I stood watching the black silhouette of the Scafells against a redish glow gradually infiltrating the sky above. As more light spread across the land, the glow became an intense orange concentrated behind Great Gable. A time for contemplation of the walk so far, and the walk ahead.
Today was forecast to be the first of several good days weather, forming a stark contrast in the second half of the trip compared with the first. And it felt different too. The first half of the trip seemed more like work to bag the 8 fells I’d got so far, floundering around in mist and wind. The second half more like play, with enough time to do everything I wanted in nice weather and knowing that I would be revisiting one of my favourite parts of the Lakes.
So, I was in relaxed mood as I breakfasted and struck camp. No real hurry today with a big chunk of the distance to be covered along a road with stunning views in prospect. I headed down the ridgeline with the sea ahead of me, noting that the path was frosted over in several places. Reaching the cairn at Cat Bields, I paused to pick up a connection with the outside world and whilst I was doing this a woman came up to join me for a chat, taking a break from her run. A good twenty minutes or so slipped by in conversation and then I think we both felt the need to get moving, lest we stay there all day. She headed on up towards the summit, while I turned my face towards Glade How below me.
A few minutes only were needed to reach this outcrop, and only a few more to arrive on the top of Buckbarrow, my 213th Wainwright. It was also much nicer than I’d expected from AW’s notes and the map. Here I encountered my second person of the day – a guy who asked me which top this was. After putting him right, I descended down Gill Beck, also a much nicer path than I’d expected.
By the roadside, I paused for a snack and a car pulled up wanting to know where Scafell Pike was. My directions obviously worked as I passed them on their way down later in the day. For me though, my immediate target was away from the top of England. Across the fields to Nether Wasdale, arriving at the Strands just too early for lunch, but not too early for a pint of their Premium Dark Mild. After some negotiations to allow me to order my pie ahead of noon, and accept the necessary wait until the kitchen had booted up, it eventually turned up several minutes ahead of time, making me wonder what all the fuss had been about. I sat out in the sun and had a leisurely repast.
On my way again, I sauntered along the lanes heading for Wasdale Head, a few miles of road walking ahead of me expecting to nicely settle my lunch before the climb up onto the roof of England. All very well in theory, but in practice the beer and indigestion made me sluggish. I toiled along the road, taking full advantage of the necessary view stops. Given this was the best weather I’ve ever had in Wasdale, this was no hardship.
Lunch-induced lethargy was still with me as I looked somewhat enviously at the National trust campsite as I crossed the head of the lake, but I made myself continue, making heavy going of the ascent up Lingmell Gill. Streams of people were coming down, but it seemed I was the only one going up.
The ascent was slow and the decision last night to climb the extra amount onto Seatallan rather than do it this morning was now a huge benefit. Even so, at the pace I was going it didn’t look like I’d reach my planned camp spot on Great End, so I turned my attention to my fallback plan. Gathering water from the gill, I turned left below Scafell Pike and headed for Lingmell.
A few yards away from the summit, I found a suitable spot and up went the tent. The after effects of lunch were still with me and dinner tonight was a buffet of snacks rather than facing another freeze-dried meal.
The sun set over last night’s camp spot, and as the light faded so the wind came, blowing down over Scafell Pike, putting paid to expectations of a still night.