hiking | Blencathra
What and where is Blencathra (Saddleback)?
Known as Saddleback on most OS Maps until recently, Blencathra sits next to Skiddaw to the north-east of Keswick in the northern fells of the Lake District. Blencathra is the old Cumbric name for the fell, used by Wainwright and readopted over time.
Technically it has 6 separate tops and multiple ways to ascend that vary from the very easy to the vertigo-inducing (such as via Sharp Edge who's edge was described as '...sharp enough for shaving'). This route is one of the easiest, and is one of the faster ways to bag this Wainwright.
Remember The Rules and have fun!
Get this route
Download our route and follow this yourself from either OS Maps or ViewRanger. OS Maps requires a subscription, which luckily you can get 10% off with Northern Stroll on any 12 month subscription. Check out our blog post for the code.
ViewRanger is free and much like OS Maps doesn't require any data to work. All you need is a GPS signal, especially if you have downloaded your maps beforehand. It also has OS Maps available as a layer inside the app.
Don't have ViewRanger on your phone yet? See our guide, or download it in your app store.
Before you go...
The weather can change often in this area and phone batteries can struggle to hold charge in the cold. In addition, a sudden onset of fog can mean you lose your sense of direction. Always carry a paper map (find yours here), make sure you know how to use it and note down the number for mountain rescue. Better safe than sorry.
Starting near the White Horse Inn in Scales, make sure you park beyond in the small plot of land designated for parking, not on the roads outside (you'll block everything otherwise).
Leave the 'car park' and walk back towards the pub and then double back onto the road above you. Walk along this road until you reach a sheepfold, just as the road starts to dip down, and then take the footpath that is directly behind it.
Follow this path directly up until you quickly reach a choice of a hard left with steep climb, or carrying on directly up. The choice is yours, but this route goes left! Prepare those legs.
Follow this path directly up and over to the right as it starts to ascend towards the summit. There isn't much opportunity to get lost from here, and in good weather you can see your destination clearly. The path will undulate but make sure you stick to the gravel and keep heading West for views over Keswick as you summit.
Once you are done, simply turn around and return the way you came!
Key things to know:
Time: About 2-3 hours depending on your speed.
Distance: 4.86 miles there and back.
Elevation: 2,140 feet
Calorie burning opportunity: Plentiful.
Photo opportunities rating: 7/10 if the weather is right
Nearby pubs: The White Horse rightly deserves your patronage.
Safety: PLEASE take the time to read this leaflet from Mountain Rescue and also note down the important contact numbers.
How to get here:
Postcode: CA12 4SY