The Roof of England

Wasdale Head Travel Blog

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Not a lot to see on Scafell Pike summit
It had rained over night and the whole area around me was knee deep in clag, with a slow moving thick cloud creeping up the paths that just twelve hours earlier had seen thousands of footfalls.  I had a breakfast of an energy bar and packed up quickly in case the rain decided to get in on the act too.

I trudged up into the clouds and was soon surrounded by a thick engulfing clag, I took a compass bearing and headed up to Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England.  Despite the weather there was still plenty of eager walkers traipsing up the tracks and clambering over the summit rocks, after all it was the weekend, peak time in the Lakes and a little bit of cloud was not going to spoil their plans.  I was pleased to find a spring straight out of the ground on the way up and this allowed me to drink some fresh water and ‘top’ up what I was already carrying.

I met and chatted with a few people heading towards the summit including a guy who was completing the National Three Peaks, this consists of climbing the highest summits in Wales (Snowdon), England (Scafell Pike) and Scotland (Ben Nevis).  The method of transport between the peaks varies, but includes sailing, driving and his chosen method cycling.  He soon left me, as he was travelling very light and I would get to see him again on his return journey of course.

The advantage of the poor visibility is that sometimes you can be surprised how quickly you arrive at the target destination, and no sooner had I seen my three peaks friend again than I was standing next to the summit cairn of the highest point in England.  I spent a little while here, but as there was not anything to see it did not seem to make any sense to delay there too long.  I started making my way down chatting to a gentleman from London who had ‘popped’ up for the day, he had driven up this morning and was returning in the evening, making the most of his wife’s absence attending their daughters hen night celebrations in Amsterdam.  I could not understand some guy who seemed keen to race his way down the valley over some rough path, setting such a pace that his partner was having to virtually jog behind him, and was an accident just waiting to happen.  I have been involved with a few recues on the hills and at least two of them were caused by somebody running down a slope.

Great Gable with its summit obscured by cloud

As I began to descend into the valley the clouds started to lift and the sun decided it was overdue an appearance.  I was heading to a campsite at Wasdale Head which would give me a half hour head start in the morning for my proposed route.  The campsite turned out to be nothing more than a field, with a nearby pub, but there were not any other facilities, guess that hot shower was going to have to wait awhile.  It was however a cheap field.

I booked in and bought some fuel, both for my stove and myself and quickly pitched my tent.  I then took a short walk up the beck than runs down the valley and found a suitable spot which was relatively deep and was unlikely that I would get disturbed too much.  Stripping down to my icebreakers I slipped in and had a bit of a splash around and good wash, including a few items of clothing.  A number of people went past and there were a few raised eyebrows, one guy asked me if it was cold ....................... duh!

I decided to get something to eat in the pub and opted for the goulash soup, which although a bit thin was still very tasty.  I also had a slice of carrot cake and a glass of cider, easy this trekking lark.  The pub got progressively busier as people dropped down off the hills, I chatted to a few people but after awhile decided I had enough of other peoples company.

I had not been able to use my mobile phone since Coniston, and although I had texted my intended route for a few days to a friend, it had subsequently had to change due to the fuel issue and I needed to let her know I was okay.  The public telephone at the pub was not working so I took a walk down the valley to the National Trust campsite at Wasdale.  It was a pleasant little trek in the warm sunshine, and it was interesting to see how the ‘other’ half lived in the comfort of the fully equipped campsite.

Fortunately the telephone here was in working order and I was able to contact my friend.  She immediately informed me that she would have to call me back as she needed to speak to the police as she had spoken to them earlier as she had been worried that I had not been in touch.  A sensible precaution I guess, amusing, yes, but it would have been embarrassing if I had not bothered to make this little excursion and the mountain rescue had arrived at the campsite looking for me later in the evening!

Wandering around a little aimlessly I stumbled upon St Olaf's church which is thought to date back to before the 15th century, a pretty little church, the smallest in Lakeland, which is situated near the highest peak and the deepest lake in the National Park.

St Olaf's Church

I returned to the field where I was camped and continued to wile away the day doing nothing of any real consequence, a little reading, listening to music and checking my route for the following day.  It was Saturday and the field was becoming quite busy and beginning to resemble a real campsite.  The drawback to this was that it was also pretty noisy and campers were making the most of the weather enjoying a barbecue and beers under a blue sky.  Horrors of horrors in the middle of a Lakeland field the curse of the hostel came to haunt me, another loud snorer!  I wonder if he had been staying in Coniston a few days ago.

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Not a lot to see on Scafell Pike s…
Not a lot to see on Scafell Pike …
Great Gable with its summit obscur…
Great Gable with its summit obscu…
St Olafs Church
St Olaf's Church
Wasdale Head
photo by: joseph98