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Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham


Postby dav2930 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:56 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Glaramara

Hewitts included on this walk: Glaramara

Date walked: 06/08/2016

Time taken: 8

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 920m

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Glaramara is a complex and rocky fell that forms the northern extension of the Scafell massif. On its eastern flanks, overlooking Langstrath, lies the Cam Crag Ridge - a nice grade 2 scramble of about 200 metres. And on its northern slopes, in the glacial hanging valley of Combe Gill, is the big but broken Raven Crag, up which wanders one of the finest 'Diff' grade climbs in the Lakes - Corvus. Both these routes were pioneered by that indefatigable explorer of Borrowdale's crags, Bentley Beetham.

The thought of combining the two in a rambling, scrambling route up Glaramara had occurred to me a couple of months back. The idea appealed to me as a way of making the most of Glaramara's cragginess in a single outing. All I needed was a nice dry day following a nice dry night so that the rock would be, well, nice and dry!

On Saturday 6th August I decided all the relevant criteria were satisfied and drove off for Stonethwaite.


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But as I crossed the Eden-Derwent watershed on the A66, I suddenly noticed with dismay that the road was wet :( It must have rained over here in the night. This put a different complexion on things. As rock climbs go, Corvus is very much at the bottom end of the severity scale, but even so, wet and slimy rock is a real put-off if you're climbing un-roped. Just for a second I thought about changing the plan. But a) I had my heart set on it, b) I didn't have a plan B, and c) some parts of the road were drying already. So, I thought, by the time I get to Raven Crag the rock there, despite its tendency to retain a lot of seepage after rain, might have dried out sufficiently. It was a case of wishful thinking combined with a strong desire to do the b****y thing! :crazy:

It was about 8.15am by the time I arrived at Stonethwaite; early enough to find a parking space. So I got myself sorted, boots on etc., and headed off up the valley, initially through the messy (and full) campsite but then more peacefully up lovely Langstrath with its many inviting rock pools. :D There were some very big puddles along the path, which didn't bode well. :(

P1010865.JPG
Looking up Langstrath to Bowfell


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Back down the beck towards Stonethwaite


A few kilometres up Langstrath the roaring of white water announced the presence of Lakeland's answer to the Linn of Dee - Black Moss Pot. Only, unlike the Linn of Dee, BMP forms a deep, still pool that is very popular for swimming in and jumping into. People were already there doing just that! From there a slight but continuous path over to the right leads up the bracken-clad hillside to the start of Cam Crag Ridge. It isn't far.

P1010871.JPG
The lower buttress which forms the start of Cam Crag Ridge. The path leads under the toe of the rocks and the scrambling begins just up the other side.


Being a ridge and facing the morning sun, the rock here had been quick to dry, though the grass was still wet. A line of slightly worn turf and rocks showed the way. The lower buttress forms a nice prelude to the main part of the ridge. Above this the vaguest of paths leads up and right to steeper rocks, where a bit of easy scrambling soon leads to a steep wall with a little corner at the top. This is officially the crux, but it's all well supplied with big, positive holds and turns out to be easier than it looks.

P1010873.JPG
Continuation of CCR above the lower buttress. The route keeps to the rocks on the right.


P1010874.JPG
Looking down the little corner


P1010877.JPG
View down the valley, Eagle Crag on right


P1010879.JPG
View up the valley towards Stake Pass


All too soon the ground eases off to grass followed by further rocky steps. The route follows a nice slanting groove/crack line a bit further on, then there's a fine, steep wall over to the right - not part of the 'official' route but worth including if extra interest is required.

P1010880.JPG
Optional wall, easily avoided on left. Not strictly part of the scramble but worth doing to spice things up a bit. About 15 metres, quite steep but supplied with an abundance of positive holds.


After this the broad ridge is just a grassy walk and leads pleasantly enough onto Rosthwaite Fell.

