Climbing Blencathra via Hall’s Fell and returning via Blease Fell is the best way to enjoy my favourite mountain. Halls Fell has some minor scrambling but leads directly to the summit trig.
I find Blencathra (or Saddleback) the most enjoyable mountain to climb and explore in the Lake District. Partly this is due to its isolation; Blencathra stands apart from the other Lakeland hills looking south and west offers a vast panorama covering the majority of fells in the area but it is also partly due to the contrasting nature of the mountain. To the south a vast claw appears to have ripped the mountain apart leaving deep gullies and sharp ridges whilst to the north slopes fall gently in to an empty wilderness where it is possible to escape the crowds even on a popular summer’s day. Finally though I rate Blencathra because I know it so well – all my holidays from 7 upwards were taken in the attractive village of Threlkeld which lies at its foot and I have explored the slopes ever since.
I have selected what I consider to be the finest walk on the fell and it may well surprise to find that it does not include Sharp Edge! I prefer the ridge up Halls Fell as the classic route up Blencathra; it is a great little edge without real danger or too much exposure and it arrows directly to the true summit but it certainly provides an exciting scramble for all ages and should not be undertaken by novices. Take your time on the ridge and pick the route that suits you. From the summit there is a lovely mile stroll west from the summit on short grass where the views are simply unbeatable in England. The descent is less steep over on Blease Fell which is as it should be. A true classic.
READ a separate account of one of my best days on Blencathra here
There is no better place to watch the sun rise than the summit plateau of Blencathra.
Climbing Blencathra is one of my favourite 25 walks in the Lake District
On the rocky ridge of Halls Fell there is a grassy path below the crest missing out the exposed rocky ridge. The path varies to which side of the ridge it is on.
Did this yesterday with my 15 year old daughter who wanted to try a scramble rather than just a walk but with very little prior experience. Recovering from ACL & MCL injuries I was slightly wary of Sharps ridge so tried this one instead. It was fantastic.
We loved this route. Yes there are one of two tricky bits but nothing we couldn’t manage. We went carefully and steadily and never felt in danger. Having read the views below I said to my daughter before we started that we could turn back if she felt unsure. That was never in question.
You do need to be careful in places, have the right footwear and when it gets challenging plan your route over the rocks. And if you are really unsure there are always ways round (paths we often noted after we had got over) but are visible if looking for them.
Having been up Blencathra many times before with our other children I particularly lived the way you arrive right at the top. It is also fantastic near the top looking back and seeing the Ridge curve away. I fully understand why this is a favourite route.
In the wrong side of 50, with sore knees and therefore not as fit as I was but I will definitely be going up this again with the other kids next time we’re here.
Thanks for the info that made for a great day.
I just want to say a big thank you, this website, which I’ve been using for the past year or so, has been such a great asset to me.
Hi folks, how long would this walk take? I’ll have a 10 year old with me and we’re hoping to visit in October holidays so trying to figure out what time to set off as don’t want to risk doing it in the dark! Thanks, Tom
There is very little mileage to this and the descent is quick. I would suggest you should be out little more than 4 1/2 hours depending on how quick you both walk. Enjoy
Thanks for the background on the climb. A true enough description. In reading comments left by others I am mystified as why some people would want to diss your description. Surely we all go walking and climbing for the challenge and success?
You do it properly kitted out and with your brain in gear that you are going to come across difficulties which you make your mind up on.
No one can speak for another and it is your decision at the end of the day.
Why bother if all you are going to do is poo poo someones opinions?
Here’s to the freedom of the hills!
it is a classic route, no doubt. Been up it many times, in all sorts of conditions and it always delivers. Perhaps not for first timers or those of a slightly nervous disposition, but on a dry summers day with a half fit crowd of pals there are few better places to be in the Lakes. Its more exciting in winter mind you. To wipe away a fine thirst there is the Farrier (Ferret to those in the know) down in Threlkeld. I’ll be back
I went up this route last March and I have to thank you so much for recommending it.
I went up with my dad in the snow and it was simply immense fun! There were places where we had to deviate off the ridge slightly (for instance at horizontal crack) but overall I was amazed by how practical and doable the route was. Near the end it was getting a bit edgy, so my dad was thinking about turning back. But just as he was about to say that I had reached the summit. There are no literally no false peaks!
To answer Penny and Andrew about them saying it was too dangerous, they both have to accept that with any good lakeland scramble there is a bit of danger involved. However this route is so much more fun than scrambles that are a lot more dangerous than this.
Thanks so much again for recommending it,
From Nameless Guy.
I have scrambled up this route in all weathers at all times of the year, (including deep snow) there are. short sections where a slip could have disastrous consequences, but the same could be said of the Helvellyn edges.
