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Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor


Postby pamfox » Tue Aug 11, 2015 8:45 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Blea Rigg, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag, High Raise (Central Fells), Pavey Ark, Sergeant Man, Thunacar Knott

Hewitts included on this walk: High Raise (Central Fells)

Date walked: 08/08/2015

Time taken: 8.5

Distance: 20.8 km

Ascent: 1000m

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So, Jacks Rake was on my ‘wish list’, and the Howitzer was a ‘maybe’….

Simon, Emily and myself set off on what was going to be a brilliant day weather-wise, but a tough one (for me anyway), as the route looked quite long. Simon had already done both of the scrambles before, at least twice, but Emily and myself were feeling a bit anxious about them, and had scoured the internet for photos and advice. So on we went...

Quite near the start of the walk Simon lost his camera. He was very philosophical about it and it didn’t spoil the day, but hence I’m doing this report! Please excuse my stupid mistake of leaving the date and time on my photos. The time isn't even right!
IMG_1498.jpg
Looking back along Easedale

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Emily by Sour Milk Gill

IMG_1501.jpg
Simon and Emily near Easedale Tarn

Our first Wainwright was Blea Rigg, a steep little blighter as most of them are, and Simon bagged another first direct ascent. I was soon reminded of how much I need to claw back my hill fitness.
IMG_1506.jpg
Coming up to Blea Rigg

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We had lovely views of Easdale Tarn which looked good enough to jump into

As we neared Pavey Ark, Emily and I exchanged worried glances, but Simon couldn’t wait to get started. Emily and I watched Simon race towards Stickle Tarn in no time, with us lagging behind.
IMG_1508.jpg
Jacks Rake was calling to Simon

IMG_1511.jpg
Stickle Tarn looking very inviting

It’s a short, steep warm up to the beginning of Jacks Rake. There were a few people dotted about on it so not too busy.
IMG_1512.jpg
Getting ready for the long haul

The first few minutes were no trouble really, but as we got higher the exposure became more apparent.
IMG_1513.jpg
Jacks Rake has enticed us in

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Just keep going!

There were a couple of tricky places that involved shimmying up the rock, with little room for the back pack. Mine got stuck for a few seconds in one of these places, and I didn’t think I was going to fit past the overhanging piece of rock (Simon reminded me of our venture up Glimmer Crag). I shoved myself up though and I was through.
In another tricky place, Emily persevered with the long reach of the rock and managed it. I went out to the left which seemed easier, but it was also nearer a sheer drop. Not sure if that was a wise decision but it worked for me.
IMG_1515.jpg
No going back now. It would be even worse going down!

Things got easier nearer the top but I was a bit tired after all the exertion. My arms felt fine though, surprisingly. All those years of kettlebell classes and circuit training must have paid off!

It was a relief to get to the summit of Pavey Ark, and I was pleased to have done Jacks Rake. We moved onto Thunacarr Knott, High Raise and Sergeants Man, finding a lot of boggy places up there. Just after Sergeant Man the route took us over Codale Head, a Birkett for Simon to add to his list.
IMG_1517.jpg
Simon and Emily on High Raise

It was a straightforward hike to Calf Crag and then Gibson Knott, still finding boggy places though.
The route to Helm Crag was easy to see and I could see a tiny blob of rock at the top...
IMG_1523.jpg
The route to Helm Crag the next exciting bit

We reached Helm Crag and finally got to see the Howitzer in the flesh.
IMG_1524.jpg
The Howitzer in all its glory

Simon went up first to show us how it was done. He reached the top with the speed, ease and grace of a squirrel (red of course). It took about 2 minutes!
IMG_1525.jpg
Nicely done Simon

I thought, oh that was quick, although the shimmying bit on the long groove worried me. Emily didn’t look too keen, so I shoved myself forward to have a go. The first bit wasn’t too bad, but the long groove did indeed prove to be a bit tricky for me, especially as I lack height. My first attempt was pathetic and whiny, not helped by the fact that I was tired by this point. Also, it was late in the afternoon and the wind was picking up a little. I found myself more scared on here than I was on Jacks Rake. There is no wall of rock on one side to lean against. However, I am more than a bit stubborn sometimes, so I had another go. This time I managed it, but without any ease or grace. In fact, if a red squirrel had been watching, it would have been embarrassed at my technique.
IMG_1528.jpg
Struggling a bit here

But up I went, stood on the top long enough for the obligatory photo, and couldn’t wait to get off.
IMG_1532.jpg
Can I get off now!

