Monday, 21 May 2012

Walking close to heaven on Scafell PIke

What a day it turned out to be!!
Every now and again, you get a day on the fells which takes your breath away, if this had been my last day on this earth, I'd have gone a happy man. Enjoy

I set off from Brackenclose at the top of the lake, and there were signs of spring along the path. Lingmell is shrouded in low cloud beyond, I hoped it wasn't going to be one of those days.
A steady climb up gives glimpses into a murky and misty Wastwater. Thankfully there was no wind, so it was quite pleasant walking.
A look at where we are going, and it isn't looking much better!! We take the RH fork at the waterfall up Brown Toungue.
A final last look into Wastwater as we approach the low cloud. It was beginning to feel quite chilly now, so time for my jacket and hat.
Into a thick clag now, thank goodness for these cairns. I had intended on climbing up through the saddle at Mickeldore, but in these conditions I stayed on the main path.
A few hundred feet from the top and there was some brightness through the mist, as I climbed higher glimpses of blue sky began to break through.
Oh yes, it was certainly looking very good now. A haunting look across the crags as the mist swirls around them
Emerging through the cloud I spotted my Brochen Spectre! This is an phenomonen that happens when the sun, mist and temp are all in a certain condition it produces a halo around your shadow (or Glory Ring). Quite rare to see one, 2nd I've witnessed in 4 years. Use google if you want to know more.
I shared the BS experience with a fell runner on his way down (you can just see him below). We were above the clouds now, simply stunning as we look towards Broad Crag.
Only the highest peaks were managing to poke their heads above the clouds. Great Gable closest and Grasmoor near Keswick in the far distance. Amazing.
Another view towards Broad Crag and Great End in the distance, my last peak of the today.
Great Gable over a cairn and you can just make aout a break below exposing Lingmell.
I didn't head straight to the top, instead I wandered over towards Scafell. This is the route I had intended to come up, in the saddle below the cloud that was rolling over. Quite spectacular, I sat here for half an hour watching.
The same view from further back..
and a close up of Scafell crags holding back the cloud. The last time I was up here I went across here via Lords Rake which is just under the cloud here and then climbs up at the far end. Now that would have been spectacular today!!
A deserted summit of England. For anyone who has been here, you know how rare that is. I had teh place to myself for a good half hour, just amazing.
Looking across the summit trig point at Great Gable
The way we're going next - Broad Crag, a detour to Ill Crag on the right and Great End in the distance.
The highest boots in England :-)
Finally it's time to leave (reluctantly) and as we drop down to the col between Scafell Piek and Broad Crag, it almost seems like we are below the clouds.
Gable still standing proud..
Ill Crag is not a true summit, but well worth a visit for great views onto Scafell Pike and Broad Crag on the right.
A wider angled view, look at that sky!!
Horizon from Ill Crag. The Crinkle Crags can just be seen on the left.
Bowfell looks like a crocodile on a hunt through water..
Heading back from Ill Crag to pick the path up towards Great End and spotted these little cairns all in a row. Gable behind.
As I approached Great end, the cloud seem to be rising getting ready to engulf it.
Unfortunately that was the last of the sun, so it was a case of jumper back on and follow the cairns down. Sad but exhilerated.
We head towards Esk Hause and join the path down which follows Ruddy Gill.
We pass a couple of tarns on teh way down, the first is Sprinkling Tarn, and I was expecting to see an arm cald in the purest shimmering samite hold forth excalibur.... no such luck, just a few ducks!!
Sty Head tarn located at a pass of the same name. Left up from here takes you to Great Gable and straight on heads into Borrowdale. Our path is left from here...
.... back into Wasdale, still looking as murky as it did before!!
Back on the valley floor and I passed these herdies at a feeding station. The one on the top had a look in it's eye as if to say "it seemed a good idea at the time!"
St Olafs, the parish church of Wasdale. The roof beams are thought to be from a Viking long boat from settlers quite a few years ago! More info here
Signs of a recent wedding inside the small church.
A window pane dedicated to members of the Furness Rock Climbing Club who lost their lives in WW1.
A look back over St Olafs with Great Gable behind.
Wasdale Head Inn with locals dining in the foreground. The area is currently being run via generators as the power line which feeds the area and runs through the lake has broken. rather than repair it they are currently digging up the access roads into the valley to replace it was an fixed line. The steep flank of Pillar dominates behind.