It is a superb way to the very top of Blencathra, but should only be undertaken by suitably shod walkers, this is particularly the case in wet weather, the nature of the rock (slate) means that it can be quite slippy,
if in any doubt just turnaround, these mountains are millions of years old, and will still be there for another day. On a dry day with the sun on your back it’s a wonderful adventure and the views are simply stunning,
hi brilliant and helpful website just wanted to ask few questions me and my dad are looking to climb blencathra and camp at the summit we are looking for a route with nice decent veiws on the way up but at the same time want it to be a bit of a challenge basically best of both worlds ? thanks
The route described is the best route up Blencathra ie: Halls Fell
Of course safety is important, but so too is exercising total and complete personal responsibility. This route is Jonathan’s own preference and opinion – although the description is also laced with the necessary caveats for anyone who thinks they might try Hall’s Fell:
“… should not be undertaken by novices…”
“… an exciting scramble…”
“… Take your time on the ridge…”
Surely that tells you all you need to know. And if it doesn’t, then take on that personal responsibility and learn more about the ridge from other writers/walkers.
As for the mountains not being a playground – of course they are; but even in a playground it’s necessary to exercise caution and common sense.
We’ve just taken the kids up this ridge, aged 7 and 8. It is challenging and not recommended for novices and forget it if you are petrified of heights. Luckily my two have been broken into the walking/scrambling scene with success; the eldest but shortest finding little hand and foot holds we didn’t even notice so no need to worry about his height being an issue (115cm). It’s the last section that’s the real challenge, the first noticeable crack across the ridge is a pinch point and I think if you can’t get past this it’s best to turn back as there’s far nastier surprises ahead. Don’t agree totally with ‘no real danger’, depends on your sense of mortality I suppose but there were a couple of places where a slip could have ended badly. There is a nice choice of routes and you can spot the popular paths through the scramble. I’d advise not to rely on the obvious paths through the grassy sections near the top; they end abruptly and you’re faced with an exposed climb to the crest (where you should have gone) which is a more secure route. It was at the top end of the kids’ ability and I wouldn’t take them on anything more exposed than this one. I wouldn’t recommend it for children any younger unless they’re very well disciplined and have proven themselves on other lengthy scrambles and trips up mountains.
Thanks Penny, a good summary of the ridge but as with all climbs it depends very much on your own judgement. What is one persons without danger is not anothers. These are my judgement and I did the walk with a daughter even younger than yours. I watched her but she needed no special help and loved it, like yours the scrambling is the best part of the climb, the rest can be boring!.
I do agree though it is not for novices and have added that caveat in to the description.
Hi thanks for this route. I have to challenge your assertion that this is without real danger. I went up Hall’s Edge with my girlfriend and a springer spaniel. Beautiful views, yes, but about 80% of the way up there are some very precarious ledges to negotiate with very steep drops. Then there is a narrow gap to squeeze through, again suspended over a big drop. This last challenge we had to step back from and take a different route up a steep slate scree path. At the top of this (90% of the climb) there seemed to be an impassable slab of rock with no safe or easy way over. Having negotiated several hazardous bits I thought best to return rather than compound the situation by stepping further into difficulty. The slate scree was dangerous to return by being so steep so the narrow gap was the only alternative. This was really not at all fun whilst having to consider my responsibility for another walker and a dog. Another website aptly declares this route as seriously challenging and describes exactly what I have.
Thank you for your efforts to put this site together but I really think more care should be taken to properly advise walkers of the risks for a particular route.
There are easier routes up and down I believe and I whilst I now the fun is in the challenge safety is important too. It is not a playground.
Hi Andrew, Thanks for your comment which I have published, mainly so I can respond.
The walk up Halls fell is the finest route up Blencathra and is only ‘Seriously Challenging’ to those who are inexperienced or ill equipped. Of course there are easier routes but they are not as enjoyable in my opinion, my opinion being what the website is all about. There are more difficult routes for walkers as well, Sharp Edge being the example on Blencathra where I do warn people about the exposed section but also say it is not as much fun as the Halls Fell route.
The description of the walk talks about an exciting scramble, I think this describes it well as, if you are not used to scrambling, then warning bells could have sounded. There has to be an element of personal responsibility when choosing a walk, all I can do is offer my personal view of the walk. Bearing in mind I have climbed Blencathra via Halls Fell many times with many different people including my then 6 year old daughter, who still many years later claims it was her favourite walk, I think my opinion is valid but as I always say it is an opinion.
Every walk in the fells is potentially dangerous, it is all a matter of degree based on the experience and preparation of the individual. What is dangerous to you is not to me or the person beside you in the pub, however another walk may be easy to you but not to someone else. If you take proper precautions, are well kitted, take note of the advice on each walk then it is the individual’s responsibility. The fells are a Playground, there is no point in going if you do not enjoy them but of course you need to be responsible and take care.
Didn’t realise you were doing this but it looks fantastic and will spread the word. Going up Blencathra was brilliant the other day and will gladly do it again some day with my neice and the dog!
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