Scafell & Slight Side from Eskdale

20 09 2013

When I got the phone call weeks ago from John requesting two days of Private Hire I was already over the moon, but when he requested that on one day we walk Pillar from Wasdale (as we did last week) and then said he wanted to climb Scafell from Eskdale, I almost jumped out of my chair! I even remember saying ‘Scafell?? Not Scafell Pike??’

Damas Dubs

We set off from Brotherikeld at about 9.45 and started making our way up the valley. The cloud was currently sitting on the tops, but the forecast was for it to clear through, with perhaps a few showers beforehand. The intended route, and possibly most commonly taken route is via Great Moss. To do this we would follow the River Esk on it’s right hand side and cross it below the Scafells. With all the rain we have had recently, and a river fording issue fresh in my mind from Sunday’s walk above Mungrisedale, we studied the map for an alternative, and we found a good one.  Instead of following the river we would take a higher route over Damas Dubs and then drop down to Cam Spout Crag below Scafell.

Upper Eskdale

We made great progress and Damas Dubs was very enjoyable. the map  implied it would be a bit of a bog fest but we only had to hop a few bogs. The showers did come and go as we walked along these few kilometers, but nothing major.

Sampson's Stones

The impressive Cam Spout Crags came into view, and we stopped to soak it all up. The subsidiary summit of Pen was also clear, and now so was Esk Pike and Bowfell at the head of the valley. We made our way through the Sampson’s Stones, past Cam Spout Crag, to the waterfalls that would lead us up to the start of the Foxes Tarn route, our chosen path up onto Scafell.

We scrambled up past the impressive waterfalls and when we got to the top of them we took the opportunity to have a bite to eat. We admired the Crinkle Crags and Bowfell sitting opposite us, as well as the vast boggy expanse of Great Moss sitting below. After lunch we continued upwards alongside a picturesque beck until we were standing underneath the first part of the path that led to Foxes Tarn.

Looking towards Mickledore

This scramble is is always fun, and even more so today with the amount of water coming down. We quickly made up the ground and got to Foxes Tarn. All that was left from the tarn was a steep walk up onto the plateau, and then a short hop onto the summit of Scafell. Unfortunately just before we reached the plateau the cloud that had previously cleared all the summits decided to drop, and so our view from the summit was restricted to about 50 metres.

Slight Side from Scafell

From the summit we headed South, South West along the ridge, at first picking our way over boulders, and then picking up a much easier path which soon turned to grass. We ambled on over the easy terrain to Slight Side, a rocky little top that sits on the southern slopes of Scafell. From Scafell Slight Side looks very ordinary, but looking up at it from the south gives it a very impressive, and imposing appearance!

We continued our descent over easy grassy terrain. This section was quite boggy so our feet got pretty damp! We cut off of the path by Cat Crag and got off of the fell via a bracken covered slope. A short walk brought us back to the car at Brotherikeld. Once back at the car the cloud had once again lifted completely and it was looking quite bright. We couldn’t help but stand for a while and admire the fine fells we had just walked, and the epic valley we used to get to them. What a trmendous part of the Lake District!!

Scafell and Ill Crag

A full album of pictures can be found on this link.


Pillar from Wasdale via the High Level Route

12 09 2013

This route is truly fantastic, and it is a real shame I don’t get to walk it more often! Pillar from Wasdale via the High Level Route takes in up to 5 amazing summits – Pillar, Scoat Fell, Steeple, Red Pike & Yewbarrow, all of which you can be sure to see few people on!

Wastwater Reflections

As we drove into the Wasdale Valley the lake was like a perfect mirror, the best I had ever seen! We had to stop for a picture! We were keen to get an early start as the forecast was for deteriorating weather to hit at some point in the afternoon. At 9.20 we started to make our way up the Mosedale Valley and it was evident my client (John) was a very fit man! I soon warmed up and was soon stripping off my needless layer.

We took the small shortcut straight to Looking Stead instead of heading to Black Sail Pass, and from this point joined the High Level Route. Some of the rock was quite greasy but we negotiated this well. The weather at this point was incredible (compared to what was forecast!) The cloud had lifted enough for us to see into Ennerdale and also across to the Buttermere Fells.

