20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite – Photo’s Added

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite

20110924-08_Top of Scafell Pike Summit Cairn by gary.haddenHurray, Yippee, Huzzar !!!

and… At last …

I’ve finally got around to editing and attaching my pic’s to my two  diary posts for my very wet Scafell walk … Sorry for the grainy and at times rather fuzzy-around-the-edges quality, but it was a pretty horrendous day weatherwise for photography or at least for most of the day. Sill the pic’s show it as it was !!!! … Rain, Mist, Poor light, 20110924-22_Styhead Gill backed by Great End by gary.haddenVery poor visibility at times, Swirling low cloud and eventually a very little sunshine peeking through.

Anyways up, if you want to read on please use these links to go straight to the diaries :-

The Ascent ….

The Descent ….

…. Or if you’d just like to just see my pic’s without the wordy bits, please go to my flickr set on this link or maybe use this link to go the set as a slide show.

Cheers, and  T.T.F.N.


20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 2 of 2 … The Descent

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 2 of 2 … The Descent

When : 24th September 2011

20110924-29_Me at Stockley Bridge by gary.haddenWho : Me and my sister Janet

Where : Wettest and Highest Places in England, Lake District, Cumbria, England

Distance : Full walk approx 14.9 km (9.2 miles)

Heights climbed : Full Walk approx 992m (3255 ft) and about the same down.

Car Parking : Limited parking at side of road at Seathwaite, Upper Borrowdale.

Summary : The main walk of three circular walks in the superb English Lake District, Starting and finishing at Seathwaite in Borrowdale.

  • Ascent (Previous diary entry) taking in Grains Gill, Stockley Bridge, Ruddy Gill, a skirt around Great End, Boulder fields to Broad Crag summit, Final rise to Scafell Pike.
  • Descent (This diary entry) From Scafell Pike, via drop towards Lingmell Col, The Corridor Route, Styhead Tarn, Styhead Gill, Taylor Gill Force and return via Stockley Bridge back to Seathwaite.

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

20110924_Skafell Pike Circular from Seathwaite in BorrowdaleThere was so much to write about on this walk, that I’ve decided to split it into two diary entries … The Ascent from Seathwaite (see other diary) and The Descent to Seathwaite (This diary), where we took the corridor route, but more of that later.

We’d had a very wet climb up to the summit, but once on top the rain eased, at least a little, and after finding the hidden treasure (see the first diary) we decided to have a spot of lunch and then take a few more photo’s. Despite the grey cloud and poor visibility these just HAD to be done … but unfortunately Janet’s camera had finally succumbed to the rain and had simply packed up and would only show a wishy-washy purple haze on its back screen – Not good, especially as it was virtually brand new! This just left my camera, which was fished out of its plastic bag from deep inside my rucksack and we posed for 20110924-09_Leaving Scafell Pike in the Mist by gary.haddeneach other by the side of the trig’ point which looks a little worse for wear. A gentleman kindly did the honours for us so that we could appear in the same photo’ at least once during the walk – It proves we both actually made it to the roof of England.

It didn’t take long for us to start feeling cold, and there was no sign of the clouds breaking up or lifting enough for any views, so we hoisted sacks on backs, took a compass bearing and set off over the barren rock strewn surface. There was a steady stream of people coming both up and going down …. not enough to call it busy, but nearly always someone within sight (or at least earshot) as we dropped steeply down the rugged fell side. As we dropped, the path, marked by regularly spaced cairns of varying sizes, became quite distinct … testament to the many thousands of footsteps that’d been up and down this way before. We spoke with a several people on their way up, most of whom had come up from Wasdale and were keen to know how much further they had to climb. After a while and quite a bit of descent someone said they’d come up via The Corridor Route (Used to 20110924-11_Descent from Scafell Pike in the Mist by gary.haddenbe called The Guides Route I think) which was of interest to us as they informed us the path is reasonably distinct and the parting of ways marked by a cairn; Very useful info’ especially in the mist.

As it happened, as we dropped further, the visibility did start to improve, marginally at first but a definite improvement. We could even see the shadowy bulk of some of the surrounding high fells, to my mind giving a sense of scale to the landscape previously lacking. The right hand branch of path was duly found without much difficulty and we turned off sort of northwards [before the Wasdale path took a big turn to the left heading towards Hollow Stones and Lingmell Gill]. We were now on The Corridor Route. The route on the map heads sort of generally NNE but in a series of wiggles winding its way through the craggy terrain. Trying to relate exactly where we were relative to the terrain wasn’t easy due to the lack of distinct reference points in the mist, 20110924-12_Fells appearing from the Mist - Corridor Route by gary.haddenbut occasionally the cloud would lift and swirl and give a glimpse of the surrounding fells – These were special moments, difficult to capture on camera in the gloomy conditions and with a damp lens, but emotionally quite uplifting, especially when patches of sunlight lit up little bits of fellside and valleys around us.

