This is a superbly well balanced ascent of Blencathra, avoiding the nastier ridges, but without resorting to the grassy eastern or western ends of the fell. Instead we use the ridge of Doddick Fell, a route that takes us into dramatic territory, but that holds no terrors.
Length: 3.6 miles
Map: The English Lakes: North Eastern Area (Explorer Maps)
Last Walked: July 2011
We start from the layby on the north side of the A 66, just to the west of Scales.
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Head east from the layby, using a footpath that runs alongside the road. After a short distance (before we reach the turning for Scales) a footpath leaves the road to the left. Turn onto this path, and follow it as it runs through the narrow band of fields at the foot of Blencathra and brings us onto the open fellside. Here turn left and follow the path that runs just to the right of the field wall.
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This soon brings us to the nastiest point on the entire walk - the path drops down into the valley of Scaley Beck, then climbs back up the other side. At this point there is a short but tricky clamber up
a rocky step. Soon after this turn right onto a path that climbs steeply up the ridge of Doddick Fell. This path climbs up the right hand side of the ridge to start with, then merges with a second path coming up from the left. The combined paths then run up the rest of the ridge.
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The very top of our ridge is dominated by a line of crags, which from a distance look like they might be rather tricky to get past. In fact our path neatly sidesteps this problem - just before the foot of these crags the path turns to the right, cuts across the slope and emerges onto a broad grassy slope that leads up to the summit of the fell. Turn left here and follow the path up this slope, zig-zagging towards the top. Note the impressive views across to Sharp Edge, which really earns its name from this angle!
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To descend the fell retrace your steps back down the zig-zags, but ignore the turn back onto Doddick Fell, and instead continue along the path as it continues along the grassy slopes of Scales Fell. After a bit the path splits, with the larger path branches off to the left, and a fainter but still clear path continuing straight on. I took the straight path, which curves around the southern flank of the fell.
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Eventually this path brings us to a cross-roads. Turn right here and follow this path as it curves back around the same flank of the fell, but in the opposite direction. This path brings us back to the point we first entered the open fellside back in step one, and from there retrace your steps back to the road and the layby.