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|Scoat Fell partial pan >|
Date: 19 Feb 2005
Start / Finish: Nether Wasdale, by St. Michaels Church.
Maps: Explorer OL6: English Lakes South West.
|Day 1||Middle Fell, Seatallan & Haycock||7 miles / 3890 feet (11.3km / 1185m)|
|Day 2||Scoat Fell & Illgill Head||12 miles / 2910 feet (19.3km / 886m)|
A circuit of Wast Water mountains and hills, with an exploration of the little visited and lovely area around Scoat Tarn and Low Tarn.
Walking eastwards to the triangle road junction, a track branches NE through Mill Place and across the fields. At the first junction we forked R over a stile, and at the second junction, indicated by slates on the ground, we turned R to cross Scales Bridge. Turning L at the gate, the bridleway leads NE past Ashness How and N through Roan Wood to reach the Greendale road, where just past the houses to the R is the start of the path up Greendale. Climbing to the shoulder where Greendale Gill comes into view, a grassy path forks R to begin the climb to Middle Fell. At the summit there was a strong cold wind but the visibility was excellent, with a grand view E to the Scafells and W to the next objective, the elongated whaleback of Seatallan.
A good path descends the N ridge to the rather boggy col, conveniently part frozen, and continues as a faint path up the lower slopes opposite. We tackled the E face almost direct, which was very steep near the snow covered top and progress was slow today due to a recovering calf strain, though the angle could have been eased by slanting L. The terrain itself presented no difficulty and we finally gained the plateau and the summit trig point. The views were quite extensive but somewhat diminished in impact by the wide flat top.
Walking to the NE end of the plateau against the strong icy wind, a path descends the obvious natural line to the col where we detoured R to find a running streamlet to collect water. Resuming the climb, the thin path becomes intermittent as it approaches the cone of Haycock, but we aimed for the R side where the path reappeared and climbed steeply to a rocky knoll S of the summit, where we noted a possible standby pitch spot shielded from most of the wind. The bouldery true summit was a short climb beyond by the wall, where the mountains to the N came dramatically into view.
Descending towards the Scoat Fell col, we had intended to pitch somewhere on the ridge in the lee of the wall, but our recollection was flawed - this section of the wall was almost collapsed and offered hardly any shelter from the very strong wind. We reluctantly climbed back to the standby spot on Haycock, where a snowstorm suddenly hit us just after pitching the tent, whipping up plumes of spindrift against the dark misty clouds before passing just as quickly to leave a mainly clear sky.
There was a hard frost overnight and a sunrise over the Scafells, as we resumed the walk to Scoat Fell on the R of the ridge wall. Where the ground levels out just before the final climb, the best views are gained by crossing to the L side where Ennerdale is well seen down the broken gullies. Keeping near the edge, we arrived at a small cairn at the start of the Steeple path where a magnificent view of snow dusted mountains and cliffs unfolded (see partial pan and stills).
Climbing easily to the summit, it was then a rather awkward descent at first on snow covered rocks to easier ground and the Red Pike col. The main objective for today was the area around the tarns, and a thin path leaves the col descending towards the R of Scoat Tarn beneath the slopes of Red Pike. We found this surprisingly large when gaining its shore and the setting is excellent. Crossing the outflow, we aimed SE and climbed pathless but easy ground to a saddle on the skyline, where a small rocky knoll gave the first view of Low Tarn below. An easy descent brought us to the part frozen tarn, where the minor S top of Red Pike made a picturesque conical backdrop.
The outflow stream is Brimfull Beck, which we followed down on the R side and was a delight today, with water flowing around and beneath suspended ice formations, before tumbling down through a deep rocky cleft. There is a thin grassy path to follow and nearing the valley there is a great view of Yewbarrow and Dore Head. Just before the final drop the path veers R to follow a steep but easy parallel gully down to the main path from Dore Head. Crossing the footbridge, we descended to Overbeck Bridge and followed the road to Brackenclose.
A clear bridleway track ascends S round the outside of the wood and climbs steeply alongside a wall, with views of Burnmoor Tarn below. At the crest, a line can be seen ascending L to the centre of the ridge, but we took another path (not marked on the map) that follows the L of the wall on the edge of the screes. This slants up to the main top which gives great views northwards. The rest of the long ridge was very easy grassy walking, passing some attractive frozen tarns, the minor rise of Whin Rigg and the ravine of Greathall Gill. Joining the bridleway that emerges from the forest at 135022, it descends to enter the wood at a double gate, and is then signposted back to Nether Wasdale.