I spent friday night within a nest of Orcs and by the time the saturday morning 6.30 alarm call for breakfast came, all those snores, wheezes and coughs meant I’d had a pretty fitful sleep. A hike up Scafell Pike (Or Misty Mountain, as it turned out to be) seemed a really big undertaking. The Orcs in question were Steve, Chris, Jeff and a couple of other guys in the same bunk room as me in Borrowdale Hostel. And I’m not being overly harsh in calling them Orcs, I too was one of those snoring middle aged men adding to the Tolkien-esque vibe 🙂 Which I’d already started on, when I found out we were staying at the Borrowdale Hostel. If ever there was a Middle Earth sounding venue, it has to be that. (Great place btw, really friendly staff and a great selection of bottled beers – hence all that snoring).
The route we took was from Borrowdale / Seathwaite and actually matched fairly closely the route (below) from Trail magazine which I’d downloaded for my (as always, excellent) Viewranger app. I had it hand for emergency use only as Ali and Steve (hike organisers and all round excellent mountaineers) knew what they were doing. Actually, I did use the app at one point to check we were on the right path for the Corridor Route path. Paper maps and compass are first choice I know but in all that rain and mist the Viewranger App really helped (me , at least).
Actually – we came around Great End for the return leg and didn’t go back down Styhead Gill but Ruddy Gill, then we joined up with Grains Gill near Stockley Bridge. Hence the very swollen waters on the last stretch I guess (more of that later).
Here’s the route and a bit about Scafell Pike from Trail magazines info on the Viewranger website:
We actually did the route the other way round to the map above but it was essentially the same path and started and finished at the same farm in Seathwaite.
The weather also added to the Tolkien vibe – mist, rain, driving (as in, 85 mph in gusts) wind, wind chill of (ish) -2C at the top and after a full day of rain (and on our last 2 hours hiking and descent), swollen waterfalls and raging rivers. Where there had been stepping stones which would look lovely for a summer trek, we had to wade across fast flowing streams up to our ankles. And help each other across on one that was really fast flowing and heading to a big drop down into Ruddy Gill (I think). The views were non existent, I couldn’t focus on an external landscape, so to an extent I focussed on an internal one as I stared down at slippy rock after slippy rock, picking my way across boulder fields (or hopping, if you will). And fancied myself one of Frodo’s band , head down, pushing higher and higher up a dark mountain – more dwarf than elf probably – but still a heroic struggle to the top and to claim my prize which wasn’t a golden ring but a pork pie and a Mars Bar. At that point, that was a far better reward 🙂
I’d really like to go back again in better weather to see the views from the top of England’s highest mountain (about 3000 feet I believe). But I also had a great time on this trip, not despite the weather but because of it. Seeing all that fast flowing water and feeling the gale force wind (which did actually nearly knock me flat at one point) was awesome. And I had great company – and fellowship (okay, I’ll stop with the middle earth bit now!).
Here are some photos.. Suitably misty and atmospheric. The rest of the photos from the day are over on my Flickr account here :