Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pretty Much the Whole Scafell Range

Sunday was a real treat, a walk with David Harrison and Alan O'Connor, fellow Lake District enthusiasts.  David lives locally and Alan had come up from Bradford and had been camping at Wasdale Head.  It was obvious soon after we set off that they were both very knowledgeable about the lakes, pointing out fells, crags and other features.  Alan is a bit of a nutter!  He will disappear off for a quick scramble.  I did succumb to temptation at one point.  More on that later though.

After a quick stop off at Britain's favourite view (see above), the next stop was the field next to the Wasdale Head Inn.  David is a keen photographer and knew that this was a good spot for a photo.  He has kindly given me permission to use some of his pictures but you can see more at his Wainwright Fellwalker facebook page.  Here is my version of the Wasdale Head Inn photo:

Pillar behind with the slopes of Kirk Fell to the right and Yewbarrow to the left

First objective was to head along the flanks of Great Gable towards Sty Head.  David said that the higher path was better and, after finding the junction, we climbed steadily up.  We had a healthy debate about fix the fells on the way and the Sail/Scar Crags controversy.  There are plenty of drains up this path and we passed a place where rocks had been dropped for path repair so it was a good opportunity to try to explain some of the work. 

Napes on Great Gable with the Cat Rock visible middle left

Up at Sty Head, we headed for Sprinkling Tarn and decided to walk right around it to take in the views of Great Gable and Great End.

the Gables

North face of Great End

Off towards Esk Hause before turning back towards Great End.

great views up on Great End summit, Ill Crag on the left, Broad Crag centre in front of Scafell Pike behind

photo courtesy of David Harrison.

Great End has a number of gulleys.  Cust's Gulley is distinguishable by the massive chock-stone lodged across it.  Of course, Alan told us it was possible to walk across the stone (as long as it was dry) and that he had climbed Cust's Gulley but that the 20ft sheer drops were a bit hard, especially as the walls were mossy and wet!

Alan and THAT stone at Cust's Gulley

Lingmell on the left (you can just see the top of Piers Gill)  Great Gable centre right with Green Gable to the right, Kirk Fell on the other side of Great Gable

Looking up towards Ill Crag, great conditions

David on Great End summit capturing the Gables

that looks like Bowfell and Crinkle Crags to the South East

Alan and I on Ill Crag summit with Scafell Pike behind

photo courtesy of David Harrison

Alan and David looking over Eskdale

I love this picture, taken by David on the way to Broad Crag.  Look at that cloud formation!
Skiddaw in silhouette on the right.

photo courtesy of David Harrison 

There was a nice little scramble up to Broad Crag - really nice big grippy boulders.

on Broad Crag Summit with the slog of a path up to Scafell Pike behind me

photo courtesy of David Harrison

then it was the tourist track up to Scafell Pike.  A quick stop for the obligatory snaps:

top of England - Mobot and Bolt!

photo courtesy of David Harrison

we also visited the South summit of Scafell Pike.  This is looking back from the South summit to the main summit

Next up was Scafell.  I was looking forward to going up Lord's Rake for the first time.

Mickledoor and Scafell Crag

David goes to have a look at Pulpit Rock. 

Alan and I wait while David goes to have a look at the Pulpit Rock.  He starts to walk back and then says something like, "I reckon you could get up there no bother".  The next thing I know, Alan and I are over there checking hand holds.  Getting up was fairly straight forward.  There are plenty of solid hand holds and, once I worked out where to put my feet, I was soon at the top.

victorious on top of the Pulpit Rock

photo courtesy of David Harrison

Meanwhile, over on Scafell Crag, the cloud was rolling in.  I let Alan climb down first and I followed.  I was nervous about getting back down but Alan gave me good advice on foot location and soon enough I was back down.  David, probably wisely, chose not to make the climb but did take the brilliant picture above.

cloud coming down on Scafell Crag

Just before we set off on the Climbers' Traverse to Lords Rake, Alan decided he would have a look at Broad Stand.  This is another challenging way up Scafell.  Once you have squeezed through the gap of Fat Man's Agony, there are a number of large steps to climb.  Alan quickly got up to the difficult part.  There was a group there with climbing equipment and it didn't seem too much of a climb (from the relative safety of the path).  Alan eventually came back down, saying that it was possible but you probably did need climbing equipment because the rock was so smooth.  He would have probably had a go regardless but there was a bit of a queue and he couldn't be bothered waiting.

Fat Man's Agony on Broad Stand - scene of Coleridge's famous descent

David and Alan at the start of Lords Rake.  The fallen stone is visible at the top

getting closer

Lords Rake was good fun.  The scree was fairly loose and there were a few big boulders that were moving as I walked over them.  I was more concerned for people behind me.  It's not that difficult a clamber up and I didn't really find it scary at all but it was exciting.  The place has a legendary status and it certainly felt like an accomplishment to get up and under that stone.

Alan nearing the top

me, modelling the stone

photo courtesy of David Harrison

A thorough examination of the stone.  It's not holding on by too much but seems fairly solid at the moment.  As a fix the fell volunteer, I did resist the urge to clear the path.  A bit more undermining at the bottom and it will be down the gulley.  When it first fell into place, Lords Rake was considered too dangerous to use but now it makes the place more exciting and interesting.  Alan decided it was safe enough to climb on top for a picture.  I decided not to follow him on this occasion.

We carried on up the remaining sections of the rake before heading up the windy path to Scafell summit.

Alan coming through the cloud towards the summit

Scafell summit

We stopped for a quick bite to eat at the shelter just beyond the summit.  David and Alan debated on whether or not to visit Slight Side.  As was the pattern for the day, Alan was optimistic, saying that it was hardly any distance and was on the way down anyway, David was realistic, saying he was getting tired and it was out of the way.  We decided to carry on to Slight Side.  This had been David's last Wainwright.  He had visited with a friend and then realised that he never actually got to the summit so came back the next day.

David on Slight Side summit

It didn't seem that far to the summit but if you look at the route map, it is quite far out of the way.  So I declare a draw.  From Slight Side, we headed down the, at first rocky, then boggy, then grassy slopes of Scafell, back towards Wasdale Head.

Heading down the grassy slopes, coming out of the cloud and Wast Water coming into view

almost there.

the route - EPIC!

elevation profile - approx 5200ft of ascent

Amazing walk and I really enjoyed the company of two people who really knew their way around.  I hope to do more walking with Alan and David soon.  Big thanks to David for giving permission to use some of his pictures.


  1. Brilliant blog! Would have loved to hear the Sail fell debate! Brave by the Lord's Rake stone. I still haven't done that route - I will resist clearing the stones too :-)

    1. Thanks. The Sail Fell debate was pretty tame. It actually looks like a good path for a run, will have to pay a visit.

  2. Agree a great blog and tells a story along with the pictures, very well put together :)

  3. Thanks Alan, looking forward to another walk sometime. Didn't we agree that we could do loads of scrambling on the next one?

  4. We did Paul, as you can tell it's something which i like to do :-) Just one little error in the blog. I Live in Bradford not Bolton :-)

    1. Oops! I'll change it when I get home tonight.

    2. You did get something right. Alan (my brother)is a bit of a nutter. But in a good way.

    3. Yes, nice to have someone a bit nuttier than me on a walk!

  5. Excellent blog,superb to have a story wth the photos! Looked like a cracking day on the fells.

  6. Thanks Lin, it was a great day. Writing about it helped me to learn the fells and crags a bit better.