Thursday, 30 May 2013

Broken tent poles and England's highest point

A few days walking in the Lakes. Always sounds spiffing doesn't it? And indeed it is. Even when it rains (as it often does of course) and when you have to engineer some half-baked, Heath Robinson type repair as a result of a broken tent pole, in previously mentioned precipitation, for a crappy tent where the inner pitches first and ... oh well you get the picture.

And that is the point. In spite of suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (oh OK I know it's MY fault for continuing to use a crappy, albeit light, tent and, yes, I know it rains a LOT there) the Lake District is ALWAYS spectacularly rewarding for the walker and cyclist.

It's many, many years since I've climbed Scafell Pike and so I wanted to revisit it before next months 3-peaks cycling challenge along with @bruciestokes who is doing the challenge with me. Last time I did the full day route from Eskdale and so the route from Wasdale was unfamiliar and so it seemed a good excuse idea to check it out.  The original plan was to load up the bike, take it on the train and cycle to the campsite at Wasdale Head but I'd overlooked the fact that it would be half term and the trains would be packed! I was right and glad that I chose to go with rucksack only and camp on the western edges of the fells within walking distance of a train station.  I'll not dwell on the fact that I took a wrong turn and a 1 mile walk to the camp site turned in to a 4 mile walk!  I'll also skip over the whole tent pole episode that unfurled upon arrival other than to say that it involved a lot of swearing and then much appreciation to the camp site owners at Shepherds View who had some similar poles that I could fashion in to a useable repair.

The location of the campsite also gave us the opportunity to explore Muncaster Fell. This has to be one of Lakelands best 'little hills' although we didn't have much of a view given the persistent rain from low scudding clouds.

Our route up Scafell Pike the next day started in pleasant sunshine from The NT car park at Wasdale but the view of the peaks themselves was non-existent and so we knew it would be cold and cloudy at the tops.  We took the route up via Mickledore which involves a steep ascent up red scree about 2/3 of the way up the mountain. It's very hard work but affords you good views of Lords Rake and Scafell to the right. Well it would have done if we weren't in the clouds by that point. After following the cairn signed path to the summit and regretting not packing gloves we enjoyed the view (!) for a short while, forgot to drink the whisky from the hip flask, and imagined that, rather like the French, we were looking down on England.  We descended down the main path to avoid the tricky scree on the Mickledore scar. Using walking poles seemed to definitely help my knees on both ascent and descent and I was absolutely fine the day after too. I don't like using them but this serves to show that needs must when the Devil takes a small crap on your musculoskeletal system!

I'm sure my rucksack felt heavier on the way back to Sheffield but then everything in there was soaked anyway so I'm not surprised. Definitely a sign of a typical trip to the Lake District.

View over Eskdale from Muncaster Fell

View along Wast water to cloud covered Scafells

Most recognisable cairn in England?

What boots are for after a days walking!

1 comment:

  1. Nicely put Rob. My photos of the events should be uploaded soon. Nice use of the boots!