At one point, whilst approaching the top of one of the several ravines with a tumbling stream and waterfalls (between Criscliffe Knotts and Stand Crag), we could see a party of walkers trying to negotiate the required crossing. It was either particularly difficult or they were making a bit of a pigs ear of it. Maybe it was from our slightly elevated position, but we could see a nice line to follow in the crags above the stream. 20110924-13_Corridor Route_Waterfall-Ravine (Wet Lens-sorry) by gary.haddenOn the other hand, they had dropped into an area of scree, with a steep drop into the chasm below them (maybe chasm is a little over descriptive but I think I’m allowed some poetic license occasionally) and they were struggling to make the stream crossing and rise back up to the path. We must have looked consummate experts as we chose the higher line and traversed around the obstacle with no problems at-all, well maybe it looked more straightforward than it was, as there was an awkward drop to regain the path, which then promptly rose again over a little crag necessitating a mini-scramble where we passed the time of day with a gent’. The young man checked with us that he and his party were on The Corridor Path and then quizzed us about how long it’d take to reach the summit of Scafell Pike from where we were.

20110924-14_Surface Water - Corridor Route by gary.hadden

20110924-15_Corridor Route (wet lens-sorry) by gary.haddenAfter saying our farewells we moved off, only to hear the man shout after us … so, we stopped again, waiting for him and another younger man to join us. It turned out they were brothers, and the younger of the two was struggling somewhat, having picked up an injury of some kind – whatever he’d done, he wasn’t moving very well and we were asked if we could guide him down off the mountain to Seathwaite/Seatoller so allowing the rest of his party to press on to the top.  Well we were going that way, so after a little thought we agreed to “babysit” the young man down with us.

20110924-16_Lingmell Beck Valley + Wasdale Head from Corridor Route (wet lens) by gary.haddenThe next stage traversed the rugged fells on a reasonable path, winding its way downhill, crossing tumbling streams in places as we went. With our new guest walking with us our pace had slowed quite a lot now, but I don’t think that mattered too much because at least we were now pretty much below the cloud base and some views had started to open up around us. In fact it was quite atmospheric, especially looking down The Lingmell Beck valley to Wasdale Head and across the bowl at the head of the valley to the area of Sty Head where we were heading towards.

20110924-17_Sty Head from The Corridor Route by gary.haddenOur guest explained that on the outward route his party had dropped into the bowl, negotiated the wet boggy area in the bottom and then made the steep climb back up to reach The Corridor Route path somewhere near where we were now stood. It was this steep climb where he’d picked up his injury, curtailing his attempt on Scafell Pike. Maybe with a bit of better map reading he’d have been able to bag the peak to go with his only other two mountains he’d ever walked: Snowdon and Ben Nevis. You see, the path doesn’t actually go where they’d gone, no, it stays high to the east of the bowl and we took this route eventually rising northwards to meet a bridleway forming a T-Junction.

Turning right would have taken us up to Sprinkling Tarn an onwards to 20110924-18_Mountain Rescue Box - Sty Head by gary.haddenmeet our outward route at the head of Ruddy Gill under the flanks of Great End. This wasn’t our intention though. We turned left, heading west on relatively level ground passing a number of small pools before reaching a mountain rescue stretcher box with super views down over Sty Head Tarn to our right as we went.

The Stretcher Box area gives a number of route choices, South-West for a low level route down into Wasdale Head, West for a higher level route down to Wasdale Head; North-West for a very steep climb onto Great Gable; and NNE dropping down to the left hand bank of Styhead Tarn. This last route was what we needed, and we set off on the very obvious path but not before a bright yellow 20110924-19_Rescue Helicopter above Sty Head by gary.haddenR.A.F. Rescue Helicopter passed overhead, a patch of blue sky opening up above as if some higher power was smiling on the crew. In fact the still stormy looking clouds had started to break up now and we now started to dry out – I even took my over-trousers off thinking rain was now unlikely (wishful thinking maybe, but worth the risk). Our route passed very close to Styhead Tarn and then started the descent down the left hand bank of the cascading waters of Styhead Gill and then crossed the river to the opposite bank to continue on with a super view down into Borrowdale.

20110924-22_Styhead Gill backed by Great End by gary.hadden

20110924-24_Styhead Gill drop towards Seathwaite + Borrowdale by gary.hadden

20110924-27_Greenhow Knott (above Stockley Bridge) by gary.hadden

20110924-28_Stockley Bridge crossing Grains Gill by gary.haddenIt now felt like we were nearing the end of the walk, and I’ll admit to a degree of weariness, but at least I didn’t need to concentrate on my map reading now. The descent increased in gradient and we dropped on the decent path which bent to the right near Taylor Gill force as we reached the tree line. This was a pretty spot in the sunshine (and is easily accessible from Seathwaite if you just want a short walk) and probably deserved a stop to really appreciate its charm, but I think all three of us just wanted to be off the fell now and just continue down to reach Stockley Bridge where it crosses Grains Gill. If you’ve read my “ascent diary”, you’ll remember we’d crossed this bridge in heavy persistent rain and it was nice to be able to stop, take a few photo’s and actually appreciate the setting.

