Scafell Pike Hike

Last weekend a group of work colleagues and I took a trip to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in the Lake District.

I’ve previously climbed Scafell, some 20 years ago, but either by the Wasdale Head or Boot route, this route was via the Corridor route.

We gathered at Seathwaite Farm and proceeded through the farm premises, if you want to relieve yourself before you’re forced to do so in the wilds, the farm owners have helpfully provided toilets.

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Stockley Bridge, over the Derwent

The path generally follows the River Dewent, you cross Stockley Bridge and make your way up the hill to the right and crest onto the platau which will lead you to Styhead Tarn.

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The view towards Seathwaite from the hill past Stockley Bridge

From the resting point where a stretcher is helpfully stored in a box for injured walkers, we took in some water and some amazing flapjacks, baked by a colleague’s wife.

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Stretcher box provided by Mountain Rescue

From here we turn left as you look at the stretcher box from the path and follow the route up the hill.

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Many cairns guide your route to Scafell, this shot is looking back towards Styhead Tarn

This is where is gets tougher, there are 2 scrambles and 1 climb, once past these obstacles there’s a reasonably easy ascent to the next decision point, I’m not sure if it has a name but they both lead to Scafell eventually. From the path the left route is shorter and more difficult and the right, longer but slightly easier going.

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We took the high road!

If you are attempting the right route just be mindful of a significant scramble up steep lose stone & rock, initially taking you to the platau between Green Crag and Scafell Pike. Once you’ve cleared this leg of the scramble there’s a further set of loose, jagged rock to tackle taking you to the summit of Scafell. This route is not for the ill-prepared.

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On a clear day you can see the coast, Sellafield and the Irish Sea

Once we’d cleared these hazards we joined the other hikers & climbers at the top of Scafell.

I had an issue with my Camelbak at this point, which was more about me being a moron than an actual issue, the water lock on the Camelbak differs from the Osprey, my old one, and my head couldn’t work a way round it. I only mention this as a precautionary tale of being tired and how the brain works in these conditions.

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Cairns – very arty

There are a few Cairns on Scafell giving you the shelter from the wind to enjoy some lunch and drink in peace and the opportunity to keep warm, but don’t huddle for too long – ensure you get the selfie on top of the stone pile and read the dedication plaque to the men and women who died in the great war. There’s also a helpful mountain range peak map.

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Sweaty, but I made it, also I forgot to take the obligatory panorama!

Obligatory panoramas are a must, the Lake District is very special!

Once we were fed and watered it was time to go back down and descend all the way to Seathwaite. Descending is my least favourite part of any trip! It’s a bugger on the knees and ankles, having suffered from patella tendinitis recently.

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Oh to have fours legs and a low centre of gravity!

Due to logistical issues our campsite is an hour and forty minute drive from Seathwaite, which is a little irritating, but a fine meal at the Kings George IV pub is the reward and we settle for a nights rest at the Fisherground camp site.

Sadly cramp plagued my legs and my sleep was restless, such is the burden of hill walkers!

However the view in the morning is sublime!

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Horses in a field adjacent to Fisherground Campsite

This trip was cathartic to say the least, it differed from my normal trips in that we didn’t ascend, camp and then come back down, my pack was lighter and I relied less on poles. The trip is a good basis for the Three Peaks Challenge which I hope to complete later this year. We have another trip to Snowdon due in June and I need to get to Ben Nevis which I’ve never climbed, so a reccy trip required, before doing the challenge.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, please do ask below.

 

 

 

 

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An Overnight at Llyn y Cwm & Glyder Fach

After the last trip here Dean and I had been monitoring the weather to check for the possibility of high-pressure weather fronts moving in and creating the right conditions for cloud free summits!

The 29th March looked ideal, even though the weather reports were erring on the pessimistic side.

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Shetland Ponies at Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia

We arrived at Ogwen Lodge around 2.30pm which is good time, but the curse of photographers is the fact they keep stopping to take photographs, so by the time we were reaching the wall at Llyn Caseg Fraith we were chasing the sunset.

Oddly at Llyn y Cwm there were two young men and a lady taking photographs whilst holding her upside down, stood in the lake – whatever floats your boat, the shots may have been great!

