`Let’s hike Blencathra instead’ my husband said while having our early morning coffee along with delicious home cooked English breakfast at our Bed and Breakfast in the town of Keswick. We had our maps laid out and were trying to decide whether to do Skiddaw or Blencathra given that we only had one more day in town and must choose one or the other. One other guest who was quietly eating his breakfast couldn’t stop himself at this point and started talking about his (Blencathra) Summit Experience from a day before. The couple from a table next to us also agreed on my husband’s decision and raved about beauty of the mountain. The decision was made. Our gracious host hand-drew a map, told us to take bus to Penrith and ask driver to stop at `White Horse Inn’ (a small joint along route A66, great for post-hike beer and also an unofficial bus-stop to the trail-head).
Earlier during the trip planning phase, I had read about Blencathra mountain being up for sale by its owner Earl of Lonsdale, to raise funds towards large tax bill. A community group, `Friends of Blencathra’ was formed with a goal of purchasing the mountain and registering it as a community asset. The mountain was finally sold in July to an unnamed bidder and `Friends of Blencathra’ lost the battle. This story also raised my interest in visiting the mountain to witness the beauty everyone was talking about.
We found ourselves at the White Horse Inn within the next hour. We started walking along the bicycle path behind the parking lot and missed a small gate (there were no signs) leading uphill to the mountain. A Scottish gentleman we met on the trail finally took us back and showed us the correct way to get up. We actually did see that path and ignored it because we did not see any trail sign there.This is when we realized that how spoiled we were with well-marked American trails. This is also when we realized that the only way to find our way to the summit was to look at the trail-map and follow it closely. The map came out of the pack and stayed in my pocket for the rest of the way up.
Path up was steep but very pleasant. We encountered a couple of brief showers but they did not stop us from moving up. We took frequent breaks to take photos and to admire picturesque landscape. We stayed on the left of the Scales Tarn and by doing so we realized that we had missed an infamous Sharp Edge everyone was talking about. Given that it was rainy and possibly slippery, we decided to skip that route up.
`Sharp Edge’ is knife-like ridge of rocks has to be tackled by scrambling over to get to the top and guaranteed to provide adrenaline rush to those who are in for.
Nonetheless, Scales Tarn and Sharp Edge looked stunning from the side we were at. We took break there to view scramblers on the sharp edge. It was nice steep walk up the mountain from that point. Views were getting better and better as we moved up and as soon as we reached the summit ,we were rewarded with the panoramic vista of rolling grass-hills, farms, lakes and mountains which defines the Lake District.
We treated ourselves with a long break at the top, took many pictures and finally a selfie in my cell phone for family back home.
Our walk back was easy and fun. Since there was no official bus-stop at White Horse Inn, bus back to Keswick did not stop for us. We decided to walk back to Keswick, which was a long but nice walk. All in all, a day to scale the summit of Blencathra was one the best days we spent in the Lake-land.