My motivation for heading to the Lake District wasn’t just for a relaxing break. It was to do something I have never done before: to bag my first English mountain (A Marilyn). Initially, I had planned on going for the biggest mountain England had to offer: Scaffel Pike. However the atrocious weather before my trip had soured me on this idea and instead I thought I’d tackle Blencathra, the 18th highest point in England at 2,848ft. I’d read some great things about this peak…and it didn’t disappoint.
(If you would like to read the first part of this story, please click HERE)
I am going to be honest…I could barely sleep the night before. I was far too excited to be climbing Blencathra. Would the weather be nice? Would the views be good? I tossed and turned and eventually sprung out of bed. Early. I was in the dining area of the Inn as soon as they started serving breakfast (having showered and gotten my gear ready). Of course, I went with a full English.
The Brotherswater Inn
I hadn’t managed any pictures of the Inn due to the weather the previous day. This day was thankfully looking far, far better so before I set off for Blencathra I got a few pictures of the gorgeous setting of where I was staying.
The Wonderful View From the Inn Car Park
I had decided to climb Blencathra from the west side and the car park was just past the Blencathra Field Centre in the small village of Threlkeld. The drive was an easy 30 minutes from the Inn and I was getting even more excited. The day was beautful. Bright blue sky, gentle clouds and a bright sun in the sky. A clear change from the grey drizzle of the previous day in Penrith.
As I drove though Threlkeld the road climbs and twists and turns until you pass the sign for the Field Centre, eventually ending in a sizeable car park. I’d arrived. The car park itself is in a slightly wooded spot, so I hurriedly got my gear together and strolled no more than a hundred yards from the car to see the view that the tree’s had obscured.
The View Beside The Car Park
I could have stood there staring at the view all day. The rolling hills, the heather, the fields, the distant lake…even the traditional Lake District stone wall was all so beautiful and atmospheric, but I had a climb ahead of me! Blencathra is one of those hills with no lead-in. No warm-up. From the car park, it is pure ascent and my decision to go with the full English breakfast was perhaps a smidge ambitious.
Ascent Selfie: “Should I have eaten those extra slices of toast?”
I persevered, however, and slowly but surely made my way up. With the constant reward of better views with every few feet of altitude gained. My efforts and strains were certainly appreciated by the locals:
“Is this all you’ve managed?”
I think one of the most rewarding aspects of climbing any mountain isn’t just reaching the summit: it’s the constant rewards you get for climbing. The new views, different angles, wider scope and the sense of scale you are gifted with for your exertions. As you climb, you gain more and more.
The Beauty of the Lake District
Despite the relative steepness, the ascent itself is not actually that challenging. From the car park, there is a track that weaves its way up hill and it was certainly easy to follow. Eventually you will reach a small cairn before you make the final push for the ridge.
The Lower Cairn Beside the Path
The View When You Reach the Ridge
Reaching the summit was a relief, not just on my legs, but due to the fantastic ridge walk that was spread before me. The faint track creeps along the edge of the ridge and gives you some hair raising looks at the almost sheer drop to your side. The conditions were perfect for this type of walk but in bad weather with poor visibility this ridge could be quite dangerous so be careful if you decide to tackle it in winter. The snow itself was also just adding to the atmosphere of being on this wonderful mountain…although I wasn’t at the summit yet!
Not For Those Who Hate Heights
Approaching the Summit
About an hour and forty minutes after heading off from the car (with quite a few camera stops) I finally arrived at the summit of my first Marilyn. There was quite a crowd of people (something I’m not used to on the summit of any mountain) all taking in the breathtaking views: the Lake District sprawls before you in all directions from the summit of Blencathra and it is ample reward for a relatively ‘easy’ ascent.
The Summit With Marker
I spent longer than I had planned on the summit. I ate my lunch and just stayed to enjoy the views and the gentle wind that was blowing. Summits can be freezing cold but Blencathra was playing very fairly and I was in no rush to descend. The other reason I stayed so long was I was asked by various groups to take some summit photo’s for them and I was happy to oblige! It was an excuse to stay longer and another walker was kind enough to return the favour.
ThatGuyBry Conquer’s His First Marilyn
Eventually I departed the summit and I had planned on making the walk a longer loop rather than returning along the route I’d ascended from. This meant descending Blencathra’s eastern side and passing the little hamlet of Scales (which is east of Threlkeld) and simply walking on the faint tracks back to the car park at Threlkeld.
Looking Back to Blencathra
By the time I reached the car I was feeling the effects of the up-and-down of the circular route I had chosen and I was looking forward to getting back to the Inn for some well deserved rest.
The following day I checked out of the Brotherswater Inn and I headed for home. I drove through the spectacular Wrynose Pass and headed west to visit the small village of Seascale. A relaxing walk along the beach fortified me for the drive back to Scotland. My two days in the Lake District had been wonderful. Penrith was a bustling English town with a lovely mix of old and new.
The Inn in which I’d stayed was great and I’d thoroughly recommend it: the food was great and the dining area overlooks the hills in the Kirkstone Pass, making it a beautiful setting to sit and eat after a day in the lakes. I also found the staff to be very friendly and accomodating. It really is a perfect location for walkers.
Likewise, I’d recommend Blencathra. If you have never climbed this peak then I suggest you find the time to do so: the views are stunning and it can be climbed from different sides, greatly lengthening or shortening the walk dependant on your level of fitness. If you reach the summit of Blencathra, you will not be disappointed.
Here are some facts about my adventure:
Blencathra Route Distance: Around 6 Miles
Blencathra Car Park: FREE
Cost of Two Nights at the Brotherswater Inn: £105 (Not Including Food)
For the two days I’d spent in the Lake District it had cost me a mere £105.
An absolute bargain.