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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
Green Man
Friday 27th March 2009
Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via the Corridor Route and back via Esk Haus
The Lake District, Cumbria, England
9.5 miles.  Ascent - 3208 ft (978 m). Total walk is equivalent to 16.5 miles.

A couple of days holiday booked on an impulse set us off on a ten day spree of preparation for some mountain climbing in the Lake District. The weather at this time of year was likely to be 'interesting' and the terrain would be very challenging. To be up to the ordeals ahead, all of our equipment needed to be checked and repaired, and all of our winter clothing needed to be washed in special products and individually treated with new-fangled techno preparations to make them either wick water away or prevent water from penetrating.
Our plan was to shoot up to Cumbria on the bike, stay at a B&B just outside the hiking Mecca of Keswick, do two days walking and then come home again. We had a tight budget and just enough time to do what we wanted to do, all we needed was a reasonable window of good weather.

Maple Bank Country Guest House where Tommy & Rhona made us very welcome.

The view of Skiddaw (931m) from our bedroom window

We'd planned two walks; a reasonably easy, very scenic walk taking in the small peak called Cat bells and an attempt on Scafell Pike the highest mountain in England, via a very challenging route.
On the Friday we woke to find that there had been heavy snowfall on the fell tops during the night and the forecast for the mountain tops was for  snowy showers with 60mph gusts of wind. There was no seriously bad weather forecast though. We decided that it would be good to try for Scafell Pike straight away.  After a huge, Full English we took the gorgeous A5289 down through mossy Borrowdale to Seathwaite Farm and by 10:15  we were setting off, steadily upwards, into the unknown.
The first section allowed us to warm up our legs gently by climbing gradually beside Grains Gill up to the stone-built Stockley Bridge, but from then on the incline quickly increased. The very rocky path took us alongside Sty Gill and up to the quiet mountain lake called Sty Tarn. To take our minds off of the steep incline, the sight of huge, snow-capped mountains ahead struck us dumb instead, and we walked on in shock and awe of the massive challenge facing us.

The day starts off quietly and sedately at Seathwaite Farm

A pleasant walk along Grains Gill...

....up to Stockley Bridge

Slightly steeper, through the gate and up, up, up

The mossy bog life is very colourful

Keep going upwards and take a last view of Seathwaite Farm.
Wave goodbye to civilisation.

Past Sty Tarn....

The next section we did was the infamous Corridor Route, which is an incredible adventure in its own right. This involved scrambling, climbing, hanging from rocks, jumping, leaping and all manner of perils and pitfalls. There are huge crevasses, precipices and crags to confront and every part of the route is amazing. We needed to be very active and the weather was so changeable that it was time to put the camera away. If you want to know what it is like, you will have to go yourself, just make sure you are well prepared!

Up to the snow line where we were immediately hit by a short but powerful blizzard.

Looking back to Sty Tarn in the middle ground and a glimpse of Derwent water in the far distance.

The top of the mountain is made up of several square miles of smashed boulders which today were all covered in hard rime.
 Freezing fog, hail storms, powerful gusts of wind and horizontal snow bombarded us, but we battled on.


We walked as if in a daydream up through an icy world of crystals, following the cairns to the summit.

We're at the top. And we're alive. Woo Hoo!
But now we've got to get down!

That way........

...through that..

We arrived back at the bike at 7pm very tired with huge, beaming smiles on our faces. As usual, when you've finished testing yourself against the elements, when you've risked your life, overcome many obstacles and succeeded against all the odds, you kind of expect a brass band and a small carnival to be waiting to welcome you back. Whereas, what you really get is a deluge of rain in a deserted car park. Nevermind - after a hot shower, a lamb and black pudding casserole served up in a massive Yorkshire Pud in the Royal Oak, and a pint of Jennings Sneck Lifter - we felt like gods! Tired gods with aching joints.

Tomorrow - Cat Bells & High Spy from Grange