Weather: Light winds from south - south westerly direction; first evening humid and low visibility above ca. 400m; second day slightly fresher very low visibility start followed by clearing skies & a glorious day by lunch time.
Where: Lake District
Distance: Approx 11miles & 4,540 feet of ascent (apologies but the top two maps are the first leg & last leg; the middle middle leg is underneath - "blogger" just doesn't seem to want me to put them in the right order!!)
Its ages since my last big outing in the fells, this one could have been done in a day but our daughter is staying with us at the moment so the opportunity for an overnighter presented itself - it was gratefully accepted.
Leaving Seathwaite at about 16:30 on Thursday afternoon it was humid, 18degC on the car thermometer, the higher summits were shrouded in low cloud and the breeze was almost non-existent. The early steps were very familiar: through the farm; on to Stockley Bridge; cross the gill; over the bridge on Ruddy Gill & up the extensively repaired path. In the upper reaches of Ruddy Gill the cloud base discernibly dropped enveloping me and producing a muted quality to the entire environment, this is how the world presented itself for some time. At the head of the gill it was a right turn, Sprinkling Tarn couldn't be seen at anything more than about 20m range, descending now it was a left turn on to the so called "Corridor Route" (I believe it was once called the Guides Route). There were no big views just a damp gloom all the way to the point at which I peeled off from the Corridor Route at Round How to find a camp site for the night.
It was still well "clagged in" when the tent was pitched. Evening meal was Chicken Casserole & Chocolate Pudding (both Wayfarer's) washed down with green ginger tea made with water from Greta Gill. Then at about 21:00, as if by magic, the cloud lifted to provide some stunning late evening views.
After consuming a "wee dram" I was asleep before ten o'clock and slept like a log through until around seven. It was a great encouragement to look out the front of the tent and see the sun shining on Lingmell.
Unfortunately the sun didn't last for long and by the time I had finished breakfast (porridge) the mist had once again descended. I had contemplated going deep into the bowl of Round How and ascending the gill to gain the summit ridge, however, the lack of visibility helped me to the conclusion that to continue on the Corridor Route might be a better option which I did as far as Piers Gill. Ascending the gill brought some relief from trudging along the path and provided the best walking of the trip so far, the damp of the cloud gave way to a fine soaking drizzle at this point and full waterproofs became necessary. Emerging on to the summit ridge very little could be seen and after a right turn the rocky path shortly gave way to an ascent over the boulder field and past a line of cairns which eventually led to England's highest point at 978m (3,209 feet). Rarely, I had the place all to myself - it was only about half past nine - after peering into the murk and snapping a couple of photos it was time to descend, stopping briefly to exchange pleasantries with three fell runners who were somewhat displeased that I had beaten them to the top!
Now was decision time, optimum route choice was to follow the ridge all the way back along to Great End, alternative was to drop down out of the cloud and be able to enjoy some of the views that are a such motivation for this activity. At Little Narrowcove I opted to descend knowing that this would add another considerable ascent to regain Esk Hause. The descent of the cove is steep and rocky. After dropping about 500' views down into the valley began to appear, frustratingly it wasn't just me dropping out of the cloud - the whole sky became progressively more blue over the next ten minutes and the ridge walk that I had just spurned became clearly visible.
|Rapidly Clearing Picture On Descending Little Narrowcove|
At the foot of Little Narrowcove the sun was shining and there was a real warmth in the air, the young River Esk now became my companion as I made for Esk Hause. Although there is a green right of way shown on the OS map all the way to the Hause the section which is squeezed between the river and the "Tongue" is most pleasant and has the feel of a path less travelled - a very pleasant section.
|Towards Esk Hause|
Its worth mentioning at this point that other than the three fell runners on Scafell Pike I hadn't seen a soul since passing Sprinkling Tarn yesterday evening, ascending on to Esk Hause this was about to change!
The views down to Borrowdale and on to Derwent Water were impressive.
Not long now back down alongside Ruddy Gill passing hordes of folk "heading for the top".
It could have been done in a day but it was far better to have done over two.
|Sprinkling Tarn form Esk Hause|