Category Archives: The Top Ten Summits of England

Skiddaw via Ullock Pike with Sue and Karl

This was the walk of Sunday 13th March,2016.

For a number of years I’d frequently seen posts on various forums and blogs of people that had completed the walk from Bassenthwaite over Ullock Pike and up to Skiddaw and regarded them with jealousy! The view of the startling Ullock Pike strutting out from amongst Wainwright’s ‘Skiddaw family’ is without doubt one of the ‘must-see’, iconic views of the Lake District and I hoped to one day experience it for myself.

Sale Fell in the distance, giving the impression that this is an 'easy walking area'.
Sale Fell in the distance, giving the impression that this is an ‘easy walking area’.

I was delighted then when Karl, my walking companion, texted me to say that he had decided on a walk for us…Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and returning via Bakestall. If one were to include the summits of Long Side and Carl Side that would make for four additional ‘Wainwrights’ with the added bonus of ascending Skiddaw via the ‘hard way’.

The oddly named "Watches".
The oddly named “Watches”.
A first glance at Ullock's 'Pike'
A first glance at Ullock’s ‘Pike’

Thus we arrived at our destination at just before ten o’clock on Sunday and were booted and geared up a little thereafter. I’d read a lot about this walk and had readied myself for a stern challenge. At first I was impressed…with my walking fitness, I didn’t appear to be struggling. Then, we reached Watches where all that changed! Ullock Pike was trying its best not to be inconspicuous, it stood out like the proverbial ‘sore thumb’. However this was but a shrinking violet compared to the sheer ‘in your face’ attitude proffered by the broad side of the looming hulk of Skiddaw – the undisputed king of the area. I’d ascended Skiddaw in 2013 via the ‘easy, tourist’ route. What I could see of the path which began at Carl Side and appeared to climb up at a thirty degree angle, looked anything but easy. First we had Ullock Pike to traverse, and in itself that was no mean feat. Ullock Pike can be likened to Clougha…save for the fact that one (the former) is almost a thousand feet higher than the other (the latter). Clougha has numerous, well, cloughs, areas of depressions, sudden rises, Ullock Pike has these in spates! Some might refer to these rises as false summits, I could probably summon up some more robust sounding adjectives. After no more than thirty minutes walking, my thighs were nicely warmed up thank you very much, some might even say burning!

Our path up Skiddaw, definitely not the Yellow Brick Road.
Our path up Skiddaw, definitely not the Yellow Brick Road.

I found it surprising to see many people on this side of the mountain (Skiddaw) with this being the side for the more adventure, thrill-seeking, walkers. All the same, whilst we would have seen exponentially more walkers on the tourist side, we did see and say ‘hi’ to perhaps twenty or more walkers during our climb to the summit of Ullock. When we arrived at the summit, the views of most of the peaks of the Lake District opened out to us. Grisedale Pike looked (to me anyway) as tempting as ever, Helvellyn appeared quite near and Bassenthwaite lake itself looked enormous. What was most pre-eminent in my mind was that fearful looking path up Skiddaw, oh my it looked steep! Karl and Sue must have seen the colour wash right out of my face and both did their best to reassure me that it was wider than it looked and would not be the Skiddaw equivalent of Striding Edge. That being said, it was a good deal narrower than any ‘edge’ upon which I’ve placed my feet! I was nervous and excited at the same time.

Dodd - demanding our attention, from Long Side Edge.
Dodd – demanding our attention, from Long Side Edge.
Our path to Carl Side, pretty hard to miss really.
Our path to Carl Side, pretty hard to miss really.

From Ullock Pike we first descended then walked along the level edge which is Long Side or at least Long Side Edge – I don’t know if this is technically a mountain, fell or just a col on the route over to Carl Side. Nevertheless it made for a great stopping point at which we could consume our lunch, it was 12:02 after all. It makes sense to eat when there is significantly more of the walk yet to do – as opposed to some walks when we don’t eat until the apex of the walk when, invariably, it’s all downhill from there and the surplus energy gets put into reserve. The more that I walk, the more planning and preparation goes into that walk.

Long Side Edge is something of a high-level expressway.
Long Side Edge is something of a high-level express-way.

After lunch I pretty much charged across to the rounded summit of Carl Side as I wanted to start work on that unnerving track up mighty Skiddaw. We dropped down probably around fifty to one hundred feet in less than a quarter of a mile, this was great apart from the fact that it then meant that we would obviously have to climb up the same distance…and then some! I won’t lie, the first few yards of the ever increasing slope were tough but this soon subsided and was replaced by an even tougher gradient. I noticed with some trepidation that the path was at least half as wide as I had believed owing to the majority of it being covered in a three inch layer of snow. ‘Oh great’, thought I, ‘not only am I leaning into the mountain, but now I have to watch every footstep as well!’ And watch I did as the gradient once again increased and I began to stumble every few yards even though I now had my eyes glued to my feet! On six occasions I fell forward and had to put my hand out to steady myself. A few people on the way down passed close by me – a mid-twenties woman with deep brown eyes, a very young lad with blonde hair and his ‘meat-head’ of a father who had seen fit to only wear a t-shirt on the top half of his body – no coat (ah I’m only jealous really, if there was an ounce of fat on him it was a lonely one!). The most unnerving moment was the encounter with a group of mountain bikers (I’m not aware of the collective noun, pack, herd, crash?), one of whom seemed intent on descending the monstrous slope via my route! Fortunately for us both, his friends were able to persuade him not to commit at one and the same time suicide and manslaughter – believe me, if he had come my way he would have been the first of his ilk orbiting the earth!

We've done it! The highest point of Skiddaw at 3,054 feet.
We’ve done it! The highest point of Skiddaw at 3,054 feet.

I stopped on a number of occasions – I was jelly-legged and totally spent, including mentally, I hadn’t been this trembly since…well since nearly falling in Holden’s Brook during the Amble – before that it would have been since dropping (quite literally) down Great Gable in 2014! After a morning full of false summits I was expecting another…however, after chatting with the more sensible mountain bikers for a few minutes, I was rational enough to notice that one of Skiddaw’s tops (for it has two) was really not that far away, perhaps a hundred feet in distance. A surge of energy flooded through me, this was aided by the sight of Sue and Karl whom I had not seen for a good ten minutes. Full steam (or what was left of it!) ahead and within a moment I had caught them up – well okay they weren’t actually moving! Then, after a moment’s pause, I charged ahead on route to the real top – the one adorned with the trig point and other pieces of ‘hill-bling’. Although there is a drop and then an ascent, momentum carries walkers forward here from one ‘top’ to the other and in a few seconds I was tapping the trig point…and then being mobbed by a zealous group of women who wanted me to take a summit photo of their group, I obliged.

