Lake District Weekend

22nd-24th September 2017

A small (but select) group of Ali, Tim, Chris and David assembled in the Derwent Independent Hostel in Borrowdale, 2.5 miles south of Keswick for the DHC expedition to the Lake District. The hostel is Barrow House, an elegant Georgian country house, with many original architectural features, and lovely views over Derwentwater. It was very comfortable and well worth a return visit.

A change in language was required for this trip with Tarns, Ghylls and Colls replacing Lochans, Burns and Bealachs.

On Saturday we decided to tackle Great Gable, via Brandreth and Green Gable, starting from Honister Pass (allowing us a starting height of 350m).

The plan was to go on to Sprinkling Tarn, and make for Glaramara, having previously placed a car at our intended finishing point of Seathwaite – which I remember from O level Geography as the place with the highest rainfall in England!

The route was a fairly steep climb up a damp grassy slope, and we were accompanied for the first 15 minutes by a Golden Labrador who had decided to leave her owner behind in the Honister Slate Mine. After they had been re-united, we continued our way upwards on to Brandreth with tantalising views of Green Gable and Great Gable (minus the summit which was shrouded in low cloud)

We continued our way along the ridge, and climbed Green Gable (801m) without difficulty, and then dropped down to the Windy Gap before climbing Great Gable (899m). Sadly there were no views of Pillar to the west, or the Scafell massif which was shrouded in low cloud. On the way back we heard on the news that there was a party of walkers that required assistance from the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team because they had overindulged in Cannabis when on the top of Scafell; perhaps it was smoke that was covering the summit, rather than low cloud?

We dropped down from Great Gable to Styhead Tarn, looking back to see if Nape’s Needle might appear out of the mist, but not on this trip; we then followed the path up to Sprinkling Tarn, and on to Esk Hause, before heading north towards Glaramara (783m).

Again the views were minimal, and it wasn’t until we were below 450m before were able to see the valley below. The descent was a combination of mossy grass and slippery rock, requiring significant and continued attention and even then we all had a few slips & slides, but fortunately no injuries were sustained (although our legs knew we had been on a strenuous outing). The last 2km took us the best part of 90 minutes, even though it was downhill!

The round trip was about 17km with 1200m ascent and took 7 hours (check details)

On Saturday evening we walked to the nearby Mary Mount hotel along a path that had been made at the edges of the fields alongside the road; this seems to be another example of an initiative to separate walkers and cars that I had come across in the Hawkshead area earlier this year. The meal and refreshments were very good and highly recommended.

Sunday dawned fair with views up the lake, and mountain tops clear! The objective for the day was Blencathra via Sharp Edge, a walk I had first done as a teenager in 1971! Parking the cars at Scales, we ascended to Scales Tarn via a generally well maintained track. The ascent of Sharp Edge is a Lake District classic route; less well known than Striding Edge or Jack’s Rake, it is probably slightly more difficult than these other 2 because of a rocky scramble towards the end.

The windy conditions meant we needed to give it our full attention, and we had been apprehensive about the underfoot conditions after our experience on Glaramara the day before; in the event the grip was fine, although there were times we wished for some Skye Gabbro for the extra purchase!

However we scrambled our way up to the end of the Edge, and then had a magnificent ridge walk to the actual summit (Hallsfell Top 868m), and then continued on to the western summit Knowe Crags 808m).

There were views in all directions; Cross Fell and the Pennines to the east; Helvellyn and Fairfield to the South; the Scafell massif and the Gables to the South West; Skiddaw (and Skiddaw House – the highest Hostel in Britain) to the West; and to the North the Caldbeck Fells – John Peel country (d’ye ken)?

The descent was uneventful, and we were back at the cars less than 4 hours after we had set off, allowing an early departure back to Scotland.

All in all a very enjoyable weekend, with satisfying walks, excellent company and some good views; and in spite of being in the Lake District, we didn’t see a single Lake – just lots of Meres, Tarns and Waters!

David, Tim, Ali & Chris

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