Blencathra via Halls Ridge – Lake District National Park

One of the most loved hiking destinations in the UK is the outstanding Lake District. Situated on the North West Coast of England sits a mountainous range known for its glorious lakes, wildlife and cultural heritage. A British tourism hotspot with activities for all the family.

The Lake District is home to 214 wainwright peaks, these hikes vary in intensity and can be completed in loops. They are also incorporated in several fell running events across the region.

Quick Navigation

What is a Wainwright

Blencathra Hike Summary

Blencathra Hike via Halls Fell Ridge Route Description

How to get to Blencathra

What gear should I take on my hike up Blencathra

Tips for Scrambling on Blencathra

What is a Wainwright

The wainwrights were discovered by Alfred Wainwright and documented in a series of 7 books published between 1955 and 1966. Each book is a hand written and hand drawn archive of Alfreds findings on the peaks in different areas across the Lake District National Park.

The Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells are a staple of any lake district lovers bookshelf and a must have.

Unlike other hill lists across the world there is no scientific meaning behind the list of wainwrights, they are simply a collection of the fells most loved by Alfred Wainwright. A compilation of gorgeous hikes that we all love too.

Blencathra Hike Summary

Time: This challenging hike can take anywhere between 2-3.5 hours. Depending on how many times you stop to take in the view.

Distance: 5 mile loop with around 2500ft elevation gain

Fees: One thing that I love about the UK is there are no fees to visit its stunning national parks

Where to start: Threlkeld

Parking: We parked along blease road, they have a small section that has been made into a donation car park. As Blencathra is a very popular hike with so many different routes you will find numerous parking locations along the A66 at the bottom of the mountain.

Blencathra is the 14th highest wainwright peak sitting 868m above sea level. It may not be within the top ten, but it certainly is one of the most popular hiking routes in the area.

It has been named The Peoples Mountain in Terry Abrahams film Life of a Mountain: Blencathra.

During the 1800s and 1900s Blencathra was known by the name of Saddleback, as it looks so when viewed from the east.

The summit of Blencathra can be reached by many different routes depending on your fitness and the distance you want to walk that day. Hall’s fell ridge is a steep and challenging route however the scramble isn’t quite as daunting as the famous sharp edge.

Blencathra Hike via Halls Fell Ridge Route Description

Big shout out to @lake_district_kid for taking us on this amazing route up Blencathra! Check out their instagram for fun and cheap activities to do with your family in the lake district.

Once parked on blease road and leaving a little donation, facing away from Blencathra head down the road on your left into Threlkeld. What a stunning little location to live, gorgeous cottages with a view of Blencathra on one side and Clough Head on the other.

Take the second left after Threlkeld primary school and it will lead you round to cross Kilnhow beck.

Once across the beck walk through the fields and over the stiles, as you head to the base of Hall’s Fell ridge. I find it is always good to check your map or GPS app at this point to make sure you are walking in the correct direction, incase the path isn’t obvious to you.

As the hike slowly starts to incline, the views from here are beautiful especially on a clear day, both of where you are going and where you have already been. Even though it hasn’t been that far.

A welcomed surprise was the Gates Gill waterfall, the sound of running water is always so soothing right?!

From here on out it was a continuous steep climb. 1.2 miles ascending just under 2000ft, it is most certainly not for the faint hearted. Take your time, don’t push yourself and if you need to take a break you have the stunning scenery around you to take in.

It has been a while since I hiked a mountain, so you will find me at the back.

The scrambling section is steep and can be very daunting for new scramblers. Take your time, maintain three points of contact at all times and always be conscious of the direction you are heading.

This challenging hike is worth the effort and with prior research, the correct equipment and good pals it will be a hike you will soon want to do again!

Did I mention the views are beautiful from the top?

How to get to Blencathra

To get to the base of Blencathra head towards the town of Penrith located on the north east edge of the national park. Once in Penrith take the A66 for around 20 minutes (14 miles) towards the village of Threlkeld where you will be able to park at either multiple stops along the A66 or along blease road.

What gear should I take on my hike up Blencathra

It can be overwhelming thinking about all the things to pack for your next hike, and I know I ALWAYS forget something. Hopefully this useful list will help you avoid forgetting anything before your trip up Blencathra.

Backpack – A day pack is needed to carry all of your essentials for the hike.

Waterproof/windproof jacket – Carrying a windproof and waterproof jacket keeps you prepared for different weather fronts and stopping the water or wind penetrating the surface. This helps to keep your temperature stable and comfortable too.

Gloves and Hat – As you ascend up the mountain the temperature will get colder, you might not need your hat and gloves at the start of the hike, but you sure will when you get to the top.

Extra socks and layers – The temperature can fluctuate and the weather fronts can quickly change. Carrying extra layers allow you to add if the temperature decreases and then take off if the hike gets your heart pumping.

Water bottle – The general rule is to carry 1 litre of water per person for every 2 hours of hiking. Of course if it is a hot and sunny day, you will need additional water with you.

Lunch and snacks – Steep inclines on uneven terrain can be tiring and burn a lot of calories, keep your energy up and snack throughout the hike. Hiking is hard enough we don’t want you hangry too!

First aid kit – This can bulk out your pack a bit but don’t let that put you off. Who knows what will happen on top of the peaks.

Storm shelter – The weather can be very unpredictable, this has been perfect for us in the odd snow storm on the peaks.

Torch – Always good to have incase you get caught out with timing and the sun is setting with 45 minutes left in your hike!

Navigation tools – This can be a compass and map or an app with GPS. It all depends on what you prefer, over the years we have used both options depending on how far we are going.

There are so many things you could take but these are my essentials for your pack to ensure you are safe on your hike but also don’t have to carry too much weight on that incline.

Tips for Scrambling

A lot of new hikers will ask the question, “What is scrambling?”

Scrambling is a term used when you reach terrain that is between hiking and rock climbing. When scrambling you are required to use your hands to assist in the ascent for safety and balance. As you come to steeper inclines it is common place to maintain three points of contact at all times.

If you aren’t accustomed to these types of terrain it can be very daunting as a beginner so here are a few tips to make sure you are prepared for your next scramble up a wainwright!

Check the weather forecast

Are you attempting your first scramble on your next hike? Check out the weather forecast to ensure a dry and calm day, scrambling can add more hazards to your route so heading out on a dry day is the best time to learn some new skills.

Before we even started Blencathra’s peak was deep into the clouds, we nearly decided against the hike because of it. We checked the weather forecast and waited 10 minutes to see if it would disperse before making the decision. Always be aware of what the weather is doing around you, it may be frustrating after planning a long hike and the conditions not being great when you arrive but your safety should always come first. There will always be another day with better conditions.

Research your route

Never underestimate the conditions around you. Nature can be fierce and the conditions of your hike can change very quickly. It is important to know your route options on any hike incase of a change in conditions or an accident was to occur, to allow you to get down to ground safely.

When there is a scramble on any route familiarise yourself with the direction you are wanting to take as there may be no obvious direction in which to climb, and you don’t want to disorientate yourself and get lost!

Slow and steady

As they say slow and steady wins the race. Take your time and be cautious, check the rocks before putting all your weight down, is it secure or is it loose? Don’t get caught out.

Understand the risks

Within the Lake district scrambling is normally limited too few rocky sections on an otherwise distinct hiking trail, leaving it to only be as difficult as you choose.

Scrambling is not for the faint hearted and your chance of success is determined before you even leave the house. Research the route and prepare well and you will do great!

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