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Glassy Surface – Llyn y Cwm

Dean and I took some shots around Llyn y Cwm and then started the accent to Glyder Fach, however, probably not even a 1/4 of the way up it because abundantly apparent we would not make the summit whilst sunset was ongoing. We decided to descend and pitch our tents for the evening.

After a nice meal cooked on the trusty Trangias, we had a crack at some star photography and the obligatory ‘lit-tent’ shot! I’ve never really tried astro-photography seriously and it is much harder than it looks, I had far more failures than successes.

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My MSR looks enviously at the Hilleberg!

The weather was good, with no real wind, but it’s never going to be warm at 750m so we retired to our tents and set an alarm for 4.30am.

The alarm at that time is never the greatest moment! A quick change, boots on, headlamp, waterproofs (just in case) and grab the camera and we’re off. Firstly we decide on the stranger decision of scrambling for the Glyder Fach peak by heading straight up from our camping position, rather than returning to the “paths” that lead up from Llyn Caseg Fraith, the climb was not easy, the rocks are loose, as they are on the other routes, but bigger and more precarious. At one point we thought it may have been a mistake and we should turn back, but that risked missing the sunrise – so we carried on and eventually made the summit around 6am, only to find two adventurous young men camping out near to the Glyder Fach summit! Fair play to them and it’s a thought for the future and it saves a climb in the morning and possibly a lie-in!

The weather was tremendous, the clouds were low and the sky clear – the sun broken the horizon and we were treated to a glorious sunrise with clouds reflecting the bright rays, if I had a complaint, and it’s a pernickety one, it was hard to try and get some dynamic range with the sun being so bright!

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We manoeuvred around the summit snapping, lapping up the scenery, taking as many shots as we could. Once the sun was well above the horizon we decided it was time to descend.

It was only as we started the descent you realise the toll such treks have on aging knees and the route to Glyder Fach is particularly unforgiving, after a couple of portraits as a reminder of such great weather, we made the less steep portion of the path, passing the climbers at the base of the slopes of Glyder Fach, we eventually made it back to the car. Exhausted, it was an absolute pleasure to put on some more relaxed shoes and get some lovely pastries from the shop at Ogwen Lodge.

 

The Quest for Lightness

This is going to be an ongoing post with regular updates.

Total Weight Saved: 4.53kgs (so far)

Lightness, when backpacking, is something most seasoned hikers & campers strive for. I hadn’t given it much though when I first went camping, my pack weighed just shy of 22 kilos, that’s some hefty pack and that doesn’t include my Canon 5D Mk IV, Lee Filters and batteries which were on my ThinkTank chest rig.

I decided to make some changes, and below are the kit swaps I have made and the weight savings realised. I don’t have a full pack weigh at the moment as I haven’t been camping since changing some of the gear out, but as soon as I have a full pack to weigh, I’ll put it up for you.

Tripod

In: Benro Slim Carbon Fibre Tripod Kit + N00 Ball Head (1kg)

Out: Gitzo Series 2 Traveler GT2540T Tripod 6X Carbon Fibre with GH2780TQD Ball Head (1.8kg)

Saving: 800g

We all know Gitzo, lovely tripods, sturdy, expensive, however even though the series is given the title “Traveler” it weighs 1.8kgs, the Benro is not quite as sturdy, to get to its very impressive 1kg weight you have to make cuts and the legs are thinner, and the joints where the legs join the centre column are not quite as rigid and they don’t fold back on themselves, but 800g is a significant saving. Gitzo do make a lighter tripod, pretty much the same weight as the Benro, but it’s £800, the Benro was £90. Hook a bag underneath for long exposures and I don’t miss the Gitzo at all.

Backpack

In: Osprey Exos 58 (1.32kg)

Out: Berghaus Khumbo Atrek Pro 70+10 (2.68kg)

Saving: 1.36kg

Slightly unfair comparison this one, the Osprey is much newer than the Berghaus, better technology and lighter materials, it’s also 22 litres smaller than the Berghaus, but on a quick test pack I didn’t really notice the reduction in space, due to the flexibility of the Osprey, it also sits more comfortably than the Berhaus which, I’m guessing, is down to advancements in technology, also the Berghaus has an adjustable back, whereas the Osprey you buy to suit your frame length.

