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.

Grabbing Life By The Balls

8 08 2013

It’s been a while since the last blog post. I’ve either neglected it for editing the website, or simply haven’t got around to it, but today that changes!

Climbing the Brown Tongue Path

Today myself, Steve and Dave climbed Scafell Pike & Scafell from Wasdale, and what a good day we had.

We set off from the Wasdale Head and traversed around the hillside to join the main Brown Tongue (motorway) path that makes it’s way up to Hollow Stones. This was Steve’s third day in a row, and Dave’s second, so we took it easy as the going got steeper, but even then we still made great progress. We stopped and enjoyed the views when we got to Hollow Stones, but soon enough we were on our way again. An hour later we reached the bustling summit of Scafell Pike. Steve had climbed the Pike with me a couple of months ago but the weather was far from desirable, so at least today he got some views!

Views from Scafell Pike

We stopped on the summit and had a leisurely bite to eat and soaked up some rays! From the summit we descended to Mickeldore, the pass between Scafell Pike and Scafell. There are numerous fantastic routes up Scafell, some more extreme than others. All but one of them have a level of descent to start them, and the easiest one, Foxes Tarn, requires the most descent and subsequently re-ascent. We started to make our way towards this route and then I remembered the East Buttress Terrace route. This route is a traverse with a couple of delicate points on it, but the overriding point is the huge level of exposure as the mountain falls away below you. 2013-08-08 13.32.40After scrambling with the guys yesterday on Helvellyn & Striding Edge (and them enjoying it) I asked if they wanted a bit more ‘daring do’ to mix up this walk. I think it was the thought of having to descend even further and then make up the height again that pushed them towards saying yes, well for Dave anyway. We made good progress across the terrace as it was mostly dry. Steve did feel a little unsure a couple of times but he still managed to conquer the traverse, something I’m sure he will be pretty happy with when he’s thinking about it in the safety of his bed tonight.

Final moves on the EBTIt was this moment when I thought about how Steve had ‘grabbed life by the balls’. Not the fact that he had just been taken out of his comfort zone and come out the other end smiling (kinda!) but the fact that in the last 3 days he had climbed the four highest mountains in England. Some of you may be reading this thinking ‘and?’. But as I said previously a couple of months ago Steve came and climbed Scafell Pike with me, and being a man from the flatlands of Norwich he had no mountain experience, and he struggled, a lot. Steve has since been up and done other routes with me, plus a navigation course, and been working on his fitness at home. What Steve is achieving now compared to where he was back then is truly inspirational and great to see, he has ‘grabbed life by the balls’ and is now able to climb any mountain in the Lake District! Nice one, Steve!

From the summit of Scafell we enjoyed a nice descent down Green How. The Isle of Man looked like a floating island in the sky and Wastwater was twinkling in the afternoon sunshine, it was lovely.

Shortly after 4pm we were back at the car after yet another fine day in the hills.

The Scafell Massif

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


Seatoller to Langdale with Atrium Aviation

10 07 2013

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Mark Hiller of Atrium Aviation in order to assist on one of his annual walks. It was clear from the offset that Mark already had a high level of experience with the Lake District, and that he was searching for something particularly special for the first of this years walks. What was great about this group is that they wanted a linear walk that finished in a pub, fantastic!

Over the following months we ran through route options until we landed on the one that we completed yesterday, and what a mighty fine choice it was.


I met the group of 9 outside the Keswick Hotel and we were then transported the short way down the Borrowdale Valley to Seatoller. The weather was continuing it’s fine form and even at 8am you could tell it was going to be a hot one!

We started through the vegetation as we made our way to the base of Thornythwaite Fell, the western arm like spur that comes off of Glaramara’s northern flanks. Everyone made good progress up this initial slope, and we stopped every so often to cool off in the small breeze that was blowing, a breeze that we were all so very thankful of.


We walked and talked and soon enough we stood beneath the summit of Glaramara. The group took varying lines up the final scramble, and everyone seemed impressed with Lexi’s ability to get up some of the sections. 20130709_102829

We took a breather on the summit and soaked up the fine views. The heat was continuing to rise, and because of this it was quite hazy, but we would all take haze over driving rain!

With the hard bit of the day done we continued over the undulating plateau of Glaramara and made our way to the summit of Allen Crags, yet another fine view point. We took this opportunity to have some lunch.

Half an hour soon passed and we seemed to be getting too comfortable. Who could blame us?  Full tummies, amazing views and the sun beating down….just 5 more minutes?

