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" Blencathra via Three Edges "
Date & start time: 28th April 2011, 10.30 am start.
Location of Start : Gate Gill Ind Estate, Threlkeld, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 320 258 )
Places visited : Doddick Fell, Scales Tarn, Sharp Edge, Foule Crag, Blencathra, and down Hall's Fell edge.
Walk details : 5.25 mls, 2875 ft of ascent, 6 hrs 10 mins.
Highest point : Blencathra Summit 2,847ft - 868m
Walked with : Jo, John, Ann and the dogs, Jodie, Polly, Harry and Bethan.
Weather : Summer continues . . . even though it is still April.
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Beautiful sunshine and chance to climb Sharp Edge in perfect conditions in this early summer sunshine.
We combine the tricky Sharp Edge ascent with two other climbs on our walk up Blencathra today.
There were grassy sections but we ended with the feeling that we had spent the whole day scrambling over rock . . .
. . . but what a great day we had on the fells !
John suggested today's walk which when we heard his ideas we were a little taken a-back.
" Lets climb Doddick Fell, descend to Scales Tarn, climb Sharp Edge and then come down the Hall's Fell ridge back to the start "
Yes John . . . that's two ups and two downs in the same day . . . Oh well it's sunny and there's plenty of time . . . let's go for it.
We parked at Threlkeld and headed for our first ascent . . . Doddick fell to the secondary summit on the right.
Up through the farm and across the old mine workings, heading up the right hand ridge as our first ascent.
Three intrepid travellers . . . the fourth was taking the picture.
Behind us the true summit of Blencathra . . . we'll leave that for later in the day.
Two dogs blended into one as they look out over the A66 road and across to the Great and Little Mell Fells.
Behind us as we climb is the rounded escarpment of Clough Head.
To our right we can look across all the way to the Central and North Western Fells . . . no problem with visibility today.
Jo stops to admire the ridge and twin summits ahead. We would climb almost to the first but leave the second till later.
As we climb the front of Blencathra it seems to wrap itself around us, getting more impressive as we climb.
We would climb up the zig-zag path but branch to the right following the path and so avoid the highest part of the Doddick Fell summit.
There's a large group of walkers enjoying a late elevenses or an early lunch on Scales Fell.
They've been there for some time, no doubt enjoying the view over to the Pennines.
Doddick Fell was a relatively easy ridge to climb despite the steepness of the slope.
We reach the top of the ridge and they still haven't moved.
Time for us to lose height as we walk over to the path down to Scales Tarn.
It wasn't as bad as it sounds . . . it was about a 400ft descent and just a quarter of a mile to the tarn.
The dogs wanted to go down so I went ahead to allow them a swim . . .
but also to prevent them from getting everyone wet as they shook or from scrounging sandwiches from the other walkers !
That's me in red down there by the way.
A relaxed spot near the tarn with the prospect of Sharp Edge behind.
What a spectacular place to stop on a fine day but, in view of the steep climb ahead, we defer lunch in favour of a quick snack.
Time for the slightly daunting climb up and across Sharp Edge
but the conditions are the best they'll ever be for a safe and easy crossing of this slightly tricky ascent of Blencathra.
The big problems on Sharp Edge come in warm, wet weather when the Skiddaw Slate becomes particularly slippery and unpredictable.
Today should be fine.
Scales Tarn looking particularly blue, reflecting the clear skies above.
We check out the route ahead.
Heads down as we start the scramble.
Not so difficult that we can't stop for a photo.
As the arête narrows, the path climbs to the rocky top of the ridge.
There's a fair few number of people ahead of us.
My concern at this point is to stop the dogs rushing ahead and distracting anyone else while they cross the edge.
The couple in white and blue approach the first slab and the guy in red is safely across the second.
The gully down to the right is known as " Usual Gully "
Ann, Jo and Polly climb up onto the first part of the slab.
The slab is beautifully dry and the grip is excellent today.
