Tom had wanted to climb to the highest point in England but climbing, rather than walking, was not likely to be the best fit with a free weekend in October, a time when high mountain crags are often cold, damp and windy but, buoyed on by a good forecast, we packed up and headed westwards in the darkness after tea one Friday night.
Saturday dawned bright and fair holding the promise of a good day. We packed up the van and drove on a few miles to breakfast by Wast Water before the final twisty narrow road to the end of the valley. With the gear evenly divided between us, well ‘even’ when based on a ratio of our ages, we left the van behind and despite the cold air the busy Hollowstones path soon had us shedding layers and sweating under the strengthening sun.
Leaving the path, and everyone else, behind we traversed into a different world of scree and solitude. Looking up we traced the line of Grooved Arete before finding the base of the route and gearing up.
The last few times I’d been up this way it was either dark or misty so both Tom and I fully appreciated the fantastic cragscape from the shadowy Scafell Crag on the right, past the screes of Mickeldore to Pikes Crag on the left which was just catching the morning sun.
The first pitch, up a prominent groove, was still shaded and consequently the rock was cold and greasy. I was very glad to be heading for the sun even if we weren’t quite there yet. Belayed on a large ledge Tom followed without complaint although some of the moves were quite tough for him especially as he had to use smaller intermediate holds that I’d bypassed.
It was unsurprisingly rather busy on top with the usual wide array of people that ‘highest points’ attract. We stayed awhile before following the main motorway back down which gave great views and easy walking so we could appreciate them. We left Wasdale bathed in beautiful evening light for a slap up pub feast in Buttermere and a great night’s sleep in the van.
Above things were thankfully a little warmer. A few patches of dewy grass caused a little consternation but away from the vegetation the rock was dry and the climbing excellent. We came across some tat and a sling, evidence of someone else’s retreat. Under the guise of tidying up the crag we took it with us: crag swag always makes Tom’s day.
Grooves, cracks and slabs came and went. We were having a great time with the route, and the crag, to ourselves yet with a steady procession of hundreds snaking their way along the paths below. Another pair across the corrie on Scafell Crag were moving slowly, no doubt cold in the shade. As we reached the top, they were abseiling off with their own adventure to tell.
One short abseil was needed to leave our own little summit and join the main mountain where we packed up, ate some lunch and set off up the last few metres to the highest point in England.
To see more adventures from Ben and Tom take a look at this video