It had been absolutely ages since I had ventured out on a backpacking trip. Realising that Terry Abraham was still out filming for his Scafell film, I texted him saying would he like to meet up around Sprinkling Tarn as I was going for a wander for a couple of days? A few texts back and forward and we arranged to meet late Sunday afternoon on the flanks of Great Gable. Terry had been out for nearly three weeks and was looking to go back on Monday to Keswick, stay overnight in town and catch the train back home.
I decided to take Monday and Tuesday off as well, and walk around the area, with no particularly route in mind, nothing serious, but some good winter wild camping thrown in.
I parked up at Seathwaite after a three-hour journey around 1.30 in the afternoon, with most of the walkers starting to make their way back to their vehicles. I had a two-hour walk up to the rough grid reference Terry had given me.
It was cool, overcast but with little or no breeze. The walk to Styhead via Stockley Bridge is one I have done quite a number of times and which I am sure many of you will know, so I didn’t take that route but the path which goes along the other side (right-hand) of Styhead Gill. It is a less obvious route, rougher going but joins the main path further up. Despite the cool weather, I sweated my way up the steep section after joining the path coming up from Stockley Bridge.
Terry was waiting for me at the Rescue Post at Styhead, I recognised him in the distance straight away from his blue Rab Down jacket which seems to be permanently welded to his body. Terry had found a nice flat grass shelf to pitch his tent with great views of the Scafell Massif.
I set up my trusty Hilleberg Soulo tent catching up with Terry on how his filming is going, how is gear has been holding up, the usual stuff, as I pegged out all the guys, which makes it a pretty bomber tent. I could have dispensed with all of these as the weather was benign, but of course you can never be sure what may come along!
It was good to see Terry again and we spent the next few hours talking, cooking and sorting gear for the night. By eight we were sound asleep!
Waking up around 7 in the morning I fired up the stove and we spent a leisurely morning eating breakfast and brewing up a number of times until I decided I needed to get going. Terry had to catch a bus from Seatoller, so after packing up I said my good byes and left quite late around 11 in the morning. The morning was crystal clear after a cold night and I had spectacular views of snow coated fell tops.
I decided to take the Corridor route, my favourite way to Scafell Pike, but with the late start I was heading to Lingmell from this path and see how I went from there.
The Corridor route was in the shade going up. I always enjoy this route with its twists and turns and odd bits of scrambling here and there. Just before the impressive Piers Gill, I encountered the first patches of snow and ice and decided to put on my Kahtoola microspikes and soon I was glad that I had them climbing the ice covered steep sections. I never felt anything but totally secure, a great product.
Further on I turned right up a short steep section to the snow-covered top of Lingmell with great views all the way round from Great End, Ill Craig, Scafell Pike, down to Wastwater and Wasdale and looking back to Seathwaite in another direction.
During my long lunch I took photos and watched through my binoculars a few walkers struggle up the icy slopes towards the summit shelter of Scafell Pike.
I decided against going to the summit of Scafell Pike, the late start meant that it would probably dark by the time I came down and the summit was now covered in cloud.
Making my way back down the Corridor route, I decided to camp where I had the night before. Arriving back around half past three and then setting up camp. The evening was warmer and my winter sleeping bag was a bit too hot for the conditions.
I woke around 6 and made breakfast. The dawn eventually arrived along with a red sky, before it seemed to get darker as the cloud came down.
The route back to Seathwaite was easy via Stockley Bridge with light drizzle but quite mild. Near to the car I had a long chat with the farmer at Seathwaite. An interesting chap who feels that it is going to be extremely difficult for the next generation to make a living from this harsh and difficult landscape. I am sure however, this has always been the case for hill farmers and lets hope he is wrong for without them the mountains and hills could look very different.
He asked me if my car was the one that has been there for the last few days and warned me that parking there particularly overnight on a Saturday could mean a break in. He suggested that I could leave the car at the little camp site he has, for a fee of course but at least it would hopefully be safe. Back at the car, all was safe and sound, thankfully.
On the way back I took advantage of stopping off at Keswick and a look in the Outdoor stores. I resisted the temptation to get any more gear!