2008/08/01--03 Record of scrambling/walking in the Lake District (by Masa)

[Japanese / English]


Lake District/Patterdale/Hart Crag, Borrowdale/Gillercombe, Green Gable
Claudia, Masa
2008/08/01--2008/08/03 (2 nights)
(Hyperlinks below are to ukclimbing.com unless otherwise mentioned)
Styles: AL = Alternative Lead, O(s) = Onsite, F = Flash, (A) = (a little Advice), G = Ground-up, Hp = Head-Point, MT = Move together, Y(o) = Yo-Yo (or dogged)
Wild camping in Patterdale
  • 2006/02/24 Cloudy with showers
  • 2006/02/25 Rainy, sometimes cloudy
  • 2006/02/26 Rainy with occasional stops


I have been talking to Claudia, I would like to do gill scrambling this summer! Now we come back to the Lakeland. Claudia remembered my words well (thanks!) and suggested to do some gill scrambling this time, taking an advantage of the possible wet weather, according to the forecast. Why not?!


So came we to Link Cove Gill at the foot of Fairfield. A three-star Grade 3 scrambling route. It has been showering last couple of days, and so is today. Hopefully the water level is neither too low nor too high!

First I took normal non-waterproof approaching shoes. By the time we left the walking path, the ground turned to be really boggy. It is the time to get wet? I changed my shoes into gill scrambling ones (their debut time!), and off I went into spongy boggy field then eventually into stream. I gave a hand to Claudia to jump over a stream at one stage, however she slipped and both legs went into the stream. OK, let's give up, and go into gill!

First the stream was faily flat and steady. It would be slower than the walking on the bank, but is certainly more fun, isn't it? Eventually we came across a small fall. The guidebook says, climb on the left. However it looked more fun to climb on the right, being close to the fall. So did we climb in the water splash. Good, this is gill scrambling!

And another fall. Climbed on the right. Claudia spent for ages in a fall. She must be soaked to the bone! I followed.
You climbed fast!, said Claudia.
Sure, I don't like to stay in the cold water too long :-), replied I.
I know. But I'd rather want to be cold than fall.
Very wise. It is definitely the right attitude, Claudia!

And we came across another fall in the gorge. It looked quite steep. This must be the crux, where the guidebook says the rope is advisable. I started leading on the left. I placed the first gear of green Alian in the crack supported by a two-finger-sized down-pointing flake. It can't be trustable. Above, the crucial hold is rounded and a bit green and so is slippery. Foot holds are not good, either. After two attempts to find out the best move, I down-climbed and gave up. It is not worth risking.

However, this has to be climbed! Therefore Claudia went to the top via the bank, and set up the top-rope, and I climbed. The crux move was — certainly hard, and the hold was indeed slippery. I didn't fall, but it was close. Claudia climbed next and fell a couple of times.

Grade 3 scrambling? No way! The crux was a 4c move with a slippery rock, meaning worth 5b–5c in today's condition. I guess when the water level is low, perhaps there are good and hidden holds in a fall. Anyhow it was a good fun. After all this is gill scrambling. Conditions must vary so much! That is a part of a fun, isn't it?

We went on scrambling, either in the gill or escaping to a bank a couple of times, where the direct routes were impassable due to high-water level. And finally we arrived at the plateau, the end of the gill scrambling section. Both of us got soaked to the skin. Most enjoyable!


After yesterday's expedition, I asked Claudia what she would like to do today, where the weather would be supposed to be better, possibly even sunny, wondering whether she would possibly like to do something easier, more relaxing and drier, before she went back to work from Monday. The answer was, Anything, implying she was ready to do another wet gill scrambling. Fantastic! Bring it on, and let's do it, then!

Today we chose Sourmilk Gill near Seathwaite in Borrowdale. Allegedly the most popular gill scrambling route in the Lake District with Grade 1 to 3 (depending on the condition?). The gill was indeed eye-catching while we approached to Seathwaite by car. Nice one. The weather has turned to be wet, though, against the weather forecast. In that sense we have again chosen the right activity on this wet day!

Just minutes after we left Seathwaite, we went into stream. After a couple of small falls, we two stood in front of a big fall. I wimp was searching for the possible escape line on either the banks. Claudia said to me,
Would you like to climb first? Or may I?
Climb — here?, said I, pointing at the centre of the fall.
Of course!

What a girl. After just a day's gill scrambling, she already had grasped how to tackle with and enjoy it. Mervellous!!

Since I am techinically better at climbing than she, as well as better equipped with proper gill scrambling shoes, if I climb first, I can judge how hard it is before her and can warn her about any possibly tricky section etc, should the need be. Therefore, when she is ready for direct climbing (getting wet with the whole body), I felt I ought not escape from it. So did I head for it first.
Well..., OK, I'll climb first.

After all, if we don't get wet, what's the point of gill scrambling?! Get into the waterfall!!
And soaked I got to the bone. Brilliant.

After that I had little hesitation to get wetter, let alone her, and thorougly enjoyed the gill. Some of the waterfalls looked impassable. In other words the water level was again high today, and it must have made the route more exciting!

Finally we climbed the left bank of the high waterfall and abruptly reached the plateau. It was the end of the gill scrambling section. We carried on off to the right for another rock scrambling (Seathwaite Upper Slabs; Grade 3) and then further to Gillercombe North-East Buttress (Grade 3), where we used a rope at one slabby (and of course wet) section.

The day was continuously wet. Then when we came back to Seathwaite after we had finished scrambling and the following round trip to Green Gable, it finally stopped raining, and a beautiful complete rainbow over the horizon welcame us. What a fantastic finale! Rain is not always bad, is it?

This was the most enjoyable weekend trip to the Lake District for me! And I trust Claudia enjoyed herself thoroughly as well!

Image of a rainbow

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