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A Great End?

A Great End?


Postby johnkaysleftleg » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:15 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Great End

Hewitts included on this walk: Great End

Date walked: 16/09/2015

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 855m

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All journeys must have an end. Although the main joy is often in the route traveled, without a final destination the whole exercise would seem just a little pointless. Our final objective, on our odyssey around the Lakeland fells, was to be Great End, picked largely for its name but also because it's a suitably impressive fell, and one our gaze has been repeatedly drawn to, all the more often as the day we would climb it moved ever closer.

If all journeys must have an end, then they must also have a beginning. The simple answer to where our pilgrimage in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright began was on Cat Bells on the 11th of August 2007, a largely fine day spent among the hordes climbing this ever popular fell. The view of Derwent Water from the summit was gobsmacking, if only for the minimal effort required to get there. This was not, however a life changing moment, we had already caught the hill bug in Scotland and our early visits to the Lakes were purely seen as a way to gain experience and fitness for Scottish holidays.

P1040477.jpg
Grace, age five on Catbells


The real moment our journey began was on a far more modest eminence than even Cat Bells. In the summer of 2006 with Grace all but four years old we were staying in a lodge in the grounds of Armadale Castle on Skye. On a beautiful day we were walking around the castle grounds when we came to the gate at the very back. A sign post suggested that this way lay Armadale Hill. We left the safety of the grounds, or so it seemed at the time, and followed the track and then grassy trods up to the modest summit of the hill. The view of the mainland mountains was breathtaking and we could even see the tops of the Cuillin to the West poking above the skyline. I remember as clear as day that something changed that day, by going through that gate we went from being car bound tourists who stopped at parking areas to take snapshots to people who got out and walked into the landscape itself. John Muir put it best; for going out, we found, was really going in.

We climbed our first real hill on the 1st of April the next year in the shape of Ben Vrackie on a glorious blue sky day (Grace got a round of applause from the other present at the top :D ). If that didn't cement our new found love for the outdoors then a trip to the top of Ben More on Mull with the five year old Grace making her way all the way to the top and back under her own steam certainly did. It even vied for best moment of the holiday along with getting her photo taken outside the houses of the Balamory characters. :lol:

P1030360.jpg
Our first mountain, pure magic on Ben Vrackie, 2007


By the time we climbed Scafell Pike for a first time on the 18th of August 2010 we had decided to try and complete a full round of Wainwright Fells. This was only our 13th top as a family and the first for a small white bouncy ball of fluff we had come to know as Hughie. With 201 fells yet to bag, the end seemed a very long way off, unobtainable to be honest. Even more so given old ground would have to be recovered so Hughie could catch up.

I did think at the time we would grow tired of the Lake District fells, perhaps familiarity would breed contempt, but far from it. It's a place that gets into your blood, bones and soul. I still love The Isle of Skye most of all but if I had to spend the rest of my hill walking days in Lakeland then I'd be a very content man indeed. That's enough misty eyed reminiscences for now however, and on to the final leg of our adventure.

Great End can be climbed from several valleys, but as Borrowdale is the most convenient for us, Borrowdale it was to be. There are a few options for summiting Great End from here but the plan was to reach to Styhead via the scramble above Taylor Gill Force and then go up The Band to the summit. A good day would be required for this route so although we had this weekend in mind, nothing could be set in stone till the forecast was known. By the Wednesday things were looking decidedly promising so we hit the net and managed to get a room in Keswick so we could stay over afterwards to celebrate.

Seathwaite is a fine place to walk from, so many options, and on a beautiful day there are few places I'd rather be. We set off and crossed the bridge over the river and headed along the rough path towards Taylor Gill Force. The going along here required a bit of concentration as the path was wet and rocky with large boulders every so often but by in large things were easy enough given the gentle gradient. The fun started shortly after the impressive falls came into view. The scrambling was simple but enjoyable with very little hint of exposure. The view down from the top of the scramble looked far more dramatic than it was as is so often the case.

ImageSeathwaite by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Image
Taylor Gill Force by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Image
Looking back down the scramble by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageClose up of the falls by Anthony Young, on Flickr

We followed the now decent path up Styhead Gill and after a short rest next to the waterslides, Great End came into view. I must admit my emotions at this point were conflicted, put simply I didn't want our pursuit of the Wainwrights to be over, I privately entertained thoughts of turning around or even leading Grace and Nicola up the wrong hill :lol: but a mans got to do what a mans got to do, so as with the past eight years onwards we marched.

ImageCrags of Base Brown by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageStyhead Gill by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageScafells come into view by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageGreat End by Anthony Young, on Flickr

We headed past Styhead tarn and took up the path to Sprinkling tarn till it crossed the beck. A thin trod marked by tiny cairns headed up the grassy banks and onto the band so we followed it. AWs instructions on the Band are a little vague but the trod and cairns saw that route finding was easy. Soon enough the rocky dome of the mountain (certainly looks like a mountain from here!) comes into view looking impregnable and intimidating. I'm not 100% sure we followed the Wainwright route up, but the way was obviously well used so it felt right. Hands were needed often, as was care as the rocks were at times very slippy and wet but the involving nature of the route took my mind of the daft thoughts I'd had earlier.

