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Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge


Postby dav2930 » Thu Oct 01, 2015 8:48 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Dollywaggon Pike, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, St Sunday Crag

Hewitts included on this walk: Dollywaggon Pike, Helvellyn, St Sunday Crag

Date walked: 27/09/2015

Time taken: 8

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 1190m

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The forecast was for a dry weekend with Sunday looking especially fine, so it seemed a good opportunity to include some scrambling in a much needed walk on the fells. I fancied the Pinnacle Ridge of St Sunday Crag, which I'd done a few times before but always with a continuation around the Deepdale Horseshoe. This time I thought I'd go the other way and return by Striding Edge.


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St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 001.JPG
An unusually unruffled Ullswater, snapped on the way through...

Set off from Patterdale at 8.00am. It was chilly but dead still and the sky was cloudless. The path towards Grisedale immediately enters some beautiful native woodland - birch, oak, hazel... I hadn't gone far before I encountered two roe deer standing nonchalantly on the path. :o I stopped in my tracks, barely twenty yards from them. They stared straight at me as I slowly got my camera out, trying not to scare them away. The light was dim in the trees so it meant a slow shutter speed and in my haste I didn't keep the camera steady enough to get a reasonably clear shot. My second snap was slightly better but by then the deer had started to move off, more out of boredom than fear it seemed.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 005.JPG
Roe deer on the path out of Patterdale village


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 006.JPG
A mirror-calm Ullswater from the path to Grisedale

The path fords Hag Beck in a lovely sylvan corner. A bit further on a cairn by a big oak marks the path up Thornhow End on the left. This is the usual way up St Sunday Crag. On the right is a gate through which another path drops to the metalled lane up Grisedale. My route went this way and followed the lane, which soon becomes a stony track, as far as the Elmhow plantation. At the far end of this a wall contains the plantation and a faint path follows it up then left, crossing a beck, to the start of the Elmhow zig-zags. This is a relatively painless way up a steep hillside and height is gained rapidly. Where the gradient begins to ease back the path continues straight on to an indistinct bifurcation. Going right here across marshy ground, the narrow path becomes firmer and clearer, traversing the fellside under the broken crags of St Sunday Crag. From a scree slope beneath and slightly to its right, Pinnacle Ridge is identifiable by a sort of coxcomb of spiky rocks high up. A mish-mash of semi-paths lead directly up to the start.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 015.JPG
Approaching the start of Pinnacle Ridge

Facing nor'-nor' west, it's a cold fellside in the morning shadows. The best time of day for taking photos here is late afternoon, when the sun creeps round to touch the pinnacles; but Pinnacle Ridge works best as an exciting start to a day on the tops above, so photographic ideals are usually sacrificed for the sake of the fellwalking agenda. :?

Reached the little cairn which marks the approximate start of the scramble at exactly 10.00am. The precise start is 10 or 15 metres to the left of the cairn on a distinct grassy ledge. The scrambling is very easy to begin and allows you to gain a lot of height very quickly. The scrambling gets more interesting at an area of massive, slabby blocks known as 'the Cannon'. Some awkward clambering here, but nothing very exposed.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 020.JPG
After an inauspicious start things start to look more interesting - approaching 'the cannon'


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 023.JPG
The ridge narrows towards the pinnacles

Lots of interest above here but all easy stuff.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 024.JPG
Looking down to the cannon

But then a big, vertical block stands before you. The way goes easily round its left side and up behind it. It's here you are confronted by the crux of the scramble - a steep, corner crack and wall. You could escape into the gully on the left at this point, but that really wouldn't be playing the game, would it? There used to be a big, wobbly splinter of rock wedged in the corner crack, which served as a useful if dodgy foothold. I noticed this has finally gone - probably just as well. Even without it there's a plentiful supply of positive holds and a crack just the right width for a boot-jamb where it's needed. Step left out of the corner onto the wall with the aid of some lovely big holds and you're up.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 025.JPG
The crux corner and wall


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 028.JPG
Looking down the crux

A bit of easier stuff and then a steep bulge leads up to the top of the pinnacles. Tip - the key to the steep bulge, which can be tricky (I've seen people struggle here) is to resist the temptation to step with your right foot onto the obvious footledge. You need your foot higher, so jamb your right boot into the crack just above it. This enables you to step up and get your left foot on the higher ledge on the left. You can then reach some nice big holds on the left, stand up and you're there.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 031.JPG
Looking down from the start of the pinnacles

The pinnacles themselves are exposed, but easy to traverse. At the far end is a tricky little down-climb, requiring care, to the gap.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 036.JPG
The pinnacles from above the gap

The scramble continues above the gap, easily until a big block right at the top is reached - the final obstacle. This is actually quite awkward ( though not exposed). I find the easiest way to surmount it is to stand as high as possible right underneath the block, facing right, then swing the right leg over the top of the block and push up into a sitting position, as if riding a horse! :lol: Easy enough to get stood up from there and continue on your way, all difficulties behind you. The whole scramble took about 40 minutes, including photo-faffs.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 037.JPG
The final bit of scrambling - an awkward move at the top to surmount a large block

A short, steep walk leads to the ridge of St Sunday Crag, just north-east of the summit. Nice to emerge from the shadows into the sunshine. :D

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 043.JPG
Ullswater from St Sunday Crag

A nice stroll to the summit and a sit down for elevenses.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 046.JPG
Helvellyn range from summit of St Sunday Crag


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 049.JPG
Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Red Screes

Fine walking with great views down the ridge to Deepdale Hause, then off to the right on the direct path to Grisedale Tarn.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 050.JPG
Grisedale Tarn with Bowfell and Crinkle Crags in the distance


