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Wasdale
 

Date: 2-3 September 1995

Company: JD, Andrew

Length:    Day 1: 9 miles
                 Day 2: 7 miles


Route

Day 1: Wasdale Head into the col between Kirk Fell and Pillar, take the climbers path to Pillar Rock. Scramble to the summit and continue along the skyline via Scoat Fell, Steeple and Red Pike to Dore Head. Descend via the scree run back to Wasdale.

Day 2: Head up to Hollow Stones between Scafell Pike and Scafell: take the right fork at the parting of the ways and then, just before the col, go sharp right up Lords Rake. Take the second left on to the West Wall traverse and scramble to the summit plateau. Descend via Green How

 

Description

A bit of a cheek getting in two walks for one but it was a super weekend. JD had been following this project of doing all the walks in Fellwalking with Wainwright and these were the final two for him. This was partly because Wasdale is less accessible than other parts of the Lake District. So the plan was to make a weekend of it and knock them both off. It was my first time there too. Andrew tagged along because that is his style.

It was an early morning start. JD was navigating en route and took us a strange way though Ulpha and across Eskdale. The weather was lovely and we had superb visibility all day. Up the side of Mosedale into the col between Kirk Fell and Pillar. A long pull but we were going well and did it quickly. After that it was along the Climbers Traverse to Robinson's Cairn, the Shamrock Terrace and Pillar Rock. Wainwright says that this is the loveliest path in the Lakes. Who am I to argue but I think that the view along Ennerdale is a bit spartan. It's all the conifers; I don't like them. Having had that quibble, it is a smashing path and Pillar Rock is wonderful. We had no ambitions to scramble over it. I did think about going on to Pisgah but wimped out (a source of lingering regret) A nice scrambly section followed. I have a picture of Andrew and me on this in my office.

Shamrock Traverse and Pillar Rock from Robinson's Cairn (Photo: J Dawson) 

Lunch on the top was to be savoured. The view was enormous; this was the first time that I saw the Isle of Man. We also took advantage of JD's mobile phone to ring home and have a quiet gloat. 

On along the ridge with an enjoyable little excursion on to Steeple. What a super little outcrop. JD and I returned there a couple of years later with the rest of the gang, when it was under cloud. He was waxing lyrical about “her”. “How do you know that Steeple is female?” he was asked. "Just  caress her spine; there is no question that this is a woman." I then pointed out that we weren’t actually on Steeple. It was further along the ridge but you couldn’t actually see it at that point.

Then back over Red Pike to Dore Head with stunning views of the Scafells: a chance to study and relish the prospect of Sunday's walk. I did think about popping on to Stirrup Crag on to Yewbarrow and even now I'm not sure why I didn't. It looked a lovely little scramble even if we would just come back afterwards.

Now Dore Head screes are something else. They must be about the longest in the Lakes; they certainly just go on and on to the detriment of one's calf muscles. I don't think that I relaxed enough to enjoy them as much as I ought to have done. The legs appreciated the relatively flat valley-bottom path back to Dore Head. 

We were booked into Burnside Farm for the night. We'd no sooner gone through the door than we realised that we'd made a mistake. We'd only booked for B&B when we should have had the evening meal. The smell of home baked bread was overpowering, truly wonderful. We later got the smells of the evening meal and that was as good. Instead we went off to the pub for a fairly average bar meal albeit with a few jars.

The weather on Sunday was not good with solid low cloud. We willed it to lift but it refused and we were into mizzle by the time we reached Lords Rake. We also acquired company there, a chap who just left his wife at the bottom whilst he popped up and down Scafell. I'm not sure that I would have fancied the descent on slippery rock. This is an eerie place; it is a deep gully so that the rock rises all around you, somewhat like a cathedral but with added mist. It felt a bit like South Rake on Dow Crag but on a more intense scale. As I said, eerie and a little bit scary. 

Lords Rake (Photo: Ann Bowker)

Wainwright says that you take the second route off to the left and dire injunctions not to take the first. Sounds easy in theory but this first exit is small. We saw it but were not sure that it was what he meant. So when we got to the second exit we were wondering whether it was really the first (does that make sense??) The result was that we had a really good look round going up to the top of Lords Rake and investigating the col before going with our first instinct. 

This is the famous West Wall traverse. I have since studied it closely from the around Styhead and Gable and it looks truly scary. However it was fine actually on the traverse; no particular nerves. The catch is that we couldn't see much for the mist; just a few feet along the ledge (which was OK) and not the enormous drop below it. 

We emerged on the summit plateau with feelings of macho self-congratulation. These quickly disappeared as we were unable to find the summit in the cloud!! We went one way then backtracked so that we must have covered over 300 degrees of a circle and the land only seemed to go downwards. Then the cloud dropped a fraction and we saw the top in the small bit that we hadn't covered. It had of course dropped again by the time we got there so Scafell was added to the growing list of hills which I have climbed without seeing owt from the top.

The journey down was unadventurous. We were battling against time a bit because I was quizzing that evening in Stafford. JD swore I'd never make it but I arrived with 2 minutes to spare. This was helped by taking Andrew to the quiz before taking him home. He played for the opposition in the end.

 

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