Back to GG

As part of the big five zero bucket list and birthday celebrations I wanted to return to Gaping Gill. As a CPC member I had been previously three times but recently had headed south instead.

I wanted to walk up from the cottage in Horton in Ribblesdale rather than the usual trek from Clapham. This is longer but heads over the limestone pavement and the views are much better.

I had asked previously but there was some disagreement whether to cut across at Nick Pot or climb onto the flanks of Simon Fell.

Leaving my canyoning kit at the cottage [I was guiding Wednesday] I headed u p to Sulber Nick before skirting across to cross the wall at a sheep fold. If the mist is clear you can see a standing stone and isolated tree.

From here you can enter the heads of the valley crossing around to a deer stile on the next wall.

i dropped into Gaping Gill as they were on the final winches of the afternoon.

It was great to be back and good to catch up with some old friends. I was fortunate that three of the four beer fairies were around and other club members from Somerset too. Paul arranged a trip through Stream and out Bar and I guided twice and had two sessions.

As I live a little further away I struggled to get kit over early and so carried it all on my back. With caving kit at 90kg and the same in tent, food, stove and sleeping bag, my bergan was far too big.

I enjoyed the return leg opting for a climb up Fell Beck onto Simon Fell at about 500m before crossing the wall and returning on the main path; I only wish my pack was lighter.

It was great to be back but I think a few years before I return again.

Pillar Rock by Slab and Notch

Tuesday was revolting. This was day 4 of Bob’s time off and we had arranged to head to Pillar Stone by bicycle to climb to the highest point. At sea level it was continuous drizzle but as we cycled up the valley the mountain mist intensified reaching down to ground level.

Bowness Knott is only thirty minutes from home but the inaccessibility of a car ban has meant a long walk in or dual day with bicycle and climbing kit. I felt the additional weight on my saddle as we cycled towards concrete bridge.

[(Photographs taken in descent]
20140730-085356.jpgFrom the turning circle on the south track we headed up hill, the first path was identified, the parking place for the rescue vehicles and then a small cairn indicates where the public footpath crosses. This was where we were to changes modes. We locked bicycles, dumped tubes and considered waterproof trousers. By now visibility was nil and it was raining continuously.

20140730-091450.jpgThe climb is in three sections, the path through the forestry, the waterfall at the pinch point and the climb into Pillar Cove. Once you reach the rock on the forested section your break out into the open moor is imminent.

20140730-092021.jpgThe climb to the fall was soggy despite the dry weather of late and then the climb up into the cove relentless.

After a conversation with Nick the night before we had decided to modify our original plan approaching the western side and climbing Old West. On ascent we had climbed too high up the Eastern side and so opted for a traverse across the Green Ledge. This was the first time that we started to fully appreciate the precarious nature of the polished rock, in mist, on Vibram. A polished step up and around at the end of the Green Ledge provided the key to the west waterfall but on sight the climb back out was slimy and running with water. A retreat was probably a difficult but safe option. Later we questioned this decision, we had a 20m rope with us [expecting to scramble], I had a long sling and short rack of nuts whilst Bob had slings, extenders and hexes. Decisions to retreat are one of the harder ones to make but time has told that often climbers push on far too high.

Time for a re-think; not a difficult one, lose our height or revert to the original plan, Slab and Notch. We went for the latter and once back on the path quickly picked up the junction from Robinsons cairn. The tea-table was passed until a larger cairn was reached and the key to Pisgah and the Jordan gap revealed.

    Still, by far, the best plan of the whole area from Cram, Eilbeck and Roper’s guide.

20140730-100328.jpgDescending from Pisgah the slab of Slab and Notch is obvious, so we traversed around following the worn patches, arrived at the base of the scramble and topped up with bait.

20140730-103537.jpgSlab and Notch is superb. It is definately grade 3 and in the wet and windy conditions touched on the rock grades in places. We were glad of harnesses, helmets and a small rack.

The route starts in a obvious corner and climbs to the top of a slab which you then descend immediately. This is an ‘en derrierre’ move with heels placed firmly in grooves. Moving towards the notch Bob then called

Ten feet!