The astonishingly beautiful Helvellyn range.
The astonishingly beautiful Helvellyn range.

Excellent views from Skiddaw’s summit are seldom witnessed, good yes, but there is normally too much mist or haze around to facilitate the taking of breathtaking scenery. Today’s views could only really be described as fair-to-middling. Yes, we could see all of the Lake District fells, the Isle of Mann and Criffel in Scotland; both floated across their respective bodies of water beautifully and even the mighty Cross Fell and the Dun Fells put in an appearance ..but I would have expected to be able to see all of this and more – I know how greedy that sounds. I was not disappointed, I just wasn’t ecstatic about the views. The sense of achievement having ascended such a steep path – after already taking in the strenuous climb of Ullock Pike, was euphoric, if somewhat exhausting to achieve. I had meant to do Skiddaw again and this was definitely the best way to return to the giant.

The gentle climb to the summit of Bakestall.
The gentle climb to the summit of Bakestall.
Turning around often rewards us with a view of what we've done!
Turning around often rewards us with a view of what we’ve done!

I think we stayed at the summit of Skiddaw for ten minutes or so, just about long enough to get a decent ‘slurp’ of water from my under-performing hydration bladder – I really must look into buying something for those of us who don’t have lungs like an Olympic swimmer! I was a bit wary of the descent off Skiddaw – there was no way that I was going to descend via the route by which we had gone up – thank goodness. Karl had told me that we would be dropping down to Bakestall next but in all honesty he could have rifled off the names of any fells he wanted and unless they were really obvious (Helvellyn, Scafell, Grassmoor) I would have believed him, I just don’t know much about this area.

Aww how cute is Over Water?
Aww how cute is Over Water?
Carrock Fell and Great Calva.
Carrock Fell and Great Calva.

Ordinarily, when I am at the top of a hill, any hill, I only want to descend all the way back to the car- no uphill bits whatsoever. This shows some hill walking inexperience and is a bit lazy, hills aren’t made like that, and neither are valleys, where most hills are found. Fortunately enough for me, the drop off Skiddaw was monumental and a bit snowy in places, both of which led to an enjoyable drop, which seemed to go on and on. Karl did enjoy a slide down a few yards – which looked like fun, I only fell once. Before long we were traversing the top of Bakestall and found ourselves another spot to sit and eat (drink in my case) and admire the views across to Scotland over the Solway Firth. More locally a lake of which I’d never heard (Over Water) came into view and looked ever so cute being so near to Bassenthwaite – which is vast! Other fells that are on my to-do list came into view, Carrock Fell and the viewing platform of Great Calva had been getting larger and now were at their full viewing heights from this aspect.

The lovely titled Dead Craggs
The lovely titled Dead Craggs
The stunning Dash Falls (or White water dash!)
The stunning Dash Falls (or White water dash!)

In spite of the allure of the serenity, which could have kept us there all day, we chose to leave and drop some more…and what a drop. The descent from Bakestall to the Cumbria Way is pretty much like falling downhill. I couldn’t really guess at the gradient, suffice to say, I’m glad we never went up this way as this would have crushed my spirits, each time I turned around to gaze at what we had dropped down it seemed relentless. It’s true to say that certain patches of the downhill stretch were so we that they reminded me of doing the Anglezarke Amble. Ultimately our path down Bakestall led us on to the Cumbrian Way, we turned left and began the sometimes tarmac, sometimes grass track back to where we had parked. It was not all grass and tarmac for all to behold, the stunning Dash Falls were a sight for sore eyes (not that we had sore eyes) and Dead Craggs may have a terrible name but they are quite captivating. I practically welled with pride each time that I took in the whole view of the walk as we walked mile after mile along our tarmac / grass highway. If we had just done the whole of Long Side Edge, from Ullock Pike to Carl Side, this would still be a walk of which anyone could be proud. But we’d gone better than that, we’d done Skiddaw – the hardest way and that was a sensation of unrivalled pride onto which I will hold on for the rest of the year.

The walk’s statistics don’t make for particularly impressive reading, we ascended something like 2,800 feet over roughly nine and a quarter miles. We left the car at 10:02 and returned at around 16:20. I hope to make it back to Skiddaw again at some point, it won’t be this year, it may very well not be for another three years, but this old friend will always be in my thoughts whenever they turn to the subject of mountains, for this is truly a mountain of note, without doubt the king of its area (sorry Blencathra!)

Song of the walk: This Love by Ellie Goulding

Now available on You Tube:Click Here to watch a montage of photos of the day.

Not a Cross to bear!

The walk up the summits of Cross Fell, Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell on Sunday 1st June, 2014.

Five years ago whilst following a tangent from planning my three peaks of Yorkshire event I happened to land on Wikipedia’s Whernside page where I discovered the parent peak to Whernside was a mountain of which I had no previous knowledge – Cross Fell. Incidentally although this may be accurate a lot of what is posted on Wikipedia is utter cobblers…but that’s another tangent so let’s get back on track! I instantly became obsessed with wanting to both know more about this majestic outsider of the North Pennines and wanting to one day lay my feet upon its’ summit. I organised a walking forum meet up and began to plan and dream.

The lovely track from Kirkland to the start of the climb to Cross Fell.
The lovely track from Kirkland to the start of the climb to Cross Fell.

A total of four “definite” agreed to meet up with me and in keeping with most walkers underlying ‘green’ methodology three of us – myself, Sue and Karl all went to the venue in Karl’s car. In Kirkland we met Strider (deep apologies for not remembering your first name: Colin/Chris?) and Jon whom we had met previously sliding down Whernside on March’s ‘Right Pig Walk’! First I should say that there are not many residents of Kirkland…as such parking was restricted to park near the church – which had strange ululations emanating from it, and try not to encroach upon the tiny road. Kirkland is very, very small! We headed off on the route and took our first left hand turn-off (after some debate about which way ‘right’ would have taken us!). Within a hundred feet or so one of my water bottles decided to make a bid for freedom and jumped out of the inadequate pocket of my walking bag thus shedding ninety percent of its’ contents upon impact with the ground. This now left me with just sixty percent of the water with which I had intended to consume over the coarse of the 12 mile, 2000’+ walk! At first we were in something of a dappled light, shaded glade but then the road became a track and the views of this area of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty were laid bare before us.

