Sharp Edge is a knife-edge ridge requiring nerves of steel. Halls Fell Ridge is a succession of challenging low crags. Together they make the walk up Blencathra one of the finest in the Lake District.

The walk up Blencathra is one of the best hikes in the Lake District. Not because of the views, although the vista from the summit over the northern Lakes is sensational. Nor because of the short ascent, which allows you to be up in under 2 hours. But because dropping from the flanks of its summit are two of the finest and most thrilling ridges in the region.

Halls Fell Ridge is a succession of low crags that slowly rise to the summit. They require clambering over a series of ledges and outcrops. The ridge is narrow enough to gain a thrill, but not so narrow as to feel certain death is at hand.

Sharp Edge, on the other hand, is the most exposed grade 1 scramble in the Lake District. A knife-edge ridge that requires nerves of steel, a head for heights and steady hands and feet. It is not to be undertaken lightly, but once completed, few scrambles in the Lake District bring greater satisfaction.

Together the two ridges make for some of the best scrambling in the Lake District, and an unforgettable day out.

Here’s what you need to know.

Sharp Edge, Blencathra



A thrilling scramble over two ridges with great views


8.5 kilometres


4 hours 15 minutes


+/- 730 metres


Challenging because of the thin vertiginous ridges


Famous writer of the Lakeland Fells, Alfred Wainwright described Sharp Edge as ‘a rising crest of naked rock, of sensational and spectacular appearance, a breaking wave carved in stone. The crest itself is sharp enough for shaving and can be traversed only….at some risk of damage to tender parts.’

And so, it is. Sharp Edge, the narrowest ridge in the Lake District that can be crossed by a walker, needs care and attention. Classified as a Grade 1 scramble (no ropes or protective equipment needed) it requires a sturdy head for heights, nerves of steel and careful consideration of where to place your hands, feet, and more often than not, your backside. 

The ridge is only a couple of hundred meters long, but being exposed with vertical drops on either side, traversing it can feel like a lifetime. Around two-thirds of the way along there is a ‘bad’ step that requires shuffling on your backside along a sloping slab of rock and down onto a narrow edge. It’s not pleasant and it definitely gets the heart beating faster.

But when you have finished there are few greater feelings of satisfaction.

Sharp Edge Blencathra
Sharp Edge Blencathra


Halls Fell Ridge is much wider and less exposed than Sharp Edge. It’s a place where you can enjoy the challenge of the scramble, rather than carefully considering each and every footstep and handhold.  The ridge is a succession of low crags which can be clambered over and between. Hands are needed for support in a couple of places, but much of the ridge can be completed by simply striding over the top.

Since the crest is usually a couple of meters wide, rather than a knife-edge, it’s the perfect place to scramble for the first time. It’s a sharp steady climb but this route up Blencathra is one of the best and most enjoyable mountain ascents in the Lake District. It will come as a complete surprise when you find yourself standing on the summit admiring the well-earned views.


While the ascent of Blencathra via Sharp Edge or Halls Fell Ridge feels like an adventure in the rugged mountains, the summit is surprisingly flat and wide. It’s a great place to explore.

On the western side, Blease Fell provides a spectacular lookout over the highest mountains of the Lake District as they rise around the waters of the River Derwent. Towards the north, Foule Crag overlooks sharp edge where you can cheer on the walkers still dotted along the ridge.

But after the strenuous effort to get up to the top, there’s nothing better than sitting on the main summit with a mug of coffee and staring out at the never-ending rolling green hills of the Pennines.

Halls Fell Ridge, Blencathra
Halls Fell Ridge, Blencathra

If you are after adventure in the mountains, then walking up Blencathra via either Sharp Edge or Halls Fell Ridge (or both) is an excellent day out. But there are two things to be aware of:

1 / Both ridges are exposed and require some scrambling (the use of hands as well as feet)

2 / Sharp Edge is significantly more difficult. You need a good head for heights and should have some experience of scrambling. Furthermore, don’t attempt it in wet or windy conditions as the edge is exposed and slippery. Although as one hiker told us, “cloud helps because you can’t see what’s below you.” To get an idea of the challenge watch this.

If you have some scrambling experience, are comfortable with heights and the conditions are good then ascend Blencathra via Sharp Edge and descend via Halls Fell Ridge. It’s a thrilling 8.5-kilometre hike that will take about 4 hours.

If, however, you are new to scrambling, then ascend Blencathra via Halls Fell Ridge. It’s a safer introduction to scrambling where you’ll still need to use your hands on a narrow ridge, but it’s not too narrow. This is a fun strenuous hike in the Lake District so you’ll still have a taste of satisfying reward when you get to the top.

Once at the summit you can have a look at Sharp Edge and decide if it is for you. However, if you think you can handle it, we would not recommend going down. Instead, take the gentler path down to Scales Tarn at the bottom of the ridge and then scramble back up using Sharp Edge.

