Sharp Edge Blencathra: Everything You Need To Know About Sharp Edge Routes

Blencathra Mountain

Sharp Edge Blencathra (Saddleback). Hopefully, everything you need to know to do this route (with teens) (ours are now 15 and 13 years) including the GPX and loads of other helpful tips on leaving from Scales Car Park

Blencathra Sharp Edge Parking

We started this hike early from the Scales White Horse Pub. Even though it’s a challenge to get my teens out of bed in the morning, so long as I prepare them well in advance for the expectations of the walk and take snacks, they’re really quite cooperative. Read this post on how we get our kids to behave on holiday, if you’re struggling.

In my opinion, this early part of the hike from Scales is the hardest part of the entire walk. It’s incredibly steep in comparison to once you’re up on the fells. If you’re wearing a heart monitor let me know what the data looks like for this part of the hike. I didn’t wear mine but I’m definitely interested to see it (data junkies!).

The beauty of parking in Scales Pub car park was we could stop off at the end of the route and get a much-needed drink! This pub (the White Horse) also has a hot and cold menu alongside plenty of inside and outside seating.

In order to get here you’ll need a car. Click here to see how much a car rental in the Lakes might cost you. 

Blencathra Map for Scales Parking Below.


Scales Pub to Saddleback
Scales Pub to Saddleback

How High Is Blencathra?

Blencathra is 868 metres high (2847 feet above sea level).  Is it a mountain? According to Ordnance Survey, yes.

mountains, which in the UK are generally considered to be summits over 2000ft or 600m.


Sharp Edge from Saddleback
Sharp Edge from Saddleback

Is Blencathra A Wainwright?

Blencathra, the 14th highest mountain in the Lake District, was one of Alfred Wainwright’s favourite fells, and it is easy to see why.

This mountain was once popularly known as Saddleback, thought to derive from the old Cumbrian words for hilltop and chair in reference to its odd shape, was popularised by Wainwright in his 5th book “The Northern Fells”


Lake District Scrambles
Lake District Scrambles

Blencathra Via Sharp Edge

We did this hike in mid-May when the weather was and had been really warm (we may have been escaping something to do with the royal family). We had beautiful sunshine and this route was just perfect.

The weather is very prone to change here, so we did make sure to pack some wet weather gear just in case.


Sharp Edge to the top right
Sharp Edge to the top right

All The Routes Up Blencathra

There are just so many different routes in this area, I’ll link a few different ones below. The route we took is on a GPX map below this.

Some of these are going to be easier than others if you’re looking for easy walking routes up Blencathra. All of these open in a different window.

Blencathra and Portinscale

Blencathra Sharp Edge Circular

Blencathra and Scales Tarn Circular

Blencathra and Fell Ridge Circular

Blencathra with Halls Fell Ridge and Sharp Edge

Blencathra via Blease Fell


Sharp Edge
Sharp Edge with people on top looking like ants

Blencathra Map & GPX

Details from this hike:
Length 6.77 km
Elev. gain 686 m

Download this route here

What Is The Pathway Like?

The pathway (shown in the map above) ranges from fell path with mud, grass and bracken to some areas of gravel and stone pathway and then obviously the scramble itself is rock.

It was very dry when we went up (due to the sunshine we’d had), I’d imagine if it was raining, it might be quite muddy, wet and in parts slippy.


Teens on Sharp Edge Blencathra
Our teens hiking up towards the tarn & Sharp Edge Blencathra

You Can Swim In The Tarn

You can swim in Scales Tarn which sits at almost 600m high and is enveloped by Sharp Edge, Tarn Crags and Hallsfell Top.

It’s estimated to be almost 8m deep and makes for a refreshing dip. There were at least 6 people in when we hiked past.


Sharp Edge Blencathra, Scales Tarn
Sharp Edge Blencathra, Scales Tarn

Sharp Edge Route

We stuck to what feels like the right-hand side of the ridge. In reality, this is the north side of Sharp Edge.

I’ve read many descriptions of people’s routes and I don’t think there is one that sticks out as better or worse. I’d advise you to just do what you feel capable of rather than following someone else’s route.


Sharp Edge Saddleback
Sharp Edge


Sharp Edge and Blencathra Scramble
Sharp Edge and Blencathra Scramble. The rocks from below

Sharp Edge Blencathra With Kids And Teens

No different to any other hike, we’ve found it best to allow our kids to set the pace. Usually, an adult will stay at the back of the group and an adult will match the quickest paced. This mean no kids are left unattended but it also makes them feel like they’re more in control.

We took snacks they’d like; mostly sweeties but also some trail mixes and some dried fruit and coconut packs. Everybody had a bottle of water, a decent pair of shoes with tread (we all use running shoes now except our boy who wanted to hike in walking boots).

I know there are people who think this is appalling and think the ankle needs protecting at all costs in a pair of boots but I disagree. I find boots uncomfortable and they inhibit my ankle mobility. I like the grip of running shoes and the comfort too but it’s all about personal preference. I don’t like barriers to exercise so, in my opinion, people who say walking boots must be worn, are creating barriers to people’s inclusion.


Kids on Sharp Edge
Kids scrambling Sharp Edge

Is Sharp Edge Dangerous

Personally, I don’t think I’d describe it as dangerous however the weather conditions would change that.

We had bright sunshine, very dry conditions and the rock was easy to manoeuvre because it was dry. If it was wet and slippy, I’d have been far more cautious!

In order to make it less risky, we had one adult leading and one adult bringing up the rear. This meant each adult (there were two of us) had responsibility for either the route or a child. There are spaces on the ridge for a break too.

You have the option to hike to the tarn and instead of turning right to scramble the rocks, you can take a left and hike up to Blencathra trigg point. You could opt to do this is you were cautious about the weather and wanted to see what condition the rock was in.


Sharp Edge From Blencathra
Sharp Edge From Blencathra

Can You Hike Blencathra Without Sharp Edge?

Is it possible to hike Blencathra and avoid Sharp Edge? Most definitely, it is possible and there are a large number of routes too. See all of the routes I posted and also the map of our route.

What I love about these northern fells is the sheer number of different routes. It’s also possible to get over three Wainwrights in one go, if you’ve got good walkers.


Saddleback, Blencathra
Saddleback, Blencathra & Scales Tarn


Hiking with teens in the lakes
Hiking with teens in the lakes

All of these photos were taken with a Google Pixel 6a

I no longer hike with a camera (unless it’s a special hike) because it adds to the weight of the backpack. Want a google pixel 6a? Click below

Stay Nearby Blencathra or Keswick

We stayed in the southern lakes on this occasion, which is unusual for us, and we also visited Piel Island. I don’t know much about the southern lakes so it was nice to have a bit of a change.

Click here to see the gorgeous bungalow we stayed in with views over the southern fells. Alternatively, you can use this interactive map to search for accommodation across multiple platforms.

See What ElseYou Could Do In The UK

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