20110924-30_Grains Gill from Stockley Bridge (looking south) by gary.hadden

20110924-32_Grains Gill + path coming away from Stockley Bridge by gary.haddenIt was here that we now parted company with our guest walker. I’d got the impression he’d slowed somewhat and might appreciate now moving at his own pace and not feeling pressure to keep up with us anymore. I also thought our pace would probably start to pick up now we were in the valley bottom with the flat, good surfaced path stretching out in front of us and so we said our farewells, wishing him good-luck in meeting up with the rest his group we’d left earlier in the afternoon. All he wanted to do now was find a pub and sink a pint or three of lager … it seemed to have become somewhat of a one track thought 20110924-31_Sheep near Seathwaite Borrowdale by gary.haddenfor him on the way down … Each to his own I guess … We soon put some distance between us as he sat down on a rock for a rest. Looking back to where he was sat in the distance, the views back up the valley were so much better than in the morning; it’s incredible how quickly our weather can change really.

The final bit of the story is we soon reached Seathwaite farm to find “Jakes Snack Shack” still open and we joined a handful of fellow hill walkers by buying a very welcome mug of piping hot tea. Incredibly, there was a third story of injury – an older gent had slipped, banged his face on rocks and had a bloody nose that just wouldn’t stop bleeding. He suspected he might have broken his nose, but had been fit enough to get off the 20110924-34_Jakes Snack Shack - Seathwaite by gary.haddenmountains with his mates, albeit with two big wedges of tissues stuffed up his nostrils – not attractive, but effective. And that was basically that, a couple of hundred yards through the farm and down the road brought us to our car … a change of footwear and then the couple of miles drive down the valley to Borrowdale Youth Hostel.

Well, in summary, WHAT A DAY …. Certainly eventful and packed with drama :- Rain; Fog; Surface Water; Difficult Map Reading; More Rain and Fog; Mountain Rescue in action; Boulder Fields; More Rain and Fog; Reaching the highest point in England; Gaining an injured guest walker; Rescue Helicopter; The sun eventually appearing; Meeting another injured walker and a huge sense of achievement considering my semi-knackered knees and my consultant-surgeon’s recent comments about stopping walking!

That’s it !!! …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel very welcome, I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 1 of 2 … The Ascent

20110924_Scafell Pike Circular Walk from Seathwaite … Diary 1 of 2 … The Ascent

When : 24th September 2011

Who : Me and my sister Janet

Where : Wettest and Highest Places in England, Lake District, Cumbria, England

Distance : Full walk approx 14.9 km (9.2 miles)

Heights climbed : Full Walk approx 992m (3255 ft) and about the same down.

Car Parking : Limited parking at side of road at Seathwaite, Upper Borrowdale.

Summary : The main walk of three circular walks in the superb English Lake District, Starting and finishing at Seathwaite in Borrowdale.

  • Ascent (This diary entry) taking in Grains Gill, Stockley Bridge, Ruddy Gill, a skirt around Great End, Boulder fields to Broad Crag summit, Final rise to Scafell Pike.
  • Descent (Next diary entry) From Scafell Pike, via drop towards Lingmell Col, The Corridor Route, Styhead Tarn, Styhead Gill, Taylor Gill Force and return via Stockley Bridge back to Seathwaite.

If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream. Sorry there aren’t so many with this diary – If you read on, all will become apparent.

20110924_Skafell Pike Circular from Seathwaite in Borrowdale

20110924-08_Top of Scafell Pike Summit Cairn by gary.haddenI’ve found this diary entry extremely difficult to compose, not that the route description is really any more difficult than any other walks I’ve written up … No, I think it’s been more of an emotional block: Somehow this walk just seemed so much more personal in terms of my semi knackered knees and because a surgeon had just told me just a couple of days before to just “Stop Walking” to preserve what cartilage I’ve got left. So, this felt like it might be the last big walk up a mountain I might ever have a go at. Therefore, because the walk was to be to the highest place in England and the fact I’d never been up there before, sort of added a poignancy I’d not normally associate with a walk. With this background, I hope the following description lives up to my billing.

Well, this was the main event of the long weekend, and we’d readied virtually everything the evening before (including packed lunches tucked away in the fridge) to get an early start, all we needed was to make up flasks with hot drinks and sit down to the excellent hostel breakfast.

The reason for the early start was three-fold really.

  • The weather wasn’t forecast to be very good all day, so we figured it would be better to have the maximum amount of time available whilst out on the fells, especially as neither of us had walked the route before.
  • As neither of us had been to England’s highest peak before, we wanted to give maximum time to appreciate the mountain’s charms, on the off-chance the weather decided to be kind to us after all.
  • And, probably the main reason, we’d been told the parking at Seathwaite is limited and very popular, and we didn’t want to arrive there, only to find ourselves having to drive back to Seatoller (over a mile away at the head of Borrowdale) or even worse, all the way back to the hostel (at Longthwaite) about two miles away – This would have added another 4 miles to the walk which we felt we didn’t want to do.

