Showing posts with label seathwaite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seathwaite. Show all posts

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route from Seathwaite

Date: 28th Sept 2018
Start/Finish: Seathwaite
Route: Up to Styhead Tarn and then on to Scafell Pike via corridor route. Return over Great End and Grains Gill.
Wainwrights: Scafell Pike, Great End.
Time Taken: 7 Hours

Below is a 3D fly-through of the route 

I've climbed Scafell Pike many times; from Wast Water, Eskdale and Langdale but never from Seathwaite via the corridor route. So this was about hiking a new route up a familiar mountain. I drove up the night before in the camper van and parked in Seathwaite. This way I could get an early start after a good nights sleep. I chose the classic circular route up Styhead Gill to Sty Head and then along the corridor route to Scafell Pike before heading back via Esk Hause and Grains Gill. I made a few small deviations onto Broad Crag, Ill Crag and Great End for the views.

Accommodation in Seathwaite

Seathwaite Fell over Stockley Bridge

Looking back along Styhead Gill

An unnecessarily large cairn near Sty Head

Styhead Tarn

Great End 

The usual wild campers around Styhead Tarn unsurprisingly forgetting the bit about 'always pack up before the day hikers arrive' 

A lone hiker near the start of the corridor route

The corridor route heading towards Piers Gill

Piers Gill

Heading towards Lingmell Col

The top of Piers Gill

Lingmell and Great Gable from the path up to Scafell Pike 

Scafell Pike summit - under cloud
I had lunch in one of the many wind breaks near the summit but unfortunately the cloud didn't look like it was going to lift any time soon, so I headed off down the badly eroded path to the col at the top of little narrowcove before heading up to Broad Crag and then across to Ill Crag.

Looking down little narrowcove gulley

Broad Crag summit

Ill Crag

Looking down the Esk valley from Ill Crag

Bowfell from Ill Crag

Great End

Views down to Borrowdale from Great End

The top of Central Gulley on Great End

Great End summit views over to Glaramara 

Ill Crag, Broad Crag and Scafell Pike now cloud free

Views over Esk Hause towards Esk Pike and Bowfell

Esk Pike from Esk Hause

Views of the route back down to Seathwaite, the Borrowdale valley and Derwent Water beyond

The Langdale Pikes

Great End and Great Gable

The bottom of Central Gulley

Grains Gill and the path back to Seathwaite

Now this is undoubtedly a lovely walk in a stunning landscape but the day was somewhat tarnished by the strange behaviour of some folk along the way. I know it was Scafell Pike on a Saturday with a half decent forecast and so I expected a crowd but there were literally hundreds of people of the mountain, including someone shouting obscenities from the summit at the top of their voice (a lost bet maybe?) when so may folk were around including children. Also, there was a group of 30 ish strewn along a mile section of Grains Gill whose chief method of communication was to repeatedly yodel at each other. Now I'm all for a good yodel in the Swiss alps when needs must but this was ridiculous and just annoying to everyone within earshot.

It also seemed that there was a festival of tissue paper on the mountain today. Every 50 yards or so the path was decorated with the stuff. And then, to add to my disillusionment, I was asked 5 times by different groups where Scafell Pike was. None had a GPS, map or compass. I also encountered folk in jeans & brogues and a girl in a leather bikers jacket complete with tassels, who unsurprisingly looked thoroughly miserable on the Scafell ascent in clag, 30mph gusts and 2 degrees above zero. I really feel for the poor Mountain Rescue Teams who must despair at the sheer idiocy of some people. Ah well. Rant over. It's a lovely area. Just go midweek and early morning, or leave it until winter.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Castle Crag and the Borrowdale Valley

Date: 26th July 2018
Start/Finish: Rosthwaite Hotel
Wainwrights: Castle Crag (951 feet)
Distance: 5.6 Miles
Height Gain: 2080 Feet
Time Taken: A very leisurely 4 hours

Social Hiking Map Link

The Route: Clockwise from the Rosthwaite Hotel

Castle Crag is a bit of an outlier as it doesn't easily link up with any surrounding fells without significant height loss. Its nearest neighbours of High Spy to the west and Grange Fell to the east are best climbed in a circuit of their respective neighbouring fells. For this reason, Castle Crag is often the last Wainwright climbed on the circuit of 214. However, I was in the area on a family camping holiday and it was a balmy windless day ideal for a low fell with good views. So instead of marching my 11 year old lad up one of the high fells we decided to tackle something lower. Castle Crag fitted the bill nicely, especially as part of a circuit of the Borrowdale valley. It also had the advantage of finishing by the River Derwent where we could cool off afterwards.

