I had a fantastic day today, which I think goes with the territory in Langdale. We set off from West Bromwich on the coach at 7am as usual, heading north on the M6 after picking up the dingle brigade at Penkridge. The weather hardly looked promising on the way North, and it rained quite heavily for the majority of the journey. After the obligatory pause on the Thelwall Viaduct we were soon eating very expensive Ginsters pasties at Charnock Richard Services.
We dropped a bunch off at Ambleside, and others at Chapel Stile. I had originally intended to get off at Ambleside and do the Fairfield Horseshoe. However, I decided during my journey that I really can not continue to avoid scrambles at all cost. I decided to go with the led walk and go for Jack’s Rake.
We arrived at the New Dungeon Ghyll for about 10:45am, and spent some time getting kit together,visiting the little girls room and the like before heading off up alongside Stickle Ghyll.
The path alongside Stickle Ghyll is quite a pleasant one, rising at a comfortable gradient at all times. I was far too hot, the weather forecast predicting sub-zero temperatures driving me in to full winter gear. The coldest it got all day was about 5°C and that was on the tops, but I may be totally wrong. Didn’t feel a wind at all either, which I was probably quite grateful for on the scramble.
We came to the top of Stickle Ghyll, having forded it some time earlier, this task itself being somewhat easier in bombproof winter boots. Pavey Ark and the dam at Stickle Tarn came in to view at pretty much the same time. The line of Jack’s Rake is quite obvious from here, as depicted in the photographs. Not really wanting to sit around looking at it for too long we decided to crack on
We ambled over to the base of the scramble, and I have to admit that I felt quite nervous by the time we arrived there. I put into practice the first lesson from Blencathra in the summer – don’t go last. It was a lesson well learnt as the narrative shall depict.
I found Jack’s Rake a harder scramble by far than Sharp Edge, although Sharp Edge on a wet and windy day would be more difficult than when I crossed it. However, I did find two moves quite difficult here, whereas I found no difficult moves on Sharp Edge. The first of these was a boulder leaving a gap of about a foot to the cliff. With there being no apparent holds here I eventually resorted to jamming myself into this crack and shimmying upwards. The second was towards the top of the scramble, a high slab that it was difficult to get on to in the wet, and quite high for a midget like me. Eventually I just pulled myself on to it, and used the cracks in the slab for support while moving up it.
Some of those further back were a considerable distance behind, and I was glad not to be stuck behind them. On the scramble I think that I was more concerned about the possibility of someone in front falling, or dislodging a rock on to me, than I was of actually falling myself.
Nevertheless I was grateful when the end of the scramble appeared, and we could take a breather. After about ten minutes the guy behind me emerged, followed by a couple who had overtaken the rest of our party. Another fifteen minutes would pass before anybody else emerged over the top of that last boulder.
As we were sat around waiting I decided to bimble off on to the 700m summit of Pavey Ark, where we bumped into John and Geoff who had been over High Raise and Sergeant Man. And had convinced me that Mike would not take in all the tops, so I decided to head off with John and Geoff to ‘bag’ the Pikes.
Not long after setting off I managed to make my obligatory excursion into a bog. This was actually the deepest I had fell yet, sinking immediately to waist depth, and struggling a little to excavate myself. Before too long we were on Harrison Stickle, and as we looked over to Pavey Ark we could see the last of the led walk topping out onto Pavey Ark. It would be some time before they left.
Under the 736m summit of Harrison stickle we found Iris and Ray, who we talked to momentarily before heading off towards Pike of Stickle. The ascent of this appears very steep from the East, and although the route is not as severe as it looks, we did have a mini scramble up on to it. Although we later found the path that we had missed, it is difficult to get up without use of hands.
As we arrived at the 709m summit we were joined by Andy and Jan, who had skirted around Harrison Stickle. I decided to head off to Loft Crag with them, as I knew that they would take a path down, and not the nearest scree slope that bottomed out at a pub! We arrived at the 670m summit of Loft Craft, and headed back down to the col and civilisation. Again dropping off this top we found ourselves scrambling a little, though there was a path that we later found.
We had been briefly rejoined by John and Geoff, but they descended a ridge to the right of the path we were on. We dropped straight down to the New Dungeon Ghyll, and unable to get on the coach to change though we had better have a pint. Thoroughly enjoyed today, and didn’t pull any muscles despite wearing the winter boots. Off to Newtonmore on Saturday morning, bring it on!