The descent was easier than I’d imagined and I did it without too much faffing around. I had escaped off the Howitzer with just a nice collection of bruises and jelly legs. Emily started to have a go too, but decided it wasn’t for her and she could sleep soundly without having done it. Fair enough. She may have been put off by the look of fear on my face and the side view of the Howitzer, which I decided not to look at beforehand. Maybe that’s a good tip!

The descent was quite kind, and the light can be really good at this time of the day (about 5.30).
IMG_1534.jpg
Nice to be on our way back

After all the excitement I couldn’t wait to get back to the car, get my boots off and crawl onto the back seat. I was pleased not to be driving this time, so thank you Emily for being the designated one! And thank you Simon for leading us on yet another challenging but enjoyable walk in the beautiful lakes. You always believe in us.

Am I glad I did these two scrambles? Yes

Would I do them again? Probably not

Would I recommend them? If you’re easily persuaded, a bit stubborn or slightly bonkers, definitely.
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby simon-b » Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:23 pm

A brilliant first report, Pam :clap: . Very well done to you and Emily for getting up Jack's Rake. It was a fine effort by you to get onto the Howitzer; a commendable display of determination! The picture of you climbing up onto it is a great action shot; I can remember that bit well, and shouting encouragement, knowing you could make it. When Emily set off to do it, she managed the first bit easily and looked like she'd have no problem. But she said she wouldn't enjoy carrying on up to the top past the exposed bit, so due respect to her for making her own decision. We all went on the other 'lion' at the south-east end of the ridge, so as far as I'm concerned, she can still count the Wainwright, Helm Crag, as bagged. Thanks to both of you for coming along and making it a superb day :D .
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:36 pm

Hi Pam, that's a fair walk to 'get your hill fitness back'. I managed the Howitzer but don't really fancy Jack's Rack (and Hughie certainly wouldn't manage it. It was a lovely day on Saturday, we were bagging Bow Fell via the climbers traverse which is a superb way up if you haven't been that way yet. Great first report by the way :thumbup:
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby ChrisW » Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:55 pm

Well that's the way to open an account Pam, if this is you getting back into it then I'm looking forward to seeing what happens then :wink: Well done on both scrambles and well done to Emily for knowing when to say 'not for me thanks' (sometimes that can be harder than carrying on) Shame about the lost camera early on but all in all it looks like a great return to the hills :clap:
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby pamfox » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:30 pm

simon-b wrote:A brilliant first report, Pam :clap: . Very well done to you and Emily for getting up Jack's Rake. It was a fine effort by you to get onto the Howitzer; a commendable display of determination! The picture of you climbing up onto it is a great action shot; I can remember that bit well, and shouting encouragement, knowing you could make it. When Emily set off to do it, she managed the first bit easily and looked like she'd have no problem. But she said she wouldn't enjoy carrying on up to the top past the exposed bit, so due respect to her for making her own decision. We all went on the other 'lion' at the south-east end of the ridge, so as far as I'm concerned, she can still count the Wainwright, Helm Crag, as bagged. Thanks to both of you for coming along and making it a superb day :D .