P1010884.JPG
View north over Rosthwaite Fell to Blencathra


P1010886.JPG
View south from top of CCR, Bowfell on right


A slight path leads to the col between Rosthwaite Fell and Combe Head. From here is a very nice and interesting walk up to Glaramara, wending its way through Combe Door and over Combe Head. This is the ideal way to go if you're content enough to have done the Cam Crag Ridge. But for nut-cases like me this was the point of descent into Combe Gill, heading for Raven Crag.

P1010889.JPG
On the ridge of Rosthwaite Fell at the point of descent into Combe Gill. Raven Crag is on left, Honister Crag prominent centre background.


I got a good, clear view of Raven Crag just down the other side. It looked reasonably dry for the most part, though it was hard to tell from that distance. I noticed a couple of figures at the bottom of the climb, one of them a good distance up the first pitch. If there'd been a lot of folk waiting at the start I would have ditched the idea, as I didn't want to get tangled up with roped parties on the climb. But with only two on it, I figured they'd be near the top by the time I got there, so down I went.

line of corvus.jpg
Raven Crag showing approximate line of Corvus


A lot of height has to be lost, unfortunately, since the ravine of Combe Gully blocks a direct traverse of the fell side. I aimed for a square sheepfold in the bottom of the combe until I was able to cross the gully at its foot, then made up the fell side heading straight for the start of Corvus. All pathless but without difficulties.

When I arrived at the start of Corvus the two climbers were about half way up on a wet looking pitch four. I didn't want to catch them up, so I sat down for an extended lunch break, allowing enough time for the soles of my boots to dry out in the sun. Climbing in boots on sometimes greasy or wet rock would also slow me down, so by the time I started the climb I really didn't think there was much chance I'd catch up with them.

P1010896.JPG
Two ladies on pitch 4 of Corvus


I was quite surprised, then, when I met the two climbers on the big ledge under pitch 6 (the famous hand traverse). I think they were even more surprised to see me though! :o It has to be said though, that climbing as a roped team is far more time consuming than climbing solo, since you're having to place and remove protection and set up belays.

Not wishing to put the two ladies under any pressure, I sat on the ledge looking at the view and taking some photos. After what seemed to me a decent interval I set off on the hand traverse myself, but when I reached the next stance Kath was still there belaying the leader (whose name I forget, sorry!) Kath was from Perth and the leader from south Lakes. I asked Kath if she was a keen Munro bagger. She'd done a few, she said, but was more into climbing and thought too many of the Munros were just boring heathery lumps, or words to that effect. I had to agree, but said I'd probably try to complete them anyway.

"I'm safe", called the leader, and it was Kath's turn to climb the awkward little bulge of the seventh pitch. It was nice to chat but this was a situation I had really wanted to avoid, as I didn't want to make anyone feel they were holding me up. As for overtaking; it's just not the done thing you know - this wasn't France or Switzerland! I was quite happy just to potter on behind and enjoy the views - I just hope the ladies didn't mind too much!

I'd brought my Gopro along, which I hadn't used much before. On YouTube there's a time limit of 15 minutes unless you go commercial. Under the circumstances the climb was taking a lot longer than that, so the resulting footage needed some drastic editing. I was in two minds about whether to include the video, but here it is anyway:



At the top we all agreed that Corvus was a great climb. I didn't stop, but continued up along the edge of the crag, briefly turning back to take a final photo of the two climbers who struck a nice pose at the top of the climb.

P1010907.JPG
At the top of Corvus, looking across Combe Gill to Rosthwaite Fell.


I headed on up the gully which led onto the sprawling 'ridge' of Glaramara.

P1010908.JPG
View down Borrowdale to Derwentwater and Skiddaw


P1010911.JPG
The gully leading up to highest point of Raven Crag and on to standard route up Glaramara.


P1010912.JPG
The way to Glaramara summit


Reached the summit at 1.30pm and stopped for a drink and a bite. Amazingly for a Saturday in August, there weren't that many people around.

