Scafell

I had originally intended to tackle Scafell when we went across to Wasdale for three days in mid-August, but the weather put paid to that idea.  And then a short holiday in France intervened, so it was October before we sallied forth, over Hardknott Pass and down to Wha House Farm (how do you pronounce that place?).  The weather turned out exactly the opposite of what was forecast by MWIS: a beautiful, sunny morning and early afternoon, but clouds and rain to follow.

Here are the pictures (click on any picture for a larger version):



Our start point on the road from Eskdale to Hardknott Pass, visible in the distance.
We kept on the western side of the Esk river all day, using this little road up to Taw House Farm.  I had just breathed a sigh of relief after leaving the "main" Eskdale road, which has a fair amount of traffic, when we had to squeeze ourselves into the hedge to allow not one, but two vehicles, to pass.  So much for quiet country roads...


Eskdale opening up before us.
Hard Knott, on the other side of the valley.


Underfoot conditions the whole day were really wet, not surprising considering the rain we have had.  This is Scale Gill, near valley level.
Looking down Scale Gill towards the valley.


Sophie coming back to tell me the news: there's our target for the day.  Scafell to the fore, Scafell Pike behind it, and Ill Crag in the distance.
Bowfell and Crinkle Crags across the other side of Eskdale.


The head of the valley when approaching Cam Spout Crag (on the far left): Esk Pike on the right, Ill Crag in the centre of the picture - not forgetting Scafell Pike on the left.


The waterfall down the side of Cam Spout Crag.  The path to Scafell is up the right hand side.
The path we were following is actually that suggested by AW to climb Scafell Pike from Eskdale, and now you can see why.  Our path is up, out of shot, to the left, but you can cut across to the right, either below or above Dow Crag.  I must say that, having up till now approached the Pike from either the north or west, this angle definitely seems more attractive - at least it appears as a mountain all by itself rather than as part of a ridge.  Something to look forward to!


Cam Spout Crag, from the bottom of the waterfall.
The force is with us...

It seems surprising that this waterfall does not seem to have a name; it deserves one!


Above the waterfall all is revealed: Scafell East Buttress looms above the dreaded Mickledore.  The Pike is out of sight up on the right.  You can see two figures (the only two we saw the whole day) on the path, descending from Mickledore.  Soon afterwards I met up with them, and asked where they were heading.  The answer was "Good question!".  They were intending to climb Scafell, but had missed the Foxes Tarn gully (which is not far from where they were at the time of the photo).  They hadn't enjoyed the Mickledore conditions one little bit, and after some deliberation chose to carry on down into Eskdale, at a cost of about 6 extra miles and then a taxi back to Wasdale, rather than struggle back up to Foxes Tarn.  I guess that is what this part of the world does to you sometimes...
Here is the gully they were looking for.

NB It's steeper than it looks...


The view across to the Crinkles from the entrance to the gully.
And here, on the left, is the path they should have followed down from Mickledore.


This was where I started thinking that the two on their way down to Eskdale had a point!  The gully is not only steep and rocky, but today it was slippery from running water, and I made heavy weather of it.  I blame the surfeit of French food we had consumed during our week over the Channel...
After the rock-fall in Lord's Rake, Foxes Tarn is now the only way up Scafell from Wasdale/Mickledore, and the path up from the tarn (down out of sight to the right) is now badly eroded and quite unpleasant underfoot.  You will note that the weather has closed in - we are looking north from near the top of Scafell to (promise!) Scafell Pike.  I didn't fancy hanging around in these conditions, so failed to inspect the famous crags to the north of the summit.


Obligatory picture, at the summit of Scafell.
A murky view across Eskdale to Crinkle Crags


To the south-west, a battle between the clouds and the sun.
Burnmoor Tarn bathed in sun, for a few seconds.


Looking back up at Scafell from near the top of Slight Side.
The top of Slight Side - not easy to reach, being part of a massive rock which necessitated some mild scrambling.  Obviously beneath Sophie's regard, since she didn't want to know.

That's Harter Fell in the distance.


Back again at valley level, Sophie posing after a job well done!


Only Blencathra left now!  If you would like to sponsor me and Sophie in our quest to walk all the Wainwrights for the Great North Air Ambulance Service, please click here - and thank you for your generosity!