Blencathra, for sale with an expected sellling price of more than £2m including VAT

Blencathra, for sale with an expected sellling price of more than £2m including VAT

Alfred Wainwright called it a ‘mountaineer’s mountain; one of the grandest objects in Lakeland’.

It has also been the site of 11 walkers’ deaths on a notorious accident spot. And now, Blencathra is up for sale.

Few of the thousands of walkers who each year make the ascent of the 868m (2,848ft) fell will give a thought to whose land they are walking on. Apparently it belongs to Hugh, the eighth Earl of Lonsdale, Viscount Lowther, Baron of Whitehaven and Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld.

And Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have landed him with a rather large inheritance tax bill, so something has to go.

And that something is the mountain only Ordnance Survey insists on first calling Saddleback, the rest of the outdoor community preferring its older Cumbric name.

So if you’ve £1.75m (plus VAT) burning a hole in your bank account, it could be yours.

That’s the price Lord Lonsdale reckons the (1,083ha) 2,676-acre mountain may fetch.

He admits it has little revenue-earning potential, but hopes the Government or the National Trust might stump up the cash.

He also told the Daily Telegraph: “We’re hoping there will be some daft Russian to show off.”

The new owner won’t even have the right to graze his or her animals on the fell, as it’s common land, with commoners having the right to graze 5,471 ewes, 202 shearlings, 732 hoggs and 200 lambs. Selling agents H&H Land and Property helpfully add: ‘Some of the sheep rights can be substituted for cattle or ponies’.

Whoever ends up owning the mountain will have in their portfolio one of the finest walkers’ destinations in the Lake District. Wainwright devotes 36 pages of his fifth tome in the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells series to the mountain, which has five ridges rising above the village of Threlkeld on its southern side.

Sharp Edge, scene of many fatal falls

Sharp Edge, scene of many fatal falls

The fell is also notorious for the tricky grade-one scramble along Sharp Edge, for which Keswick Mountain Rescue Team has a separate page detailing the sad toll of deaths and numerous serious injuries including broken backs that have occurred since 1961.

Sealed bids for the mountain, which is being sold by private treaty, must be received by the selling agents by noon on 2 July.

The sale has been necessitated by the impending deadline to settle a £9m inheritance tax bill after a long, disputed settlement following his father’s James Lowther’s death in 2006. Hugh now stands estranged from the rest of the family, who formerly owned Lowther Castle and large tracts of land in Cumbria.

He told the Telegraph: “I will never speak to another Lowther in my life. Ever. Ever. I will have nothing further to do with them.”

Whoever buys Blencathra, it will remain a draw for walkers, paragliders, scramblers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Virtually the whole fell is open access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, meaning walkers can exercise their right to roam at most times.

Even Lord Lonsdale admits after he sells the mountain: “We can still walk on it, and fly over it, and do what the hell we like with it. It’s not going to go anywhere.”

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