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" Hail and Hearty on Scafell Pike "

Date & start time: Saturday 17th September 2011, 4.30 am start.

Location of Start : Seathwaite Farm, Borrowdale, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 235 120 )

Places visited : Stockley Bridge, Esk Hause, Calf Cove and back via Styhead Tarn

Walk details : 8.25 mls, 2750 ft of ascent, 9 hrs 30 mins.

Highest point : Above Calf Cove 2800 ft - 860 m.

Walked with : Myself and Bethan the dog, colleagues and event members

Weather : Blustery showers and strong winds, but worse than expected.


 " Hail and Hearty on Scafell Pike " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


The second visit to Borrowdale for a Challenge Event in seven days.

The forecast was better this time as it was for blustery showers and very high winds

instead of the left over hurricane ... what's the difference I wonder ?

With the lights on full beam . . .

Setting off at "silly o'clock" again.

The problem with driving over at night is that the sheep tend to sleep on the road, as the tarmac is often warmer and drier than the grass.

This is fine if they were not tarmac-grey in colour as Herdwick sheep can be. Speed is reduced as I play slalom in and out of the resting animals. This time I stopped for a photo and they all got up and moved away . . . after a few minutes . . . so kind !

Hold your cursor over the picture to put the lights on high beam.

4.30 am and the Challenge Team are opening their tent for business.

Inside they issue radios and advice, keep a check on the fourteen or so teams and sip coffee in the warm as we and the teams head for the cold, wet fells.

My companion today is Bethan, plus the rest of the marshalling team and about a hundred participants.

One non-event team went through Seathwaite farm ahead of us and dropped a yellow light stick. I picked it up . . . that'll be useful as a light for Bethan.

At least I might stand a chance of seeing her without having to whistle in the dark.

Check out the BLING !

The Wooden bridge in Grains Gill Valley

I think it is called 'White Bridge' due to the weathered colour of the wooden structure when dry.

This takes us safely over Ruddy Gill, which when combined with Allen Gill from Allen Crags, becomes Grains Gill slightly lower down.

Unnamed crossing . . . Phil waits to see me safely across.
First light . . . somewhere above Esk Hause.

The weather had been very breezy with intermittent showers, one of them being caught in the flash of the camera.

" What are you doing up here ? " . . . I could ask you the same question !

Top of Calf Cove before taking to the high ground of Broad and Ill Crag.

This is where I am stationed today so no summit bid for me . . . I set up my shelter in case the weather gets worse.

The weather just got worse !

Several of the early teams have gone through and I was just settling Bethan and myself back after seeing the last one up onto the plateau when suddenly it went dark, the rain quickly turned to very heavy hail stones leaving the ground a definite shade of white.

I'm ok here but there's not much shelter for the five teams on the way to the summit. I hope they've had the sense to shelter in some way from the worst of the weather. Each team does have an emergency tent that they can get under if needed.

The hail shower passed over leaving low cloud for quite some time.

The rest of the teams were making their way through with very few feeling the need to turn back.

The equipment lists they have been given says they must carry full waterproofs and gloves etc. for this type of condition.

However, I know that I wouldn't be up here without good reason.

The Three Peaks Challenge day was theirs.

A lull in proceedings and as the weather clears slightly I contemplate a small panoramic moment.

Click here or on the photo for a larger annotated panorama

I also had a little play with a new Gps that I have been asked to assess.

The new Magellan Explorist 610
However it has put me on the correct spot on the 1:25k map
Excellent reception - clear screens - grid numbers weird ?
Half way between Great End and Ill Crag
Should be NY 225 079.
No I'm not playing paper planes !
Clear statistics including a useful time display

It also features a waterproof camera to photograph Bethan,

This was brilliant when checking the teams
with sound recording and video options as well.
whilst my watch was hidden inside the gloves.
No time to learn everything yet.

Having a Gps of this quality was a real pleasure.

A full report will be forwarded to the boss and may even make it here in due course.

Meanwhile the teams return from their successful summit bids,

a little wetter than they were earlier, but pleased that they made it up to the top.

The final team through is followed by the marshalls and the summit is now clear of event staff and teams.

The weather is improving now and the tops are clearing, in time to allow the normal daytime walkers a few views.

Poorer weather does have one advantage,

the cloud formations and changeable nature of these sort of days show the mountains in a wholly different light.

The last teams heads down from Esk Hause

as the mist slowly clears from Seathwaite Fell below.

We have one slight problem to contemplate however . . . one member of the event is missing !

One of the guys has become separated from his team mate and was last seen by him, heading down past Esk Hause in the wrong direction.

They should have both checked in with the event marshall here but failed to do so. The second guy was spotted but the first one was well away . . .

heading presumably for the Langdale Valley instead of Borrowdale.

We check out the route towards Angle Tarn and Langdale Pikes, both of which can now just be identified.

He was fit, going well and was half an hour ahead by now so there would be no catching him, even if we did know where he's heading.

I believe the team radio was with the other guys or not working due to the rain. Either way, we couldn't contact him or direct him back.

Thinking back, that team made a navigational error on the way up and climbed via Styhead instead of Grains Gill.

Two of us would go back that way and the rest would turn right here and walk back down Grains with the walkers from the last group.

My route back was therefore a little different than planned

In clearing weather we aimed for Sprinkling Tarn (seen here) and Styhead Tarn in the valley below Great Gable.

Plenty of water about as Gillian and Bethan cross the outflow of Sprinkling Tarn.

Great Gable ahead . . . no sign of a lone walker.

Great End and the deep ravine of Skew Gill leading down to Wasdale.

The unnamed beck leading to Styhead Tarn.
With good visibility now, we cut the corner slightly.

Moody Styhead Tarn . . . less wind than last week !

The tent alongside the tarn has gone too.

Walking out down Styhead Valley.

The start of the Taylor Gill falls.

The path on this side stays high for the moment and passes the 1000ft boulder down by the trees.

Dare I say sunshine . . . as we get within sight of Grains Gill.

The valley is now a warm dry place apart from all the rainfall rushing downs the becks and rivers.

The falls above Stockley Bridge . . .
. . . but no sign of a calm swimming pool below.

2 pm . . . and back at the base . . . all teams down safely but no sign of our lost walker.

Several pertinent calls are being made in an attempt to contact the guy, in case he is able to receive a phone signal.

The organisers dispatched his team to Keswick for a bit to eat and to wait further instructions.


As it happened, he had gone straight on at Esk Hause, had taken a left down the Langstrath Valley and ended up, we think, at the Langstrath Hotel.

From there he persuaded someone to give him a lift to Keswick, where he contacted his team (and the organisers) using his mobile phone, arriving in Keswick at 3 pm.

All's well that ends well.

They were off to Snowdon a few hours later than planned.

We haven't heard how they got on with the third leg.

- - - o o o - - -


This last picture ?

After a late afternoon cat-nap I was putting the gear to dry

and when I turned the light off in the utility room

I noticed Bethan's snap-light was still faintly glowing

some sixteen hours later.


Sweet dreams.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with my Canon G10 digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a dog light on a dark morning.

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