I suppose that after my failed 3000s attempt of the week previous I went into this route feeling that I had a point to prove. Nigel’s ‘don’t go into the lakes looking for vengeance’ had the same effect as a red flag to a bull!
My plan was to ascend all the Nuttalls on the main Scafell ridge, which would be no mean feat starting from the New Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale. I knew that it would be a long hard slog, and had time allowed I would have returned over the Langdales to allow some variation – perhaps that was a little optimistic.
Arriving at the NDG at 11:00 the above listed team assembled and quickly set off on the road down to the Old Dungeon Ghyll, where we crossed Great Langdale Beck and made our way onto the Cumbria Way. Aware that we were up against the clock (we had to return to the coach for 18:30) we forced the pace along the Cumbria way, taking in a splendid view of Bow Fell and the Langdale Pikes. I found the climb up Rossett Gill far more difficult than I had anticipated, concluding that I was carrying a little lactic from the previous week. Fortunately I caught the frontrunners at Angle Tarn, and would not struggle again for pace during the course of the day.
We forged on up the path from here towards Esk Hause, the setting just got better and better. There was a cool breeze today, the lack of which I think played a major part in my failing on the 3000s. Turning at the stretcher box me, Bryan, Rob and Guy proceeded straight up Great End, and descended to the Esk Hause path as the backmarkers arrived.
We all then climbed about on the boulders of Broad Crag and Ill Crag, with the sole exception of Graham. Without anybody noticing he had proceeded straight up Scafell Pike. A mobile phone call from Grahm half way through our ascent settled the nerves, and we met him on the summit. It was now 14:00, as such anybody who says that Scafell Pike cannot be climbed on a coach meet is wrong. I estimate that had we returned from here to Langdale, we would have been back no later than 16:30.
A decision had to be made as to whether or not to proceed to Sca Fell. I knew that I wanted to go, and was confident I could do so and return for 18:30. In any case if we were late we would have a cold meal as opposed to missing the coach, which would be the normal consequence. My only concern was that I had no intention of going up Broad Stand, I haven’t scrambled to grade 3, and didn’t think that this was the right day to do so – with the pressure of time upon us.
I descended alone to the base of the Foxes Tarn Path, and climbed up through the gully, which I found to be a very pleasant climb although there wasn’t a great deal of water running through it today. As I neared the top I heard Mike call me, and saw Rob behind him. They hadn’t fancied the scramble and had opted to join me.
We ascended an horrendous scree slope past Foxes Tarn, and a dead lamb lay on the path side. How anybody can call this a tarn I do not know – I’ve seen as much liquid fly through a cafeter.
Arriving on Sca Fell we proceeded immediately to the summit, which is the first cairn on the top, and descended by the route which we had ascended. This route was far worse in descent – I wouldn’t take it again by choice, and certainly not in the wet. We didn’t proceed to Symonds Knot as we could not really see it in the clag, and it is not hugley clear on the OS map. Having checked at home, the col from which we descended is only about 100m from its cairn!
I wasn’t hugely concerned at ommiting this top, I’m fairly confident that I will climb Sca Fell again at some point and we were a little pushed for time. Incidentally, Guy, Graham and Carol ascended via Broad Stand and would have had to ascend Symonds Knott prior to Sca Fell.
We regained the col where the others were waiting for us at 15:45 and set about returning on time. Guy set the pace and I followed him all the way back. Once we had ascended out of Angle Tarn we picked up the pace, lightly jogging down to the Cumbria way, and then along it. Guy and myself arrived at the NDG at 18:20 with Mike Nicholls arriving shortly after, and the others arriving at intervals upto about 19:15.
I feel a little better about the 3000s having put in a good show today, I’m already trying to put together the next team to attempt the traverse with, and I have sent off my registration for the Across Wales Walk. I think I’m having next weekend off before hitting the Black Mountains in a big way a week later – unless anybody fancies the 3000s?
Weather:Sunyy, hot, cloudy on Sca Fell
Accompanied by:Guy, Mike Nicholls, Rob, Bryan, Martin, Carol and Graham
Estimated ‘Dead’ Time:40min
0978m Scafell Pike
0964m Sca Fell
0935m Ill Crag
0934m Broad Crag
0910m Great End