My Favourite Mountain

September 9, 2019

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. No it does not when you talk about my favourite mountain. Blencathra is magnificent.

On Halls Fell

I have climbed Blencathra over 30 times. It is now a pilgrimage I do once a year (at least). I have climbed it on every possible route. 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.

Near the summit

My favourite route is via Halls Fell from the pretty village of Threlkeld.  It is a steep climb. However the ridge is spectacular and it 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 (then) 6 year old daughter climbed it (sustained of course by lemon bon bons) without too much difficulty. Others I have climbed with are often amazed at their own efforts and thrilled with the satisfaction of achieving something they did not think they could do.

From above Threlkeld

Over 50 years I have bonded with people on its dramatic slopes. Many of my holidays involved staying in our small cottage in Threlkeld and from family through my youth and student days everyone who has visited has climbed the fell behind. It has always been my mountain.

Scales Tarn

A part from the Halls Fell route there are many other excellent routes up Blencathra. Sharp Edge is a favourite of those who like a distinctly hands on scramble with some exposure. Leave it till a dry day. There is also an excellent route from the pretty village of Mungrisedale and another round the back from Skiddaw House. However most want to tackle the mountain along one of the fine ridges to the south, Scales or Threlkeld being the starting point.

Near Blease Farm

However not everyone wants to climb the mountain and Blencathra caters for them very 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 100 making it to the subsidiary peak of Mungrisedale Common, surely the least visited and least well known Wainwright fell.

Autumn slopes

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.

To fully understand my enthusiasm for the mountain take a look at my short description of a perfect Spring day on its fine slopes.

Jonathan

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