A Magnificent Day on Scafell

Wainwrights: Scafell, Slight Side
Hewitts: Scafell

Date walked: 18/05/2021

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 15.9km

Ascent: 1061m

A third successive day on the fells for me :D but this time it would be a solo effort with Grace, Nicola and Hughie enjoying the lovely weather on the beach close to our home for the week. I'd decided to make good while the sun was shining and climb Slightside and Scafell. I did put some thought into walking from Wasdale and going via Lord's Rake and possibly the West Wall traverse :shock: but given the temperamental nature of my knees at the minute I decided this way probably wasn't wise and the thought of the main car park at Wasdale head full of trainer and jean wearing Scafell Pike summiteers didn't appeal one bit. The car park at Wha House was the exact opposite as I was first to turn up that morning.

It was a truly blissful start to the day and I had it all to myself :D , perhaps distracted by this turn of fortune I forgot to switch on my GPS :roll: so the track shown below is my guesstimation of my route until I was well on the way to Slightside where an attempt to look at the device alerted me to the mishap.

First target of the day was a more modest one however and that was Goat Crag. This turned out to be a nice little summit with good views particularly of the way ahead.

Looking back at the car park

Harter Fell looking quite magnificent in the morning sunshine

Backlit tree and fellside

Hard Knott Pass

Hard Knott from Goat Crag

Lower Eskdale from Goat Crag

...and towards bigger things from Goat Crag

This little detour over with I set about making my way towards Slightside which was free of cloud whenever I could see it, which is more than could be said for Scafell which was flirting with the clag on and off. However given it was still early and how optimistic the forecast was I felt confident all would be well by the time I arrived in a few hours time. There is quite a bit of wet ground around these parts so I stayed high and managed to avoid the worst of it while also seeing ahead the first other walkers of the day who looked like they had come up from Boot or perhaps the Woolpack.
By the time I slogged my way up the scree path to Horn Crag and subsequently Slightside I was feeling quite good, perhaps pre-lockdown fitness levels might actually return someday after all. :shock:

Dawsonground Crags

Catcove beck

A little light on Little Stand

Eskdale from Horn Crag

I had a little rest on Slightside among the silvery summit stones, enjoying the views, in particular of Upper Eskdale, before heading off up the fairly gradual slopes and onto Long Green. the true nature of Scafell starts to become more obvious from here with it's benign western and Southern slopes in stark contrast to it's Eastern and Northern Crags. The higher you go the rockier it becomes and the more impressive the scenery until the fairly understated summit, England's second highest is reached.

Scafells from Slightside

Slightside's silvery summit stones

Long Green in bright sunshine as Scafell goes all shy

Upper Eskdale Panorama from Slightside (click for big version)

Looking back to Slightside

Burnmoor Tarn and the back of The Screes

Greencove Wyke

The Pike and Ill Crag from the Long Green

Dow Crag

Towards Crinkle Crags

Wastwater from the summit of Scafell

...and Mosedale

....and Great Gable

I didn't linger too long at the summit cairn as there were a couple of lads having lunch so I wandered off for an explore. The previous time I was up here, via Foxes Puddle, Nicola Grace and Hughie went straight to the summit from the col while I quickly bagged Symonds Knott and joined them. I now know this was a mistake. For while I did get to see the jumble of crags from the top of Symonds Knott we saw nothing of the glorious sights just beyond. With hindsight this was a regretful decision and this time I spent quite a while gawping at the crags and had lunch sat enjoying every minute up here. The photos simply can't do this place justice the scale and majesty is unmatched anywhere in England in my experience with perhaps the area around Pillar Rock coming closest.

Looking down on Lord's Rake and the climbers traverse

Scafell Crag mono

Pulpit Rock and Great Gable

Looking down to Wasdale

Scafell Crag Portrait

...and another shot of this magnificent place

Go on then, one last shot

Following a brief toying with the idea of returning via Eskdale I began my reluctant descent in bright sunshine and soon decided to try and head below Slightside on the way down. There was unsurprisingly no sign of a path but the going underfoot was largely OK and I was soon retracing my steps back to Wha House. A look to my right however revealed Great How was only around half a mile away so off I trotted along the edge of Quagrigg Moss to add another top to the bag.

Burnmoor Tarn again

Heading back down the ridge

Cutting below Slightside

Great How on Eskdale Fell

Great How turned out to be a worthy fell but as I was here I decided to head for Whinscales next. Problem was unlike most areas of the Lakes there was no baggers paths heading off in the general direction. In fact even the main path up from Wha House is really quite indistinct in places. Perhaps is is down to decreased footfall during lockdowns of perhaps it's just because it's so genuinely quiet. Whatever the reason finding the very indistinct top of Whinscales was a bit of a chore, quite why anybody would pick it for a list is beyond me and although the view was nice it seemed very similar to so many other lumps in the vicinity apart from a tiny cairn, probably put there by Mr Birkett himself :lol:

Sunshine on Quagrigg Moss

Scafell from Great How

Pillar and friends from Great How

Whinscales summit

Harter Fell from Whinscales

The next target could at least be recognised ahead as I made my way towards Dowsonground Crags. There was some wet ground to deal with but it was without a great deal of fuss that the pathless terrain was dealt with and the summit attained. Again there was some nice views with Stoney Tarn coming into view but my appetite for pathless fellside and indistinct tops had waned, and with the jumble of lumps and bumps around the eastern side of the Tarn, none of which screamed out, 'I'm Whin Crag!', I decided I'd had enough Birkett bashing for the day and headed off back towards the main path.

Dawsonground Crags summit

Stoney Tarn from Dawsonground Crags

The walk back to the car was uneventful apart from an appearance of a very odd looking military aircraft with huge propellers, at least it was quieter than the jets.

On the way back to Wha house

Odd looking military aircraft

Harter Fell

All in all a magnificent day spent in this most beautiful but inexplicably quiet area of Lakeland.

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Hewitts: Harter Fell (Southern Fells)
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Location: County Durham
Occupation: General dogsbody
Interests: Walking (Who would have guessed), photography and playing Guitar.
Activity: Mountaineer
Pub: Moulin Inn
Mountain: Blaven
Place: Isle of Skye
Gear: Boots
Member: None
Camera: Canon EOS760D
Ideal day out: Ridge walk without to much exposure.
Ambition: Too keep climbing hills

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