P1010915.JPG
The western fells from Glaramara summit


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Esk Hause and Great End


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Langdale Pikes and Coniston fells


P1010923.JPG
Helvellyn range


The descent back down to Langstrath was a bit tedious on grass then deepish bracken. Fortunately the sheep had broken trail in quite a few places and eventually I found a decent little path slanting steadily down towards Black Moss Pot, where there was lots of activity.

P1010931.JPG
Cam Crag Ridge from back down in Langstrath


P1010854.JPG
Dragonfly


P1010933.JPG
Eagle Crag


Got back to Stonethwaite at 4pm and called in at the Langstrath Hotel for half a bitter. I was pleased to have carried out my little plan and it had worked out quite well. It had certainly been an interesting and relatively challenging way up Glaramara - cheers to Bentley Beetham! :D
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:59 am

A fascinating route Dav, Glaramara is my favourite Lakeland name and a fine fell as well. Corvus would be well beyond me but the Cam Crag ridge looks interesting, is it committing or can you chicken out of any bits your not keen on?
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby dav2930 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:22 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:A fascinating route Dav, Glaramara is my favourite Lakeland name and a fine fell as well. Corvus would be well beyond me but the Cam Crag ridge looks interesting, is it committing or can you chicken out of any bits your not keen on?

Thanks JK. You can easily avoid any of the tricky bits of Cam Crag Ridge on the left (without thereby necessarily avoiding them all). This makes it an ideal choice for a first grade 2 scramble. The rock is clean, rough and bristling with holds. Thoroughly recommendable - I'm sure you'd love it. The continuation walk up through Combe Door and over Combe Head (a fantastic viewpoint) is very interesting too. :D
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby jacob » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:22 pm

Nice report and attractive looking route indeed. Never been to the lake district, but this is a proper appertiser.
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby dav2930 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:51 pm

jacob wrote:Nice report and attractive looking route indeed. Never been to the lake district, but this is a proper appertiser.

Thanks Jacob. The Lake District is perhaps not quite as good as Snowdonia for scrambling and long, easy climbs; but there's still plenty of good stuff. I'd recommend Cam Crag Ridge for anyone pushing into grade 2 scrambling.
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby Guinessman » Sun Aug 21, 2016 1:50 pm

Love it Dav. Corvus was a favourite of mine back in the day. It's a great climb with a bit of everything to it, buttress, rib,hand traverse. Great day out. I think I've got an BW photograph of me leading the hand traverse around 1978 complete with PA,S on. Do they still get used?
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby dav2930 » Sun Aug 21, 2016 5:40 pm

Guinessman wrote:Love it Dav. Corvus was a favourite of mine back in the day. It's a great climb with a bit of everything to it, buttress, rib,hand traverse. Great day out. I think I've got an BW photograph of me leading the hand traverse around 1978 complete with PA,S on. Do they still get used?

Thanks GM :D Yeah Corvus is just great - pure enjoyment! I'd love to see that BW photo of you on the hand traverse! PA's were just a bit before my time. '78 was about when I first started climbing and EB's were the latest thing. I've not seen anyone wearing either PA's or EB's for many years. Even the old veterans wear modern 'sticky shoes' these days. Seems almost like cheating to wear them on a climb like Corvus though! :lol:
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Aug 21, 2016 10:11 pm

Wow! Loved this. I really need to get my focus away from just Snowdonia and the NW Highlands. The pics look great, and the environment as a whole looks brilliant - and weirdly empty for the LD in summer - but all the better for it. Wonderful!

The impression I get from the vid is that Corvus is horribly green, which I dislike (having eg spent 3 hours ascending Yr Llywedd, 2.5 of which were consumed in evasive action to avoid slimy green, after which I vowed I would eschew North faces forever); but judging from the vid there doesn't seem to be a big shortage of reasonable holds. I think I'll have to give it a go!!! - if only for the wonderful surroundings!