A brilliant day as ever Si. We always come back feeling we've achieved something, even if my feet were on fire. It's good having someone to give us a push. Looking forward to the next one :)
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby pamfox » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:38 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Hi Pam, that's a fair walk to 'get your hill fitness back'. I managed the Howitzer but don't really fancy Jack's Rack (and Hughie certainly wouldn't manage it. It was a lovely day on Saturday, we were bagging Bow Fell via the climbers traverse which is a superb way up if you haven't been that way yet. Great first report by the way :thumbup:



Hi, how are you :) Thank you. Hard work the first time you do it :crazy: Glad to hear Hughie is still having his adventures. What a life he has with you! The Climber's Traverse sounds great. I'll stick it on my list
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby pamfox » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:47 pm

ChrisW wrote:Well that's the way to open an account Pam, if this is you getting back into it then I'm looking forward to seeing what happens then :wink: Well done on both scrambles and well done to Emily for knowing when to say 'not for me thanks' (sometimes that can be harder than carrying on) Shame about the lost camera early on but all in all it looks like a great return to the hills :clap:

Thank you :) Wish I had the time to go more often. Maybe I should've followed Emily's common sense as we didn't need to do it for the Wainwright. She's certainly no wimp. She thinks I'm bonkers :lol:
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby dav2930 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:45 am

Well done all! :clap: That looks just the sort of walk I really enjoy - a clever way of combining a couple of scrambles. I've done both on separate walks, but not on the same walk! So I must do this one.

As for not needing to climb the Howitzer to bag Helm Crag (the Wainwright) - I think you do! Why? Because the top of the Howitzer is the summit of Helm Crag. It's the only Wainwright that Wainwright never got to the top of. So Wainwright never actually did all the Wainwrights, since 'doing' the Wainwrights means reaching all their summits as far as I understand it. It's a similar situation to that of the In Pin and Sir Hugh Munro.
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby pamfox » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:57 pm

dav2930 wrote:Well done all! :clap: That looks just the sort of walk I really enjoy - a clever way of combining a couple of scrambles. I've done both on separate walks, but not on the same walk! So I must do this one.

As for not needing to climb the Howitzer to bag Helm Crag (the Wainwright) - I think you do! Why? Because the top of the Howitzer is the summit of Helm Crag. It's the only Wainwright that Wainwright never got to the top of. So Wainwright never actually did all the Wainwrights, since 'doing' the Wainwrights means reaching all their summits as far as I understand it. It's a similar situation to that of the In Pin and Sir Hugh Munro.


Aah so that's still the official point then. Thanks for that. I'm glad I did it then, although it was right on the edge of my comfort zone. Sounds like you'll really enjoy that route. It was Simon's idea to do combine them.
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby simon-b » Sun Aug 16, 2015 5:54 pm

dav2930 wrote:Well done all! :clap: That looks just the sort of walk I really enjoy - a clever way of combining a couple of scrambles. I've done both on separate walks, but not on the same walk! So I must do this one.

As for not needing to climb the Howitzer to bag Helm Crag (the Wainwright) - I think you do! Why? Because the top of the Howitzer is the summit of Helm Crag. It's the only Wainwright that Wainwright never got to the top of. So Wainwright never actually did all the Wainwrights, since 'doing' the Wainwrights means reaching all their summits as far as I understand it. It's a similar situation to that of the In Pin and Sir Hugh Munro.


Cheers dav. I planned this particular route as it gave something for all of us. Blea Rigg was on my 'direct ascents to do' list, and Pam and Emily got to visit two beautiful tarns for the first time. It also gave them their first attempts at proper Grade 1 scrambles (they'd both previously done Striding Edge). Like you, I feel I have to climb the Howitzer to claim Helm Crag to my own satisfaction. But the 1299 feet quoted as Helm Crag's altitude in Wainwright's original Central Fells refers to the head of the SE 'lion', so I think Emily can tick it if she wants to. And Alfred Wainwright's name is top of the list of the Wainwright Society's list of completers!
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby dav2930 » Sun Aug 16, 2015 6:13 pm

simon-b wrote:
dav2930 wrote:Well done all! :clap: That looks just the sort of walk I really enjoy - a clever way of combining a couple of scrambles. I've done both on separate walks, but not on the same walk! So I must do this one.