20110924-01_Seathwaite near  Seatoller - Borrowdale by gary.hadden

Everything started off exactly to plan, including the weather unfortunately, which was living up to the forecast (persistent rain and very low, claustrophobic cloud). We drove the couple of miles up the valley, turning left at Seatoller en-route, to take the minor road up to the “dead-end” at Seathwaite, which is little more than a large farm. After finding a parking space with relative ease (on the narrow verge, at an angle to the dry stone wall, pulling in as close as possible so the back end didn’t protrude too far), we donned full waterproofs before setting off towards the farm buildings … the reputation of this being the wettest place in England was eminently believable as beyond the stone buildings very little of the fells were visible – even at this low elevation.

It didn’t take long to realise photo opportunities were going to be limited, and despite having a good degree of weather-resistance on my camera body, I decided to hide it away in the bowels of my rucksack and so protect it from the rain. Janet on the other hand kept hers in a belt pouch with it’s own water-proof elasticated jacket. It’s not often I start a walk completely kitted out in waterproofs including hood up over my head and over-trousers on my legs, but it was absolutely essential today – URGHH !

After passing through the farm, the path away from Seathwaite is easy, on a wide track, which as we traveled south narrowed somewhat but still comfortable enough to fit two people walking side-by-side. The path runs parallel to Grains Gill tumbling over it’s rocky river bed just a few feet to the right, but after about 3/4 mile the path takes a right turn to cross the stream by means of the charming Stockley Bridge. This small single arched, attractive stone bridge spans the stream where it drops over some large rocks in a series of small cascades, narrowing into a single channel as it passes under the bridge. This is a very pretty spot when the sun shines – But it wasn’t at its most photogenic when we crossed over due the weather – So, I didn’t bother extracting my camera from its protective ruck-sack cocoon.

The path then rises away from the bridge to reach and then pass through a wall via a large gate and then immediately splits into two directions. The most obvious route heads straight ahead up the fell-side – but that wasn’t the one we needed. No, we needed to turn left to pick up the path directly to the side of the wall, at first on an easy gradient, but soon steepening under the craggy eastern slopes of Seathwaite Fell. Across the other side of the rugged valley the fells rise up over Hind Side to Glaramara, not that we could see much of the mountain though because of the low cloud base. The path lead us over numerous rills and gills streaming down the fells and at times the path itself was more akin to a stream than a path. At one point we re-crossed the main gill (although at this point its name is now Ruddy Gill) and the going steepens considerably to rise up the head of the valley.

I wouldn’t like to speak for Janet, but my legs soon felt a little heavy, the exertions of the walk over Robinson and Hindscarth the day before lingering in the muscles. We were now merging into the cloud base where the visibility soon worsened, the breeze picked up and the temperature dropped quite considerably. Despite wearing waterproofs we were slowly becoming saturated – I don’t know if I was completely dripping wet by now, but I’m sure I was well on the way. The top of Ruddy Gill is in a ravine, which I remember from many years ago is quite stunning, but today I hardly noticed it as we slogged onwards, two very fit looking gent’s passing us on their way up the same path.

From the limited distance we could see ahead of us, it was now obvious that my map reading and compass skills were going to be properly tested (I don’t own a GPS system, and my mobile phone is, ermm, shall we say slightly dated and doesn’t have global positioning and the like, so it was down to doing it the old fashioned way – I don’t know if it showed but it felt quite daunting, probably because it was some time since I’d HAD to use these skills as opposed to playing with bearings during good weather. There’s no comparison really!

The path had now brought us to an area now a little more level, and I was looking out for a major path crossing left to right ahead of us (designated a bridleway on my OS map). This is a major mountain route between Langdale (to the east) and Wasdale Head (to the west) and should have been quite easy to find. In the end, it did appear and I was quite happy to have something to get my bearings on. Straight ahead is the massive blunt craggy lump of Great End, which had we had any visibility at-all would have risen up like a huge wall in front of us – As it happened we had to imagine what it might look like, as it was just swallowed up in the cloud and mists.

The two guys who’d passed us earlier on the rise past Ruddy Gill, turned right heading over towards Sprinkling Tarn and they soon disappeared from sight. Our route was in the opposite direction, to make a big loop around to the east of Great End and we turned left to rise up on a relatively gentle gradient. I knew I had to pick up a path branching off on the right (a faint dotted line on the map) and as it happened we found it without any difficulty although I was constantly checking map/compass/ground to keep my confidence in the route we were on – Not easy when my varifocal glasses and map case were covered in rain. Focusing on the map was becoming quite difficult in the wet and the gloom. This little section was not due to last long before meeting with various other routes, all crossing at a spot called Esk Hause. Getting the right path here was important! …. I really didn’t want to end up on Esk Pike or dropping down into Eskdale. Our route was to turn a quite sharp right, westwards, rising into Calf Cove. As it happened, there were a series of cairns that helped with the route finding.