I had seen many, many images of this seemingly endless path from five years worth of research…that’s photography for you – everything looks bigger, because it was not long before the end of the lovely easy stretch and the beginning of the ascent. It has to be said that the natural mechanics which make up Lakeland hills / mountains, are essentially ignored in the North Pennines, gone are the ridiculous, relentless pulls uphill that transform legs into iron and would have you believe that gravity can only ever be your enemy. North Pennines hills/mountains are much more friendly to the walker that has crossed the great divide of the Eden Valley – the M6! Of course any rise in land at some point must vary its’ gradient sooner or we’d have cricket pitches in superabundance (perish the thought!) and Cross Fell is no exception, soon the gradient got a bit meaner but never uncomfortably so. The walk was very obviously splitting into bands, whereby one stretch of the route would be relatively steep (but not Lakeland steep) but this would be followed by a much more gradual pull up the mountain – accompanied by more than an odd marshy section. At times the path did disappear but here is where Cross Fell’s prestigious name worked in our favour – whereas there are countless paths and routes up to the summit of Scafell Pike because of its’ name and status and position, the former traversers of this fell have essentially stuck to the same few routes presumably from just the four basic compass points…it is kind of in the middle of the back of beyond as far as accessibility goes.

Not far to go now!
Not far to go now!
Cross Fell's cross shelter.
Cross Fell’s cross shelter.

I won’t lie, I did have the odd rest bite every so often…I counted eight – which is much better than previous performances on Sca Fell, Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Scafell Pike but this was down to the walk being easier as opposed to any marked improvement in my performance…okay I think doing Sca Fell two weeks before did lay some groundwork! En route we met a nice chap who gave us some useful advice on following the curricks – cairns to most people, in order to negotiate the route up and over the summit of Cross Fell in case the mist came down. After three hours we were at the top of Cross Fell. I had heard that there was a cruciform shelter atop Cross Fell as there are atop many other summits…I had no idea that it would be so big! We ate our lunch inside its’ confines – my huge pasta and chicken weighed in at around one kilogramme and there was no way I was finishing that (I’d have to walk up another couple of mountains to burn it all off again!), and played guess the fell by gazing off towards what we hoped was the Lake District – or what we could see of it through the hazy skies. I could have sworn that I saw Great Gable but to be honest the only one upon which we all agreed was Great Mell Fell.

A posing threesome atop the Pennines.
A posing threesome atop the Pennines.
Our next two destinations: Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell.
Our next two destinations: Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell.
The summit of Cross Fell is enormous – in mist this would be a nightmare to negotiate but we encountered no problems at all on our walk – the most tedious task was trying to get a view of neighbouring Great Dun Fell’s ‘golfball’ in the viewfinders of our modern digital cameras – the colour white doesn’t stand out well against a sky apparently! We had always intended to walk to the next summit…and the next one after that as this is the classic route of Cross Fell – Great Dun Fell including Little Dun Fell (well, try excluding it!) and now that we were sure that the mist or the notorious Helm wind was not about to descend upon us we set off in the direction of Little Dun Fell along a wonderfully slabbed footpath.

A game of Giant's Keys? The cairn/currick builders around these parts are a proud lot!
A game of Giant’s Keys? The cairn/currick builders around these parts are a proud lot!
Little Dun Fell is by no means an ‘also ran’ it has a lovely profile and is very inviting when seen from practically anywhere in the neighbouring area. The path from Cross Fell’s summit to Little Dun Fell is just about as obvious as a path can be and facilitates rapid process across the col separating the two summits. Whilst progress was fairly swift the climb was not innocuous and a couple of times I had to stop for breath. Atop Little Dun Fell the views as could be expected were near enough the same as from Cross Fell with the exception of Great Dun Fell’s radome – which was still not displaying well in my camera’s viewfinder. We sat at the summit cairn for a few minutes, then, full of resolve and safe in the knowledge that there was still no sign of the Helm Wind or any mist we set off for the neighbouring Great Dun Fell along yet another fantastic slabbed path.

The omnipresent Radome atop Great dun Fell.
The omnipresent Radome atop Great dun Fell.
On it’s own Great Dun Fell would impress anyone, it is a fully fledged Marilyn (whatever one of those is) and a Nuttall (?) and has impressive stats being 2,782′ – 848 metres above sea level. The summit is generally easily seen from junctions 38 – 41 of the M6 but it is the giant Weather Radome at its’ summit upon which one’s eyes tend to lock. Again the short path separating the two Dun Fells was more steep in more places than the one which had lead us all the way up to Cross Fell. I think I was carried up the path more by momentum than by physical exertion. Pretty soon I was at yet another North Pennine summit plateau, having sneaked up on my now seated co-walkers who were taking in the views across to Lakeland once more. Whilst we were here every so often a cyclist would appear…my psychic sense told me that they would like to have had the summit to themselves in order to shout celebratory expletives after one of the UK’s hardest bike rides up the England’s highest tarmac road from Appleby, but that’s just conjecture!

An aft view of the brothers Dun!
An aft view of the brothers Dun!
Walkers in general do not like retracing their steps. Wherever possible we like to make circular routes for variety’s sake. However, the landscape around this area doesn’t lend itself at all well to circular walks and at the crest of many a hill lies a drop down that would put fear in the heart of anyone. Our route of descent would be the sensible one, we would backtrack as far as the marker at Tees head (I’ll get to this later) even if this did mean traversing the summit of Little Dun Fell once more – it was slightly harder the second time around as the legs were a little more weary now. We didn’t stop atop Little Dun Fell as to do so would take any accumulated wind out of our sails for the final push back up to Tees head. We had initially passed within a few yards (probably no more than fifty) Tees head on our original drop off Cross Fell. As its’ name would suggest this is the head of one of the north’s greatest rivers – the Tees. A silent decision had been made to not go poking around at a puddle just to say we had touched the Tees (?) but we did take the opportunity to have a quick sit down and relax for a moment or two. I finished my original second bottle – the first having been sacrificed to the God of bad-packing! It was suggested that as my water bottle came with a working filter – for these exact purposes, maybe I could fill it from the infant river Tees – although wary, I did take up the suggestion (even though Jon did give me some of his water) and the Tees tasted fine!

Grumply Hill
Grumply Hill
More North Pennines Peaks
More North Pennines Peaks
And so it came to pass that for the next hour and a half we spent our collective time dropping off this lovely mountain of which we had previously spent three hours ascending. The route was not tricky but there were a couple of sticky patches with which we had to happily contend. Secretly I think we were all looking forward to walking passed the laughably named “Grumply Hill” purely because it has such a curious name but in actuality it did have a nice enough profile for Karl to pose the implication “Grumply hill, anyone?” as if to begin its’ ascension – this was a challenge not accepted. We walked and dropped in altitude, there were some spectacular views across the entire North Pennines range and I made a pact with myself to visit this locale more times in order to bag some more ‘easier’ mountains. At one point we were somewhat perplexed as to how to head back to our cars – a left or right path decision had to be made but with the benefit or a map (Jon had promised to have one laminated beforehand) and GPS we were able to successfully negotiate our way to the cars passing a trio of some of the north west’s noisiest dogs. Finally some time after 18:00 – quite possibly closer to 18:30 we arrived back at our cars. Weary? I would say so – a special note of commendation should go to Strider here as the day before this hero had completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks – then I went and threw twelve and a half miles and two and an half thousand feet worth of ascent at him! The weather had been lovely – perfect walking weather, the company was also wonderful – we talked practically all the time! All in all as a wise man once said “A grand day’s walk”.

