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Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England


Postby nigheandonn » Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:02 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Scafell Pike

Hewitts included on this walk: Scafell Pike

Date walked: 12/10/2019

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I don't know where I first came across the Real Three Peaks project, but I've had my eye on it for a few years without the date ever quite working out. I really expected to find myself on Ben Lomond some year, which is a hill I'd have no objection to climbing again, but instead I ended up with a Sunday-Monday trip to the lakes, which meant I might as well offer myself for Scafell Pike on the Saturday.

I hadn't realised how much it was (originally) a leaders thing - I just hate to see litter on the hills and since I can't be bothered listening to people moaning about things they don't plan to do anything about, I had to do something about it to earn my right to moan! But they seemed happy to have me along, and I enjoyed the chance to walk with people much more experience than me.

It was also a good thing for my tiny dragon Dot, who was once the highest dragon in Wales but had never really expected to be the highest dragon in England - I really didn't think enough of Scafell Pike the first time to imagine that I would ever go back.

I was late to the start, as the group was starting out from Seathwaite around the time the first bus reached Seatoller, but they'd said I would catch up quite soon as they would be wombling along slowly, and I managed to collect a few extra odds and ends from the verges of the road on the way!

The path past Stockley bridge is familiar enough, although I've more often run down it than toiled up it - it turned out that they'd been right about the slow wombling, and I caught up with the rest of the group, six people and one dog, just below the wood.

I didn't stop to take many pictures, but although it wasn't the brightest of days, the view out of the valley towards the northern hills was lovely in the autumn colours.

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Northern view

I was supplied with gloves and a bin bag and could then wander where I liked - my favourite find of the day was an antique drinks can (which had once had a separate ringpull) in a tree trunk on the other side of the fence, but after that I was mostly down at - and sometimes in - the edge of the burn, well below the path for a while, while others covered the ground higher up.

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Styhead Gill

I was surprised how easy it was to reach Styhead Tarn - after the first climb, just a fairly short wander. It was a good place for wombling, since it's a regular camping spot, but I went too far round and found too much - the remains of a campsite buried in the rocks of an old fold or shelter, so that I was struggling to move the rocks myself and went off for help.

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Wombling at Styhead Tarn

After a snack break at the stretcher box two of the guys came back down to help me move the rocks - it was good to get it cleared out, but some of it was barbecue remains that I didn't want to get too close to, and I felt a bit guilty for slowing the group down even more with the detour, because we were already running behind our planned meeting-at-the-summit time (although the Langdale team were running a bit behind too).

I'd left my bag at the stretcher box, not realising that you could take a shortcut up to the path from where we were, and had to run back for it and then join up again, and I realised on the way that although I knew roughly where the Corridor route *was*, I had no idea what it looked like, and had to stop to get the map out. I caught up with the other two before too long, though, and we went on to catch up with the rest of the group, getting a good view down into Wasdale on the way - I love the green of the fields against the brown of the bracken.

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Green and brown Wasdale

I'd never been on the Corridor route before except briefly by accident in the mist (losing the valley route to Sty Head), and it was a nice place, dramatic surroundings and a solid path underfoot.

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Rocky places in the sunshine

The stretch from where it turns up to the summit, though, was the kind of loose stuff that I hate so much that I could only go over it quickly and get it done with - some of the others had stopped to talk to someone they knew, and although I started off parallel to one guy, I ended up ahead on even him on the last stretch to the summit, meeting the Langdale people on their way down.

One benefit to being slow was that the first group had done quite a bit of the cleaning at the summit - there was still plenty to be found, though, including a cotton bud which some of the others seemed to consider the oddest find of the day, although I was still quite proud of my antique can.

The cloud was only sitting around the summit, and it looked bright enough that it might break, but it didn't while we were there, and Dot got about as much view as England as she had of Wales.

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The highest dragon in England

It was cold up in the cloud - I'd taken the rubber gloves off because I preferred dirty hands to the feel of them, but I put them back on now to see if they would make my fingers any warmer!

Our way down was by the other pikes and Esk Hause - since both teams had been over the first stretch already we were going along talking rather than hunting around, and on the rocky staircase down to the Broad Crag col I stopped paying attention for a second, caught my toe and went flying.

