Great Moss Wild Camp

Wainwrights: Scafell, Slight Side
Hewitts: Scafell

Date walked: 20/05/2010

This report isn't so much a walk-report - rather an account of a wild camping experience. I hope the photos below and accompanying account are of sufficient interest to make up for the small amount of space dedicated to the walking.

My son and I based our 3 day expedition around Great Moss in the Lake District. Our main hill objective for the outing was Scafell - other than this the aim was simply to live away from civilisation for a few days. I'm pleased to say we achieved both.

Our first day was warm and still - but cloudy such that all of the peaks were obscured during our walk-in. As we arrived in Great Moss at around 1,200 feet the cloud base was more or less at head height. We pitched, cooked and ate dinner, and packed all of our gear in the tent. As the light of the day started to fade the cloud cover started to break - revealing some of the peaks around (remember Great Moss is surrounded by the Scafells, Bowfell, Esk Pike, the Crinkles et al). My son retrieved his camera from the tent, just in case there were one or two worthwhile shots.

At this time we simply couldn't have anticipated the stunning light-show we were about to witness - as the clouds successively cleared and gathered, and the sun slowly faded to gave way to bright moonlight. I think the following sequence of photographs is a nice illustration of the experience - and I've accompanied it with the journal notes I wrote at the time. I hope you like them.



Thursday 9.50pm. Still a little light left. The clag around us has cleared, and collected on the plain below. We can see clearly up to Esk Hause and the Scafells - and beneath our feet a sea of soupy cloud.



Quite an eerie display now the light is going. The way cloud clings to rock faces in long bands, or small break-away clusters, or swims around the valley looking for something to hold onto. Left is clear - right is mist - now the basin of Great Moss is almost completely full up with fog. I can barely see the river Esk through the murk.



The mist now looks to be forming a neat queue as it moves down the valley. The feed of fog from Esk Hause has stopped - maybe it will clear altogether when this train has passed through?



A bank of cloud is heading at us from our left - like a wave rolling in - just at our eye level.


On Friday morning the cloud quickly burned off as we ate breakfast and packed up. Our expedition for the day was to climb Scafell via Cam Spout and Foxes Tarn. It was a hard but satisfying day - unseasonably high temperatures, complete absence of breeze, heavy packs, and steep ascents all contributed to the difficulty of the climb - but as always it was worth it. There was a real sense of achievement as we attained the summit ridge, and we spent some time on and around Scafell summit (including a short excursion to Symonds Knott - without rucksacks!) - taking in the sense of height and the peacefulness of the scene, that seemed in direct contrast to the congestion on nearby Scafell Pike. We could see people queuing to summit from our vantage point on Scafell.

The Cam Spout route up to Scafell is best described as steep - and involves a long walk-in if you don't camp the night before. The initial uphill past the waterfall gets the walk off to a typical start - and there as some sections where you feel like you need to keep moving in order to avoid slipping backwards. The incline eases a little then and whilst still hard work this is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the walk. The east faces of Scafell and Scafell Pike come clearly into view, and Mickledore at the centre of the scene acts as the key navigation point.

Then, just as Mickledore seems to be but a few footsteps away we jagged left onto the "path" up to Foxes Tarn. This may be the "easy" way up Scafell, but it is still a hands and feet clamber up an extended chute. I must say this was enjoyable despite the effort - and additional manouvering difficulty caused by the large bags. Foxes Tarn is a good spot for a break before the final scree slope to the top. There was in fact a little snow here.

The walk up the scree is just a bit of a grind - it doesn't take very long but it's uncomfortable and strength sapping work. The good thing is there are no surprises - you can see the top of the slope - and when you're there you're there - no false summits. Symonds Knott is right ahead - and Scafell summit a couple of hundred yards to the left. Fittingly - there is a short clamber across rocks to get to the simple summit marker.

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Comments: 2

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User avatar
Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire
Occupation: General Manager - Software Business
Interests: Hill walking - of course Jogging - used to go long until I got into walking - now just to keep in some sort of shape Music - I play the piano respectably well - and the guitar not at all well! Cooking My family - they're wicked
Pub: Old Bakery, Kenilworth
Mountain: Helvellyn
Place: Tongue
Gear: Satmap Active 10 GPS
Member: BMC
Ideal day out: Epic ridge-walk - with a bit of effort to get up there.
Ambition: To make up for lost time

Munros: 2
Wainwrights: 52
Hewitts: 40

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