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Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby The English Alpinist » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:46 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Blencathra

Hewitts included on this walk: Blencathra

Date walked: 02/10/2016

Time taken: 2.75

Distance: 7.3 km

Ascent: 725m

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Sharp Edge.

This was a special walk for me for two reasons. It was my first climb in the Lake District since completing my Wainwrights in Winter campaign on Good Friday, March 2016. Also, the pics herein represent the 'before and after' a section 2 of the mental health act where I am not ashamed to admit I spent 28 days in a psychiatric ward, though that's probably enough information on that. Prior to going in there I had visited St Johns in the Vale (bottom 2 pics), and 3 days after getting out I made a point of getting out for a walk. I can tell you that after a month of claustrophobia and almost complete lack of liberty, the outside - real - world is absolute heaven. If anything can restore sanity it is a day such as this in the hills. I chose Blencathra because it was one of my early expeditions on the W in W, where I got repulsed by 70mph wind on the first attempt. Today could not have been more of a contrast. That makes 2 out of 3 successes for Blencathra, which is okay for this fortress of a mountain. An absolute classic of the Lakes, all the more so for doing it via Sharp Edge (which I didn't feel like flirting with on the winter visit). It's good to be back!

Blencathra from the A66.

The approach via Mousthwaite Combe.

The Edge.

Perfect conditions for the Edge.

It's been many years since I've done Sharp Edge, and fears of it proved unfounded. I remember feeling precariously perched on sloping slab with a death drop on each side, and echoing the sentiments of another walker that day: "I'm ****ing myself here!". However, today it seemed a piece of cake. Maybe I'm toughened by my winter forays, or perhaps it's because Sharp Edge holds no fears whatsoever compared to the inside of a Burnley psychiatric ward. None whatsoever. A magnificent experience, the ultimate in liberation. Whatever life throws at you, a mountain is a mountain. At this time of day (5pm) in early October, I found I was the only person on it.

Looking this way...

... and that.

On to the summit.

Blencathra summit (2848 feet).

Looking west from the summit.

A view of Sharp Edge from opposite ridge.

Descending via Doddick Fell.

The Pennines on the horizon :-)

The only hitch in an otherwise perfect little walk was losing the footpath on the lower part of Doddick Fell. I found myself wading through bracken to reach the bottom, but no matter, a satisfying day was had and it was a pleasure to be doing a sensibly short circuit in comparison to some of those W in W adventures I had. A 3-hour walk is so much more civilized than an 8-hour one, especially without wind, rain or hail.

Lower on Doddick Fell.

Descent completed. Scales Beck, with Blencathra beyond.

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Bonus pic: Blencathra seen from St Johns in the Vale a month ago.

Bonus pic 2.
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The English Alpinist
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby hooter2014 » Mon Oct 03, 2016 6:41 pm

There is no better place to be on days like that (hills in general, not Blencathra specifically! :wink: although it did look rather spectacular ). Especially considering where you have had to spend some time recently. I only hope you manage more days like that in the coming weeks and months, which I'm sure will help your recovery.
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby simon-b » Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:53 pm

It's a magnificent ridge, TEA. Good airy scrambling with superb views of Scales Tarn. Just what you needed. An English classic!
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby dav2930 » Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:11 pm

Yeah great stuff TEA, lovely conditions for it. I can imagine the wonderful sense of freedom that must have given you.

I like Wainwright's remark about Sharp Edge: 'The sight of it at close quarters is sufficient to make a beholder about to tackle it forget all other worries, even a raging toothache.'

Nice to know the hills are always there, whatever life throws at us! :D
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby rockhopper353 » Thu Oct 06, 2016 7:52 pm

My first post, great to read your account of Blencathra and the clear happiness you felt in getting out and reclaiming your freedom on the hills after an obviously very difficult time in your life.
I'm just getting back into walking more seriously again and you have inspired me, I did Blencathra via sharp edge back in the 90's, a group of us from work went up to the lakes for 4 days and that was our first walk, very memorable but like you on your previous walk I was crapping it going over sharp edge having only been used to bimbling around the peaks! Great photos by the way.
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby The English Alpinist » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:40 pm

Thanks rockhopper and good luck in your outings. Go for it! @ other posters - indeed it was uplifting to be out there, and I'm deciding where to go this weekend. I'll be out whatever the weather - it's all good!
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Oct 07, 2016 5:51 pm

Good to hear your are on the mend, no better therapy than a wonderful mountain on a perfect day.
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby trailmasher » Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:16 pm

Well done TEA :clap: and a great mountain for that feel good factor :) BTW nice to see you back :D
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Re: Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Postby ChrisW » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:48 pm

Perfect day TEA and to have the hills to yourself on a day like this is just fantastic, exactly what you need by the sound of it, what better place to recover than out on the hills in the best of weather :clap:
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