20110924-02_Boulder Field nr Great End in the Mist by gary.hadden

Visibility was really quite poor now, easily down to less than a hundred yards and this difficulty was compounded by a boulder field making walking in its own right awkward. I think the sentiments “what on earth are we doing this for” and “we must be stark raving bonkers” were certainly thought and probably said out loud at least a couple of times. It really was a bit of a slog, especially with no views to distract from the climb. Although not the most salubrious of spots, we found a hollow in amongst the rocks to take a mini-lunch-stop. We could hear the muted, deadened, sounds of a party of fellow nut-cases (I mean walking enthusiasts) coming up behind us long before we could see them; the distinctive and familiar chinking of the rocks under foot first and then their voices marking their direction before they loomed out of the hill fog …. My camera got a brief airing as I felt their shadowy figures coming out of the mists could be quite evocative. As I’d got it in hand I snapped a couple of my sister at the same time (not easy in wet gloves!), wiped it down with a damp handkerchief and then buried it away in my sack again.

20110924-03_Very Wet near Great End by gary.hadden

Janet’s camera was now pretty damp, its over jacket had been pretty ineffective and the belt zip-up pouch was more akin to a water trap, with a small puddle filling up in the bottom – Ermmmm, water + electronics + cold = not a good formula, but her camera seemed OK as she too, took a few snaps. It didn’t take long for us to start to feel the chill of the conditions, so we packed flasks and food away and set off again in the footsteps of the people who’d just passed us, although they’d soon disappeared from sight, so we were now all on our own again.

The path here had turned more to the south as it crosses a sort of saddle between Great End and the tops of Broad Crag and Ill Crag. The line of cairns were still being very helpful but as we entered another boulder field (worse under foot than the earlier one) it felt to me that they were heading too far south heading out onto Ill Crag. A compass bearing disagreed with my feelings when compared to the green line I could make out on the map. We continued on the bearing anyway, but as I re-checked a short distance further on a figure loomed out of the mist above and to the right of us on what looked like a ridge line and then his collie dog (in a yellow bib jacket) appeared making the boulders look very easy as it busied itself as dogs do … I guess four legs are better than two!

The appearance of this gent seemed to correspond to my feeling that we needed to bear more to the right, so we clambered over to where he’d been stood (he’d now disappeared) with the idea of comparing notes as to where we were exactly along our route. Distance covered is somewhat hard to judge in mist and over difficult terrain and I felt a second opinion probably wasn’t a bad idea. It subsequently transpired the gent along with a several other people were members of the local mountain rescue team and they were in the middle of a full blown response to an emergency call-out. It took a few minutes before the gent’ could speak with us and confirmed we were now almost at the summit of Broad Crag …. If we’d stayed on my bearing we’d have been pretty much dead on track. As it now happened we were now a short distance off to the right of route … but as we were there, we took the opportunity to rise to the very  top crag of Broad Crag – We can now say we’ve been to the summit of Broad Crag (not that we’d planned it that way!).

Our slow descent over the boulders brought us back to the rescue as they started to  walk the rescue-ees off of the mountain. As we moved off again, we chatted to a couple of the rescue team who couldn’t conceal their annoyance at being called out – It turned out the small group of people had been attempting the national 3-peaks 24-hour challenge (Snowdon in Wales, Skafell Pike in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland) and they’d got lost, picked up a bit of an injury and then called for help giving their location as being on Scafell Pike as per a GPS bearing/map reference. You’ll have gathered they weren’t on Skafell Pike at all and it was by describing their surroundings that the rescue team worked out where they were and found them tired and cold but generally in a state fit to walk. I think the main annoyance was three fold … 1) They’d given a GPS bearing incorrectly – I think the words were, if you buy the thing, learn how it works, 2) If you’re fit enough to walk, don’t stay on top of an exposed mountain top, and 3) a little more jokey, they were missing an important rugby match on the TV.

Anyway, enough of that, we all descended over the boulders to a saddle beneath Dropping Crag. The steep valley of Little Narrowcove drops off steeply south-eastwards and to the north-west the similar valley of Piers Gill drops away. It was the path towards Piers Gill that the rescue team set off down and we said our farewells and thanks for their input to our route finding.  Our route was now uphill again on the final ascent to Scafell Pike – Our destination was now almost within reach.