ImageStyhead Tarn by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageLingmell Crag and Piers Gill by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageGreat Gable catching some clag by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageWasdale Head by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageSprinkling Tarn by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Image
Cust's Gully? by Anthony Young, on Flickr

The gradient eased as we reached the boulder field and we picked our way upwards to the West Cairn, from where, few hundred yards away, stood our final Wainright top. At this point a bit of cloud had settled on Great Gable and the Scafells but our top was clear and we held hands, with Hughie under Graces arm, for the last few yards and bagged it together as a family (for the record Grace touched the cairn first :wink: ). There were no fireworks, no marching band, no welcoming committee, no ghost of Wainwright resting behind a boulder in fact nobody else but us.

ImageAll Done! by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Image
Celebrations! by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageSummit view by Anthony Young, on Flickr

It felt a bit of an anticlimax at the time if I'm honest, but now as I relive it I'm feeling very emotional, in many ways it was perfect that it was just us, if anybody else had been there it's wouldn't have felt right, we did this as a family, together every step of the way. We cracked the little bottle of Champagne we had brought, Grace had J2O, and sat in a sheltered spot taking in the views as the clouds formed shapes on the landscape and the sun came and went.
We sat for around 30 minutes at the summit which we spent alone before reluctantly heading off. We returned to the West cairn as Great Gable had now cleared, before making our way via the southern cairn to the Esk Hause path.

ImageTowards Langdale by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageGreat End, number 214 by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageIll Crag and Broad Crag from Great End by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageLooking towards the Western Cairn by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageCrags of Great End by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageGreat Gable from Great End by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageClag clearing on Scafell Pike by Anthony Young, on Flickr

Image
Lingmell from Great End by Anthony Young, on Flickr

As beautiful as the path down Grains Gill is it seemed to take forever to get down, perhaps we all just wanted to get to our hotel and relax and reflect on the day. This was a great route and a fitting way to complete the Wainrights, in many ways the way every thing came together it seemed it was meant to be. And so our journey came to an end and yes, in answer to my own question it was indeed a Great End :D

ImageGreat End from Esk Hause by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageTop of Grains Gill by Anthony Young, on Flickr

ImageA fall in Grains Gill by Anthony Young, on Flickr


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last edited by johnkaysleftleg on Mon Oct 05, 2015 12:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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johnkaysleftleg
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Re: A Great End?

Postby RiverSong » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:33 pm

Congratulations :clap:

Must have had some really happy days in the hills, what a great way to spend your free time, I can think of nothing better. It is good of you to have shared your stories and wonderful photos with the rest of us, so thanks for that.
Really hope you keep walking and posting on the site :D
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Re: A Great End?

Postby simon-b » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:43 pm

Congratulations to you all on completing, Anthony. The Band is a fine way to climb Great End; a good lead up to the finish line. You might find that after completing a first round, your discovery of Lakeland and what it holds is only just beginning.
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Re: A Great End?

Postby Chris Mac » Sat Sep 26, 2015 5:27 pm

Brilliant! Well done to you all and thanks for all of your fab photo's and reports on Lakeland, i've really enjoyed the ones I've read and will definitely use them as a guide when I return there to bag more Fells. :clap: :clap: :clap: and one for Hughie! :clap: :D

Now the rest of Scotland awaits your adventures... :lol:
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Re: A Great End?

Postby georgeaquaterra » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:05 pm

Congratulations to you all. An awesome family achievement to treasure. :clap:

And as always great photos and report to go with it.
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Re: A Great End?

Postby dav2930 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:48 pm

An adventurous completion of an extraordinary family quest, sumarised in a superbly reflective and affecting report. A real pleasure to read. That this wonderful journey has been such a big part of Grace's life from such an early age will, I'm sure, remain as a life-long love of the hills for her. It may appear to be an end, but as a famous poet once wrote, 'in our end is our beginning'.
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Re: A Great End?

Postby Mal Grey » Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:06 pm

What a fantastic thing for a family to do together. Congratulations to you all.

:clap:
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Re: A Great End?

Postby pamfox » Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:07 pm

Brilliant story Anthony. Congratulations on completing the Wainwrights. It's easy to see how much you've enjoyed the journey, and your photos are excellent. Catbells was my first one when I was 19, just because we were staying in Keswick and it was there. Didn't know anything about Wainwright in those days as I spent my weekends going to pubs and clubs. I have some catching up to do. Just need the time and energy!
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Re: A Great End?