A Coniston round with new friends

An unplanned walk today (to a certain degree) which was a welcome surprise. I set off not sure of where I'd end up, not knowing whether to look for a high level walk or something lower. My choices were restricted when it appeared all the diesel in Barrow had sold out and I only had 50 miles left in the tank. The reports were that there were no problems on the roads apart from Kirkstone Pass, but experience told me they smaller roads would be treacherous, so I aimed for Torver and a mooch around the Coniston Fells.
I bumped into a lad I knew through cricket at the car park, and he kindly invited me to tag along with himself and his friend Brian. It turned out to be a great walk in excellent company

We set off from Torver aiming towards the Walna Scar path. I only ever set off from here when there is ice and snow around as it's easier to access being right on the main road. Brian and Gary seting off with the Old Man just visible through the trees at the top of the path.

The path leads you gently through the lower fields of Little Arrow Moor and through some old slate workings as you climb towards the Walna Scar path. This is an old quarry which has over the years developed into a pond. The waterfall at the head of the quarry had almost totally frozen over creating some wonderful shapes. Hopefully in the image you can see the seams in the rock that have been exposed through years of mining.

Onwards and upwards as we reach the Walna Scar path. Gary and Brian had said they were heading towards Dow Crag and then round onto the Old Man, sounded like a good plan to me. Heading towards the ridge with Dow Crag looming in the distance. Despite the sun it was still a cold wind.

A quick look back at our final destination of the day, a very snowy looking Coniston Old Man

The path finaly reaches a cross roads at the top of the pass. Our route today was up the zig zag path here heading for Brown Pike, Buck Pike and finally Dow Crag. This has got to be one of the coldest places in Lakeland as it is always windy and it always seems to be a cold one!! Today was no different...

Looking back down from the climb, to the right is one of Cumbria's best kept secrets - The Dunnerdale valley. A beautifully secluded spot and well worth a visit if your ever up here. The peaks as the move away from us are: Walna Scar, White Maiden, Caw and in the far distance Black Coombe.

One of my favourite shots of the day. Gary and Brian heading towards a dark and cold looking Buck Pike. There was a biting cold wind along here and conditions underfoot a little slippy in places, but simply wonderful.

Brian takes a breather along the ridge to admire the views. Looks like he's practising his 'I'm a little teapot' routine....

Dow Crags summit is a shattered pile of rocks which look as though they have been pushed skywards. So after a brief scramble over them, we began the descent down to Goats Hawse. This was a tricky path due to drifted snow and icy rocks, all being fleet of foot, we negotiated this without problems....!!

We stopped for a quick bite amongst sheltered rocks on the descent to Goats Hawse which gave us wonderful views over a partialy frozen Goats Water. I hope this image gives you some sense of scale of Dow Crag.

At the Hawse looking towards a cloud covered Scafells across Grey Friars. I've added this for a friend at work (ian Murphy - take a bow son!) who says this is one of his favourite views and I promised I'd take one for hiim next time I was up here. Not the best example due to the cloud cover, but it's a start.

My favourite shot of the day. The lads silhouetted against the lowering sun with Morecambe Bay reflecting the sun in the distance along the clim from the Hawse.

Don't jump!! On the ridge approaching The Old Man. Strangley the wind had died down a bit now and it was the best part of the day. You can just make out the summit cairn at the end of the ridge.

The boys at the summit.

A bw view from the summit, thought I'd have a play with this one, what do you think?

There were quite a few people knocking around now all enjoying the conditions. A look back down the ridge as one group heads off towards Brim Fell. The Scafells still covered in cloud in the distance.

We stopped in at Angus's memorial plaque on the way off the summit. A great view for the old lad today. Nice how the snow has failed to stick to the slate. ps Angus was the dog of Sean MacMahon who runs the web site.

It was a very slippy descent down the south face and I hit the ground on more than one occasion. Brian was showing off as he had his traction control equipment fitted, consequently I've ordered a pair this morning! There was significant cloud building up over in the east, it looked like they were getting more snow.

Back on the path now towards Torver, and the Old Man catching the late afternoon sun giving it a wonderful orange glow. Our route up can be seen starting from the left across the ridge round and then down the face of the Old Man that is looking at us.

The sunlit path as we approach the cars.

A wonderful days walking in great company and I was glad I bumped into them as I don't think I would have gone as far today if I'd have been on my own. Hope you enjoyed our outing, thanks for stopping. Ian - Gary & Brian.