Suddenly I reliased the disadvantage of our shorter 9mm walking rope.

I stepped up on the second pitch, searching for the polish and then belaying on a precarious sloping and slippery stone above the notch. Bob came up, moved around and re-belayed which acted a key to the final arete and chimney. Bob led the final pitch up the Chimney and topping out secured by my bomb proof thread. This would not be good in descent.

At the summit i began to realise that my bucket list 50 was almmost complete. With Jack Rake complete and now Pillar Rock and with lots of the Industrial sites bagged this year I was lining up for a crescendo in December. We considered options for retreat eventually deciding on the abseil into Jordan Gap. We fitted prusik brakes, enjoyed the exposure and inspected Jodan’s gap west, a no go.

I enjoyed the descent from the gap West facing outwards and using some caving techniques. Very soon we were back at the base of the scramble and back up on Pisgah base. We tried the west descent but part way down decided to return and retreat via Shamrock. It was at this point that the mist suddenly lifted and we were able to see, for the first time our conquest.

20140730-110950.jpgWith the mizzen clear the descent was far more straightforward. We took our time, the camera came out and I looked around reflecting on the day. Although worn I do feel that many of these classic lines will no longer be reclaimed as the access situation, and no options for permits has reduced the visits to practically nil.

Some of my greatest days out have been spent with Bob, both on Mountain and wheel. To associate these for my 49th hit was a true honour.


Scrambling Jacks Rake

An old friend from Allhallows had been in touch and suggested we meet up. He had some time off amidst a Duke of Edinburgh group shadowing. I drove over the passes to meet with him at the Blea Tarn car park. The original plan was to climb Lingmoor Fell and possibly do some ropework as Philip was part way through his Summer ML.

Arriving early, as had Philip, it became obvious that we would have time to change to our original plan, Jakes Rake so we changed bases and set off from the campsite in Great Langdale. Climbing at Stickle Ghyll it was a blistering day and the ghyll scramblers were making the most of the water to keep cool. I elected the true left side of the beck [river right] as the smaller path looked interesting and the visitors would probably be less.

At Stickle Tarn we turned left, chilled for a while before circumnavigating clockwise to pick up the diagonally ascending path across the scree and up to the base of the Rake. As it opened up above us Philip began to realise that this would be a straightforward climb.

Jakes Rake is a fantastic line, never difficult as long as you carefully consider route options. In two places you are pulled rightwards into the slot, which steepens. A reversal or down climb usually reveals an edge or ridge as a more straightforward by-pass. We soldiered on, emerging at a corner, vertical and bulbous. The route continued over smaller slabs or around to a ‘She’ traverse along the cliff edge. We opted for a harder former upward climb.

We emerged at the top, heading right and making for the high point, chatted and then descended towards Harrison Stickle. The final descent stuck to the left side of Stickle Ghyll stopping to admire a fantastic strainer before consuming ale at the Stickle Barn.


Seven acres, Nannycatch gate and the Coffin road, Loweswater

With the summer holidays upon us I have returned to my bicycle and cycled sons to get wheels rolling again. Last week we kicked off with the seven acres loop followed by a loop through Uldale, this week we have headed for Loweswater with son 2.

The Seven Acres loop runs counterclockwise from Gosforth, out through Fleming Hall and Seascale hall and crosses at cross lanes. After negotiating Whitriggs Beck at Panope it then crosses again at the caravan site heading for Bleng bridge. The weather was sunny, the track was hard and dusty and we bowled along glad to get our legs back into spin. At Bolton Head you can elect to add an extra loop into the Bleng; we declined. Nipping back into Gosforth we called at the Red Admiral (closed!) and then the Stanley Arms – effort in fitting new doors, keeping the garden sweet and good beer.

After a dentist appointment Thursday we ended up in Cleator with bikes and so drove up to the Nannycatch Road gate. Bikes off we dropped over the shoulder of Flat Fell skirting Raven crag. Even without the bonus ford we crossed the river eight times, an extra loop has been added. We ummed and ahhed about a return considering Lowther but elected to cut alongside the Uldale plantation returning via Cobra Castle. Again fast and furious due to the dry conditions. The final challenge was the climb back up Nanny catch road; I struggled to keep up with J.

