Sunday, 26 April 2009

Scafell Pike in the sun

A walk to the highest point in England was planned today with a few ups and downs along the way. However, as we found there were far more ups and downs than we thought.

The day started in great sunshine at the Trafford Centre car park where Pete was picking me up for a car share to the Lakes, doing our bit for the environment. 110 miles of high speed driving later and we came across a calm Derwent water in the early morning sun. A very rare opportunity to see the lake so still could not be passed up and we abandoned the car by the side of the road and tok plenty of pictures by the waterside. We were not alone and others were looking for that perfect shot , tripods and other equipment in use whilst we just clicked away.

jetty on derwent

stones on derwent to scarfell

car park

We arrived at the car park at about 9.45 situated along the approach to a farm at the base of Seathwaite Fell. We were obviously late arriving as the parking places were already filling up fast and Pete shoe horned the car in a nice little gap and we readied for the walk.
stockley bridge too

The path led up the valley where a very low Grains Gill flowed under Stockly Bridge, an old pack horse bridge which led towards the path up by Taylorgill Force and along Styhead Gill to Styhead Tarn. There we passed a tent pitched in an idyllic spot next to the tarn, wild camping at its best. There were great views all around and a mountain rescue stretcher box just up from the tarn, placed for easy access to all the big hills around us.
way up to gable and kirk

sty head to piers

As we rounded StyHead we could see Burnthwaite at the top of Wast Water and Piers Gill ahead of us where the path climbed on the left. Piers Gill is a notorious walking blackspot with many walkers coming down the wrong side of the Gill and getting stuck, hence the stretcher box so close by.
gill near start of path up

great gable down gill

piers gill to summit

We traversed the hill side so not to loose too much height before climbing the path beside Piers Gill. The path was steep and relentless, plenty of times for stops for pictures and at one time we thought it had turned into the Great Gable picture contest, such were the frequency of the stops. The views were worth the stops, dramatic and tall mountains in all directions. I had proposed going up Great Gable before Scafell Pike but that would have been a hill too far today, with a total ascent of 4400ft without it enough. Half way up the path it stopped at a rock face. We both looked at each other and then it was up and over the scramble where the path started up again.

down piers gill

lingmell crag and great g

sedimentary rock

At the top we joined the corridor path and started to go round the back of Scafell Pike where the going got steep and rocky. Along the way on one of our many stops, Pete who is a geologist by trade, pointed out and explained the sedimentary rocks around us as well as the larval rocks. Going for my Phd next week !

scramble to summit cairn

me on top near

summit from wainy spot

None of the rocks had lichen on them which shows how heavy the traffic is on Scafell Pike. They were rounded, shiny, clean and plentiful which made for hard walking, not being able to get a stride up. The summit cairn came into view and photos ensued and we had lunch in almost perfect conditions, sunny, warm and windless. We were only joined on top by a handful of people which made the experience all the better, but we also went over to the point where Wainwright used to sit to avoid the crowds.

scarfell and the rakes

great moss

From there we looked down on Great Moss in the middle of the mountains. Also before the summit we went over to Scafell and looked upon Mickledore and the Lords Rake, a walk for another day!!

rocks to path down

path down

We headed off as more walkers headed for the summit and looked down the route ahead over Broad Crag, Esk Hause and Glaramara. We were just below half distance but my water reserves were below half way gone. I tink that a purification system which allows stream water to be drunk without risk will be a worthwhile purchase, allowing unlimited amounts of water for consumption without carrying extra weight in the rucksack in bottles.

broad crag back to summit

Broad Crag, Esk Hause and Allen Crag was more of the same rocky tops again not allowing us to get a steady stride up and the feet started to sting a little. On the brighter side from here we could see over to Bowfell and the Langdales albeit through a haze. More walks on the wish list, mmmmm, more sore feet I feel! As we looked back on our route, Scafell Pike soon looked a small peak in the distance and the hazy sunshine meant that all the peaks turned different shades of grey.


langdales view

two tarns to pikes

hazy look back to scarfell

last look back to scarfell

We started on the climb to Glaramara summit, but every we thought we had cracked it another peak lay in front of us to climb. There were about three false summits and we had a short cut planned from the other side of Glaramara to return to the valley floor. However the steepness of the path down sort of made our decision to go down the longer route towards Seathswaite. It added a couple of miles to our route but we were rewarded with views to the summit of Glaramara from the end of Borrowdale and it looked quite a peak from there.

steep side of glaramara

path to glaramara

pete on way down

castle crag and brordale

glaramara on way down

We soon descended into light woodland and onto a better track of light crushed stone, a relief from the constant rock hopping we seemed to have been doing pretty much all day. At the bottom we headed back towards the car park up the valley but no sight of out highest peak from there. We dashed across a field back to the car were upon our arrival we found a family happily tucking into pasta and sauce for tea. We made do with our leftovers, but it was water on my mind really and on the way back I got some and rehydrated. I don’t think I properly hydrated until the end of the next day.

start of wookland path

wood path

look up the valley at end

A valuable water lesson learned on a great day’s walking in the Lakes.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice pics Graham - mine all turned out a bit shaky. I must do my write up soon - maybe I'll just copy and paste.

    I'm thinking of a water filter thing as well but haven't made up my mind yet.