Postby ChrisW » Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:09 pm

Absolutely beautiful JK, what a way to complete...I know you said there was no sign of him but I'm pretty sure Wainwright will have drifted by and given a cursory nod in you direction. It's a wonderful achievement and made all the more meaningful by doing so as a family and recording it so beautifully in your stunning photos. :clap: :clap:
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Re: A Great End?

Postby poppiesrara » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:33 pm

Congratulations, JK (and companions)! :clap:

It's been great following your reports, and always terrific photos, and I hope there's a new plan now and more of the same to come?
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Re: A Great End?

Postby Morecambe Monkey » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:56 pm

Congratulations,you couldn't have picked a nicer way to finish. Lovely photo's of a day that will stay with you all for a long long time.
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Re: A Great End?

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:57 am

RiverSong wrote:Congratulations :clap:

Must have had some really happy days in the hills, what a great way to spend your free time, I can think of nothing better. It is good of you to have shared your stories and wonderful photos with the rest of us, so thanks for that.
Really hope you keep walking and posting on the site :D


Many thanks for your kind words, no danger of stopping walking or posting reports for that mater. :D

simon-b wrote:Congratulations to you all on completing, Anthony. The Band is a fine way to climb Great End; a good lead up to the finish line. You might find that after completing a first round, your discovery of Lakeland and what it holds is only just beginning.


Thanks Simon, I have many routes in mind that I want to do and even fells to climb that aren't on the list, my relationship with the Lakes is far from over.

Chris Mac wrote:Brilliant! Well done to you all and thanks for all of your fab photo's and reports on Lakeland, i've really enjoyed the ones I've read and will definitely use them as a guide when I return there to bag more Fells. :clap: :clap: :clap: and one for Hughie! :clap: :D

Now the rest of Scotland awaits your adventures... :lol:


Thank you, enjoy your discovery of the district, we certainly did, as for Scotland I'd love to walk more there, just not that convenient unfortunately.

georgeaquaterra wrote:Congratulations to you all. An awesome family achievement to treasure. :clap:

And as always great photos and report to go with it.


Thanks George

dav2930 wrote:An adventurous completion of an extraordinary family quest, sumarised in a superbly reflective and affecting report. A real pleasure to read. That this wonderful journey has been such a big part of Grace's life from such an early age will, I'm sure, remain as a life-long love of the hills for her. It may appear to be an end, but as a famous poet once wrote, 'in our end is our beginning'.


Thank you you're to kind :D Love the quote btw

Mal Grey wrote:What a fantastic thing for a family to do together. Congratulations to you all.

:clap:


Cheers Mal

RTC wrote:Brilliant!

"if I had to spend the rest of my hill walking days in Lakeland then I'd be a very content man indeed. " Me too!


Thank you, if only there were more hill walking days!

pamfox wrote:Brilliant story Anthony. Congratulations on completing the Wainwrights. It's easy to see how much you've enjoyed the journey, and your photos are excellent. Catbells was my first one when I was 19, just because we were staying in Keswick and it was there. Didn't know anything about Wainwright in those days as I spent my weekends going to pubs and clubs. I have some catching up to do. Just need the time and energy!


Thank you Pam, I'm sure you'll get there, just keep walking!

ChrisW wrote:Absolutely beautiful JK, what a way to complete...I know you said there was no sign of him but I'm pretty sure Wainwright will have drifted by and given a cursory nod in you direction. It's a wonderful achievement and made all the more meaningful by doing so as a family and recording it so beautifully in your stunning photos. :clap: :clap:


Thanks Chris, old AW would have liked Great End on this day nice and quiet.

poppiesrara wrote:Congratulations, JK (and companions)! :clap:

It's been great following your reports, and always terrific photos, and I hope there's a new plan now and more of the same to come?


Thank you Poppie, No plans but certainly more of the same.

Morecambe Monkey wrote:Congratulations,you couldn't have picked a nicer way to finish. Lovely photo's of a day that will stay with you all for a long long time.


Cheers MM
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Re: A Great End?

Postby john923 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:22 pm

Superb stuff, Anthony, and many congratulations - a lovely finish and as thoughtful and erudite as ever. The dedication you've put into recording your Wainwright challenge is hugely impressive and your posts have provided much vicarious pleasure. A milestone reached but the journey continues?
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Re: A Great End?

Postby martin.h » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:46 pm

Congratulations Anthony, Nicola and Grace on a fantastic family achievement, well done :clap: :clap:
Great photo's as ever, you must have a super photographic archive to go with your journey, something that can only grow as time passes.

What next Anthony, the Donalds maybe?

Whatever you decide to do I hope you can continue as a family unit.

Always a pleasure to read your reports,
Cheers.
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Re: A Great End?

Postby mamoset » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:27 pm

:clap: Well Done, and hat's off to you's for completing the round as a family. Like the pic of Gable and the white clouds.
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