How to climb Sharp Edge


Alfred Wainwright described Sharp edge as, “The crest its self is sharp enough for shaving”.

Over the years climb Sharp Edge and Blencathra has become a Lakeland classic and a must do grade 1 scramble. 


 8.6km        | 703 m        | 4-5 hour


Scales Farm or the White horse Inn – CA12 4SY


To Climb Sharp Edge is a route that needs to be respected. You’re going to be moving over a knife edge ridge that has steep drops on both sides. In wet, poor weather the ridge can be very slippery and there has been a number of accidents, particularly on the ‘bad step’. I would advise in any bad weather conditions this route is always best avoided.

That said, get it right and you’re in for an amazing experience that will not disappoint. 

Unlike Striding Edge on Helvellyn, Sharp Edge does not have a nice path where you can miss a lot of the difficult areas out.


Climbing Sharp Edge is no easy walk, it’s a grade 1 scramble and involves some rock climbing and a high level of exposure. It is best saved for a good weather day. In wet and windy conditions it can a dangerous place to be.

Before heading out check the weather and make sure that it is appropriate for the day. 

Whilst I’d love to be able to tell you about every hazard around, it’s just impossible to do so on this blog, but as a rule it’s worth making sure you know how to read a map, and have packed the  correct equipment for the day in the mountains. If you’re unsure there are plenty of Mountain guiding company’s out there that can provide you with a guide for the day. Alternatively come and do our Mountaineering Introduction course where you can learn to scramble on your own. 

There are many reasons why you might want to hire a guide, particularly on this route. 


As with any mountain walk it’s essential that you know how to use a map a compass.


We’ve put together a great video that you can watch that shows how to climb Sharp Edge . Check it out and watch it here

How to climb Sharp Edge Adventuring


1) Assuming that you have parked at the White Horse Inn. the start of climb Sharp Edge is to head east along the single track road (watch out for cars) for about 800 metres until you come to a small track with finger post and gate at the end of it on your left hand side. 

Pass through the gate and follow the track as it starts to climb up the lower down slopes of Scales fell. 

2) The path will become steeper, eventually turning to climb directly up the fellside for about 1km, along the rim of Mousthwaite Comb.

 Ignore any paths that turn off the main path. As the gradient begins to ease, you will reach a grassy saddle that separates Souther Fell (on your right) from Scales Fell (on the left).

 From the saddle, head northwest (almost directly in front of you) along a path that remains sort of flat as it follows above the River Glenderamackin. It’s at this point you’ll get your first view of Sharp Edge looming in the distance. 

How to climb Sharp Edge Adventuring

3) After following this path for around 1km it will bend slightly to left where you will reach Scales beck. Leave the path and follow the path climbing the steps at first on the left of the beck and then back to the right of beck. 

After a short climb you’ll reach the emerald green tarn that is Scales tarn.  This a worth while point to stop and take a look over your shoulder and take a look at the amazing view – assuming you took our advice and did it on a nice day.

Sharps Edge forms the skyline to your right and Tarn crag directly in front of you.   

How to climb Sharp Edge Adventuring

4) From the tarn, head right up another short loose track to the foot of Sharp Edge. You’ll have a few easy rocky steps that will need to be negotiated before you reach the main ridge.

5) Climbing Sharps Edge: At this point you are now on the main section of the ridge. Because of this you’ll be able to see the classic image of the ridge as it curves up towards Foul Crag. 

The best scrambling can be found on the ridge crest where the rock is solid. Although it can be narrow at times and does require care as move along it.  

6) Once you have reached the flat slabs you’ll be able to get a good view of the next section. Here is also a great place to take a rest from the climbing and exposure. 

How to climb Sharp Edge Adventuring

7) Shortly after the flat slab you’ll reach the crux of the whole route. This section is  known as “The bad step”. A small tooth like section of rock sticking out the ridge that can be difficult to pass.

There plenty of foot and hand holds around it, however the rock is very polished and smooth. Because of this you should take care when you’re completing this section of the ridge. Especially when it is wet because it becomes like ice. 

How to climb Sharp Edge Adventuring

8) With the “bad Step” behind you the scramble takes on a blockier, step like character . What would have looked like wall of rock that at times may have seemed unclimbable. Now offers a plethora of routes to gain the main ridge to the top of Blencathra.

The easiest by far is a noticeable gully, the base of which can be reached by a short traverse across a slanted slab.

Again, care should be taken here as wet slab can be very slippery. There is a number of other routes to on this wall but most people take the gully that we talked about as it’s the safer option.


How to climb Sharp Edge Adventuring

9) After reaching the top of the gully you’ll eventually reach the top of the Sharp Edge. The summit of Blencathra is a few 100 meters away in front of you. Before setting off don’t forget to look at the impressive view over looking Scales tarn and Sharps Edge. 

The summit of Blencathra is marked by a circle stone that offers some unreal views across the the Lake District. 

10) From the top of the summit you have a number of ways down back to the start.