Scafell Pike 978m above sea level (3209ft) was first ascended by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and….
ascended by a Shepherd’s Walk group on 18th July 2015.
The geography, or more accurately the geology, of Scafell being the highest mountain in England means that it is part of a huge massif. For those who seek to climb it, this means that a long day out is needed because it is remote and involves a long walk in and a long walk out.
The starting point for today’s walk was Seathwaite and the start is a gentle stroll along the valley of the River Derwent to Stockley Bridge. Here a crossing of the river, which is now Grains Gill, a source of the Derwent, allows access to Sty Head Tarn which is nestled on a bowl surrounded by Great Gable, Great End and Seathwaite Fell.
The weather was not great for this day out but it was also not going to prevent an attempt on Scafell Pike by the Corridor Route which is the most direct route to the summit from Sty Head. This route cuts across some dramatic gullies which provide a sporting character to the route. The first of these comes shortly after leaving the tarn and involves a scramble down to the gully floor and up the other side to a well trodden path that winds its way across and up the hillside.
The scenery in this part of the Lakes is dramatic, awesome and inspiring and it certainly provides a distraction from the long slog. Another distraction is the second gully crossing which is a bit more challenging because it means scrambling down a 15m rock wall which is made more entertaining because of the views of the valley below. The group tackled this calmly and steadily and for some it will remain a stand out part of the whole day!
It is comforting to reach the path again and what remains is a long slog to the summit. On this day the summit was covered in mist which obscured the fantastic views over the whole of the Lake District, out to the Isle of Man and into Scotland!! You will have to take it on trust and return…
So our objective had been achieved. Or at least half of it had been as we now needed to descend and get back safely. The descent took us over the ridge of Ill Crag and Broad Crag and a descent over very rocky ground to Esk Hause. This is a meeting point of several paths and is exposed to the elements. So it was no real surprise that at the time we arrived a vicious wind and rain storm blew in. So we simply turned our backs to it and headed to Sprinkling Tarn and then made our way down to Sty Head Tarn and then retraced our steps back to Seathwaite in typical Lake District summer rain.
The joys of the mountains.
On a personal note thank you to each and everyone of the group who were well prepared , well equipped and who had the determination to make this a truly great day out. I also have to, especially, thank Julie (and Martin) for tremendous support.
The route covered 11.3 miles, 1468m of ascent and took 5 hours 40 minutes with an extra hour or so for stoppages.
Best wishes to all.
The Hen Hole
The group met up at Hethpool Carpark the end of the public road and the start of the private road up College Valley. Mike had four car passes so after a little jiggling about we all set of for Mountholly (which is a private Youth Hostel). On getting out of the cars we could see rain coming up the valley so the sensible ones waterproofed up the others very quickly followed suit as it started to rain quite hard. Walking on a good track we had only managed 300m or so before the rain stopped.
Just after Seddum Sike we left the footpath and continued to walk very gently uphill alongside the side The College Burn. Turn a sharp corner we had our first look up the Henhole, from here the going became a lot harder. At some mysterious point Mike decided it was time to cross over the burn and walk up the east bank. No one fell in but it was close thing for one or two.
At first the going was not too bad but then had to climb round the first of a number of waterfalls. Fortunately the wind was on our backs and if not a help at least did not make the walk/dog scramble harder. Eventually we crested the last waterfall and could look back down the way we had come an unbelievable inspiring view as by now we were high enough to look over the border ridge across the Tweed Valley to the Southern Uplands. More importantly it was lunch stop 1.
After lunch we continued to follow the burn until it split in to three at this point we now climbed out of the Henhole up a very steep gully before reaching a point where it levelled off somewhat but we continued uphill to Auchope Cairn. Although very windy the views made the effort worth it. As it was so windy it was decided to descend to the refuge hut and have lunch stop 2 there. After a steep descent following the Pennine Way down off Auchope Cairn we arrived at the Refuge Hut and lunch stop 2.
After lunch we had an easy descent down Red Gribs back to the point we had left the footpath to head for the Henhole. Now an easy amble brought us back to the cars and after a careful drive down to the valley we reached the rest of the cars in the carpark.
A good day was had by all (even Mike enjoyed it). The weather after the initial down pour improved throughout the rest of the day so it was really pleasant to be out and about.
Ingram to Biddlestone
After varying degrees of navigational difficulty every one arrived at Biddlestone Chapel climbed on the bus and we set off for Ingram. At Ingram Mike took a quick detour to see how the Tea Shop was doing and then we set off on the walk proper.
From Ingram we followed a good farm track up over Wether Cairn and passing by Cochrane Pike. After lunch stop 1 the path descended down to Prendwick passing some wonderful named locations Gingling Cleugh and Bowl Holes. As we descended the track we were met by two horse riders coming up, one of the horses was very skittish and took a lot of urging to pass us by (Yes it was the horse and not the sight of us making it skittish, honest).
From Prendwick we continued along another farm track to Northfieldhead. Here we started the second of the days climbs. The effort of going uphill was distracted by a tractor driving backwards and cutting silage leaving strips of uncut grass between strips of cut grass. When he started to cut the uncut stips it was amazing that they were the exact width of the cutters to the inch (or 25.4mm). After this we joined Salters Road climbed Northfieldhead Hill. On the way Mike decided to take another little detour but only after lunch stop 2.
After crossing the road to Ewartly Shank, we continued along a grass track to Old Hizeltonrigg. The last climb of the day took us on a path heading for Singmoor on a ridge between Hazeltonrig Burn and Harden Burn. Eventually the path swung round to the head of the Harden Burn and as we Crested Bleakmoor Hill we could look across mid Coquetdale to the Simonsides.
A difficult descent down to Biddlestone (the track surface had suffered from recent rains and washed out of the track). From Biddlestone a short walk UPHILL took us back to Biddlestone Chapel and the end of the walk but not the day. Mike had the Keys to the chapel and opened up so we could see the inside of the chapel. Much to everyone’s amazement it was a totally unexpected delight to the eye.