I had time to swear on the way down, but once I had landed on my shoulder rather than my head I knew I was ok - I was just slightly folded up with my feet about two feet higher than my head and the weight of my rucksack up around my ears, so that I couldn't move at first and was lying there saying 'I'm perfectly fine, but I'm UPSIDE DOWN!'.

I got the right way up again, and the rest of the descent was less eventful, although the bruises lasted a while. And the guys straightened out the litter picker I'd fallen on and bent, although it was never quite the same...

We had a good view ahead as we walked along, but the cloud came sweeping in and reduced it to a glimpse through a window.

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Window in the cloud

Further on Derwent Water and the northern hills came back into view - I kept being surprised back in the southern hills by how suddenly that tipping point would come where you were looking north again.

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Derwent Water

I was saying to someone as we walked down from the hause that it was a very odd feeling to walk without knowing where I was. He told me that of course I knew where I was, and I did, roughly - I could have got myself back to the valley, as well as back to the summit - but since I always walk alone I'm not used to not having an eye on the map and matching it up to what I'm seeing around me.

The way we took down was a path I think I've genuinely never been on before, by the side of Ruddy Gill - a dramatic little place with trees growing where the sheep couldn't reach.

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Ruddy Gill

It was a slow descent, although downhill nearly always does feel slow, especially with a valley that you see ahead of you long before you reach it.

But I speed up when I scent the end, as long as the path is decent - enough that a friend I was walking with another time blew a whistle at me to make me come back, when I thought I was walking at a nice normal speed - and some of the others seemed to be slowing down as they got tireder. So it was a bit fast and slow and fast and slow again, down into the valley.

DSC03090.JPG
Nearing the valley floor

We got back to the farm just as the light was fading, too late to have our photos taken holding binbags - we hadn't collected any kind of record breaking amount, either, but I think that might be because the hill really is tidier for the group's (and other's) efforts - the old accumulated stuff that the first few times cleaned out is gone, and there's not enough lying to encourage anyone except the real incorrigibles.

I hadn't been able to get a bed at Keswick again, so I was staying in the Borrowdale hostel - a nice extra treat, as it's one of my favourites. I got a lift up that far, and then walked up to the pub by the slightly muddy shortcut path, in sandals in the dark! A good day out, even with the bruises.


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nigheandonn
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby trailmasher » Wed Oct 30, 2019 8:52 pm

That's a great way to get some cleaning done and well done on your sterling efforts :clap: :clap: Hope that there's no lasting damage to the shoulder :(
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby nigheandonn » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:57 pm

Shoulder is fine, and not yellow any more - I think I'd already had my hands down to break the fall a bit, as my thumbs hurt afterwards! The bruises on my knees took longer to fade, but hurt less...

The wombling was fun, but I still can't see litter lying anywhere without thinking I should be picking it up! :D
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby Sgurr » Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:42 pm

Never been wombling on a hill, but have done some beach cleans. The first time we found quite a lot. My star pick was a flip flop...my most disgusting several bags of dog poo..some people must really believe in the poo fairy. I would have preferred an antique can. Someone found an inner tube and a pair of ladies pants. Quite a lot of cotton buds, what on earth are people doing with them on hills? I think the beach ones come via the sewage outflow. I went down again in a fortnight thinking that we would be directed to a different patch, but it was the same bit and we were told to concentrate on the tiny bits of blue plastic string that are used to tie round hemp ropes and are still there when they disintegrate. Haven't been lately. I think I would prefer a mountain womble.
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:08 pm

A fine effort :clap: I'm sure everyone who enjoys the hills is grateful to those who attempt to clean up our uplands. On another note I've never really understood why Scafell Pike gets so much of an underwhelming reaction from so many. Sure the tourist route up from Wasdale isn't particularly exciting and the summit often overcrowded but not to the extent of queues like Snowdon. Just climb it by one of the large number of possible routes and spend your time on top at the South top over looking upper Eskdale, it's one of my favourite places in the whole of the Lake District.
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:40 am

JK:

Too many stones. Quite seriously - I wouldn't hurry back to Great Gable either!

It probably doesn't help that I fell on the way down to Mickledore heading to it the first time round and buggered up my knee as well as tearing my trousers right across the bottom...