Summary
Not many mountains can live up to what Cross Fell had in store for me. I had quite literally dreamed of climbing this mountain on a number of occasions and at times when I had driven within its’ giant shadow it had somehow spoken to me on an unconscious level. I am delighted to admit that my expectations were fully met. As I have stated, prior to 2009 I could only name two handfuls of mountains and Cross Fell and its’ neighbours certainly were not in the collection. Whilst there are very apparent bragging rights to climbing the Sca fells and the likes of Great Gable and Helvellyn, even Skiddaw is no shrinking violet, here in the North Pennines, isolated but not ostracised this mountain’s reputation of being the haunt of evil spirits, of being too remote and inaccessible do nothing to tarnish its’ devotee’s cherished opinions, I know, for I am one of them. This is not a God forsaken place.

We’re now at the halfway stage of my quest to traverse the giants of England, the top ten mountains and I am delighted that at least one of them was away from Lakeland, diversity is often refreshing. My walker’s eyes next look to Ennerdale and the eye catching monolith that is Great Gable…but that’s in July and between now and then Christine and I have a wonderful holiday in Spain’s Costa Del Sol to which we can look forward. During my lengthy chats with Sue as we traversed these fells I did declare my intent to walk my coastal path again very soon, possibly this weekend, but I think that there is another location to which I must return very shortly for Winter Hill is simply gorgeous in Summer…and I’ve still not done Pendle since October!


Walk stats:
Milage 12.5 approx
Ascent 2,500′
Peaks: 3

Sca Fell…and so did I!

The walk up to the summit of Sca Fell on Saturday 17th of May, 2014

This walk saw the end of my quest to ‘bag’ all four three thousand feet mountains of the English lake district which was also part of a greater task – to climb to the top of the top ten English summits of the greatest altitude. I had wanted to do the mighty rugged peak of Sca Fell after completing last August’s Helvellyn Walk but events external to walking had taken precedent, then the colder weather had kicked in and before I knew it we were into 2014.

Sca Fell is notorious for being one of the hardest mountains of the Lake District, routes like Foxes Tarn and Lords’ Rake bring forth a wry smile from those that have done them and a cold shudder down the spine on those whom have attempted them! We (that is Karl and I) were not about to attempt anything as brave – just a walk up to the summit and then a gentle descent that would also take in the handsome crag of Slight Side.

We arrived at Wasdale Head at around 09:45 and after booting up headed off on our journey in glorious sunshine. Initially we walked through the minor woodland glade near “Down in the Dale” where there are car parks – nothing fancy just grass and gravel and a national trust campsite + with toilets – believe me these are emergency only toilets! We crossed a few minor streams before starting the ascension at Brackenclose After crossing over a lovely little double-bridge which crossed Straighthead Gill and…Straighthead Gill(?) we then went off-piste!

Illgill Head
Illgill Head

It has to be said that if I could get away with walking up a nice flat tarmac path all the way to each and every summit – I would. However, not all of us are alike and I am in the minority, apparently most walkers prefer making their own tracks up to their intended destinations and that was the fate that the day now had in store for me as Karl and I went up the side of a moor once again (Remember Helvellyn? A pattern is forming here!). For the next half a lateral mile we ascended roughly 600 feet, which appears to sound nowhere near as energy sapping as it was. I think it was at this point in the walk that my energy reserves took their biggest and most damaging hit as by the time that we eventually reached Hard Rigg and gazed at the fore boarding gouge of Kepple Cove I needed to eat. It was a relief to find the ‘green path’ which would ultimately facilitate us in our trek to the summit. First however we had the arduous path(Really?) with which to contend. What had started off as almost a lawn (such was the smoothness of the grass) soon metamorphosed into a path of many textures, at one moment it was half-housebrick-sized igneous rocks, then a shale-like substance which filled in the gaps left by smaller but very definitely transient whitish-grey pebbles akin to the ones found within the last few hundred feet of the southern approach to neighbouring Scaffell Pike. In the last twenty feet or so before the col the route was nothing short of a scramble and although my face might not have expressed this…I did love it! This reminded me of the first time that I had ascended Pen-y-Ghent in the Yorkshire Dales…plus another six or seven hundred feet worth of altitude and blazing sunshine.

 

The Crinkle Crags from the col at Sca Fell.
The Crinkle Crags from the col at Sca Fell.
Bowfell
Bowfell

The col atop the last major climb is a wondrous place, even though I knew that I had been walking (and scrambling) towards here for the last four hours to actually arrive was something of a shock – some ascensions seem as if they are not meant to end! The views across to Scafell Pike would drive mad any peak bagger for (to coin a phrase) it was so near but owing to the drop of Broad Stand…so far away. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had done it anyway! The neighbour views, from Scafell Pike are quite literally all-encompassing, one can see for scores of miles across to Scotland, the Isle of Man, the beautiful Northern Pennines …Sca Fell is not as generous! What Sca Fell serves up in terms of views are beautifully defined images of the neighbouring fells, of course as far north as Blencathra and Skiddaw can be made out, but it’s the close-up features of the landscape which takes the eyes across each of the Crinkle Crags, over to Bowfell, over a peek at Broad Crag and onto Ill Crag as if nature herself is rewarding one’s efforts. We spent some time wandering around the col, shouting “Climb a real mountain” across to the summiteers across at the Pike and I had my first (hopefully for all concerned last) attempt at yodelling down Scafell Crag’s valley and daring to try and grab a photo of the perilous ledge and drop off from where Lord’s Rake could be spied. This was what I had wanted from the walk. Our next destination (after of course the final thirty feet climb up to the very top of Sca Fell) would be the drop down to the subsidiary summit of Slight Side.

