Saturday, 3 August 2013

Scafell Pike from Wasdale

I have decided to join my brother in law Tim on his Three Peaks Challenge in the first weekend of August. In the past fortnight we have been trying to get fit. We have climbed a few mountains together, I've been returning to regularly footy as has Tim and he has also been out running most nights. I am struggling with my fitness which isn't being helped by the fact I am still recovering from my ankle injury and on a heavy daily dose of adrenaline stopping blood pressure control medication. So this weekend we decided to walk one of the routes we would be doing during the challenge and test our fitness by seeing how fast we could make it to the top and back down again.

Scafell Pike and Scafell across Wast Water, Lake District

The nation was still gripped in a heat wave though it was now mixed with spells of thunder storms. Saturdays weather forecast for the Lake District looked promising though with all the thundery weather staying down south and not moving north until later on Saturday night. The drive up was a good one with no problems. As with every trip round to the more remote Wasdale though, you forget just how far and tedious the drive round to that far side is. As the weather was good though the views made it an enjoyable experience. The outlying fell of Black Combe looked absolutely stunning as we passed. I really want to climb up it one day as I would imagine its close proximity to Morecambe Bay and the Southern Fells must make it a fine viewpoint.

My new car by Wast Water with the Scafells in the background

We turned off the main road and headed down the minor roads towards Wasdale Head. Wast Water look amazing with not a cloud in site and England's highest mountains dominating the skyline. Locals and holidaying tourists were swimming in the waters with the stunning Screes behind them. The perfect weather gave me a chance to pull over and take some great photos of Scafell and Scafell Pike that will be ideal for the websites walks pages as I've rarely had the chance to photograph them in these conditions before.

Scafell Pike and Scafell across Wast Water, Lake District

We pulled up at the lay-by opposite the entrance to the camp site road and were surprised to find a few spare parking spaces. We parked up there to save having to pay £4.50 at the National Trust pay and display car park behind the camp site. We kitted up and covered ourselves in factor fifty suncream. Setting off along the track past the campsite towards Brackenclose a large Grey Heron flew right over our heads.

Great Gable from Wast Water, Lake District National Park

We crossed the wide road bridge below Brackenclose then followed the path between the climbing hut and the gill to reach the higher bridge which we crossed to reach the northern side of the gill. The footpath was fairly easy going at the start, the huge western crags of Scafell Pike dominating the skyline ahead of us.

Tim walking up Lingmell Gill towards Scafell Pike, Lake District

We headed through another gate at the last wall and followed the path up the northern side of Lingmell Gill. The path was now starting to get a bit steeper. We crossed Lingmell Gill and made our way up the much steeper Brown Tongue. This short section up Brown Tongue is by far the most difficult part of this ascent route and I really struggled to get up it as I was getting chest pains and stomach cramps. I have to say I am really not looking forward to climbing this section next weekend on the challenge when I will already have struggled up Ben Nevis several hours before.

Wast Water from Lingmell Gill ascent path, Lake District

Finally we reached the section above Brown Tongue where the path finally flattens out for a while as it crosses the tricky boulder strewn section at Hollow Stones. The path disappears a few times over Hollow Stones which is probably why a few inexperienced people doing the Three Peaks Challenge get caught out here. I would imagine a fair few take the wrong way at the fork just before it too and end up on the steep scree climb up to Mickledore.

Mickledore col between Scafell Pike and Scafell, Lake District

The path climbed wide zig zags to reach Lingmell Col between Lingmell Fell and Scafell Pike. Tim took a few desire lines while I stuck to the path as it was easier. As we reached the top of Lingmell Fell there was a loud crashing noise to our right. Ourselves and several other walkers all stopped in our tracks and watch in amazement as a huge rockfall fell down the crags.

Tim ascending the path above Lingmell Col, Scafell Pike, Lake District

We started the final ascent to Scafell Pikes summit from Lingmell Fell. At the start of the climb I could see clearly the top of the Corridor Route that we were supposed to have found the fortnight before on our descent to Seathwaite. Then further up I saw the cairns that forced us to take the more difficult shortcut route.

Great Gable and Styhead Tarn from Scafell Pike, Lake District

At one point on the ascent to the summit the path climbs up some impressive looking slabs. Looking north from the ascent path the view was amazing. You could see as far as Skiddaw, Blencathra and Derwentwater, but what really impressed was the closer views to Great Gable and Styhead Tarn which were awesome.

Broad Crag, Ill Crag and Great End from Scafell Pike, Lake District

This is the fourth time I have climbed to the summit of Scafell Pike and the first time I have seen anything from its lofty summit. We climbed on to the top of the huge stone built platform at the summit. We took a great shot of Tim and myself and a few in each direction. The views were fantastic, particularly along the Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End ridge, though it was a little hazy. We had lunch and watched the swarms of people arriving as we ate.

Crowds on Scafell Pike summit, Lake District National Park

Scafell from Scafell Pike summit, Lake District National Park

Myself and Tim on Scafell Pike summit, Lake District

Scafell and Wast Water from Scafell Pike, Lake District National Park

Lingmell Fell and Great Gable from Scafell Pike

Tim stopped his stopwatch when we arrived at the summit. We made it to the top in an impressive one hour and forty eight minutes. We had read that the mountain should be done in four hours maximum on the challenge. This gave us an easy two hours ten minutes to get down.

Tim descending slabs down Scafell Pike with Great Gable beyond 

Tim started the stopwatch again as we set off on our descent. We were quick but by no means uncomfortably or annoyingly to other walkers. The only point at which we really rushed and started to  jog was right at the end after we reached the crossing of Lingmell Gill under Brown Tongue and Tim pointed out that if we got to the start in twenty minutes we would make the whole walk up and down in less than three hours.

Tim descending Hollow Stones with Wast Water beyond

We made it back to the National Trust car park in just one hour and eight minutes, meaning that we did the entire walk up and down in just two hours and fifty six minutes. We were really impressed, especially as I was struggling so badly up Brown Tongue on the ascent. This gave us great confidence in our ability to complete Three Peaks Challenge this next weekend.

Contrasting colours towards Pillar on Scafell Pike descent

Its going to be one of the hardest challenges of my life. I know I have a lot of hill experience, but at the moment I am really struggling for fitness. If you have a spare fiver please donate to my just giving page. I am doing the challenge with my brother in law Tim's and his friends from the Great British Food Festival and the Onion Ring website. We are hoping to raise as much money as we can for the fantastic Rainbow House. Rainbow House helps children with physical disabilities to become more active and independent through conductive education and early years services, aiming to achieve each child's goal in sitting, standing and walking and improve their social skills in eating, dressing and toileting, making integration into mainstream school and the community easier. Not only do they help children with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Metabolic and other genetic motor disorders, they also provide support for their families and carers...

Click here for my Just Giving donation page...

Tim descending Hollow Stones with Wast Water beyond

Route Map...

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  1. Well done, Jamie. I would've liked to have been about up Scafell to film you and other challengers next weekend. Get you talk on camera!

    Email me via my blog and let me know your ETA :)

    I shall be in the area on the Saturday.

    Otherwise, good day, great views and good time too! I must admit it's not my favourite route up but it's quicker and easier than others.

    Best time for decent I've done is 90mins from the summit to the Wasdale Head Inn! With a heavy 80ltr pack on my back! I'll admit the thought of the pub after a few days on the hills proved a big incentive ;)

    Hope to hear from you soon!

  2. Not often you manage to get a view like that from the top of Scafell Pike! Good luck with the challenge, I'm hoping to be dandering over SP on Wednesday on a long day from Buttermere, see how the legs hold out!