Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Wainwright’s Seven Summits – 18 June

After most of a week fretting about the weather for the weekend and, in particular, about the band of heavy rain due in Cumbria on Friday night and Saturday morning we decided to postpone the start time by two hours. Setting off at 11:00 should mean missing the worst of the rain and enjoying the improving weather as the day went on.

AW7-2011-100Potatoes, pasta and a vegetable sauce for Saturday 

“Decision made” means kit and food to prepare and even more weather forecast checking and unsettled seemed the only appropriate description. Last year I attempted to solo the route but the weather got the better of me and I was pleased when Helen said she would like to have a run round it with me. Rae, Helen’s husband, would help Pauline and Keith with the road support and so all we needed was some good weather and a bit of luck.

AW7-2011-1With Helen almost ready to start

At 11:00 on Saturday morning we set off from Cow Bridge car park to visit High Raise (1), Scafell Pike (2), Great Gable (3), Grasmoor (4), Skiddaw (5), Helvellyn (6) and High Street (7).

AW7-2011-101Deepdale Hause

Little could be seen of the fells surrounding Deepdale because of the low cloud which is very atmospheric but makes route finding that bit more difficult. Once over the hause we should have been able to see several of the Seven Summits but we could only just see Grisdale Tarn.


AW7-2011-102Grisedale Tarn

AW7-2011-103Looking north from High Raise

After High Raise conditions began to deteriorate, imperceptibly at first, but on Scafell Pike visibility was very poor and I was unable to find my preferred descent and we returned to the top of Little Narrowcove for he descent to the Corridor Route and Great Gable.


AW7-2011-104Great Gable from the Corridor Route

AW7-2011-105Descending into Ennerdale (1)

AW7-2011-106Descending into Ennerdale (2)

AW7-2011-107Fleetwith Pike on the right with Buttermere and Crummock Water beyond

AW7-2011-3Enjoying the pasta & sauce at Buttermere

AW7-2011-2Enjoying the day and the pasta & sauce

We struggled to keep to the schedule all day; Helen had to wait for me on the ascents and I for her on the descents which meant we left Buttermere an hour later than planned – which wasn’t in itself a problem but when added to the delayed start it meant we were three hours behind the original schedule and probably wouldn’t have daylight for the descent from Wandope. Rain and thick clouds swirled around Grasmoor and visibility was so poor that we failed to find Wandope until our second attempt. Descending in thick mist and rain we were unable to find the path to Rigg Beck and lost another hour doing so. We hadn’t expected the weather to deteriorate like this on Saturday night and by the time we reached Rae, Pauline and Keith at Rigg Beck it was obvious that without a significant improvement in conditions we were just going to lose more and more time through the night and so bailed out and went home.

By Rigg Beck we had done about 30 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing which wasn’t a bad day out and it was one we both enjoyed, until the last hour or so. I think we might be back for another attempt although we will need to reduce the amount of time spent waiting on each other and, perhaps, we need to try to remember that “unsettled weather” is likely to be far from ideal. Huge thanks are due to Pauline, Rae and Keith for the road support!


  1. despite everything it still sounds like a good day out in the hills! you certainly look to be enjoying your pasta ;) will you be able to have another go this year? ...is there a fixed route or 'runners choice'?

  2. It was a good day out and we both enjoyed the hills until the last one. This was the only weekend this year we could manage - hence the decision to risk the "not very good" weather. No fixed route and there is more information here http://www.gofar.org.uk/

  3. Well done Ian, I was wondering how you were getting on in that weather. Glad to see you enjoyed yourselves.

  4. good effort ian. btw what camera do you have? as ever the shots are stunning!

  5. Thanks Charlie and thanks for your comment. Glad you like the photos, usually I use a Canon Powershot G11 which is small enough (just) to run with. Although only point-and-shoot the G series allow a great deal of control. I also have a tiny Panasonic with a good Leica lens which allows less control but still produces good images, see