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 058.JPG
Tarn Crag, Dollywaggon Pike


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 060.JPG
Grisedale Tarn from the start of the long slog up Dollywaggon Pike

Now comes the long slog up Dollywaggon Pike. Not as far as it looks though; head down, a zig here and a zag there and hey presto, the slope levels off before you know it. :o Leave the motorway and head up the gentle grassy slope to bag the summit of DP. Great views! 8)

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 065.JPG
Grisedale from Dollywaggon Pike, St Sunday Crag on right

Might as well visit the summit of Nethermost Pike to bag the Wainwright (even if you've bagged it before), as it's no extra effort, the walking is nicer underfoot and you get the best views from the edge of the cove.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 073.JPG
South side of Striding Edge from Nethermost Pike, with irritating selfie shadow

Not far from here to the top of Helvellyn. Time for a lunch break, 1.30pm.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 075.JPG
On Helvellyn summit

Back along the edge of the escarpment to Gough's Memorial then down the steep, eroded path to the start of Striding Edge. People were descending the chimney so I took a direct line up the front of the buttress to its left - looks steep but easier than it appears.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 083.JPG
Striding Edge from the path down from Gough's Memorial

Nice, airy walking along the crest.

St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 086.JPG
Striding Edge


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 090.JPG
St Sunday Crag viewed from Dixon's Memorial, Striding Edge


St. Sunday Crag & Helvellyn Sept. 2015 095.JPG
Looking back along Striding Edge to Helvellyn

From the hole in the wall you can either continue along the ridge to the summit of Birkhouse Moor (another Wainwright) or take the more direct path heading diagonally down the Grisedale slope back to Patterdale. I opted for the latter on this occasion. Got back to the car, which was parked at the White Lion, at 4.00pm. Thought I'd better pop in for a half pint to meet my parking requirement of being a 'patron'. Any excuse for a beer. It had been a really enjoyable day in the sort of weather one seems to remember from the summers of childhood. Living in the Lake District, it's easy to become a little dismissive of these fells; but each time I get round to reacquainting myself with them, I am struck anew by their fascinating character and sheer beauty.
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dav2930
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby ChrisW » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:01 pm

What a fantastic day in a beautiful part of the country and with perfect weather to boot. Some nice looking scrambling too, all in all what a lovely circuit. Great photos, it's always difficult to get a good scrambling shot as in the best bits you're hanging on and don't have time/inclination for getting the camera out :clap:
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:47 pm

That's a grand day out indeed! I know Striding Edge well, but have somehow managed to avoid Pinnacle Ridge for 25 years or more since I first saw a picture of it.
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby mamoset » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:36 pm

:clap: Great effort that, well done, nice pics of ridges.
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby dav2930 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:38 pm

Many thanks for your comments folks :D

ChrisW - it certainly made a change to be on the hills in such fine weather! I was trying out a new camera - a Fuji XP80 tough camera, which I thought would be suitable for scrambles. The results are ok but not as good as I get with my Lumix TZ27. You're right about the difficulty of getting good scrambling shots - hard to get good views of the route from it. :roll: :D

Mal - I think a lot of walkers/scramblers just don't get round to doing PR; you have to make a deliberate effort to get to it and locating the start isn't always easy. It's well worth doing though Mal - one of the best scrambles in the Lakes imho and just up your street I reckon! :wink: :D

Mamoset - cheers! The theme was definitely ridges that day. :lol: :D
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dav2930
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby trailmasher » Fri Oct 02, 2015 9:14 pm

What a great walk and informative report and photos :clap: :clap: Pinnacle Ridge has been in my radar for a while now so you have just worked up the inspiration in me to 'get it done' :) Thanks for the tips on the route :clap:
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby dav2930 » Sat Oct 03, 2015 10:01 am

trailmasher wrote:What a great walk and informative report and photos :clap: :clap: Pinnacle Ridge has been in my radar for a while now so you have just worked up the inspiration in me to 'get it done' :) Thanks for the tips on the route :clap:

Thanks TM. :D Go for it! PR is such an enjoyable scramble, with clean rock that dries very quickly (despite its northerly aspect). And you can escape before the crux section if need be, so it's not too committing. It's a pity that spell of superb weather seems to be coming to an end! :roll:
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dav2930
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby Guinessman » Sat Oct 03, 2015 10:23 am

Great report. As someone who also likes to seek out a scramble I somehow seemed to have avoided Pinnacle ridge all these years, think I'll give a crack now.
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby dav2930 » Sat Oct 03, 2015 1:46 pm

Guinessman wrote:Great report. As someone who also likes to seek out a scramble I somehow seemed to have avoided Pinnacle ridge all these years, think I'll give a crack now.

Good for you Guinessman - I'm sure you'll love it. Cheers :D
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dav2930
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby Yorjick » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:34 am

Great combination! I remember doing Pinnacle ridge in full winter conditions. we passed the rope around the top of the last pinnacle so the last man was effectively top-roped. Great collection of photographs that document the day very well.
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Re: Pinnacle Ridge and Striding Edge

Postby dav2930 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:32 pm

Yorjick wrote:Great combination! I remember doing Pinnacle ridge in full winter conditions. we passed the rope around the top of the last pinnacle so the last man was effectively top-roped. Great collection of photographs that document the day very well.

Thanks Yorjick. I should imagine PR in full winter nick is quite interesting! I wouldn't mind giving that a go this winter if we ever get decent conditions (possibly not solo though!). :D
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dav2930
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