On a technicality: I didn't realise that overtaking "isn't done". This seems a bit crazy - a roped party will take 2 hours to ascend something you can do in 15 minutes solo. Well, ignorance is bliss, and so far no-one's torn my ears off for overtaking - indeed, I've always hung back until invited to pass, so probably experienced climbers are aware of the different timings for the different climbing approaches. If you aren't interfering with another party's line, I can't see why anyone would object. I have asked from time to time whether people mind my ascending a line close to theirs, and generally the reaction has been to the effect of: "eh? why would we?" (I'm probably just very insensitive :roll: ).

Thanks for posting. Great to get insights into unthought of possibilities.
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby dav2930 » Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:55 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Wow! Loved this. I really need to get my focus away from just Snowdonia and the NW Highlands. The pics look great, and the environment as a whole looks brilliant - and weirdly empty for the LD in summer - but all the better for it. Wonderful!

The impression I get from the vid is that Corvus is horribly green, which I dislike (having eg spent 3 hours ascending Yr Llywedd, 2.5 of which were consumed in evasive action to avoid slimy green, after which I vowed I would eschew North faces forever); but judging from the vid there doesn't seem to be a big shortage of reasonable holds. I think I'll have to give it a go!!! - if only for the wonderful surroundings!

On a technicality: I didn't realise that overtaking "isn't done". This seems a bit crazy - a roped party will take 2 hours to ascend something you can do in 15 minutes solo. Well, ignorance is bliss, and so far no-one's torn my ears off for overtaking - indeed, I've always hung back until invited to pass, so probably experienced climbers are aware of the different timings for the different climbing approaches. If you aren't interfering with another party's line, I can't see why anyone would object. I have asked from time to time whether people mind my ascending a line close to theirs, and generally the reaction has been to the effect of: "eh? why would we?" (I'm probably just very insensitive :roll: ).

Thanks for posting. Great to get insights into unthought of possibilities.

Thanks AK :D Raven Crag is a rather vegetated crag and can be a bit slow to dry. But the rock on Corvus is very good - and the holds are generally very positive as you observed - it's actually better than it looks, especially when its properly dry. With your track record I reckon this would be an ideal solo for you (please sign the disclaimer here :lol: ).

As for overtaking, if I'd been invited to overtake I would have done (and have done on previous occasions). But for some reason no such invitation was offered, in which case to overtake would have been rude (and awkward). I could have by-passed the hand traverse pitch to its right. but that would have missed out a big highlight of the climb. There was a slight tongue-in-cheekness in my saying that overtaking "isn't done", but on the other hand we Brits do tend to have more sense of decorum in such circumstances than the continentals - hence our liking for queues!
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby ChrisW » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:41 am

Now that looked to be some fine scrambling/climbing Dav and a well constructed route too. Glad you included the video too mate, fantastic :clap: :clap:
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby dav2930 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:16 pm

ChrisW wrote:Now that looked to be some fine scrambling/climbing Dav and a well constructed route too. Glad you included the video too mate, fantastic :clap: :clap:

Thanks Chris :D
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby Lakeswalker » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:25 pm

Great report, photos and videos. I climbed it 50 years ago on a school scout trip, so must have been in big boots. Also remember exploring Doves Nest caves on the opposite side of the valley, its fallen down a lot more since those days I'm sure.
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Re: Glaramara in the footsteps of Bentley Beetham

Postby dav2930 » Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:31 pm

Lakeswalker wrote:Great report, photos and videos. I climbed it 50 years ago on a school scout trip, so must have been in big boots. Also remember exploring Doves Nest caves on the opposite side of the valley, its fallen down a lot more since those days I'm sure.

Thank you Lakeswalker.
Sounds like a great school scout trip you had - pretty cool to have done Corvus! Quite right to do it in big boots too - it should be treated as a mountaineering route in my view. But nearly everyone these days treats it as a "cragging" route and wears sticky shoes!

Heard about Doves Nest Caves collapsing many years ago and haven't explored them since - an intriguing little crag.
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