on Blencathra and Jack's Rake
Saturday 24 July 2004
I knew I would regret suggesting on the Bulletin Board that the Lake District would be a good alternative to Ben Cruachan should the weather turn out to be as bad as forecast. But late on Friday evening Alison, Kathryn and Michael decided to do exactly that!
Setting off at 7am we made good progress down an almost deserted M74 and arrived at the small hamlet of Scales on the A66 at 9.20am. Straight on to Scales Fell and a good path around to Scales Tarn at the foot of Blencathra. The Grade 1 scramble along the Sharp Edge was well worth the long journey although we were all glad that it was dry - in wet weather the polished slabs on the ridge would have been an entirely different proposition! The wind was also very blustery which gave us all a few "Aonach Eagach" moments! This wasn't helped as I lost the end of my Platypus while attempting to take photographic evidence of our exploits.
It was still dry as we reached the top although we did eventually have a heavy shower as we walked along towards Knowe Crags. This cleared up quickly and we stopped above the village of Threlkeld for lunch. This left a two mile stroll back to the car at just after 2pm!
So we then had to decide what to do in the afternoon. We thought we could be in Langdale in about 30 minutes, but that didn't take into account Kathryn's navigations skills (not!). After a detour through and around Grasmere we arrived at the New Dungeon Hotel car park at around 3pm. We set off up the steep, but good path to Stickle Tarn. At this point Alison decided that she had had enough excitement for one day and made her way back to the car.
We then made our way around the tarn to the base of Jack's Rake, our second Grade 1 scramble of the day. We had been told that it would take about 30 minutes but it was with some trepidation that we set off, especially as the clouds were rolling in by now. However, apart from a couple of awkward moves, and exposure that was only really apparent if you looked down between your legs!
As on Sharp Edge earlier, as we reached the top the mist came in and then another heavy shower made us relieved not still to be scrambling. The long walk down needed care as the rocks were now very slippery. The only thing left was the almost inevitable encounter with ill equipped walkers. This time it was four lads, one with an uncovered sleeping bag on top of his rucksack, the others carrying holdhall and carrier bags and one hardly able to walk. With memories of Kathryn's regret at not saying anything in similar incidents on the Cobbler and Ben Nevis I enquired whether they were planning to camp. On being told "Yes" I asked if they knew whereabouts which got the worrying response of "No". It was clear they were not to be dissuaded from their adventure - we just hope they didn't have too uncomfortable a night!
We got back to the car at around 6pm and made our way to Elterwater to check out the Britannia Inn next to the youth hostel the club is using for it's annual Lake District trip in three weeks time. Sadly it was a little disappointing, food OK but not a great choice (especially for Alison and Kathryn after Michael had shared out the vegetables!) and a bit expensive. However, we also checked out the Wainwrights Inn in nearby Chapel Stile (only half a mile from the hostel). Much better menu and a bit cheaper and a much bigger pub.
Considering the last minute nature of the trip this was an excellent day and I think we would all definitely consider doing it again.
Take a look at Steve Morley's panorama shot of Sharp Edge
Photos: Steve Morley
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