20110924-06_At top of Scafell Pike - Wonderful View (sarcastically said) by gary.hadden

Although quite steep there were no real difficulties as we followed a new line of cairns up the rocky barren surface. For the first time in the walk there were a few more walkers about; I wouldn’t say it was heaving with people, but enough to evidence how understandably popular the mountain is – however bad the weather might be! Although still cloudy and damp, the rain wasn’t anywhere near as heavy as earlier in the day and we milled about a little with the other summit baggers. My camera came out again (and as it happens didn’t go back into the sack again for the rest of the day) and a few pictures were taken – I just had to have one or two with me atop the massive summit cairn – quite a construction given where it is! … They all came out a bit grainy and damp and grey and gloomy, but hey, that’s really what it was like, not your classic clear mountain air, deep blue skies with fluffy white clouds giving sharp details for miles and miles and miles … this was Lakeland reality at its most real !

20110924-04_Scafell Pike Summit - Message Retrieval by gary.haddenNow, here’s a little twist to our story; One of Janet’s friends, who I also know through the Midland Hill Walkers [walking club] had been up here just over a month before, and knowing we were planning this little jaunt, she’d placed some “treasure” in a small sealed plastic bag and hidden it in a crevice in the summit cairn near to a metal memorial plaque. Jenny had told Jan’ where it was, and it didn’t take much searching before it was found and opened, the note inside quickly becoming wet in the damp, but still readable if we were quick ….. Brought a smile to our faces …. The text read :-

“Hi Jan, If you find your treasure it will be a miracle, so if you are reading this well done. Hope you have enjoyed the hike and are enjoying amazing views and have blue skies above you. Perhaps one day we will stand at the top together! Take care on the way down and I will see you soon. Love Jen xxxx.”

20110924-05_At top of Scafell Pike - Wonderful View (sarcastically said) by gary.haddenWell yes I guess we did enjoy the walk up [in a kind of masochistic way] and no, we weren’t enjoying amazing views [unless being able see to just past a couple of cairns in the mist is considered a view] and no definitely not, we didn’t have blue skies above us! As for Janet and Jen standing at the top together, only time will tell on that one.

Well, I’m going to stop this diary entry now …. and continue on a new diary to describe the descent …. which will include more pictures, albeit a bit watery around the edges!!!!

…. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20110923-25_Lake District Long Weekend – An Overview

20110923-25_Lake District Long Weekend – An Overview

When : 23rd to 25th September 2011

20110924-29_Me at Stockley Bridge by gary.haddenWho : Me and my sister Janet

Where : Based in Borrowdale, Lake District, Cumbria, England

Total week-end walks distance : Approx 34 km (21 miles)

Total significant heights climbed : Approx 2,300 m (7,560 ft)

Summary : Our annual trip to the superb English Lakes, simply, to walk up some mountains.

Click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream … or, go to my flickr photo’s to see them all in one go.

Robinson walk on Flickr + Scafell Walk on Flickr + Haystacks walk on Flickr

The week-end trip had been planned for some time, with a room booked at Borrowdale Youth Hostel at Longthwaite + Rosthwaite, in the lovely upper reaches of the Borrowdale Valley south of Keswick and Derwentwater. This would be the 4th year on-the-trot we’d organised a Lake District trip and the second time in as many years we’d based ourselves in the Borrowdale area.

The plan was, hopefully, to use one of the days to climb Scafell Pike, the highest place in England and because we had several hours of driving on both the Friday and Sunday, this only realistically left Saturday to attempt the walk. We just hoped the weather would be kind to us … especially as we were staying in the wettest place in England!

20110924-06_At top of Scafell Pike - Wonderful View (sarcastically said) by gary.haddenThe other two days of walking would be organised sort of in an on-the-hoof / ad-hock basis, depending on the weather and ;

  • on the Friday on how long it would take to drive up from The Midlands, and
  • on the Sunday on how fit we felt after the first two days of walking.

20110923_Robinson + Hindscarth Circular Walk from Little Town - Newlands ValleyThe other snippet of back-ground that adds a certain meaning to the week-end, is that I’ve put-up with a pair of dodgy knees for many years and which, in recent years, had started to play-up more and were certainly taking longer to recover after any harder walks. Well, after about a year of seeing GPs; Having physio’; X-rays and MRI scans I had eventually gotten to see an orthopedic consultant surgeon on the day before we traveled :- His advice was to Stop Walking; Not do anything that will keep knees flexing (like Cycling and Gym work); take up swimming, but not breast stroke …. and so effectively become sedentary! Although he didn’t actually say that last word. To say this was depressing would be an understatement!

201108I know I have never been the best sportsman in the world, or the strongest mountain climber, but I enjoy physical activity. Over the years I’ve done Basketball, Race Walking (where all my knee problems began), Cricket (bowler rather than batsman), Tennis and of course Hill Walking.  Of all the things I’ve done or tried, it’s the Hill Walking that’s become a passion! It’s the one thing that keeps my well-being well. No, it’s more than that, it’s what keeps me, me … I just love getting out into the countryside and if I don’t get out there at least every now and then, then I suffer. So the consultant’s words were almost like a shot to the heart! All I wanted to do was cry!
20110925_Haystacks Circular Walk via Warnscale Bottom from Gatesgarth near ButtermereSo, this week-end felt that it could be the last time of getting out into the mountains that I love, or anywhere else for that matter. Probably overly pessimistic, but the consultant was unnervingly stringent in saying the walking had to stop, but what he did do was refer me on for surgery to clean up all the torn cartilage in my knees and any other work that might help improve things. I resolved therefore to make the very most of the week-end and get in some good mountain tops, including Skafell Pike as I’d never been to the very top of England before!