The dogs are deliberately not on a lead . . . they've got four wheel drive and cope with the situation with ease.
A lead would only restrict them (and us) on this important section.
Safely over, she drops down slightly to the wider part of the path.
John and Polly likewise.
Three points of contact is the rule on this sort of scramble.
That's a smile of satisfaction if ever I saw one.
We shared the climb with three fellow walkers (apologies . . . your names escape me)
We also shared conversations as we exited the ridge onto the plateau above.
Jo looks back at a climb completed.
Sharp Edge from the same place.
Behind is Souther Fell and behind that, the Vale of Eden and the Pennines.
Easy walking now as John and Jo stride out across the summit plateau.
Apparently the white cross of quartz stones on the top was made by one guy
who carried up the stones and laid them as a memorial over his many visits to the summit.
Slightly down from the ridge will make a fine spot for our lunch.
John removes his fleece from around his waist as there is a gentle but slightly cool breeze here.
Somehow his Exped bag of spare clothing rolled away down the fell so Harry was dispatched to retrieve it !
Lunch over and while the others sit and enjoy the sunshine
I walk the short distance over to the summit of Atkinson Pike to check out the view down Foule Crag.
Holding the camera out at arm's length
I get a view down to the start of the Sharp Edge climb we had just completed.
Walking back past the confused cairn on the top of Atkinson Pike there's a tremendous view of Skiddaw and the northern fells.
Leaving our lunch spot and heading across the plateau towards the summit of Blencathra.
A close up of Middle Fell top and Knowe Crags further on, both with large groups of people on them.
A brief stop for a period of hydration for Harry and Bethan.
Fortunately there wasn't enough water for a muddy swim.
Almost hidden in the grass alongside the path is a second white cross with a Remembrance Poppy on it.
Mmmm . . . there are loads of people on this summit too . . .
. . . but we find a quiet moment for a summit photo on our own.
- - - o o o - - -
Time for our final "edge" . . . this time downward.
John makes a start on the dramatic Halls Fell Ridge.
For those who are into shapes in the landscape, can you see the Threlkeld Frog ?
It appears flat out in the trees, facing left, on the other side of the valley. The light green of his body is in fact the fairway of the Threlkeld golf course.
[ Hold your cursor over the picture for a big clue ]
Harry looks down on the next section of the walk.
So do I !
Ann negotiates the rocky sections of the Halls Fell ridge.
The problem going down is the poor grip and the angle of the rock on this steep section.
Jo checks out the view after successfully passing through the squeeze down there in the shadow.
Ann handling the rock
in order to secure a safe descent over this section.
Gradually the rock gives way to grassy slopes . . .
. . . with impressive views over Knott Halloo to Derwent Water.
Looking back, our third ridge more or less complete.
Jo and Ann enjoying the walk off the lower section of the ridge.
Just one steeper section to go and we're down.
Hold your cursor over the picture to see how the weather has hardly changed since our morning climb up Doddick.
Down next to Gate Gill is an old building belonging to the disused lead mine.
It can just be seen in this photo to as we look back at a climb completed.
Five miles in six hours (including lunch of course) and it felt like most of it was scrambling over rock.
What an excellent route if you fancy doing it sometime.
The Gate Gill Farm complex is also home to the Blencathra Fox Hounds
who are out in their pens enjoying the sunshine too.
- - - o o o - - -
Back home for a wash and brush up and we end the day with a birthday meal out at Cottage in the Wood Whinlatter.
Happy birthday John, doesn't he scrub up well.
Thanks to the folk on the neighbouring table for this group shot of all four of us enjoying our meal.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon 75 or my Canon G10 digital camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a change of clothes for the evening !
Previous walk - 27th April 2011 Savouring Sallows Sunshine
A previous time up here - 1st April 2009 Blencathra with Jack & Matthew
Next event - 4th May 2011 A Big Balloon Flight over Cumbria