Today, the first Sunday of the holidays proper we headed to Fangs Brow. This is an anticlockwise loop skirting the heights of Loweswater to the south and returning beside the water. The double climb up to Burnbank Fell was hard for H and although we enjoyed the swoops he was clearly not dialled in.

20140720-185358.jpgAt the Holme Wood Gate we decided to descend on the single track and cut short Maggies Bridge. We turned left past Holme force, a new location for me.

20140720-185817.jpg We cut left at Hudson Farm and back onto Tarmac clibing the 1 in 4 back to the car; refreshment was provided at the Brook.

Following the snake

Unusually, I am blogging this in my Ollismark blog rather than the aberrantbee blog. My outdoor ramblings have declined of late, not due to a lack of activities but rather an increase in outdoor time.

The upper Esk is a great trip but we avoid it as it is used by lots of outdoor groups. Today, to improve my logbook I was with one. There are plenty of cowboys out there but Andy Brown runs one of the slickest operations and I was glad to be inboard.

Changing on the green, we unloaded his trailer and dressed into Johns, BAs and spray tops. I opted for a summer rig which went well buts I was a little cold. Three groups were run; we won the fastest up the fell contest and so went first entering the second section at the Roman Bath house (picnic rock) and beginning with a jump river left into the slot canyon (dead sheep jump, below the pinnacle. I had jumped this river right before but Andy always puts the environment first and the right bank is getting overused.

All of our group jumped, some twice swimming upstream the second round the climb the staircase. A rope was dropped into the upper stair river right and left for the other groups. Some kids split here, opting for a scramble out rather than the second ascent, the cream were establishing themselves. Up from here options exist, either a water level traverse or exit onto the right bank. The group were divided.

The lavatory pan was at a good level and so we had a swimming competition before working up the gorge into the green pool. I rigged the climb on a boss, small tree and block thread before bringing up the group and crossing them into the triple jump pool. This was escalated into the ladder climb before jumping into bridge pool and heading for the sphincter.

Just over half jumped this, one lad over rotated, a reminder that the top rock is still quite uneven but smiled at his ‘man of the match’ award.

We caught the piƱacle on the way down (a temple to all things house) and my favourite jump at 7 meters. The offside sycamore is slightly higher at 7.5 but the jump into a slot between submerged boulders harder. The same height as the triple but for me just as satisfying as the take off is cleaner.

We returned to pack up, clear off and slip a slippery one at the Boot beer festival.

A great day out and plenty learnt from Chris. On a personal level I felt no mor inclined to jump the sphincter than normally and think is should be on a continuos Baker loop. After all, as Andy said, they can make there own minds up at 18.

PS Esk is short for esker, a sinuos snake like glacial feature.

Lingmell nose and col

A quick wander last weekend with the intention of circumnavigating to Pen. The weather was poor and as I was solo I decided on a ‘yellow brick road’ return.

Thursday 20th Feb;

Finding the outdoors

I have neglected this blog. The reasons are simple: work. Both paid and voluntary. The latter makes me tick, the former has become burdensome,

As spring smokes it’s daffodils suddenly some clarity returns. Work has tied me to a desk; never the reason I entered teaching whilst my voluntary work frees me from it. Whether it is water, underground or mountain ( my personal ‘Rescue 3′ the key ingredient here is the Great outdoors.

This week I have stepped out four times, all under the rescue umbrella.

Sunday I walked with Ryan around Eskdale fell; a fantastic parempleth of Birketts and crags, waterways and sheep scores. We hopped from Goat to ring contours, outfalls to kettle holes and as altitude increased the cloud base fell. This was precisely the end we needed for poor visibility navigation was our assessment objective. We finished on Catgill crags a place I had only to do list. Smothered with Juniper it beckoned me in. I promised, at that point to take Ryan back sometime.

Tuesday a stretcher was delivered to Dave at Scouts and we searched for Andy up on Tomlin. Six micro outdoorsmen then carried our casualty back to the coast and brightened his evening,



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