Saturday, 20 October 2012

Port on the roof of England

Scafell Pike Summit
I left home on the friday night and accepted the long drive to the Lake District. My destination: Wasdale Head. I arrived at 03:30am on the Saturday morning after many hours of tedious, twisting lanes of the Lakes. I parked up in a layby, put down the passenger seat, pulled out my duvet and soon after, I was gone to the world...

8am, and I was awoken by the talking and bustling of the walkers preparing for their day in the fells. Exiting the car, I was greeted by two elderly gentlemen who questioned my choice of accommodation, passed conversation and then set off, leaving me alone once again to sort out my gear and make my own tracks in the direction of Scafell Pike.

The morning started off wet and cloudy. The tops were still blanketed in a thick layer of cloud and the ground wet under foot. As I made my approach, I passed many groups heading for the summit, including the two men from the layby. I walked with them for a while then headed off up the slope to Mickledore. The cloud had enveloped me at this point. Hiding the rest of the world from my sights. Just me and the mountain. Every once in a while, the mountain would tease me with a glimpse of it's mighty rock buttresses, rising out of the mist like the mountains of Mordore. Ahead I could voices. A group of three men, struggling up the easy scrammble that leads to the col of Mickledore. I waited behind, then joined them at the col. As I was about to set off, I overheard them saying "I think the summit is on the right from here". Now, for anyone who has done Scafell Pike from this way, they will know that the notorious bad step of Broad Stand, a grade 3 scrammble, is in that direction. I offered a word of advice to the ill-prepared and poorly clothed men, offered to take them to the summit, but they refused. They did however follow me in the direction of the summit, but soon after the cloud had swallowed them, and to me, they were no more.

Just under 2hours after I had left the car, I was now standing on the roof of England, 977m above sea level. I was joined by a walking group, and so got chatting to a few of the members. A kind woman had offered me tea, coffee and hot chocolate but I had kindly refused. She then offered me some Port. Upon pulling out here hip flask, I thought it rude to refuse this. As I was preparing to leave the cold and claggy summit, the cloud had started to part, reveiling to me and the rest on the summit, the Lake District fells, stretching out in all directions. Glazed in autumn sunlight.

 I set off, descending via Ill crag and then onto Great End. The off track descent down to Styhead tarn was, to say the least, the 2nd worst ever! Wet grass, wet rock, loose scree and steep ground. I was thankfull to enter onto the engineered path leading off the mountain down to Wasdale head. I jogged the rest of the way back to the Wasdale Inn, passing below Kern Knotts crag and Napes Needle. I entered the Wasdale Inn, and finished the day with a Pint of Ale, and a pheasant burger. Joined abit later by the 2 men from the layby, we sat with another pint, then made our way back to the cars. After saying farewell, I set off for Langdale. Over Wrynose pass, and into the New Dungeon Ghyll. my bedroom? A national trust car park.

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