazed at their own efforts and thrilled with the satisfaction of achieving something they did not think they could do.
However there are many other excellent routes up Blencathra, Sharp Edge is a favourite of those who like a good hands on scramble but do not want to take to ropes; there is also an excellent route from the east and the pretty village of Mungrisedale. However not everyone wants to climb to the summit and Blencathra caters for this as well. Out of view of the road and to the north of the summit lies some lonely and rarely walked countryside, it is here you will find the true connoisseur; for the thousands who summit Blencathra every year you will find no more than 50 make it to the subsidiary peak of Mungrisedale Common, surely the least visited and least well known Wainwright fell.
Blencathra is not even one of the highest fells in the Lake District (at 2,848 feet) but it is the most impressive. It stands alone from any other mountain and when approached on the A66 to Keswick it offers an impressive introduction for any first time visitor. It lies at the Northern end of the Lake District near the popular town of Keswick with wonderful views looking South over Derwentwater, St John’s in the Vale and the Northern mountains.
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