Firstly, for my two penneth, I prefer Blencathra to Saddleback. Saddleback, unlike the mountain itself, just doesn't stand out. Saddleback could be the name for any mountain with the appropriate feature. There's only one Blencathra.
Looking it up on Wikipedia, the name Blencathra comes from Cumbric word usage. So Blaen, which would be a bare hill top, and cathrach, a chair. A bare hill top with a chair, which having seen it close up, I can see being appropriate.
There are several starting points for a walk up Blencathra. Two of them are Threkeld and Scales. On this occasion I chose Scales as it has a nice approach into the Scales Tarn area.
The path starts just below the turn off into Scales where there is a lay-by big enough for around half a dozen cars.
The path heads off east, anti-clockwise around the foot of Scales Fell. The path cuts through the Bracken making a steady climb where height is gained surprisingly quickly.
Even from here the views start to reveal themselves, with on this particular day, the sun finally making an appearance after two days of rain (see my previous post).
The path around Scales Fell, in this case the upper path, not the lower path through Mousthwaite Comb, has a few rocky outcrops to work around or over making the path a little more interesting.
The path eventually turns north-west, still on Scales Fell, which forms a valley with White Horse Bent on your right and the River Glenderamackin in the bottom of the valley. This path carries on to the back of the valley for around a kilometre.
Near the back of the valley there is a turn left, approximately east, up a steep, but stepped slope.
The stream has to be crossed to continue up the path, and there is a point on the stream where the rocks work nicely as stepping stones, allowing for a fairly easy crossing.
The steps on the path make for an east ascent up this section of the route, although personally, I don't like these stepped areas in wet weather. Especially if coming down the steps.
Arriving at the top of the slope makes for quite a dramatic reveal. You come face to face with Scales Tarn. I've seen many photographs of this area, but they cannot prepare you for the scene in person.
Off to your right you find Sharp Edge, cutting it's way up through the clouds on its way up to the saddle of Blencathra.
On your left you find the 'chicken's path' as some put it, winding it's way up to Hallsfell Top and the summit of Blencathra. Today was a windy day and I was alone. So this chicken headed off up the extremely steep path.
Two thirds of the way up I looked back, and this is where you start to really appreciate the beauty of Scales Tarn.
Looking across the Tarn to Sharp Edge I could see some crazy people crossing Sharp Edge. I know there are greater risks taken in the outdoors than sharp edge, but they are generally on the end of a rope. And I do wonder how many have any type of insurance when taking such risks. In good weather Sharp Edge would be a great experience. In strong wind it becomes a liability.
At the top of the path, and just a little further along you come to what has to be the least inspiring summit marker I have come across yet. And there are also strange looking people wandering about up there.
After a brief stop at the summit marker, and a photograph kindly taken by a passing couple, I had a walk along the ridge to the peak of Gategill Fell to take some photographs out across Keswick.
From there I headed back towards the summit of Blencathra. Initially it was lovely and clear, but clouds were starting to rapidly blow in, so a quick descent was decided upon.
I headed down the path which climbs over the top of Scales Fell.
Heading down this way allowed for some spectacular photographs to be taken of the valley bellow and to the sides.
I eventually met up with the path I had used on the ascent heading back down to Scales.
Back to the car, a quick unload and off to the pub to take in the days events and an absolutely lovely meal and pint in the horse and Farrier in Threkeld