Slight Side and its' Pinnacles
Slight Side and its’ Pinnacles

And so began the drop…and how I now hate dropping off such big mountains. The fear of falling, the continual analysing of the terrain immediately about to be beneath one’s feet, the knee-jarring which never seems to ease – I absolutely hate dropping off mountains…hills…minor rises in the landscape…pavements. I hate them all!!! Admittedly, the journey from atop Sca Fell to Slight Side is not an epic in any sense of the word. The terrain is actually not the hardest that one will ever encounter being a mixture of boulder field giving way to igneous rock and grass punctuated by the odd igneous boulder.  Once we had worked our way across the stoney obstacles it has to be said that the final ascent of Slight Side is sheer joy. The summit micro-massif is divided into left and right pinnacles and Karl and had debated as to which was the higher. Without discussing it Karl made a beeline for the left hand pinnacle and some moments later I ascended the right hand one only to be proved wrong…the left hand one is higher! With nothing much else on the agenda we now took to the moor again and began our descent once more to the bog of Quarrig Moss. This was a moorland yomp that ordinarily would be nothing out of the ordinary and no mean task. However, all I had consumed since my Asda Chicken Mayo sandwiches a couple of hours ago were the contents of three Tesco energy gels each of which totalled no more than seventy calories at best. My fasting in November last year taught me how short term hypoglycemia feels and before long I was giving way to the more emotional aspects of it. I became very irritable, quite shaky, sudden bouts of complete exhaustion would overwhelm me, as did a feeling of dread that we would never get of this bloody moor! It goes without saying and the title of this post should infer that yes, once more I did fall over a number of times. Readers of my blog will take note from previous articles and expeditions that I am not good at moorland walking…there is no reason for this, however combine this completely irrational pseudo-phobia with the very real symptoms of hypoglycemia and this makes for one giant pain in the backside – me!

Pikes Crag and Sca Fell from the road to Wasdale Head Inn.
Pikes Crag and Sca Fell from the road to Wasdale Head Inn.

How Karl did not take the initiative to escort my sorry ass over to Burnmoor Tarn and haul me in I do not know…but am very grateful to him that he didn’t! I have never declared publicly that this is a “Warts and all” blog…but it is. My triumphs are of course listed, hailed and lauded. In this moment I recognise that I have failings (it’s not a sudden realisation, believe me!) and that moor – Bleaberry How-Broad Tongue and the back of Kepple Cove including the crossing of Long Gill / Hardrigg Gill brought out the worst of them from me.  Finally we reached what Karl had referred to as the “Corpse Road”. The lake district, moreover,  the north of England has many of these such roads and from my experience they have one thing in common…they’re nothing like a road or even a track. That didn’t matter though for now we were at the moor’s end and beginning the lovely descent back to Wasdale. We passed once more the unluckiest fell in the Lakes – the 1,998′ Illgill Head (imagine being so close to being a mountain!) and once more crossed the quaint little double bridge which straddles the winding Straighthead Gill. We dropped back down the track which leads to the main Wasdale Road and over the same metal bridge that we had crossed almost twelve months previously at the start of my minor obsession with ‘bagging’ the 3,000’s of the Lake District. A brief five to ten minute walk along the road, (we decided that Lakeland roads are dangerous enough as it is without driving over them in darkness) and we were back at the car at roughly 19:40 some nine hours and forty minutes after we had left it.

 

Summary

In summing I am very glad to have completed this first ‘bagging’ round of the four major, three thousand feet summits and will now concede that Sca Fell is indeed a mountain in its’ own right and not just an extension of the neighbouring Scafell Pike. I won’t concede the same point for Slight Side ‘tho, Wainwright did but there are many differences between us. With Helvellyn and Sca Fell what has come to light is that I am more of a social walker – I am not a fan of great expanses if there is no evidence that I am not the only person traversing said expanse! Whilst I am more or less happy to do a short round of my locals – Winter Hill and Pendle Hill. I need people around me and do not visit the high places in order to ‘escape from it all’ – just to appreciate it all. Likewise I have no qualms at all with walking over inorganic, man-made paths which cut a swathe through the hill or mountain side – they usually facilitate progress as opposed to hindering it! I do however, respect that we are all essentially allowed our own opinions and methods of doing things and should respect that of each other. The next accompanied walk that I go on I will take an mp3 player with me for use in case I can’t keep up for a certain downhill stretch 🙂

Pikes Crag and Sca Fell seen from Wasdale Road.
Pikes Crag and Sca Fell seen from Wasdale Road.

Ironically the true beauty of Sca Fell’s upper reaches is only just sinking in me now that it is out of my physical sight. This is a breathtakingly beautiful mountain and to walk on the summit is like being permitted to a mountaineer’s personal paradise. The most enchanting view on the day and one that shall be filed under “Never forget” is the view of Sca Fell and Pikes Crag together as seen from the car park at Wasdale head…simply stunning and easily on a par with anything that I have seen at ‘ole Pendle and Skiddaw.

My next new (to me) summit is due to be the Northern Pennines’ giant Cross Fell but I have to admit that from Saturday evening  until Monday afternoon it was not a prospect that I was eagerly relishing…I do need to get fit or at least more fit than what I am at the moment. That being said my legs have suddenly started to feel much better than they have done all year, the shin splints which normally plague me on a daily basis appear to have dissipated.  Could it be that walking this route has already been beneficial?

For now it’s au revoir Lakes, yes I will be back and hopefully it will be this year there are some attractive summits yet to bag. I still want to do the major “Horseshoe walks” – but NOT Mosedale – it looks too bloody hard!

Finally a revised “to do” list

  1. Scafell Pike
  2. Sca Fell
  3. Helvellyn
  4. Skiddaw
  5. Great End
  6. Bow Fell
  7. Great Gable
  8. Cross Fell
  9. Pillar
  10. Nethermost Pike

 

Mist over Helvellyn…

Picture courtesy of Mr K. Holden: The lovely path through the woods to the start of the climb.
Picture courtesy of Mr K. Holden: The lovely path through the woods to the start of the climb.
Since summer 2009 I had been promising myself a trip up to England’s third highest summit, the romantically named Helvellyn. Circumstances (family commitments) and a whole barrow load of bad weather had conspired against me but I persevered and on the morning of Saturday the 7th of September I left Southport in order to travel down to Karl’s place in Darwen from where we would head off to Dunmail Raise at Wythburn. The warning signs were apparent right from the very start, it was bucketing down in Southport but the weather did improve by the time I got to Karl’s house.

We made exceptional progress and by roughly 09:30 we had arrived, adorned wet weather walking gear and set off across the verdant  pastures which would lead us to the wood at the very start of the climb. The route through the wood was so pleasant that it put me in mind of the path we had taken a year previously through lovely little Longridge. The walk so far had been hardly a challenge at all with essentially only the rain blowing off the grass with which to contend. This scenario was about to radically change as next we set off up a cobbled path slope that filled me with dread for the return route – the rocks were dubiously polished with a coating of greasy rain. It had to be said that the slope was steep, this part of the walk for some reason set me off thinking of the walk (from 2009) that Christine and I had taken to Skelgill Bank / Catbells…it was raining then as well! This was already proving to be a somewhat reflective walk!