And there you have it …. that’s the back-ground over-view to this long week-end.

Oh, and the way the week-end panned out as 3x really good walks =

20110923-23_Scope End to Newlands Valley + Cat Bells etc by gary.hadden

20110924-14_Surface Water - Corridor Route by gary.hadden

20110925-11_Old Quarry Hut Bothy_Above Warnscale Bottom by gary.hadden

Individual walks diaries now added … hope you enjoy.

…. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

PS. I’ve now had the key hole surgery on both knees (last week-early Dec 2011) and currently hobbling about the house with two elasticized tube-y-grip bandages trying to squash the residual fluid out of the joints. A ¾ of a mile stroll on the flat from the local village of Bilton to home seemed a huge success on Friday evening!

20090912-31_Me on Striding Edge

Originally uploaded by gary.hadden


Rather than copy lots of pic’s of striding edge in my main diary post (Helvellyn Circular walk from Patterdale) … Please use this link to see a set a photo’s starting from near “Hole in the Wall” and finally looking back from Helvellyn Summit.

Hope you enjoy the pic’s as much as I did walking across the most famous ridge walk in England.


20090911-17_Across to Helvellyn from nr Angletarn Pikes

Originally uploaded by gary.hadden
This was just one of the fantastic views we got on our High Street circular walk (starting and finishing near Brothers Water south of Patterdale/north of Kirkstone Pass). This was taken from near Angletarn Pikes not long after leaving Boredale Hause and the picture shows some of the walk across Striding Edge to Helvellyn that we were do the next day. Both walks were absolutely brilliant.


To see more pic’s please see the diary post with an account of the walk or go to my flickr postings for a slide show of my just photo’s.

TTFN. Gary.

20090913_Ullswater Lakeside Walk – Patterdale to How town + Ferry

20090913_Ullswater – Lakeside Walk – Patterdale to Howtown + Ferry

When : 13th September 2009

Who : Me and my sister Janet

Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England

Map : OS Outdoor Leisure Map No.5 – The English Lakes – North East

Start + End Point : 389,156

Approx Distance : 6.2 miles, (10 km)

Approx Heights :  1120/1140 ft (340/350 m) both up and down, but spread over several ups and downs.

Parking : We used Patterdale Youth Hostel’s residents only car park, as that is where we were staying. Otherwise parking is very limited. Alternatively lots more parking can be found at Glenridding just over a mile further down the valley (this would just need a small change to the start of the walk).

Summary : A fairly short, low level walk, following the eastern shoreline of Ullswater from Patterdale village to Howtown via Silver Point and Sandwick, Then taking the Ullswater Steamer (Ferry) back up the lake to Glenridding village, and then the final walk back to Patterdale. 


I’ve done this walk several times now, in both directions and normally in inclement weather, but I never really tire of it. After the exertions of the previous two high level walks (High Street and Helvellyn via Striding Edge) and coupled with the fact we were to drive home during the afternoon we decided that an easier day was probably in order and I also figured it’d be nice to do this walk with the sun shining rather than as just a low level, bad weather route. 

I would have preferred to take the steamer from Glenridding to Howtown and then walk back along the shore-line, but the timings for the first sailing would have meant a fairly late finish to the walk which would in turn have meant a late return home down the M6 which we didn’t want. So, we chose to set off fairly early hoping to pick up one of the first sailings coming back up the lake from Howtown … just adding a little pressure to the walk timings. 

It was another absolutely gorgeous morning, with blue skies; no significant cloud cover; crystal clear sharp views of the high fells all around us highlighted by some wispy clouds hanging around the tops and some ethereal mists hanging over Ullswater. Despite some tiredness in our legs, from the day before, we set off with a spring in our steps. Leaving the car in the YHA car park we started off heading north on the A592 but after only a couple of hundred yards we turned right on a track immediately crossing a bridge over Goldrill Beck to reach a small group of houses at Rooking at the foot of Patterdale Common. There are several path possibilities from here, and our route was to turn north on a bridle track staying low on a farm track and we soon reached and passed Side Farm, ignoring a couple of side paths as we went. The path then rose a little, above and set back from the shoreline of Ullswater, as we came level with it’s southern edge. The farmland here doubles up as a camp site, and what a place to awake to …. the views across the head of the lake to the Helvellyn range of mountains were stunning! … In a way it was a shame the mists over the lake had completely dissipated by the time we’d got here, but the reflections in the almost mirror like lake were superb. The mix of high fells, wooded lower slopes and valleys, lakeland buildings, yachts, and the red funneled Ullswater Steamers was simply irresistible and our cameras soon saw the light of day again as we tried to capture the scene.