As for not needing to climb the Howitzer to bag Helm Crag (the Wainwright) - I think you do! Why? Because the top of the Howitzer is the summit of Helm Crag. It's the only Wainwright that Wainwright never got to the top of. So Wainwright never actually did all the Wainwrights, since 'doing' the Wainwrights means reaching all their summits as far as I understand it. It's a similar situation to that of the In Pin and Sir Hugh Munro.


Cheers dav. I planned this particular route as it gave something for all of us. Blea Rigg was on my 'direct ascents to do' list, and Pam and Emily got to visit two beautiful tarns for the first time. It also gave them their first attempts at proper Grade 1 scrambles (they'd both previously done Striding Edge). Like you, I feel I have to climb the Howitzer to claim Helm Crag to my own satisfaction. But the 1299 feet quoted as Helm Crag's altitude in Wainwright's original Central Fells refers to the head of the SE 'lion', so I think Emily can tick it if she wants to. And Alfred Wainwright's name is top of the list of the Wainwright Society's list of completers!

Thanks for that Simon. Must admit I didn't realize the 1299' height Wainwright gives doesn't refer to the highest point of Helm Crag! Seems a bit odd to me and a bit devious on Wainwright's part. But if that's the official 'Wainwright' then Emily can tick it off with no loss of conscience!

I will get round to doing that whole walk sometime though coz it looks great. Cheers.
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby simon-b » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:00 pm

dav2930 wrote:Thanks for that Simon. Must admit I didn't realize the 1299' height Wainwright gives doesn't refer to the highest point of Helm Crag! Seems a bit odd to me and a bit devious on Wainwright's part. But if that's the official 'Wainwright' then Emily can tick it off with no loss of conscience!

I will get round to doing that whole walk sometime though coz it looks great. Cheers.

The 1299 feet quoted in the original book refers to the OS station at the time AW was writing the books. The idea of 'bagging the Wainwrights' is something hillwalkers have come up with themselves, rather than a challenge AW actually set. Modern metric maps seem to give a spot height on the Howitzer rather than the old station at the SE end, and this is reflected by the higher altitude given in the updated Wainwright books (revised by Chris Jesty). So there was nothing devious on AW's part, and he did write that the top of the Howitzer was the highest point of the fell. As for being "a bit odd", that's a characteristic of quite a few Wainwrights, where the 'recognised summit' is not the highest point of the fell; a subject that has been discussed numerous times before on this and other hillwalking forums. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as an 'official' Wainwright summit, but what is certain is the list of 214 fells, which will never change.

I hope you enjoy a route like this if you get to do it - you could adapt it to add more fells, of course. It was good fun doing both the scrambles in the same walk!
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Re: Jacks Rake to the Howitzer or The Journey to Mordor

Postby dav2930 » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:21 pm

simon-b wrote:... As for being "a bit odd", that's a characteristic of quite a few Wainwrights, where the 'recognised summit' is not the highest point of the fell; a subject that has been discussed numerous times before on this and other hillwalking forums. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as an 'official' Wainwright summit, but what is certain is the list of 214 fells, which will never change.

I hope you enjoy a route like this if you get to do it - you could adapt it to add more fells, of course. It was good fun doing both the scrambles in the same walk!

That's an interesting subject in itself. It's a well known fact that many OS trig points are not on summits, though near to them. Helvellyn and Scafell Pike are cases in point. Wainwright was of course well aware of this and always gave the summit height rather than the trig point height - except in the case of Helm Crag! Why did he make an exception for this one fell? If I'd been Wainwright I would have felt a bit uneasy about that, if the reason was simply that I can reach the trig point but not the summit! Oh well, just a curious point, and not one that matters in the least! The important thing is to enjoy the fells and it certainly looks like you guys enjoyed that day. Thanks again Simon. :D
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