Scafell Pike from Wasdale
Wasdale at dawn, was soft with hazy light. The boulder strewn valley appearing vast as the sides merged into the undefined skyline. It was 8am, but the tardy start of the sun in January meant we arrived before sunrise hit the valley.
There were only two other cars in the car park at Wasdale Head so it was a very peaceful, promising, start to the day. The sky was clear, with not a cloud in sight as we set off up the valley towards Sty head with Kirk Fell and Gable towering to the left.
Our route was to head up to Sty Head, take the corridor route between Lingmell and Broad Crag, then to Scafell Pike. I was to discover the slight frustration of not actually being able to see ‘the destination’ for most of the walk.
The promising dawn continued to delight for a couple of K and an hour or so. Brushing the top of Lingmell with watery pink before anointing Kirk Fell and the crags below Gable.
There was only a light frosting of snow on the highest tops and we reached Sty Head before there was any underfoot.
Then, without warning and as we watched the cloud rolled in. A breezed tossed and played with snowflakes, so light at first there was surely no chance of them reaching the floor.
All in our group were well equipped and expecting snow, though not quite so early, still it was a salutary lesson in how quickly the conditions can change. The snow fall increased, but thankfully we remained sheltered from the wind in the Corridor. Definitely not photography weather though. I had taken my small FujiFilm Bridge camera, which with everything on auto I can just about use with my gloves on. Even then there are some wonderful snow splodges on the lens.
But being wrapped up and the visibility still fairly good the snow added an extra dimension. The massive black fissures were enhanced with white edging and there was an eerie, muffled silence punctuated by the unique squeak of dry snow. A few groups were out on the hill, and after all the awful rain recently, without exception, all were cheery in the wintery weather. We made it to the top, though it was just a token few seconds on the summit cairn. I was as pleased as Rosie to get off and round the side, out of the wind the final hike exposed us to.
A quick warm drink and the inevitable flapjack to fuel the downward hike. Easy to follow the cairns down Brown Tongue and Lingmell Gill, though the paths were slippery with the snow cover. It was far safer to stomp over the now frozen turf where possible. This route rewards with the dramatic sight of the hollow between Sca Fell and Scafell Pike on one side and Lingmell on the other.
Snow was the winner in the race down and what were green valley sides at dawn, were now white, though the valley floor was still holding tight.
Still a child at heart I just love the snow and as long as I feel safe, there is nothing better than being out in the hills in it. I do recognise my limitations and wouldn’t attempt a ridge walk. I now need to go back on a sunny day, so I can enjoy the view! The route.
Wainwright’s walk up Sca Fell Pike is in his Southern Fells Book. More pictures here.