Monday, December 17, 2012

Lingmell and Scafell Pike

UPDATE Shortly after I wrote this post, I received The Wainwright Companion as a Christmas Present.  It's a wonderful book which has taught me many things.  One of which is that the cairn that Wainwright referred to as 'a graceful ten-foot spire' was on the summit itself, not the one on Lingmell Crag, and has now been replaced by the wider, less impressive summit cairn.  The slender column like cairn on Lingmell Crag that I am pictured next to looks very much like a shorter version of the original summit cairn which is where I got confused.  I will leave the rest of the blog post as it is, mistakes and all.

Lingmell with Great Gable to the left, taken at the end of the walk (from outside of the pub)

After some deliberation, we settled on Lingmell for today's walk.  It seemed to meet both our purposes, I wanted to bag it and David wanted to get some good pictures.  The plan then, steep climb up the nose of Lingmell from Wasdale and then decide from there whether or not to go on to Scafell Pike.  Of course, we did carry on to Scafell Pike.  Here is the route:

In my blissful ignorance, I marched off up the nose of Lingmell.  My recently acquired walking sticks taking the strain, allowing me to make rapid progress up the steep climb.

David had already mentioned once or twice that the climb we were undertaking was not one of his favourites.  He continued to remind me of this as we continued to climb.

The cloud was heavy over Wast Water and the surrounding fells.  As we climbed it was sitting on top of Lingmell.  

There was an, ever so slightly blue tinge to the cloud and we kidded ourselves that we would break through the cloud but, as we climbed further, the cloud seemed to drop to meet us below the top.

David not enjoying the climb

Further up, we started to see patches of snow.  At this point, we were over the steepest part and crossing towards the summit cairns.

A little bit further on we decided we needed to put the microspikes on.  The snow itself was fine to walk on but there was a bit of ice making it slippery underfoot.   The microspikes seemed to be the correct choice of footwear for the day and we continued to progress across the ice and patchy snow until the snow got deeper and covered the whole ground rather than patches.
snow and poor visibility

Lingmell summit
Soon enough, I think sooner than we were expecting, we came across the summit cairn on Lingmell.

We had been aiming for the lower, thinner cairn but obviously had overshot.  

After a quick check of the compass, and a few summit photos, we headed off to the other cairn for more photos.

The next cairn, further north by approximately 200m, on the edge of Lingmell Crag is described by Wainwright as, "a graceful ten-foot spire"  It is also well known for its photogenic qualities, usually providing fantastic views over to Great Gable.  Today, it was neither ten-foot tall nor did it provide any views.  Perhaps Fix the Fells could look at restoring it to its former glory?  Ooh, Fix the Fells and cairns - now there's controversy!

on Lingmell summit

Lingmell Crag "ten-foot" cairn

Next, we headed down to the wall at Lingmell Col to make a decision on whether or not to continue to Scafell Pike.  

I think we had already made a decision to continue but David consulted his Wainwright guide which suggested it was another half an hour (presumably we should have added a bit for the deep snow we had to walk through) and we both agreed that it would be daft not to continue.

The snow was deeper now but we were still gripping well with the microspikes so followed footprints and cairns all the way to the top.

There was little wind and it wasn't really that cold.  It was foggy though.  Very little visibility.

following cairns and footprints

I recognise that!

David on top of England

and me!

We spent about 20 minutes on the top, trying different angles to get a good picture.  Then we headed back down the same way,picking up the Hollow Stones/Brown Tongue route.  It's true that this is not the most exciting way up or down from Scafell Pike but it did the job and as we got further down, the cloud lifted!

cloud lifting over Wast Water
We had a pint and something to eat in Ritson's Bar and then were greeted with a clear view of Lingmell on leaving the bar:

Lingmell with Great Gable to the left

My knee held up well.  I felt it a little bit on the descent along Brown Tongue but all in all, I can't really complain (especially after watching David's Joss Naylor DVDs when I got home).  Joss lives in the area and David made me slow down by his house in case he came out (again!)

Thanks to David for allowing me to use some of his photos (the photos with me in are all taken by David).

I enjoyed the walk despite the lack of distant scenery.  I bagged another Wainwright after all.  We have planned another Lingmell walk when the conditions are better, perhaps up the Piers Gill path.

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