Sunday, 7 July 2013

Scafell Pike...a perpetual challenge.....endless views.

It was the first day of July, and after a poor start, the weather did get better, and I was lucky to be stood at the top of Scafell Pike at the time. Standing 978 m (3,209 ft) high with a prominence of 912 m (2,992 ft), Scafell Pike, as many will know, is England's highest mountain. Although originally known as Pikes of Scafell, due to an Ordnance Survey map error, it is now known as Scafell Pike with subsidiaries of Ill Crag and Broad Crag.

My start point was the parking area at Seathwaite. The facilities here are basic but enough for a walk start, and free. I do wish it was possible to make a donation or something as it would be worth it. There's also a genuinely positive attitude from the local land owner.

The path heads up the valley along the side of Grains Gill. The path here is fairly easy going with very little in the way of incline.

Eventually, after 10-15 minutes you come to Stockley Bridge, a quant little bridge that crosses over some not so cute waterfalls. These are worth a few photographs if you like that sort of thing. I'd like to see this after a heavy downpour.

As you pass up through Grains it's well worth having the occasional look back to view the scenery. I find it important that I don't try to get my head down and storm on when going up a hill. I feel it's important to stop every once in a while and take in what's around you. Taking photographs for this blog has done a lot to help with that as it keeps it constantly in my mind. Britain has so much natural beauty, it would be a shame to miss it.

The path starts to get steeper now and passes Sprinkling Crags on the right. The path here also crosses the odd rocky section. Although pretty safe when dry, if wet, these rocks may need a little care. Great End is coming into view and you start to get an idea of how high you are going to be required to go.

I managed to get over Low How and a little further up took a look back. Great Gable and Green I really should have Great Gable on the list, next year maybe.

The path here up to Esk Hause (the Col between Great End and Esk Pike) is another fairly easy going section, but be prepared for the possibility of wind once you reach the top. I took the short cut that misses out the shelter.

On Esk Hause you get an amazing view south, what looks to be Hard Knott and Harter Fell centre shot (correct me if I'm wrong) and possibly Coniston Old Man off to the left. An important point of importance is the sign of the sun beginning to break through the cloud cover. The wind up here was quite blustery, but is more  sheltered as you work your way up to Calf Cove.

As I passed a couple of the larger Cairns, heading from Calf Cove to Bield, there were some workers scattering the stones on the two large Cairns. Apparently it's connected to the local environment for the animals in the area. Probably not helped by a certain TV personality, working for a particular broadcaster, on a particular series, controversially encouraging walkers to put stones on Cairns as passing. A practise that I believe most walkers stopped doing a long time ago. Re-scattering the stones aids the animals and only impacts those two Cairns.

The climb up at Bield brings you onto the back of Ill Crag. The short walk across here eventually leads you across a small Col between Ill Crag and Broad Crag. And behind Broad Crag, the summit of Scafell Pike can be seen, although a little hidden in low cloud. At this point I took a 20 minute break in hope the clearer weather would make it's way closer.

The summit started to clear, so the scramble up the side of Scafell Pike began. This is my favourite walking terrain, I enjoy a good scramble. This section certainly ticked some of the boxes.

At this point I did remember to look back and take in the view. Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Lingmell were clearly in view. There was also just the hint of blue starting to appear in the sky.

Looking back, the rocky terrain of Broad Crag is easily seen. This has all the hallmarks of a potential ankle breaker, so take care here.

Finally, the summit, and the discovery of a strange looking life form on the Cairn. Scarily, it even looked back.

There was a clear view of a large section of Derwent Water from up here, so I was able to manage a phone signal. Something impossible for the last three hours or so.

Looking West was a creepier view, Sellafield, a pimple in the Lake Districts side. I really hope the dump site doesn't get the go ahead.

After hanging around on the summit for a little while to take photographs I took the north westerly path down to Lingmell Col where I took a right, crossing Piers Gill to head towards Styhead Tarn. There were more blue patches in the sky now, and the scenery was spectacular (my favourite photograph of the day).

The terrain around the foot of Lingmell has to be some of the best I'd seen during the walk, and some of the most dramatic. I was following the Corridor Route.

This dramatic scenery also lead to some dramatic path sections. The one in the photograph, along side Stand Crag, was particularly extreme considering that this was a normal path. It wasn't particularly difficult, but considering the results of a fall, down the slope into the gully, getting to the top without mishap is important. Again, a section I was glad I was able to do in the dry.

Again I remembered to look back. I stood and looked for some time. I can almost imagine Lingmell splitting in half one day......brilliant!

The sun breaking through was starting to create some interesting cloud shadows. I imagine if I had waited long enough something recognisable may have appeared. At the back is Wasdale Head who shortly after this photograph was taken had a high tech visitor. A Royal Navy Lynx came west from Styhead Tarn and headed down the valley towards Wasdale Head. He took what looked like a stomach churning steep turn down.

Arriving, after a short climb over Spout Head, at Styhead Tarn, one word came to The Tarn was blue and turquoise, really standing out. To be honest, the photograph doesn't do it justice. I was getting a little lat in the day, so I continued on past the Tarn.

Still remembering my self advice, I looked back. This view described my day. From left to right, Great End, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike summit hiding a little and the edge of Lingmell.

I followed Styhead Gill past Patterson's Fold with Green Gable on my left and Seathwaite Fell on my right. The conditions were perfect, the wind having long since subsided.

Having passed the spectacular Taylor Gill Force Waterfall on my left I reached the lower level of Green Knott and was able to see back to where the car was parked. Nearly back, and a feeling of leaving a friend behind. I get this a lot, fantastic scenery.

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