We descended to Esk Hause which was to be our decision point. We had multiple options on how to finish the walk, one of which being making our way over to the Langdale Pikes. We opted to head over Esk Pike followed by Bowfell. The group continued to be efficient and we made great time to the summit of Bowfell, getting there at 2pm.


We once again took a slightly longer stop, making sure we enjoyed the views from what I regard one of the best, if not the best, viewpoint in Lakeland. Sadly we were driven from the summit by the midges sooner than we would have liked, but the pub beckoned anyhow!


From the summit we took a slight detour to admire The Great Slab and then we descended to the Three Tarns. We then joined the good track and made our way down The Band, soaking up the impressive views of the Langdale Pikes and the Langdale Valley all the way.

By half 3 we walked into the Old Dungeon Ghyll where we started a course of re-hydration!  A perfect day out!


The Coledale Horseshoe

29 06 2013

As I have said in Blog Posts before, The Coledale Horseshoe is amazing! I love every opportunity I get to guide people on it and share with them my fave walk.

Me and Steve set off up the Kin Ridge towards Grisedale Pike. The weather was clearning by the minute, and unlike yesterday, we didn’t have to put the waterproofs on at the car. We took it easy up the initial steep grassy climb and then enjoyed the views back towards Keswick as we headed for the next steep bit. We continued to make good progress right to the windswept summit of Grisedale Pike. We didn’t linger on the top as it was a bit chilly, so we left straight away for Hopegill Head.

On the summit of Hopegill Head we met some marshalls who were involved with the Buttermere Fell Race. The route the fellrunners were completing sounded absolutely nuts! A short while after leaving the summit we saw our first load of runners.

We stopped just up from Coledale Hause for a leisurely bite to eat while watching the runners head up Grasmoor. After lunch we climbed easily to the summit of Eel Crag. We took a moment to sit on the edge of the summit enjoying the fine views down into the Coledale Valley.


Our next summit was Sail, after which we descended all the way to the good track by Scale Force Mine. We finished the day with an easy plod along the track back to the car, perfick!

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Grange Fell Navigation Training Day

28 06 2013

An enjoyable day running a Navigation Training Day on Grange Fell in the Borrowdale Valley.

We started off the day by running through the Map and it’s symbols at the car before heading off on some easy ‘legs’ to start the day. We covered hand-railing and catchment features before climbing the steeper staircase onto the top of Grange Fell. We spent most of the afternoon running through bearings and navigational tactics, essentially incorporating all that was taught.

We descended from the summit to Rosthwaite, from which we enjoyed a gentle jaunt back along the river to Grange.

Lakeland Mountain Guide’s often host Navigation Courses from £50pp. We cater for beginners right through to Advanced Navigators.

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Skiddaw via Ullock Pike

23 06 2013

Today’s walk was meant to be Blencathra & Sharp Edge, but after seeing the forecast for the weekend on Friday, I knew that Sharp Edge would be treacherous. Our round of Helvellyn & it’s edges yesterday was a tad slippy, and reading the news report of a person who took a 100m lob off of Swirral Edge yesterday just goes to show how easily things can go wrong.

I took the decision to bin the Blencathra walk completely. It is a mountain that is best enjoyed via it’s edges, and if the edges wouldn’t be enjoyable, what’s the point? So Skiddaw it was!

We started from High Side, on the north western flank of the mountain. It was a misty morning and it was obvious from the start the wind was going to be brisk. We made great progress up the ridge towards Ullock Pike. We did enjoy some nice views down onto Bassenthwaite but they were short lived. As we climbed higher and higher the wind strength increased, but occasionally we would find the odd hollow to provide some shelter. We continued over Ullock Pike onto the summit of Long Side, essentially just a continuation of the same ridge.

From Long Side we descended and located the summit of Carl Side in the mist. Now we had the big one to summit, Skiddaw. We took the steep scree path that kinda’ contours it’s way onto the plateau. Everyone climbed well up this thigh burning track.

Up on the plateau a short walk brought us to the wind blasted summit, an all too common occurrence on Skiddaw.  We squatted in the shelter for a few minutes to have snack but soon after we were off. We left the summit to the north and located the fence. Navigationally this fence is amazing, as we just followed it all the way to the summit of Bakestall, and then downwards again to the good track.

We followed the farmers track back down the valley enjoying the views. A combination of us descending and the cloud lifting meant we finally got to see something. An enjoyable walk back down the track and a bit of road at the end brought us back to the cars.

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