Scafell Pike and Scafell, Lake District, England.
Height 977 and 964 metres. Map – BMC Lake District.
Climbed - 22 September 2010. Time taken – 9.5 hours.
Distance – 19 kilometres. Ascent – 1600 metres.
Trip Report Details:
This was to be the longest and toughest of the three Lake District walks planned as it involved combining the ascents of Scafell and Scafell Pike. The alternative was a ninety mile round trip from our base in Keswick to climb Scafell on its own,
We drove to just north of Seathwaite Farm and, as others had done before, parked on the east verge before walking through the farm and up the east side of the River Derwent to Stockley Bridge. Once across the bridge we followed the path up the side of Styhead Gill and onto Styhead Tarn.
Just before Styhead Pass we headed across to Sprinkling Tarn where we encountered the first rain of the day. From this tarn there was a slight descent before the path climbed to Esk Hause where the showers became a bit more frequent.
At Esk Hause we had some views towards Esk Pike and Ill Crag before continuing our ascent of Scafell Pike. The cloud lowered as we left the path and climbed to the summit of Ill Crag where we had a brief view of the River Esk below. From Ill Crag we took a bearing for Broad Crag and crossed the Scafell Pike path before a slight climb onto this top. At the summit of Broad Crag we had lunch sheltering from the breeze with occasional cloud brakes to give a view of Scafell Pike.
After lunch we returned to the path followed by a slight drop to the col before climbing Scafell Pike’s north-east ridge, which was initially a bit narrow. This led to the summit where a number of folks were hanging around despite the inclement weather. We had already met several people including a few on their descent.
Visibility was pretty poor and a few paths led off the summit. It wasn’t possible to say which one we required so we took a bearing and followed it for a while before we came across a cairned path which descended to Mickledore Ridge and the mountain rescue post.
It was then a steep descent down scree to the point where we expected to locate the path for Fox’s Tarn. Visibility was poor and it had been raining steadily since we left Scafell Pike. We saw the gully with its stream but didn’t imagine it as an ascent route so satisfying ourselves we were at the correct location we took a bearing towards the Tarn and after working our way up some grassy rakes, initially on a faint path, round and over some rocks, we reached a large cairn at the top of the stream.
The next section of the walk involved following eroded paths to the summit of Scafell where it was wet and windy with poor visibility.
We returned to the cairn at the top of the stream where we met a group of walkers, possibly on a course, who were planning on camping lower in the valley. They were surprised that we had managed to navigate our way from Scafell Pike and pointed out the location of Fox’s Tarn which we still couldn’t see for the low cloud.
We decided to descend the stream gully, which was cairned at the top, and the group later followed us although we lost them in the low cloud. The path wasn’t particularly easy as it did involve a bit of scrambling over some large wet boulders and a few were quite slippery. If the burn was in spate I think our alternative ascent route would be better.
Once back at the foot of the gully we climbed Scafell Pike by the route used earlier that afternoon. Here we stopped for a quick snack before descending to the path at the head of Ruddy Gill. Instead of following the morning’s route we took the path down the east side of Ruddy Gill with all the streams now in spate. Fortunately there was a bridge lower down to facilitate our crossing which would have been impossible otherwise.
The rain had ceased by the time we reached Grains Gill and dusk was falling so we continued across Stockley Bridge and back to the start.
Photos taken on walk.