Thirlmere - a reservoir of excellence!
Thirlmere – a reservoir of excellence!
For the next few hours we climbed up and up! We had met with two other walkers at the junction of the wood’s path and the steep slope whom had informed us that it was their intention to go up to the summit then down to Striding Edge…then back up to Swirral Edge – we hadn’t wanted to A: tell them this was a long way of doing things from this locale and B: tell them they were mad in this weather! However, for some good moments the rain abated to nothing and at one time I came close to being warm! The views back to Thirlmere (my new favourite body of water) were exceptional…and once again eternally behind us. It has to be said that Wainwright was no fan of the western approaches to the summit of this mighty mountain, but apart from the rain we were both enjoying the walk, though tough it was, and the sporadically scattered rocky outcrops offered a welcome change in scenery and a comfortable place to rest one’s weary self…nobody ever said that this walk was going to be easy going…and they were right!

At roughly 2’400 feet the mountain changed in character…gone was the all consuming cove that had kept the majority of the bad weather off us, this was now replaced by what can only be described as open moorland, but not relatively flat and unchallenging as at the likes of Spitlers Edge and Spence Moor…this was uphill, along a pitched path that was relentlessly steep and unforgiving. I had to take many stops and at one point chose to lie down and accept my fate – if I was to die of exposure here on the side of this mountain moor…then at least it would be quick and when all things are considered…painless. Fortunately for me Karl wasn’t as selfish as me and came back down the slope to gee me up, raise my spirits and make sure that the brave volunteers at Patterdale Mountain Rescue were not called out to hoist another badly prepared walker off the mountain…I can’t feel guilty about this but I certainly learned a lesson about preparing myself in the run up to a walk. Thank you Karl.

After some hours of walking and seeing less than twenty other walkers we began to bump into other soggy mountain walkers …and runners! Incredible as it may seem there was an abundance of “Bob Graham” runners out in force but with the final two hundred feet of the summit being shrouded in mist, they were heard (or in some cases herd!) before they were seen. This definitely added to the walk. We met once more with the would-be walkers of Striding Edge whom duly informed us that there had been an interjection of common sense…Striding edge wasn’t going anywhere so it would be better to attempt it with a good chance of being alive at the end of it!

Karl bounds off to the summit cairn!
Karl bounds off to the summit cairn!
Finally the summit cruciform shelter came into view, I did a double take! We had finally made it to the top. And just like Ingleborough before it (yet another flashback to 2009) there was not a view to be had! It was perishingly cold at the summit where we tried to eat our lunch and have some water…I was shivering so badly that I practically swallowed my chicken wraps whole! After bumping into less than fifty people for the last few miles we must have seen as many at the summit, groups of walkers and runners dropped out of the mist, touched the cairn and ran or walked back off out of vision. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I had wanted this – okay it would have been nicer to be just a few degrees warmer but the notion of lots of people at the top of a mountain appearing and disappearing all sharing in a common goal, with common hardships (the weather) is the sort of imagery that’ll keep me walking until I can’t walk anymore!

It had been our intention originally to take in the nearby summits of Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike but we both agreed that this had been enough of an odyssey for one day, we were wet enough, those two lesser summits could be postponed to another day. Amazingly the route back down the mountain was completed in a third of the time that it had taken to get up it! Given that I do not descend well – this is widely documented, I was astounded by the two factors: I didn’t fall (especially on those slippery looking cobbles) and two the rain backed off…just long enough to throw some hailstones at us! All the way down the mountain Thirlmere popped in and out of view, it had been another companion during the walk up thus so it would remain on the way down, when all the other surrounding summits vanished into the once more descending mist, Thirlmere was still locatable.

We arrived at the car something like six hours after we had left it. This had been a tough walk, on a day with better weather I do believe I too would have fared better but as it was I would remain quite stiff-legged for the majority of the next week. Karl had once more been a fantastic companion, inspirational and positive and I was glad when we called in at the Travellers’ Rest en route to home for a pint of shandy in my case and an hot chocolate and bowl of chips for Karl. What a good day!

I will go back to Helvellyn on two more occasions 1: to fulfil my walking desire to do the Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Swirral Edge, Catstycam route and 2 to walk the entire Helvellyn range from Great Dodd in the north to Dollywaggon Pike in the south…rumour has it this is one great but arduous walk and I will get into shape for this.

I have referred more than once to Helvellyn as a reflective mountain and for me it was and may always be so. The more mountains I climb in England’s beautiful Lake District the more certain ones seem to be identifiable as having personality traits…or bringing out our particular traits and characters. Scafell Pike was the gifted one, the silver spoon recipient, the one with talent whom rested on its’ laurels? Skiddaw was the mountain of rewards for hard labour, the gentle and affable giant who would see you right if you gave it your full attention and respect. Helvellyn brought out in me a will to look backwards (incidentally Pendle also does this) to analyse and decide to reflect on life…I don’t think it was a chance happening that this was the mountain where I got the biggest drenching …and was supposed to do be immersed in water with all of the symbolism that may entail.

But it’s no Pendle! Yes there may be 1,291 feet between them but to me Pendle is the “bigger” hill and it is the next destination to tick off last December’s self-promised “to-do” list as Karl and myself and hopefully another few will take the lovely moorland route from the Nick O’ Pendle to the summit, through Barley and back again in October. In between now and then I shall at one point be within range of another beloved mountain as we jet off to the Costa Brava for a week where I am sure we will have a lovely day visit to the Catalunyan giant: Montserrat. Watch this space for holiday photos…

Skiddaw, a promise kept and re-made

The Ascent of Skiddaw on the 13th of July, 2013

During a weekend break in the summer(?) of 2009 at Keswick, Christine and I attempted a walk up Keswick’s giant – Skiddaw. We gave up; thanks to an indefatigable wind, turned around and did Latrigg instead! Later on in the day a storm engulfed the town and local environment and we thanked our lucky stars for having the good sense to call off the walk up Skiddaw. I vowed to one day go back. This had stayed with me for four years and after my Scafell Pike walk last month had proved to me that I could get up the 3,000′ mountains Skiddaw seemed the next natural choice. I had high expectations for this walk and the weather, the mountain and my own performance did not disappoint:

Photo of the Hawell monument
The Hawell monument…worshiped by the sheep of Skiddaw

It was at roughly 9.20 that we (Karl and I) arrived at the car park atop Ormathwaite’s Gale Road: 54.618590, -3.115052, the previous ten days had been baking hot and there was every indication that today would be no different. I had packed into my backpack roughly 4.5 litres of water and was still only fairly confident that this would be ample. There would be nothing technical to our walk – go straight up the southern face of Skiddaw and maybe take in Little Man on the way back. The views although fantastic as always were somewhat hazy and that impacted upon their clarity. The Hawell monument was the first, in fact pretty much the only landmark which we passed and today it was surrounded by curious sheep whom seemed to be paying it, not us a great deal of attention. I had seen our path from the main A66 road several miles back and was fully aware of how long and steep it was…except that we are NEVER fully aware how long and steep our paths are going to be until we have done them! This was possibly the longest and steepest path I have ever attempted. Catbells, Winter Hill, Pendle Hill and even Scafell Pike are all fine, steep hills and mountains but not one of them compares to the sheer relentless plod up Skiddaw’s southern face…and the weather was not helping. After roughly one mile I had consumed my two half-litre water bottles…or at least their contents!

