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Early Summer Walks 2014 - Sunday May 4th - Scafell Pike and ?*?*

Reporter: Barry Lewis

We met at Seathwaite at the head of Borrowdale, allegedly the wettest place in England, and we were not disappointed. Having left our B & B in dry if overcast conditions, approaching Seathwaite we came under a dark clouds coming half way down the fells and producing rain and wind which would be blowing in our faces as we headed up. Undeterred 14 of us clad in full waterproofs, or 17 including our canine companions, left Seathwaite about 10.15am and headed up Grains Gill to Stockley Bridge where we crossed the stream, a source of the River Derwent, and could look up towards Sty Head and our planned return route. Above us to the west impressive waterfalls pouring off the ridges provided a magnificent sight and a reminder of the local weather. A little further on just above Sprinkling Tarn a few decided to cut across to Sty Head and return home.

The preview in the Newsletter had warned that this would a challenging walk requiring the participants to maintain a good pace on which basis it should take about 6 to 7 hours. By the time the next junction was reached beneath Esk House it was clear we were getting behind schedule and there was no sign of the weather improving. Indeed by this stage we were well into the cloud and visibility was sometimes down to a few tens of yards. Another splinter grouped opted not to continue to the top of Scafell Pike but to return to Seathwaite by turning east and going over Allen Craggs and Glaramara, which still gave them a walk of about 6 miles and two peaks over 780m to cross.

The remaining half of the group determined to go on to the top. Fortunately our leader, Dave Miller, knew the ascent route well and it was liberally marked with cairns so we could usuall see from one to the next despite the cloud. Lunchtime was put back until after the top was reached and we could descend out of the wind as nearly everybody found they were soon cold when stopped. The top afforded wonderful views to a maximum of 50 yards even when standing on the huge stone circle marking the summit.

After a check of the map and the compass, the descent towards Lingmell Col commenced. Just before the Col we had to take a right turn onto a lesser path, which we missed initially but fortunately our mistake was quickly spotted by our leader and after a short climb back up we identified the correct route. A little further on and we were less adept, opting to follow a seeming path which wound round and down the mountainside and involved a fair bit of scrambling. We had now dropped out of the cloud and rain and some of the party realised we had strayed too low and too far west so that we were heading into the Wasdale valley rather than being on the Corridor route which stayed high going directly to Sty Head, which we must cross to return to Seathwaite. After some debate we descended further in order to pick up a clear path coming up from Wasdale Head and leading up to Sty Head where we rejoined the intended route and made our way down to Seathwaite (arriving about 7.30 pm!).

Despite the weather, despite the "diversion" and the late finish it was much enjoyed. A good walk was accomplished in good company and the social gatherings for dinner both that night and the night before were well justified. Thanks to Dave Miller who went to considerable effort to put the weekend together and to all who took part.

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