Scafell from Eskdale was one of my favourites, though, at least up to the point where I started heading down.
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:43 am

Sgurr:

That does sound worse. Someone did find a pair of pants by Styhead Tarn, I forgot that...

I was leaving dog poo to people with litter pickers, although I don't think we found all that much - I was mostly working with my hands, good for fishing things out of cracks. I was only carrying a litter picker down from the summit to fall on because someone else had forgotten and left it there!
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby dav2930 » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:21 pm

A very commendable Wombling endeavour; I hope the LDNPA appreciates the efforts of your group, though given the uselessly corrupt state of the current board they probably won't give a s**t. Looked a good day out in any case.

nigheandonn wrote:...I really didn't think enough of Scafell Pike the first time to imagine that I would ever go back.


Crikey. I know SP attracts the crowds just because it happens to be the highest summit in England, but that doesn't stop it being, as AW judges (rightly IMO), the finest fell in the Lake District.

"Too many stones", you say? That reminds me of a scene in the film Amadeus: Mozart wants to know why the Emperor has reservations about his music. Salieri's sidekick replies, "Too many notes". :lol:
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:30 pm

Nah, Scafell is better - more pleasant walk, more interesting summit area, stands out more in almost every distant view. I'm with the folk who considered it the Real Thing and all the other summits just its pikes ;-)

I'd need a pretty good reason to revisit any of the Wainwrights at this point, though - I've loved them, but there are so many places to go - and I wasn't really expecting one to turn up.
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby dav2930 » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:21 pm

nigheandonn wrote:Nah, Scafell is better - more pleasant walk, more interesting summit area, stands out more in almost every distant view. I'm with the folk who considered it the Real Thing and all the other summits just its pikes ;-)


Well, of course, the glory of Scafell is the crag and the East Buttress. From the climber's point of view, this is the supreme venue in the Lakes and quite possibly in the whole of England, if not the UK. But as AW says, too much of the fell is lacking in interest. The southern and western slopes are pretty dull and featureless. The Pike, on the other hand, is craggy, dramatic and full of interest on all flanks. I suppose it all depends what you value in a mountain. If you like your mountains to be grassy and easy to walk on then I guess SP and Gable will have limited appeal.
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:42 pm

nigheandonn wrote:JK:

Too many stones. Quite seriously - I wouldn't hurry back to Great Gable either!

It probably doesn't help that I fell on the way down to Mickledore heading to it the first time round and buggered up my knee as well as tearing my trousers right across the bottom...

Scafell from Eskdale was one of my favourites, though, at least up to the point where I started heading down.


Given your history with it now I can understand your reticence. Whereas you dislike stones (never climb Broad Crag if you haven't so far!) they are to me part of the difference between a mountain and a hill. Scafell Pike is a very rough and ready and I love it for it.
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:58 pm

[quote="nigheandonn"]JK:Scafell from Eskdale was one of my favourites, though, at least up to the point where I started heading down.[quote]

Yes much the nicest way up. Start from the Meeting of the waters in the Duddon - up Mosedale ( avoiding the bogs) across upper Eskdale and up over Pen (some nice scrambling there). And you probably won't see a soul til you get near the cairn
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby dav2930 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:03 pm

past my sell by date wrote:
nigheandonn wrote:JK:Scafell from Eskdale was one of my favourites, though, at least up to the point where I started heading down.

Yes much the nicest way up. Start from the Meeting of the waters in the Duddon - up Mosedale ( avoiding the bogs) across upper Eskdale and up over Pen (some nice scrambling there). And you probably won't see a soul til you get near the cairn


Up over Pen would take you to the Pike though, not Scafell. :?
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Re: Hillwombles and the highest dragon in England

Postby past my sell by date » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:15 am

dav2930 wrote:[
Yes much the nicest way up. Start from the Meeting of the waters in the Duddon - up Mosedale ( avoiding the bogs) across upper Eskdale and up over Pen (some nice scrambling there). And you probably won't see a soul til you get near the cairn
Up over Pen would take you to the Pike though, not Scafell. :?


Yes sorry slight confusion - I meant Scafell Pike from Eskdale -the original report is about the Pike :lol:
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