We parked on the Rosthwaite Hotel car park and duly paid the £3 all day fee. The walk took us on a wide circular route out towards Seatoller and then looping back towards Castle Crag before descending steeply down to the Derwent. 

Views over to Stonethwaite

First sight of Castle Crag (centre left)

Surveying the destination

A steep ascent

Remnants of previous quarrying

Views southwards from the ascent path

Slate cairns 

Summit views of Derwent Water

The summit

Cooling off in the Derwent 

Those fish were actually nibbling our toes!

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Bivvy Camp on Kirk Fell

Date : 4th & 5th September 2014
Start/End : Seathwaite
Wainwrights : Base Brown, Green Gable, Kirk Fell, Seathwaite Fell
Distance :11.2 Miles
Height Gained : 4426 feet

The route : anticlockwise from Seathwaite (top right)

                                          A quick video of the trip

My decision to try and climb all the Wainwright fells was made at about the time when I had already climbed about 70 of them. Up to that point my walks were aimed at climbing the main fells along classical routes. Many of these hikes had me within spitting distance of other Wainwrights but I walked on by. Three of the fells climbed on this hike were a case in point. I had climbed all their neighbours, some of them many times but never made the extra effort to wander over to them. So this was really a 'mopping up' exercise as well an excuse to revisit a favourite area. And so, having parked up at Seathwaite, I started the steep ascent up to Base Brown at 5pm, conscious that I had about 3 hours of daylight to reach Kirk Fell where I hoped to camp.

Base Brown from the Seathwaite Road

Crossing Styhead Gill

A different stile to the usual ones

Looking back over the valley to Thornythwaite Fell

Sourmilk Gill


A hazy Base Brown summit

Green Gable from Base Brown

 There were hazy views from Base Brown summit across one valley to Brandreth and the opposite one over to Glaramara. The onwards way led up to Green Gable which was moving in and out of cloud and unfortunately was mainly in cloud when I got there. The path up to Green Gable is obvious and easy going. It was therefore surprising to count 18 cairns along a stretch of perhaps 200 yards leading up the summit. Totally unnecessary in my opinion.

A string of cairns along the path up to Green Gable

Windy Gap just visible from Green Gable

From Green Gable summit all the high fells including neighbouring Great Gable were shrouded in mist. Windy Gap was just visible and that was where I headed before dropping down the unstable scree path towards the 'tongue' of upper Ennerdale. Thankfully I wasn't on this path for long before deviating off towards Kirk Fell.

The scree path down the Tongue of upper Ennerdale

Glimpses of Great Gable

First view of Kirk Fell

Kirk Fell from Beck Head

Glimpses of Wast Water

Great Gable now emerging from cloud

It was starting to get dark by the time I reached Kirkfell Tarn so after filtering some water I headed off to the Wasdale side of the fell where there was a flat grassy area and set about making camp. It didn't take long. Just a simple matter of rolling out a ground sheet, inflating the mat and then unpacking the sleeping bag and bivvy bag. Five minutes later, water was on the boil ready to reconstitute a much awaited chilli con carne. I had a tarp with me but didn't use it as it was a calm night with no rain forecast. I fell asleep gazing up at the night sky which by now had cleared to reveal a beautiful star studded scene within which the milky way was clearly visible and odd shooting star streaked across the blackness.

My Bivvy

I woke with the brightening sky at about 6am to find my bivvy bag soaking with morning dew, both inside and out. The sleeping bag was wet on the outside to quite an astonishing degree. In retrospect I should perhaps have pitched the tarp as a lean-to, not to provide any weather protection but to act a 'dew sponge' by having moisture condense on it rather than me. Lesson learned, I made breakfast before enjoying a magnificent sunrise between the 2 'Gables'. By 7am I was packed up and heading off up to Kirk Fell summit, a few hundred yards away.

A nice view to wake up to

There was a lovely view from Kirk Fell summit. Its a great spot from where to survey some of the giants of Lakeland. 

Kirk Fell western panorama

The summit shelter overlooking the Scafells

Great Gable from Kirk Fell

 The next target was Seathwaite Fell around the other side of Great Gable. There is a traverse path which circumvents the apron of Great Gable. It has a reputation for being difficult to follow and a bit precarious but taking it would mean avoiding significant height loss if I had to drop down to the main path.  

Great Gable : there is a traverse path on there somewhere!

