Scales Tarn – Blencathra


The room we were given for our stay at Hermiston Guest House, was the compact and cosy Blencathra.

I felt this was a good omen as the next day I had planned on hiking up Blencathra to its beautiful and remote tarn, Scales.

David and I started out early and managed to get (free) roadside parking not far from the village of Scales. The weather forecast was perfect, the sun was out with a gentle breeze which grew in strength the higher we walked. As par the course we took a wrong route and had to back track to find the path towards Mousthwaite Comb.

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I knew the walk up Blencathra would be long and arduous. It took us three hours to finally get to the shores of the glacial corrie, Scales Tarn. The tarn sits some 598m high and is ringed by Sharp Edge, Tarn Crags and Hallsfell Top. From the shore we marveled as people clambered across Sharp Edge just the thought of it makes me shudder!

Tired and hungry I decided to embark on my swim and quickly stripped to my swimsuit. The entrance was rocky and shallow, and with a chilling wind that scudded across the tarn it made for a very cold swim. The water was around 8° but the wind made it feel much colder. I swam for around 15 minutes but it wasn’t the most enjoyable swim I’ve had. Once back on land and upon getting changed into dry clothes I struggled to hold my hot cup of coffee as the afterdrop struck me quite violently. It took me a while to warm up but with hot drinks, lunch and layers of clothing I managed to recover.

We were both physically tired after our five hours traipsing around my favourite mountain Blencathra, though I was thoroughly satisfied I had swam in Scales Tarn. Perhaps this success means I could attempt Red Tarn in future?

Have you walked Blencathra? Tackled Sharp Edge?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

8 thoughts on “Scales Tarn – Blencathra

  1. Wow you do scale some mountains. I really need to tackle more hills. I tend to avoid them like the plague! At least a dip in a chilly tarn will cool you down. Are you still doing a map of your swims, like we do with Hugo’s swims? Xx

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  2. Yes Christine, I have tackled Sharp Edge, and in a lifetime of fellwalking, I had my most terrifying experience there. There is one spot where, in order to progress, you have to sit on a small ledge, shuffle off onto a knife-edge, cross it with one step in the middle where there is no support and 200′ of sheer drop each side, before grabbing a similar ledge and hauling yourself up onto that to wait until your heartbeat drops below 160bpm again. Once, and never again. I suspect you may prefer never to try it.

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  3. I haven’t climbed Blencathra yet, but I will head up via Sharp Edge when I do. I can’t decide whether to leave Blencathra until the last Wainwright or to do Haystacks as my final one. Either way I’ll have to do Mungrisdale Common out the back of Blencathra as well. So I might end up doing the Common on its own to leave me the classic Blencathra walk up Sharp Edge and then back down Hallsfell Ridge.

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