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Up at dawn - Jack's Rake and Pavey Ark

Up at dawn - Jack's Rake and Pavey Ark

Postby uk-scrambler » Sun Sep 05, 2021 11:11 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Pavey Ark

Date walked: 30/05/2021

Time taken: 2.5

Distance: 6 km

Ascent: 673m

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Jack's Rake has always fascinated me. It looks mad that there is a route up the side of a shear cliff face that can be completed without climbing gear. It's a scramble we'd been working up to. Good weather on May bank holiday weekend gave a good opportunity. 0300: Luca and I set off early from Durham towards Langdale. A bit on the early side but well worth it for the drive through the Lakes past a sleepy Windermere and on to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel from where we had the route to ourselves at dawn.

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We set off from the car park at 0500. It's a pleasant climb up to Stickle Tarn and the only other folk up at this time was was the lambs and ewes - they looked about as weary as we were. As we gained altitude there were fantastic views back across the way we'd come with the mist rising up from the dales. Ahead was the pink top of Harrison Stickle getting the first rays of sun.

Ready to go.

Our companion.

Worth getting up early for.

Nearing Stickle Tarn the top of Pavey Ark came into view and we got our first look at Jack's Rake leading diagonally up the rock face. It's some sight, a route we'd done a lot of reading about, great to finally see it for real. Stickle Tarn itself was very still. There were a few wild campers out on the shores, they definitely chose a good time for it. It must have been wonderful looking at the stars in the night.

Pavey Ark and the top of the Rake.

The route. Ok Wainwright, we'll give it a go.


View across from the bottom of the Rake.

We wondered if we would be the first up the rake that morning. Not sure. We might have been. We walked around the tarn to the bottom of the rake and it turned out there was a failed attempt already in progress. If you know what to expect with Jack's Rake then it is certainly a challenge, but fairly straightforward in good conditions. I can imagine if you're not quite sure about it then it must seem very daunting. Sadly there was someone very upset and tearful making their way back down the lower sections, being helped by their companion. They went off for a more straightforward ascent of Pavey Ark.

Luca and I had an early breakfast then set about tackling the rake. 0630 and we had it to ourselves. We knew the 'landmarks' we would pass along the way - the Rowan tree, the grassy ledge, the crux etc... and we knew that the most difficult sections are in the lower half. In good conditions it is pretty straightforward and not very exposed. Difficult in some sections for Luca, who has less reach than me, but the holds are all there - it just takes a bit of time to find them sometimes.

Here we go then.

The rake is quite narrow in places. I'm not sure how easy it would be with a big backpack. We got to the Rowan tree without difficulty and stopped for photos. Still no one else on the rake. We scrambled up the next section to the grassy ledge where we stopped to enjoy the views.

Rowan tree.


One of the things that everyone says about Jack's Rake is that it is over too soon. We were not in a rush and there was no one else around so we took our time and hung about (not literally) at the grassy ledge for some time. We sat and watched a bird building its nest in the cliff face just below us.


The grassy ledge.

Upwards again to the crux and beyond that the scrambling was a bit more exposed but in good conditions the rocks are friendly.

Got to check the phone, of course :roll:

Top of the rake.

A bit more exposed.

The end of a thrilling 20 mins on the rake.

It's a straightforward scramble to the summit of Pavey Ark. Nowhere near as thrilling as the 20 mins or so it took us to get up the rake, but great views over towards Windermere at 0700.

Pavey Ark summit.

We took a direct route down on front of Harrison Stickle. We got some great views of a couple of other groups just starting on the rake. Still quite early and very tranquil at this time, we noticed an unusual acoustic effect whereby we could just about hear a couple of people talking to each other as they got to the grassy ledge even though they were a long distance off, presumably the rock face must amplify their voices.

On the way back down.

It's a quick hop back down and we were back at the car before 0800. We actually drove round to Ullswater and climbed Helvellyn via Striding Edge later that morning. It was extremely busy up there and nowhere near as enjoyable as Jack's Rake. We'll definitely do this again.
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Re: Up at dawn - Jack's Rake and Pavey Ark

Postby Pointless Parasite » Sun Sep 05, 2021 5:15 pm

Pavey Ark must be in the top 3 best Lakeland peaks, surely. A great route and great photos, thanks for sharing :clap:
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