Unhelpful tips for surviving Sharp Edge, Blencathra
Seriously, number one is BE BRAVE.
Hiking. I do fancy a hike. I love the physical challenge and the excuse to eat loads of food. I’m very fond of the great outdoors and connecting with sassy Mother Nature. I also like when I get to wear my hiking clothes because #activewear.
What I don’t like though. What I’m really not turned on by. Is the idea of slipping on rocks and falling to my death. It’s just a bit less sexy than my pair of North Face leggings.
Sharp Edge in Blencathra is known to have claimed a few lives. It’s a scary Grade 1 scramble, which means if you don’t have hands, you probably couldn’t do the climb. Unless you’re a goat.
I went along with a bunch of British/European people I’d never met before. Well, I knew one of them. Me and ol’ Ricardo have reconnected now that we’re grown up and in our 30s. We have a similar sense of adventure. And we’re both naturally really strong. Which is my first tip for surviving the climb – be naturally strong.
We drove to the Lakes District with a couple of his friends on the Friday night. There were loads of LOLs and if it weren’t for the constraints of the car, I dare say there could have been ROFLs. That’s just what happens when you’re naturally really funny. Which leads to my next tip for surviving the climb: just be naturally funny.
We arrived in the teeny tiny everything-closes-at-7pm village of Sedbergh at about 10pm, pulling up to the Airbnb apartment which was populated with the rest of Rich’s friends. The place was a lot like a summer camp cabin, with two rooms of bunk beds and two more private rooms for the scout leaders. I was pleased with the decision to claim stakes on one of the private rooms early on. Smart. Tip: be naturally smart.
We were off early the next day, driving about an hour to get to the actual base of the climb. The walk starts out challenging. Imagine a 2km slippery dip. Then imagine just walking up it with your legs. Got legs? Great. That’s the next tip: naturally have legs.
If you don’t think you’d handle feeling like your chest has a porcupine in it, this part won’t be your jam. It’s a steep walk up that bastard, and you might have to stop a few times to let your porcupine relax. Tip: be naturally okay about a porcupine in your chest.
You do eventually get to a lovely flat part of the trail. But it only lasts about five seconds before you arrive at the bottom of manmade stone stairs leading you to the actual sharp part of the edge. On either side of this knife-blade hilltop is not the kind of drop that suicidal people throw themselves at. The brutal fall would be more like a rough and tumble roll for a casual 500m, inspiring many abrasions and clashes between your face and jagged rocks. Tip: have a natural will to live.
I’m not sure who was listening to me but I made a loud and clear rule that everyone must always have three points of contact at any one time. Even though we were lucky enough to have received an unusually dry and sunny day for England, the rocks were definitely still slippery in some places. I often found myself attached to the cliff face like a starfish, drawing calming inhalations and telling myself you got this, you’re awesome. Tip: just be naturally awesome.
Getting to the top was nice. Some of the more arrogant ones (Rich, the only arrogant one) were disappointed that the actual climb part was a bit short. But I was just relieved that I still had my life. It wasn’t until the realisation that what makes an unsteady journey up, must then take an unsteady journey down that my disappointment was triggered. Tip: just be naturally chill about shit.