Whilst the views to our south included essentially 3/4 of the rest of the Lake District, to our immediate right hand side lay the more mundane face of Lonscale Fell – a mountain which was to stay with us for pretty much most of the walk. Lonscale Fell is probably my favourite illustration in all of the late, great, Alfred Wainwright’s pocket guides and I had informed Karl of my intention to get the best photograph of it that I could…but not from this angle which was of a rather banal lump! We stopped many times, on this occasion I took many photographs…except that I didn’t – I had inadvertently flicked the macro setting onto video and thus much later would discover that I had taken 40 movie files of roughly one to three seconds each!

After some distance we were confronted by a dilemma – to detour off our track and hike up the even steeper-looking path up to Skiddaw Little Man. This mountain is also a Wainwright and has a summit height of 2,838′ putting it into my “Top 20 to do” list, and it it were Autumn then I am fairly sure that we would have gone up it…but not this day in this heat, instead at the gate we were rewarded for our endeavour with the most wonderful gentle path with a very slight downhill stretch for a good three hundred yards.

Photo of Blencathra
Blencathra, shrinking violet? I think not!

Some mountains are relatively quiet and unassuming in their character, Sca fell for instance sits in its’ slightly bigger brothers shade putting obstacles like Lords Rake and Foxes tarn in front of one, almost stating “Leave me alone”. Then there’s Blencathara – the ultimate opposite! Blencathra entices and allures and for the rest of our journey Blencathra would dominate the view in no unassuming way, it’s an exceedingly attractive mountain and at 2,847′ is also on the “To do” list – thankfully not today! After many more stops and the countless cairns en route we started to hit the Birkets – first came South Top with its’ mighty cairn and then our goal- Middle Top the main and highest summit with trig point ‘an’ all!

Photo of The brilliant Ullock Pike ridge
The brilliant Ullock Pike ridge
Karl taking in the wonderful view of the Ullock Pike summit and ridge.
Karl taking in the wonderful view of the Ullock Pike summit and ridge.

A slight but very welcome mist had begun to descend but as our views had been pretty hazy there wasn’t a great deal to spoil…save for the entire Helvellyn range temporarily absconding from view! In my opinion the very best feature of Skiddaw is its’ very top…it is simply amazing. I don’t know whether this is down to the mist or a fleeting attack of high-altitude light-headedness, but to me the summit had a somewhat ethereal feel to it!

Photo of the top of Skiddaw
The Top(s) of Skiddaw

Although I aim not to eulogise about the top of Skiddaw it was a great pleasure to sit here at the top taking in the views of everything lower than us (remember Helvellyn was still under cloud), with Blencathra tempting and Munsgisdale Common apologising for looking more like a Pennine hill than a Lake District Mountain. I could have spent many moments here…eventually I stood up and started taking photographs of the other side of the ridge aiming at the spectacular Ullock Pike with The Edge and Longside Edge, Carlside and Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater – the lake and the fells…

After some moments we walked across to the north top – if this was fifty yards then I would be surprised and then back to the main summit again before beginning our descent of the main path for a few hundred yards whereby we abandoned the increasingly steep and stony drop in favour of the grassy drop down towards our new target – the grassy mound of Sale How.

Photo of Sale How
Sale How

With a summit height of 2,105′ above sea level, making this technically a mountain, one might be forgiven for wondering why Mr Wainwright decided to omit this from Book five…in all honesty it has no outstanding features what-so-ever and as we already have the afore mentioned Mungrisdale Common as a mountain which resembles a Pennine Hill with no outstanding features…it would appear that Sale How has been usurped by its’ less than illustrious neighbour. The drop down to Sale How was in fact harder than the walk up to it! But then if one starts at an altitude of 3,054′ most things beneath this can be taken in one’s stride.

Photo of Lonscale Fell
Lonscale Fell
Photo of a valley
Valley of the giants, one side Skiddaw’s massif, the other Blencathra’s.

We strode on towards the YHA at Skiddaw House in order to pick up the Cumbrian Way path that would take us past the now ever-present Lonscale Fell which was now appearing altogether much more attractive than it previously had some hours earlier. The Cumbrian Way meandered its’ and our way alongside; then part-way up Lonscale Fell as views of Blencathra opposite completely transformed its’ mean edgy profile into one of a gentle grass-covered mound.

Photo of Whit Beck
Whit Beck

Admittedly the waterfalls and odd cave(?) did add a lot of interest – especially on an audio level as the sound of the water cascading across the valley was simply divine – given that my own reservoir was now somewhat lacking in freshness and getting warmer all the time, this added a feeling of revitalisation that my own water supply was unable to provide! We rounded a corner and the Eastern Fells came back into view as did little old Latrigg our final walking destination for the day…still at some distance away. We were to go over Whit Beck at first and I nearly said aloud my belief that this scene was so reminiscent of many little brooks and streams in the shadow of Winter Hill – surely this would border on the sacrilegious here in the Lake District?

At 16:50 we began our ascent of Latrigg via the green grassy path after ignoring Karl’s parked car, initially the idea was to drop off our backpacks at the car but we both agreed that to do so would result in our dropping off of ourselves at the car and us not completing our mission of bagging Latrigg – this being on Karl’s second Wainwright completion list and I was not sure that on my last time up Latrigg I had actually stood at the summit. Although I had wanted to simply charge up and down the little hill weary legs do not facilitate such frivolity – although Karl seemed to be coping with the day’s challenges remarkably well! All the same we made it to the summit soon enough, had a last lingering look over the beautiful Derwentwater and headed back down the less steep low-mobility route back to the car satisified with our day’s achievements.

An email from Karl on Sunday morning lit up my world as his mapping of the previous night revealed that our walk had been 10.8 miles and 3,200′ of ascent.

Photo of Stone from Skiddaw
I promise to return this….soon!