The track gave way to a well worn path undulating through the bracken clad hill side (the lower slopes of Place Fell), woods and craggy outcrops. The aspect across the lake remained undiminished (my personal favourite of the big lakes) but was soon to be spoilt (well just a little!) by the first motor boat of the day. We were passing a quiet bay, when the craft sped past, deliberately making a sweeping curve into the bay and back out again, its wake trailing behind like a huge sinuous snake. I’m sure the pilot of the little speedboat was thoroughly enjoying himself. The boat disappeared down the lake leaving the spreading wake to break up the reflections. The near perfect mirror images never really fully recovered from that point on, but that’s just a minor gripe as the views remained brilliant.



At one point we made a short detour out onto a small rocky peninsula thinking we’d have the place all to ourselves, only to find a local semi-professional photographer already finished for the day, packing up his tripod and other kit, he must have been up and about at the crack of dawn in search of the perfect shot! It turns out he’d been commissioned by the local tourist board to take some summer-time images of The Lake District, but such was the terrible weather all summer long that it was now September and he’d not completed his assignment – He told us that the previous two days and this morning had been by far the best 3-days in a row all summer and as such he was having to be really selective in his shots to give an impression of summer rather than the early autumn that the colours all around indicated. 

After our brief chat, we set off again, taking a dog-leg to the right, to skirt around Silver Crag and into another area of woodland. Although quite easy, the path does have its ups and downs requiring a little effort but nothing compared to our previous two days on the tops. After skirting around Low Birk Fell and passing Scalehow Wood the path reaches and crosses Scalehow Beck by means of a wooden footbridge; the beck cascading down from the heights of Place Fell above us. I once saw a red squirrel hereabouts many years ago whilst walking on my own, but the honour of this was to elude us this time. Soon after leaving the bridge we were joined by a stone wall which the path followed down to the small settlement of Sandwick [at the dead end of a minor road that comes along the lake from Pooley Bridge]. A large rock by the side of Sandwick Beck afforded a good place for a refreshment stop.  

Our route then dropped down the road passing the small group of buildings, to pick up the path again, crossing the beck and then across some soft pastureland and then entering Hallinhag Wood. The path undulates through the woods at the foot of Hallin Fell, at times being almost at shore level, at others climbing to give raised vistas across the lake, most notably at Kailpot Crag and Geordies Crag. The latter giving a view up the northern reaches of Ullswater towards Pooley Bridge.



The landscape softens considerably along this length of Ullswater, the mountains giving way to lower hills. By now the blue skies had clouded in quite considerably, in fact looking quite threatening – perhaps we were we going get wet right at the end of our weekend after all – but it did add a degree of drama to the scene. The final section headed under Hallin Fell towards the settlement of Howtown, down the side of Howtown Wyke, a sheltered bay where the steamer stops off between Pooley Bridge in the north and Glenridding in the south. The path here is very well defined – I reckon almost everyone who gets off the ferry probably walks this way. As we made our way along here we could see the steamer approaching from the north … We really didn’t want to miss getting on this sailing so picked up the pace … but the boat moves really quite quickly and it was making headway into the bay too quickly! … we picked up our pace some more.  We were on the last flat bit of path within sight of the disembarking passengers onto the landing stage/pier – Our pace was almost a run – Were we going to make it before it set sail ? – I bet you’re on tenter-hooks…well we did make it, but only just! We found a seat towards the back of the boat and it promptly set off. 

Wow, what a dash, but we now had some time to recuperate, all we had to do was enjoy the sailing back up the lake looking across at the shore we’d just walked along and the fells behind which until now we hadn’t been able to see. I particularly liked the views over Sandwick Bay, the vibrant green grassy fields set off by the fells and woods all around.

The lakeside path was clearly visible at times with numerous people enjoying the charms we’d enjoyed all morning. The sailing had us back to the landings in Glenridding  in quick time which just left us the mile alongside the A592 back to Patterdale and the car for our drive home … and it hadn’t rained after all !


As I pulled away, despite the car seemingly running fine, a horrible noise, like a loud warning beep, kept sounding intermittently. I tried turning off, started up again, looked through the operating manual, turned things on, pulled away, stopped, began to get worried … and then eventually found the “fault” …. it was the radio telling us it couldn’t pick up a good signal (because of the surrounding mountains I suppose). Grrrrr, I felt a right fool, but at least the car was working OK and we were soon climbing the fantastic Kirkstone Pass Road. We couldn’t resist pulling into the car park at the top of the pass just to finish off a little lunch but mainly to take in a few extra final views of the surrounding mountains.

Another super day – Good weather, superb views and the end of another successful trip, reinforcing my view that this is one of my fave places in the country … No!, I’ll stick my neck out – THE fave place in the country – I just love it up here in The English Lake District!!!

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next post = Probably …. 20091115_Llyn Celyn to Pentrefoelas A-Walk