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The Scafells

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:37 pm
by poppiesrara
Perfect, cool and clear, walking day to take on England’s highest peaks.

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The climb straight up Lingmell’s west ridge is a pretty fierce start to any walk: relentlessly steep for the first mile from the Brackenclose carpark. The part that looks most daunting as you climb though, a patch of very steep-looking scree, is actually the herald of easier going – a decent zigzag/steps path for a few minutes and then an easy damp grass ridge the rest of the way up. Wast Water and the craggy faces of Scafell Pike and (especially) Scafell are in tempting view most of the way and, if a little breathlessly, it isn’t too long before you reach the summit.
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Pillar & Mosedale

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Scafell Pike & Scafell

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Wast Water down Lingmell's west ridge

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Broad Crag & Piers Gill from Lingmell

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Sty Head & (hazily) Borrowdale

A short descent leads to the main Wasdale-Scafell Pike path - not too busy midweek and a little outside peak season, and quite easy going on the clear boot-whitened route up. This had seemed hellish a few years before (admittedly early on a terribly wet and foggy morning when no other fools were there at all…), but it’s perhaps been repathed since then (or we’d totally missed the easy way both up and down…) – hard now not to find this an easy non-stop way up. Plenty of others doubtless feel the same, and the summit is a busy, very noisy place to pass quickly by onto the quiet path down to Mickledore, and a daunting view of the face of Scafell…
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Kirk Fell & Great Gable behind Lingmell

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Scafell Pike from the final ascent

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Scafell over Mickledore

You can see the temptation of the direct ascent (Broad Stand, and ‘not for walkers’ sadly), as it’s a long way down either way before you can start climbing up again and the going south-east – even if for only a couple of hundred yards – is desperately painstaking over very loose scree. After which, the obvious route up the Foxes Tarn gully is terrific - fun and fairly easy, unexposed scrambling beside the tumbling stream and a very good way to regain that lost height - before an easy enough path leads on from the tiny tarn up and over the summit. Three people here in total, which was perhaps a hundred short of the amount on or around Scafell Pike a mile away… Four years on from reaching my first Lakes summit on a hellish day at the highest point, this - in happier conditions on the next highest - was my final Lakes Hewitt. And – added to those of Wales, Yorkshire and the south – perhaps the last of those I’d really targeted climbing (the 32 tops in the rolling far-northern bogs might just follow eventually, but if the first experiences aren’t too good, they might never…). Whichever, this was a fine and fitting ‘end’-point.
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Ascending the Foxes Tarn gully...

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...and looking back down

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Down to Foxes Tarn

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Bowfell & Crinkle Crags from Scafell

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Scafell Pike & Ill Crag

After a long stretch over bare rock and stone, the going on Scafell’s south ridge is great walking on a grassy path along the crest. Probably a mistake to forsake this to skirt Long Green’s crags to the west (looking back, a clear path seemed to head right along the edge), but still an easy walk to the little crest of Slight Side above Eskdale.
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Long Green & Eskdale

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Scafell from near Slight Side

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Esk Pike & upper Eskdale

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Coniston Fells from Slight Side

Judging by the few other walkers seen in this area, most ascend Scafell from Eskdale, and there didn’t seem a great deal of evidence on the ground that anyone had ever dropped down from Slight Side to Wasdale! It’s an easy enough grassy descent in the first place, but deteriorates into some very marshy terrain further down and either side of, much the highlight, finding a crossing of the plummeting waters of Hardrigg Gill. It’s a very long and rough mile or two really, but perhaps – in hindsight – still might be rather easier on the legs than a steep and stony ascent to match the ways up to end a really satisfying day.
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Falls above the crossing of Hardrigg Gill

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Burnmoor Tarn from Hardrigg Gill

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Kirk Fell

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Middle Fell over Wast Water

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Lingmell & Scafell Pike

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Illgill Head

Re: The Scafells

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:53 pm
by nigheandonn
This is what I've been reading about today, so it's nice to see it in the flesh - it's impressive scenery, and impressively stony!

Congratulations on the Hewitts, too - odd that I've got my eye on the North Pennines and am really not that bothered about Wales ;) Each to their own :)

Re: The Scafells

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:02 am
by Broggy1
Another great report Poppy with the inclusion of the best imo (and least popular) Lakeland 3000 footer being a grand way to finish your journey.

I was in the same area...on the same day....doing the Mosedale Horsehoe and the Pillar High Level Route and it was a really nice day for walking. Not too hot but with all the hills clear of cloud.

I've done a few of the North Pennines and I hope to finish them off over the next year or so and their reputation is perhaps justified however there are some excellent walks there that are well worth your time particularly on the western side:

Cross Fell from Kirkland (with a detour over the two Dun Fells) is a great circular walk to the highest point (a grand summit).

Also try Knock Fell from Dufton (using either the Pennine Way or better still Dufton Pike and the High Scald Fell mine route) and come back over the Nutall of Backstone Edge and High Cup Nick - easily the most scenic walk in the area.

Murton Fell from Murton can also be massively improved by taking in Murton Pike first - it's a real shame the Pike didn't outgrow the Fell as it's far superior in every way.

Just a few suggestions there - all as close to you as the Northern Lakes and all good walks!

Well done again mate.

Re: The Scafells

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:18 pm
by poppiesrara
Thanks, both!

And cheers for the North Pennine guidance (and for the helpful reports), Broggy. I imagine I'll at least give Cross Fell a go along the main tracks before too long - having admired it, and the golf ball, from the Lakes enough times recently - and perhaps take it from there... I agree with you on Scafell's pre-eminence among the English 3000-fters, although it still comes behind Snowdon, Crib Goch, Tryfan, perhaps Yr Elen and Glyder Fawr too, for me. (Nigheandonn - that was an attempt to convince you how great Snowdonia is! Even before you start on the wonderful lower summits...).

Re: The Scafells

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:31 pm
by johnkaysleftleg
Well done on finishing the Lakes Hewitts Poppie, we only recently climbed Scafell ourselves from Eskdale (report to follow) and I must agree the foxes tarn route is good fun. My personal favourite 3000 foot top is Ill Crag due to the breathtaking view of Eskdale and likelihood of enjoying it alone, Scafell is a fine mountain however.
Cross fell is well worth climbing but do try and get a rare clear day, the view is splendid, feels like you can see the entire north of England.

Re: The Scafells

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:06 pm
by john923
There seem to be a few milestones being reached at the moment so just wanted to add my congrats on finishing the Lakes Hewitts. You're so close to doing the lot that it would be a shame not to so keep those reports coming.

Cheers, John