I can not simply ‘do Skiddaw’ once and be done with it. The mountain is too special for such a slap in the face, perhaps others will simply tick it off their list and that be an end to it..not I. I promise myself to re-visit more times that wonderful summit and drink in the gorgeous views, the sense of space and elevation being much greater than other higher summits that I have been to recently. One day – when fitness levels may be up to the task I would love to walk the Edge over Ullock Pike and up to Skiddaw, traverse the summit and take in Little Man as well…one day. But for now farewell very friendly giant and I promise to bring back the tiny piece of you that I have borrowed for illustration’s purposes!

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Up the Pike…finally! (Yes, that one!)

The walk up to the summit of Scafell Pike on Saturday June 1st, 2013

My thighs feel like there’s a small scale explosion going off in them, my throat feels like I’ve been trying to gargle with nitric acid, I lost a car mat and my walking trousers are history. Would I do it again? Oh yeah!

With regret I only took a very small number of photographs on both my mobile phone camera and my digital one, yesterday’s walk was about me achieving an objective, the ascent of Scafell Pike and that was all that mattered. Of course just for proof’s sake I did need a photo of two, just so that the meta data could back up my claim and they are featured below. We (Karl and me) arrived at the lay-by / car park at Wasdale Head practically by the side of Wasdale National Trust Campsite: here at roughly 10:10 a.m. and set off roughly five minutes later. The route which we followed was the most straight forward and direct one which would afford us great views of Lords Rake, Hard Rigg, Illgill Head, Lingmell…almost too many to mention or recollect.

The Big Standy thing!
The Big Standy thing!

The walk up was hard, no two ways about it! I had read on the Mountain Rescue main website the guideline of take regular breaks – well who was I too argue with that? I would estimate that we took twenty on the way up, poor Karl’s camera must have been stuffed to brim with photos taken whilst I had to catch my breath! I had expected to see a lot of people en route as the weather for the day just could not have been more ideal – nice and sunny but not flag-cracking hot and with a breeze that at road level was just enough to keep the air fresh without being stifling, there were lots of people but the horrible image that I had dreaded – hoards of walkers queued up like at a supermarket aisle on a Thursday night, fortunately never materialised. The slog was hard in places but the sheer drama of the surrounding countryside was easily enough (for the most part) to take one’s mind of the burning thighs. Of course on the way up I did fall over – those darned Brasher Hillmasters are simply only good for walking on snow around urban routes! At times I jokingly cursed myself for looking up…at the summit (or where the summit would be) which brought a wry (knowing) smile from Karl! Eventually Karl encouraged “You can look up now! as the summit cairn, trig point and big standy thing, all came into view. I had to do a double take, even though it had taken us just short of four hours to get up to the top I could hardly believe that we had made it!

Scafell Pike summit is surrounded by boulders, on absolutely all sides! These are hard to walk on, at various times I couldn’t be sure whether I had two ankles, none or four! We spent a few seconds admiring the all round view from the summit standy thing then made our way across a short boulder field to a much more nice and secluded sheltered roofless hut made out of stone (essentially not an hut at all!) but this was a good place to be away from jubilant fellow ascendees, take in some fluids and have a sandwich (or Southern fried chicken wrap in my case). Although I had previously toyed with the idea with taking in another fell top or perhaps even two, by now I knew that I just wasn’t up to it. We headed across the boulder field to return to the front of the big standy thing and the dreaded white stones!

Oh my word did I soon come to loathe those little white stones that slide from underneath one’s feet as soon as they are stood upon. In recollection now I do wish that I had brought one home with me! At the time however within the next half an hour I was to fall over another three times and even retorted to Karl that upon a lotto win I was going to fund a project to have the entire summit top covered in tarmac – although not quite so eloquently. In all honesty though the minor indignity of falling over in front of complete strangers that one is hardly likely to ever re-encounter (and is more than likely going to have a very similar experience, or has already had one) is a tiny price to pay for the privilege of walking up a fine rugged mountain – the highest in England, in glorious conditions with great company.

The trip (pardon the pun) back down to the car was long, really long, I slowed us down terribly because my nerve just doesn’t hold out when walking down any hill (I take my time coming down Stang Top Moor and that’s on grass!) this does not bode well for any future Striding Edge walking ambitions that I might have had, but all the while I knew two things: 1 – I had walked up to Scafell Pike and 2 There was a pint of Shandy awaiting me at the Wasdale Head Inn. We reached the car at roughly 17:30 – about seven and a quarter hours there and back was more than I could have hoped to attain as the Mountain Rescue Website had advised seven hours for fit walkers (and I am in no way a fit walker!). We drove over to the pub and had our shandy and it did taste all the better for our day’s experience! On the way home we called in at a chip shop – the name of which currently escapes me where I had a jumbo sausage and chips with gravy – a treat I thought I thoroughly deserved.

I’ve resolved to walk the top ten English Mountains and have effectively started at the top, although for four years I have wanted to walk the mighty Cross Fell – king of the Pennines in that time I have always rued the chance that I had to walk the gentle giant that is Skiddaw, as such I would want this to be the next mountain for me to ascend…so watch this space!

Time taken 7.25 hours
Distance 5.30 Miles
Altitude 3,50 feet

01 2013-06-01 10.11.38

02 2013-06-01 10.11.48

03 2013-06-01 11.01.07

04 2013-06-01 11.01.27

05 2013-06-01 11.01.32

06 2013-06-01 13.32.57

07 2013-06-01 13.33.07

08 2013-06-01 14.29.34

09 2013-06-01 14.29.47

Where Next?

The difference in height between my last mountain walk – Whernside in 2009 and this one is a staggering 795 feet – over half a Winter Hill’s worth 🙂 I know of people whom have climbed Ben Nevis and consider their walking career(?) over – well they are not going to get higher in the U.K. now are they? I am not of this mindset! For me Scafell Pike marks a beginning not an end to my walking explorations. Admittedly it might be some time before my visa is accepted by the Lake District Climate Control – it rains a lot there…and Yorkshire is no dry zone neither. We got incredibly lucky with the weather and that has not been overlooked. I would love to tackle Helvellyn – especially the airiness of Striding Edge but before killing myself in attempting to do this I have to retire my Brashers! They had me over at least four times on this route, probably even more times when I first started to wear them at Whernside in 09 (funny how that keeps cropping up today). I already have some other boots and would want to try these out on a safer – but still relatively demanding Lake District route – Skiddaw springs to mind.

In summing these are my remaining achievable walking goals ‘though not necessarily for this year:

Cumbria

Scafell Pike from Seathwaite Farm via Grains Gill
Scafell
Helvellyn via Striding Edge
Skiddaw and Skiddaw Little Man
Great End
Bowfell
Great Gable
Cross Fell
Pillar
Nethermost Pike

Rest of England

Pendle from the Nick O’ Pendle
Clougha – Grit Fell – Ward’s Stone-Wolfhole Crag
And many others…