Blencathra, also known as Saddleback, is one of the
most northerly mountains in the English Lake District. It has six
separate fell tops, of which the highest is the 868-metre (2,848 ft)
The highest point is directly above the Hallsfell
spur, marked by a sprawling cairn only feet from the edge. A good path
connects the five summits on the main ridge, giving excellent views down
the south east face. Northward on the fine turf of the 'saddle' is a
large cross laid out in white stones. Its origin is uncertain but
extension to its current size (in excess of 10 ft) is attributed to a
Harold Robinson of Threlkeld, a frequent visitor in the years after
World War II.
The view is very extensive, enhanced in every
direction by the sharp fall of the slopes from the summit. To the west
is the bulk of Skiddaw, and from west round to north east the Back
o'Skiddaw fells make up the foreground, backed by the mountains of
Galloway, the Southern Uplands, the Border hills and the Cheviots.
The Pennines form the horizon from north east to south
east, with Cross Fell, Mickle Fell, Wild Boar Fell and Great Whernside
visible. To the south east are the Far Eastern Fells and to the south
the Helvellyn range is seen end-on, with vistas of the Forest of Bowland
and North Wales to its left and right respectively.
The skyline from south to WSW is the best feature: a
serrated skyline of all the major Lakeland peaks, these being,
clockwise, Coniston Old Man, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Esk Pike, Scafell
Pike, Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Pillar, High Stile, Grasmoor and Grisedale
Pike. To the right of this the Isle of Man and the Mourne Mountains are
visible on clear days.
Derwent Water and Thirlmere are the major lakes
visible; the most distant mountain visible is Slieve Meelmore in Mourne,
123 miles away.
Blencathra is a popular mountain, and there are many different routes to
the summit. One of the most famous is via Sharp Edge, a knife-edged
aręte on the eastern side of the mountain. Sharp Edge provides some good
scrambling for those with a head for heights. Hall's Fell ridge, on
Blencathra’s southern flank, also provides an opportunity for some
scrambling, though of a less serious nature.