Day 47: 09 May 2014; Langdale to Grange

Day 47: 09 May 2014; Langdale to Grange
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 47
Date Fri 09 May 2014 Start to end time 10h 05m
Start point Langdale End point Grange
Miles today 16.51 Cu miles 873.60
Ft today 4,434 Cu ft 124,985
Route miles left 614.46 Route ft left 74,409
Today’s weather Heavy rain in morning, strong westerly wind, near gale force on summits. Cool on summits about 5C. Rain stopped in afternoon, occasional showers
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

“Today really began yesterday. After enjoying my macaroni cheese in the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel last night, I’d gone on to the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel to enjoy a quick pint before retiring to bed. The Hikers’ bar was buzzing, and a live folk group was playing. So it was an enjoyable excursion but it did mean that I had a bit of a headache this morning. The sound of the rain pouring down on my tent and the wind tearing at the guy-ropes had also combined to ensure a bad night’s sleep. So all in all, not the best start to a hard day’s hiking this morning!

I’d arranged to meet one of the leaders of the Cumbria Scouts group who would be going to Japan in 2015 (the charity that I’m supporting), so I met Tom Higgs at the campsite at 7:45 and we set off into the uninviting Northern reaches of Langdale for the ascent of Scafell Pike. The weather was appalling, and grew steadily worse as we ascended the valley. But that didn’t stop the scenery being magnificent. Upper Langdale is an almost-perfect U-shaped valley, created by the glaciers which inly left 15,000 years ago. It is decorated with moraines and drumlins so fresh in appearance that you could almost imagine you would turn a corner and see a glacier there in front of you.

By the time we reached Angle Tarn, it was blowing a whole gale and the rain was coming down in torrents. I put on two sets of gloves and a second fleece and realised that I didn’t actually have any more clothes to wear – so I was right at the limit of what I could cope with. I must admit I was very glad to have Tom along for moral support at this point – there was nobody else around, and it was exceptionally bleak.

As we climbed further, to my surprise and relief, the rain and wind eased a little and we finally reached the summit a few minute after noon – it had taken over 4 hours to get there, and there was no view from the top, but the sense of achievement more than made up for it. That’s two of the “Three Peaks” climbed, now, and the only milestones I have left are Ben Nevis, John O’Groats and Dunnet Head itself. Just down from the summit, we came across a small snowfield which is actually the only snow I’ve walked on in the UK for well over a year.

We descended Scafell Pike via the “Corridor Route” which I don’t think I’ve ever traversed before. We were lucky enough to get a view on the way down, as the clouds lifted and the rain eased further. We enjoyed magnificent, spectacular views of Piers Gill and Great Gable – made all the more impressive by the swirling cloud. At Styhead Tarn, Tom turned south to return to Langdale, and I carried on down the valley into Borrowdale, On the way I passed through Seathwaite, the wettest place in England (and it certainly was today) down to the campsite at Hollows Farm.

It was a great, exhilarating and challenging walk, made all the more enjoyable by Tom’s company and the sense of achievement on reaching Scafell. To celebrate, I’m having what will doubtless be a rather expensive dinner in the up-market Borrowdale Gates Hotel. But who cares! I feel great!   And to make things even better, the landlady at the excellent Hollows Farm Campsite waived the overnight charge, as I was ding this hike for charity.   I’m really grateful.

(PS am remembering not to have that extra pint tonight. I have a long walk halfway to Carlisle tomorrow…)”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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Yes it was that “I wish I hadn’t camped in a lake” moment again this morning.. Awesome upper Langdale, complete with glacial drumlins. This morning it felt like the glaciers had only departed yesterday..
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Snowfield just below the summit of Scafell Pike. This is actually the oly snow I’ve seen in the UK this winter Impressive Piers Gill, created by unimaginable prehistoric tectonic forces and now a huge scar on the mountainside
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Looking down on Styhead Tarn, high above Borrowdale Yew Tree Farm in Rosthwaite. Apparently Prince Charles likes to come here for hs holidays. Anyway there is an excellent café opposite where I got a very welcome pint of tea
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The panorama from the Corridor Route, feeaturing Great Gable towards the right-centre
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