Robinson's Cairn

We made our way along the HLR to Robinson’s Cairn where Pillar Rock came into view out of the mist. We scrambled up over loose boulders and greasy slabs to behind Pillar Rock before heading up the final scramble onto the summit of Pillar itself. We stopped on the summit for a bite to eat and while we did the cloud almost lifted all together and we enjoyed fine views to Ennerdale Water and the West Coast. Pillar Rock

From Pillar we descended to Wind Gap where we saw the final 6 people of the entire 9 people we would see the whole day! From Wind Gap we caught a few glimpses of Steeple and Scoat Fell. We made good progress over Scoat Fell and then we went and bagged Steeple. After tracking back over Scoat Fell we climbed onto Red Pike.

Steeple from near Scoat Fell

When on the summit of Red Pike it felt like the weather was starting to change, the mist was no longer breaking to provide views….The bad weather was knocking at the door! A Misty Red Pike

We descended to Dore Head where we had another break before opting to climb Yewbarrow as well. We made excellent progress up the fun scramble on Stirrup Crag and then picked our way through the mist onto the summit. Now getting hit by strong winds and rain we made a hasty escape towards the southern nose of Yewbarrow – the nasty bit! We made a cuatious descent down the loose terrain, but soon enough we were back down to the roadside and all that was left was an easy bimble back to the Wasdale Head.

The Mosedale Valley

Patterdale to Ambleside via St Sunday’s Crag & Fairfield with Atrium Aviation

6 09 2013

Yesterday I once again have the joy of guiding a group from Atrium Aviation. Mark was once again hosting the group and his criteria was the same as last time – A linear walk of about 7 hours which finishes at a pub. We put our heads together and rattled off a few possible routes. Mark mentioned he personally hadn’t walked on the fells above Patterdale, and had never been on Fairfield so we decided to go for a route that would give the group that experience.

The forecast was for a cloudy morning which would soon break off to provide a clear and sunny afternoon. As we arrived in Patterdale at 9am the skies were blue and the sun was already blazing, it seemed the cloud had already disappeared! From the Patterdale Hotel we made our way out the back on a public footpath, and after just a short distance we were heading off the main path and up the fellside. Our first objective of the day was Arnison Crag, a great little viewpoint that has remarkable views over Ullswater. The climb to the summit is a steep grassy one so we took our time and stopped often to enjoy the views. We made excellent progress and after not much more than half an hour we were standing on top watching a military helicopter flying low over Ullswater.

After dishing out the sherbert lemons and taking some snaps we made our way over and around some bumpy terrain before once again making our way up a steep grassy ascent towards the summit of Birks. The heat of the day was building so we ensured we had regular stops to have a drink.


From the flat summit of Briks we then walked across easier terrain before making the final ascent onto the summit of St Sunday’s Crag. Unfortunately the cloud had dropped and we were now in the mist, it seemed the cloud that we thought had dissipated was just late! 

We didn’t linger for long on the summit and we enjoyed a gentle descent to Deepdale Hause, from which we did get some breaks through the mist to see into the Deepdale Valley. We continued on through the mist on broken terrain as we headed for Cofa Pike. The  ridge narrowed and out of the mist came the rocky summit. 

Keen for lunch we soon moved on and a short walk up some shale brought us onto the vast flat summit of Fairfield. Unfortunately we were well and truly in the mist for the lunch stop. We stopped for just over 20 minutes but we started to get a bit chilly so we decided to crack on. As we made our way towards Hart Crag we started to get small glimpses through the cloud, then all of a sudden it opened up to provide us with amazing views in all directions.

We continued over Hart Crag to Dove Crag. We now followed the long wall over much easier terrain over High Pike and then onto Low Pike, our eighth  and final summit of the day. We made our way to the lovely High Sweden Bridge from which an easy amble along a good track brought us into Ambleside, and our pub of choice – The Golden Rule. 

In total we walked about 9 miles with 1100m of ascent and took about 7 and a half hours. I’m already looking forward to next years walk! For a full album of pictures please visit this link.