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|Scafell Pike partial pan >|
Date: 17 Nov 2005
Start / Finish: Seathwaite.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 4 and 6: English Lakes North-West & South-West.
|Day 1||Lingmell & Great End||5.8 miles / 3310 feet (9.3km / 1008m)|
|Day 2||Scafell Pike & Allen Crags||4.6 miles / 1430 feet (7.4km / 435m)|
|Day 3||Glaramara & Rosthwaite Fell||5.5 miles / 950 feet (8.9km / 289m)|
A superb circuit in excellent conditions culminating at the roof of England, three days of unbroken sunshine, crystal clear visibility and virtually no wind. The outward line is via the corridor route and the return is via the excellent Allen Crags ridge.
This was the first really hard frost of the winter and, reluctantly, the first outing for the winter boots (still lighter than the summer boots of most walkers). There was still no snow, but the presence of frost and patches of ice on the rocky routes around Scafell Pike made these a wise choice, they are better at handling that. Crossing Stockley Bridge, we followed the direct line up the valley towards Styhead Tarn, with the cliffs of Lingmell prominent ahead. Despite being one of the most popular routes from Seathwaite, this was the first time we had followed it and we reached the tarn surprisingly quickly, which looked very dark in the early shadow of Great End.
The corridor route was mainly dry rock with the odd small patch of ice, even where it crosses the cleft of Skew Gill, but with the heavy packs there were a couple of slightly tricky icy bits where it rounds a rocky corner. Arriving at the top of Piers Gill, we turned right to the minor top of Middleboot Knotts, just achieving mountain status and giving a good overall view of the gill and Lingmell cliffs above. Following a ruined wall from the head of the gill, the summit of Lingmell is a short climb beyond. The second little rocky tor is a first class viewpoint for the mountains to the W and N, especially Great Gable.
Returning past Piers Gill and leaving the main path, we climbed to Round How and onwards alongside Greta Gill, collecting water near the top. Reaching the broad summit of Great End, the views were superbly clear and we pitched the tent in the sinking sun, which cast an orange light on the mountains. There was time for a walk around the plateau edge at leisure to soak up the views, in particular the precipitous gullies that look so impressive from the main path far below, and an overview of Sprinkling Tarn and the many smaller tarns of Seathwaite Fell. The frost was thickening fast and we retreated to the comfort of the tent as the sun set behind Scafell Pike.
Just before dawn we were at the eastern end of the summit awaiting the first rays of the sun, which appeared exactly over the distinctive shape of Ingleborough 38 miles away in Yorkshire. Setting off SW, the main path below Broad Crag occasionally crosses awkward boulder fields, which made progress slow on the slippery frosty rock, but the final climb to Scafell Pike was easy enough. For the first time we arrived at the summit to find it deserted and the views were outstanding. After lingering a while, we returned to the col and encountered the first of the steady stream of walkers that would be snaking up to the highest point in England.
To the N of the path is the chaotic pile of bouldery rubble that is Broad Crag, even more awkward to approach when the rocks are slippery. To the S, an easy walk leads to Ill Crag, which is a short easy climb to the top of the rocks and affords a grand view of Eskdale below. Retraversing the boulder fields to the Great End col and Calf Cove, we took a short detour to the small rocky rise of Coldkeld Knotts and rejoined the main path at Esk Hause. From the cross windshelter lower down, we made another brief detour to the head of Allencrags Gill to collect water and climbed to Allen Crags, a very familiar spot and great viewpoint.
The Allen Crags ridge is a delightful walk with many tarns to add interest, one of which is especially attractive beneath the low cliffs of High House Tarn Top. We pitched the tent near Lincombe Tarns well before sunset to allow time to explore the area in the fading orange light. The tent flysheet was still sporting a veneer of frost from the previous night. This was a superb spot, surrounded by the grand mountain shapes of Bow Fell, Great End, Great Gable and the distinctive Langdale Pikes across the frozen patterns of the pools. As they faded to silhouettes we returned from our exploration to find our packs were glistening with their own sparkly coating of frost.
Another hard frost heralded a clear dawn and we were out early to capture another colourful sunrise behind Pike of Stickle. The next summit is the small rise of Redbeck Top, then a further climb up a little rocky gully brought us to the tiny spring in the ice that yielded good water. A boulder marks the top of Looking Steads, bypassed by most on the ridge walk, which gives a fine view back to the higher mountains. At the two tops of Glaramara the view opens out to the N.
Descending the slopes northwards from the tarn between the summits, there is another set of lovely frozen tarns to explore around the next top Combe Head. There is a grand view from the edge of the cliffs, which we followed eastwards a short way then dropped down R to a thin path through a rake of rock and grass. This descends to Combe Door, where there is another tarn that makes a perfect foreground to the view northwards between the rocks.
From the tarn, the higher top on the L is the next summit, Combe Door Top. Picking our way down E, we joined a thin path that meanders along the ridge and passes close to the penultimate rocky summit of Dovenest top which lies to the L, where there are fine views of the North-Western fells and ahead to the imposing rock tower on the last summit Rosthwaite Fell. The path curves around to the base of the rocks, where an easy ascent can be found starting at the left edge and climbing around the back. Tarn at Leaves can be seen below to the NE.
Descending towards the tarn and before reaching the shore, a path heads W around the base of the slopes and slants down steeply NW to Combe Gill, which is easily forded on boulders. Joining the path on the far side, we turned R through the gate to the farm track that leads to the road. The Allerdale Ramble route leads directly back to Seathwaite.