3 of 5 – Scafell Pike

This is a quick write up of our microadventure up Scafell Pike during half term.

Getting there…

Having spent the weekend camping for a friend’s 40th near Llanthony Priory me and the boy Red headed to Abergavenny Sunday evening, did a spot of wild camping ready for an early train Monday morning.

Word searches and sudoku followed, Red Kite spotting, a change of train and then the mountains of The Lake District loomed; arriving in Windermere late afternoon.

No faffing we got some supplies and headed to Great Langdale campsite. Set up, I cooked as R played with the other kids; not quite as shy this time so he’s getting there. Scoffed food, went to the pub, came back and dived into bed ready for the morning.

I’d been enjoying that great British past time of checking the weather in the lead up. We were here for one thing only, we had one day to do it, it wasn’t looking good, fingers crossed!

The climb!

Time for it. The last of Great Britain’s highest peaks. We’d gone about them in reverse starting with Ben Nevis last summer whilst doing LEJOG; then Snowdon at Easter now Scafell Pike. The weather was now looking OK but with heavy showers in the afternoon, the summit in and out of cloud. It’ll do, kitted up we set off, with plenty of bacon rolls!

I’ll skip the words, keep it brief and go straight to the photos…

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The top, 978m up in the air, even though we started at about 100m above sea level there had been a fair bit of ups and downs from Rossett Pike to Esk Hause to the summit, all after the lovely glacial valley of Mickleden to begin. I offered to take a photo for a family, they returned the favour as we stood on the large stone platform at the top, but R was having none of it. I got a little cheeky one at the trig instead (see header photo).

Meh to the weather! We’d had a 10min hail shower nearing the top and that was it for the rest of the day. Cloud level was high. Views stunning with Scotland to the north, Wales (just) visible to the south and The Isle of Man to the west. Okay, I have to admit, I forgot about this island and told R it was Northern Ireland we could see with its highest peak Slieve Donard; DOH! Still, we’ll have some views of that another time, it’ll be the 5 of 5 Highest British Isle Peaks. But hold on, Snaefell on the Isle of Man, we’ll have to make it ‘of 6’!

Not Slieve Donard…

Lunch in the shelter of the top. Then the descent. We retraced our steps over the rock fields to Esk Hause then took the ridge to Esk Pike and Bow Fell.

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I have to say this ridge was probably more spectacular than the up with stunning views to the south, back to Scafell Pike and down Mickleden to the campsite. Every so often we’d hear the rush of a jet or two low level flying and spotting them in the distance. Then before Bow Fell the noise echoed up Mickleden; we watched as one lone jet rose up over Rossett Pike skimming the ground (well, almost) across Esk Hause not far away, before disappearing down Wasdale. A few minutes on Bow Fell soaking up the views with just one other person and we begun the final descent to the campsite.

What a wonderful day. But R admitted that one was the toughest of all 3 so far. The bare rock fields around the summit were hard going even for me. There were a couple of moments on the way up especially with the worry of a storm when sky darkened and the hail hit. 2 passing climbers gave R the extra encouragement and that was all that was needed.

To finish the day: food, more playing, more pub and to bed.

…getting back.

Rain! After a late start we pack and meander back slowly to Windermere off the beaten track that is the cycle route. Late afternoon train with 2 changes arriving back in Bristol at 20:00.

What next?

So 2 peaks left to conquer; Eire’s Carrauntoohil at 1038m and Northern Ireland’s Slieve Donard at 850m; plans are afoot, watch this space. Oh, and then there is the Isle of Man’s Snaefell at 621m; can we fit that in too?