Wast Water from the scree slope

Great Gable's iconic shadow on Kirk Fell

 The traverse route was just visible skirting across the flanks of Great Gable as I descended Kirk Fell. Once down, I wandered up the scree slope to pick the path up. It is an exhilarating route, a little like the climbers traverse on Bow Fell but longer and more convoluted. At some points it seems to fade away, only to reappear 20 yards later. Thankfully there are a few well placed cairns along the way to help with navigation.

There is path there ... honestly !

Not the best angle to view Napes Needle but its up there

The Wasdale valley

The traverse path

Views over to Scafell Pike

Eventually the traverse joins the main path by the stretcher box at Sty Head. From here I took the main path up to Sprinkling Tarn before heading along to Seathwaite Fell. For a change, there were no tents around Sprinkling Tarn but there was plenty of evidence of previous camping activity, with discarded gas carts and litter pushed between rocks. Its a shame that a few mindless morons have to spoil the reputation of the majority of responsible wild campers. Sprinkling Tarn does unfortunately tend to attract these types though. I therefore filled up my litter bag and headed on, now with the extra burden of 'chav campers' garbage.

Sty Head

Styhead Tarn

The other side of Great Gable

Sprinkling Tarn

Great End : aptly named I always think

 Seathwaite Fell is a little gem of a hill, nestled between much higher neighbours but offering a great vantage point for admiring them.

The 2 Gables from Seathwaite Fell

Looking back down the Seathwaite valley

Seathwaite Fell panorama

 On the map there is no obvious path off Seathwaite Fell to the north, so I decided to follow a water course which was fairly steep and a bit precarious in places but I managed to pick my way down until eventually joining the main Sty Head path down to Stockley Bridge. Half an hour later I was back at the car and happy to have satisfied my 'fell fix' for the next few weeks.      

It was a steep descent !

The Styhead path

Stockley Bridge

A last look at Base Brown

Grains Gill and the way back to Seathwaite

 Kit List 

Total Pack Weight = 8.5kg (excluding water)

Bivvy Bag : Mountain Laurel Designs 'Superlight Bivvy' size large (silnylon) 190g Mat : Exped SynMat7 UL LW (595g) 
Groundsheet : Integral Designs solo ground sheet (140g)
Sleeping Bag : Rab Alpine 400 (970g) and Rab silk liner (132g)    

Stove : High Gear Blaze titanium stove (48g)  + Primus 100g Gas Cart    Pans : Evernew Solo-set (250g)
Rucksack : Osprey Talon 44 (1.18kg)

Fluid : 600ml Sigg bottle (100g empty), 1 litre Nalgene collapsible bottle (45g) + Sawyer Squeeze filter (84g)  Food : Fuizion chilli con carne, Buttered Bread, Supernoodles,various sugary snacks.

Bits & Bobs : headtorch and spare batteries, Iphone + Anker 5800mHh battery,  victorinox knife, map & compass, basic first aid kit and Petzl e-lite, spork, various fold dry bags, flint & steel, plastic trowel.   Camera : Panasonic DMC-LX7 & lowepro case.   Clothes : Ron Hill wicking T-Shirt, Rab 100 wt fleece (250g), Montane lightspeed jacket (160g), TNF Meridian Cargo Shorts (190g), ME beany, Rab phantom grip gloves, sunglasses, Buff, Innov8 short socks. Hard Shell = Mountain Equipment Firefox jacket (320g) not used.
Trail Shoes Meindl Respond GTX (820g pair)

Poles : Black Diamond Trail Compact (488g pair)
Tarp (not used) : Backpackinglight solo tarp (278g)

Kit Thoughts

The only thing I used for the first time was the MLD bivvy. This really is appropriately named as it is indeed 'superlight'. It is easily big enough to swallow the mat and sleeping bag with plenty of room left. The only issue I had was with a significant amount of condensation/dew on the outside and inside of the bivvy and as such my sleeping bag was damp. It was one of those nights though. No wind, about 10 degrees and a clear sky. Having camped in these conditions before, any shelter (tent flysheet or tarp) would have been soaking wet. As I didn't use a shelter, my bivvy was essentially the outer layer and therefore got wet. Talking to others on twitter about this I reckon that if I had pitched the tarp, it would have 'collected' most of this moisture and left me much drier. The alternative might have been to use a more 'industrial bivvy' like my Rab Ascent, which is an Event bag designed for stand-alone use but it does weight 600g. Any other thoughts about this would be appreciated though.