Notes from a couple of October days grabbed at the end of half term for some walking at Wasdale.
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I took the train (or many trains) to Seascale and then a taxi up the valley to Wasdale. I really wanted to take a bike and ride from the station, but booking a bike on multiple trains was too much for the state-of-the-art rail service in 2018.
I camped at the Natoinal Trust Wasdale Campsite at the north-west end of Wastwater (complete with a well-stocked shop, okay showers, and a laundry room with dryers! They even have electric hook-ups for vans and camping pods for a little taste of glamping.). Another option is the Wasdale Head Inn which has rooms, self-catering accommodation and a camping field.
The one and only Ritson's Bar at the Wasdale Head Inn. Great grub served until 9pm.
OS Map OL6 The English Lakes (South-Western Area) 1:25,000 scale (explorer series) — get the active map version if you can. It's weather resistant which is very useful if it's as damp as my experience. Make sure you study it carefully.
Mountain Weather Information Service for the Lake District — check it out regularly before heading off. The Wasdale Head Inn also post the weather in the entrance to the bar.
Wasdale Mountain Rescue — read details of recent call outs to remind yourself how careful you need to be
Don't rely on mobile phone signal. There are payphones at the Wasdale Campsite and Wasdale Head Inn.
Wednesday evening, a little walk up Lingmell Gill
Having arrived and set up camp I had a couple of hours before darkness so had a little stretch up Lingmell Gill (the end of the direct route up to Scafell Pike). There was a stream of happy, often tired, summiters coming back down to the National Trust car park from Scafell Pike.
The view from the Western side of Lingmell Gill towards Wasdale Head (The Wasdale Head Inn is the white building in the distance).
Wastwater from Lingmell Gill
Footbridge over Lingmell Gill.
Some Autumn Colour
Thursday Scafell Loop
The weather for Thursday was mist turning to 50% chance of rain later in the day. Wind speed had dropped substantially from that forecast earlier in the week and the freezing point was well above the summits. My plan was to loop around to Scafell via Green How and then nip over to Scafell Pike via Foxes and Mickledore. Depending on weather (and how I was feeling) I had the choice of taking the direct route back down to Wasdale via Lingmell Gill, or looping around via the Corridor route to Wasdale Head.
The summits of Scafell and Scafell Pike were in deep cloud, windy and very wet, and absolutely no views other than whiteness. Other than the top of Scafell Pike I met only a handful of other walkers: two solo-hikers descending Scafell towards Green How; two hikers coming up past Foxes Tarn (one with a lovely Doncaster accent); a family of three traversing Mickledore to Scafell Pike; and two Australian's climbing up from the Corridor Route. Other than those, I had the hills to myself. Fantastic but sobering.
In the end, after Scafell Pike, rather than taking the Corridor route round to Sty Head, I opted for the Middleboot Knotts Path from the Corridor junction along Piers Gill to Lingmell Beck.
Warning: this route includes some tricky navigation to descend from Scafell to the path up to Mickledore via Foxes Tarn. You need to avoid Broad Stand which is an accident blackspot. It also includes a descent along Piers Gill via the Middleboot Knotts path which is described as ...very steep sections next to large drops into the gill – there have been several serious accidents in this area in recent years by Wasdale Mountain Rescue.
Here's the route I took on GMaps Pedometer. I saved a do-not-cross line of waypoints in my GPS (and carried spare batteries!) to make sure I didn't miss the turn down to Foxes Tarn when leaving the summit of Scafell. When descending the path along Piers Gill I'd decided to not go down anything I wasn't completely happy coming back up.
Following a DofE group on the path to Burnmoor Tarn towards Maiden Castle Cairn
Looking down on Burnmoor Tarn through the mist from Hard Rig
The route down from Scafell via Foxes Tarn to join the path back up to Mickledore. 'Gill Scrambling' was how the two walkers coming up referred to it. Gill Swimming might have been a better description
Looking back up the Foxes Tarn route to Scafell
The Middleboot Knotts Path along Piers Gill — felt like a scene from Lord of the Rings
Looking across Piers Gill
Sty head (I think!) and Spouthead Gill
View down Spouthead Gill
Somewhere up there is Great Gable
Heading down towards Lingmell Beck, Wasdale Head and the pub
Friday Wasdale to Eskdale
Friday was time to head home, but the local taxi company was respectfully closed for a funeral, so I walked across Eskdale Moor to Boot to catch the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway down to Ravenglass. To get the first train I needed to leave before dawn, so had the amazing experience of starting under moonlight and watching the sunrise over Eskdale Fell.
Wastwater from Brackenclose in the moonlight
Crossing Whilian Beck by what's left of the Bulatt Bridge at the west of Burnmoor Tarn
Sunrise lighting up Eskdale moor
Sunrise over Great How and Hard Knott
Sitting enjoying a coffee at Dalegarth station waiting for the first train to Ravenglass
Three days in the lakes, walking most of the time, and other than a heron at Dalegarth, a couple of birds on Eskdale Moor, and the sound of owls at night, the only wildlife I came across were sheep. I have some sympathy of the description of this landscape, however beautiful it is, as an agricultural wasteland.
Almost the only wildlife except that sheep aren't wild
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