Blencathra [Saddleback], Lake District

4.7
#12 of 24 in Trails in Lake District
Blencathra, also known as Saddleback, is one of the most northerly hills in the English Lake District. It has six separate fell tops, of which the highest is the Hallsfell Top at 2,848 feet (868 metres).NameFor many years, Ordnance Survey listed Blencathra under the alternative name of Saddleback, which was coined in reference to the shape of the mountain when seen from the east. The guidebook author Alfred Wainwright popularised the use of the older Cumbric name, which is now used almost exclusively. Ordnance Survey currently marks the summit as ‘Saddleback or Blencathra’.It is likely that the name Blencathra is derived from the Cumbric elements *blain ‘top, summit’ and cadeir ‘seat, chair’, meaning ‘the summit of the seat-like mountain’. Andrew Breeze has proposed an alternative interpretation of the second element of the name, arguing that it represents a Cumbric cognate of Middle Welsh carthwr ‘working horse’. Richard Coates has suggested that the second element may be the Middle Irish personal name Carthach, but writes that ‘the implications of that with a Brittonic generic need exploring’.TopographyThe Northern Fells make up a roughly circular upland area about 10mi wide. At the centre is the marshy depression of Skiddaw Forest — a treeless plateau at an altitude of 1,300 ft (396 m.) — and flowing outward from here are the rivers which divide the area into three sectors. The south-eastern sector, between the Glenderaterra Beck and the River Caldew, contains Blencathra and its satellites.
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Blencathra [Saddleback] Reviews
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  • We took the route up from the car park near the Blencathra Centre. Although it is early August we experienced cold hard pulverising rain; light misty rain, penetrating strong winds; so typical Lakes D...  more »
  • I started my climb from the small car park just above the Blencathra Centre. On the positive side, the position of this car park is about one third of the way up the mountain so the climb itself wasn'...  more »
  • We intended to a fairly easy route up Blease Fell, but forgot to turn left at the crucial moment and ended up grappling with an ascent straight up via Gategill Fell and Knott Halloo. It was tough, to ...  more »
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  • We did this hill as part of quite a long walking day, its got quite an easy route up from the Blencathra car park. We were even able to carry a puppy up. The top was covered in cloud but it is very impressive looking from the ground.
  • Sharp Edge is my favourite route on to the mountain Blencathra. The scramble isn't necessarily hard but does have a couple of spots that feel quite exposed. As the rock is made of lakeland slate caution is needed in wet weather, especially when crossing the 'slab'. Make no mistake sharp edge has claimed lives! When I last did it i found a hiker who was stuck between two points who needed a little help and re-assurance to finish the route!
  • The best place in the world
  • One of the best Mountains in the Lake District with lots of routes to the summit.
  • Great hike for the whole family as long as they bring their walking legs... Cloud can come in quite quickly at the top.

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Where to stay in Keswick

Cottages and B&Bs are scattered over the valley, and many offer views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. The town center's Victorian edifices often hide guestrooms that overlook the charming streets. Consider a B&B or inn with views of the hills close to the town center and enjoy the best of both worlds.
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