Whichever you choose, climbing Blencathra is an adventurous day out in the Lake District.



Start at Scales. Head west along the road towards Keswick, and at a layby follow the footpath sign turning right between two houses and right again after going through a wall. The path winds its way up a grassy bank and then along a pretty ledge with views on the right.

After a while the path crosses another track and traverses the contours of the hill until it approaches Scales Tarn. Turn right just before the tarn and take the path over the crest of Sharp Edge. Then scramble up the loose rock of Foule Crag turning left at the top to the summit.

Now take the descent down Halls Fell following the path as it crests over and between a series of rocky towers and small crags. The first twenty minutes is on a steep narrow ridge. Soon the path gradually widens before it follows a grassy hill descending to meet a beck (small river) on your right. Turn left and follow the path along a wall, negotiating a couple of short ascents and descents to get over Doddick Gill and Scaley Beck. Turn right to drop onto the main road and into Scales.

Sharp Edge, Blencathra


Start at Scales Farm. Head west along the road towards Keswick, and at a layby follow the footpath sign turning right between two houses and left after going through a wall. Follow the path along the wall, negotiating a couple of short ascents and descents to get over Scaley Beck and Doddick Gill.

Turn right on a path that rises up a grassy bank just before the next stream. Continue up the bank, which slowly narrows and narrows and gets rockier and rockier until you are clambering over a ridge no wider than a couple of meters. From this point you are around 20 minutes from the summit. 

Descend via the beautiful Scales Fell path (keeping right) that gently returns to Scales.

NOTE / If having ascended Halls Fell Ridge you want to give Sharp Edge a go it’s better to come up it than go down. So take the gentler path to the southern edge of Scales tarn and then ascend Sharp Edge.   

All the route details are available in our below map.

Sharp Edge, Blencathra
Sharp Edge, Blencathra


Our map shows the different paths you can follow to walk up Blencathra as well as parking spots, the bus stops and a couple of pubs. Download it onto your phone so you can follow along on the day of your walk. To save this map, click on the star next to the heading which will add the map to “Your Maps” in Google.


1 / Be aware that unlike most hill walking, scrambling comes with a bit of risk. Take your time, be careful and don’t attempt these walks if you’re unsure.

2 / For grade one scrambles you do not need any special equipment, but make sure you wear walking boots or shoes with good grip.

3 / Many scrambles are exposed, if you do not have a head for heights, then it may not be for you.

4 / Build up your experience by attempting easier scrambles first. Halls Fell Ridge is an excellent place to start. Only move onto Sharp Edge after you have had some practice, feel comfortable with heights and got used to forming solid foot and handholds.

5 / If you are not particularly experienced do not attempt rocky exposed scrambles in wet or windy conditions. Clouds also carry considerable moisture, so aim for sunny clear day.

6 / Take a good map and a guidebook. Sharp Edge is covered in Brian Evans’ book: Scrambles in the Lake District: Northern edition.


Blencathra is just north of the main road between Keswick and Penrith, making it an easy mountain to get to.

CAR / If you have a car, start the walk at Scales. There is a small free car park next to the White Horse Inn, a few spots on the lane in the village and more in a layby on the main road.

BUS / There is no bus stop at Scales but the X4 and X5 running between Keswick and Penrith stop at the Horse and Farrier pub in Threlkeld. The walk described above can be easily amended to begin and end at Threlkeld – see our map above. Buses run about hourly until the early evening – timetables.

Blencathra Sharp Edge, Lake District


Both Keswick and Threlkeld are excellent places to stay when attempting this Blencathra walk. Check out our recommendations below or we have lots more options for where to stay in the Lake District.



Just a few miles out of Keswick in Threlkeld, The Bungalows Guesthouse is an excellent budget option in the area. The location at the foot of Blencathra is superb.




Set in the centre of Keswick, Lakeside House is contemporary luxury accommodation with all the modern amenities you could ask for. Breakfast is served in front of a stunning view.




Set in the centre of Keswick, Lakeside House is contemporary luxury accommodation with all the modern amenities you could ask for. Breakfast is served in front of a stunning view.



We’ve been going to the Lake District for years, collecting our favourite hikes and finding the best places to visit. To help you plan your next trip, here are some more of our guides on the area.

STAY / For accommodation recommendations read our guide on where to stay in the Lake District.

SCRAMBLES / The best hikes and scrambles in the Lakes from our years of research.

ADVENTURE / Try these 9 adventurous things to do in the Lake District.

SWIM / Brave the cold with these wild swimming in the Lake District.

REMOTE / Explore a remote and rugged side to the Lake District at the Langdale Pikes.

SCAFELL PIKE / Climb the highest mountain in England via the Scafell Pike Corridor Route.


Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date.


If you found this guide useful, shares on social media are much appreciated.