Boots (updated 6/6/19)

In: Merrell Moab 2 Mid (for generic walking) (998g)

In: Scarpa Manta Pro GTX (size 10.5) (1.6kg) (for more severe climbs)

Out: The North Face Verto S6K (size 11) (2.94kg)

Saving: 1.3kg

Another slightly unfair comparison, The North Face boots are a professional mountaineering boot, extremely rigid, the Scarpa is similar but designed to be more flexible, you can fit a crampon to it but also use it for hiking and mountaineering equally well. It’s as waterproof and a very comfortable boot. It’s also the top boot on many outdoors review websites.

Update: The Scarpa’s are a great boot, but very stiff, being designed for climbing and to take a crampon, this is great for rocky surfaces and rough terrain, but walks where there is a path or a less rocky climb they can fatigue the feet. Recently I purchased a pair of Merrell Moab 2’s mid height walking boots. They’re far less stiff and very comfortable, although lack waterproofing. I have coated them in Scarpa 12 to try and improve the water-resistance. However, they are much lighter!

Sleeping Mat

In: Mountain Equipment Helium 3.8 (746g)

Out: Adtrek inflatable sleeping mat (1.84kg)

Saving: 1.07kg

Not really a surprise this one, going from a generic Amazon purchase to a proper sleeping mat designed for hiking adventures. Aside from the weight saving, the Mountain Equipment mat is significantly smaller when rolled-up and, I can only assume this is because of the more professional materials and better build quality, I didn’t miss the 5cm thickness of the Adtrek compared to the 3.8cm of the Mountain Equipment.

Walking Poles

In: Leki Micro Varios Carbon Poles (229g)

Out: Trek Mates Peak Walker Poles

Saving:

Another one that isn’t going to be a surprise, going from a cheap pair of poles bought from Go Outdoors to a professional, and very expensive, pair of hiking poles. The Peak Walker are aluminium (or other metal) whereas the Leki are carbon fibre. They’re both quite comfortable, although the Leki poles are slightly more padded on the handle. The defining feature of the Leki is that they collapse into 3 pieces, so are very pack-able.

Trip to the Glyders

Being diligent is one thing, but as they say – you can’t account for mountain weather.

Let me set the background, Dean and I had set off from Lichfield mid-afternoon on Friday (15th Feb) with intention of camping in Snowdon, sadly my crap car delayed us by an hour and thirty minutes, therefore we reached the parking at Ogwen Lodge at 3.30pm

Getting changed as fast as we could we set off up the Glyders with the intention of clearing the ridge at Y Garn and camping somewhere between Glyder Fach and our target peak.

Sadly, due to our tardy departure, we only made 2700ft (ASL) by 6pm, just shy of the peak ridge.

Dean just below Y Garn
Dean just below the ridge at Y Garn

With night falling, yet a lovely bright moon, we decided to descend slightly and find a spot to camp near Llyn Clyd.

There’s an odd phenomenon in mountain weather where the wind in the lower valley can be stronger than peak wind, I don’t know whether it’s something to do with the wind being channelled by the slope, picking up speed as it descends, I’m sure someone with better knowledge of these things could tell us why it seems stronger, but any way – by the time we’d pitched our tents the wind was blowing and hard.

The forecast from the Mountain Weather Service and the Met Office had given the wind at 22mph with gusts up to 32mph. I’ve walked in 50mph winds and this was definitely more towards that end, this made for a pretty hectic night and a tough sleeping experience, with the walls of my tent blowing in on me when particularly strong gusts came!

You can see an example of the conditions inside the tent here.

I managed about 5 hours between 10pm and 6am.

The morning brought rain and peak mist, not great for photography, although we got some misty shots from the plateau at Llyn Clyd. Around 9am we decided to give up going over Y Garn and onto Glyder Fach due to the amount of mist on the peaks and extremely poor visibility.

Llyn Clyd

View from Llyn Clyd

With 21kg packs, the descent was slow and arduous, the wind on Saturday remaining an issue.

We passed many hikers coming the other way who must have been bemused to see us carrying these massive packs coming down the mountain at such an early time.

So we never got to do the star photography at night and ending up huddling in our tents away from the elements, which may give the impression the trip was a write-off, but these experiences give you a chance to test your equipment and your own mettle to deal with adversity.

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The casualty was one bent tent pole on my MSR tent, Dean’s Hilleberg was uninjured – a far superior tent!

Looking forward to the next trip and, hopefully, some better weather!