Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Wainwright’s Seven Summits – 05 May

Wainwright’s Seven Summits comprise High Raise, Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Grasmoor, Skiddaw, Helvellyn and High Street being the highest fell in each of AW’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. A linear route visiting each of them was devised in 1995 by Geoff Saunders of the LDWA as a 60th Birthday celebration. More recently John Fleetwood established a circular route starting in Ambleside. More details can be found on Tony Wimbush’s GoFar website. John’s route includes more tarmac in and out of Ambleside than I would like and so I had previously linked High Street with Dovedale, Dunmail and High Raise but on both previous attempts the weather was poor and I was unable to get round. The route generated interest amongst the long distance specialists in The Rucksack Club and so I was “persuaded” to organise an attempt on Wainwright’s Seven Summits as a continuous walk.

Leaving Dunmail Raise on a sunny but cold morning we could barely believe our luck with the weather. A cool breeze blew on the tops of the fells and was pleasant most of the day.

AW7_RC-1From High Raise (1) looking towards Scafell Pike (2) with Great Gable (3) on the right

AW7_RC-2From High Raise (1) looking north to Skiddaw (5)


AW7_RC-3Second breakfast at Esk Hause where footwear is more interesting than food  [Rae, Helen, Mark, Tom and Will]


AW7_RC-4Looking south west across Eskdale from the approach to Scafell Pike (2)

AW7_RC-6Descending Scafell Pike (3)

AW7_RC-5Looking towards Great Gable (3) with Grasmoor (4) to the left and Skiddaw (5) in the distance

AW7_RC-7Approaching Great Gable (3) on the right and looking into Wasdale

AW7_RC-8Mark on Great Gable (3) with Wasdale and Scafell Pike (2) behind him

AW7_RC-9From Great Gable (3) looking back to Great End

AW7_RC-10Looking into Ennerdale (left) and Buttermere (right)


Despite a late start and without pushing the pace we reached Buttermere pretty much on schedule, impressing our road support with our punctuality for the first and only time. Pauline and Geoff were all set up and prepared for us before we arrived. This was the longest leg and took most of the scheduled nine hours which made me begin to think my schedule might be about right.


AW7_RC-12Climbing out of Buttermere

AW7_RC-13Mark with the Buttermere Fells behind

AW7_RC-14From Grasmoor (4) summit looking west to the Isle of Man as the sun begins to colour the evening sky

AW7_RC-15Rigg Beck – Support Team caught out when we arrived almost an hour early!

Whether it was the dropping temperature, the reviving tea at Buttermere or the looming visit to the chippie in Keswick I don’t know but we cracked on up and over Grasmoor to arrive more than a little early.

AW7_RC-16Newlands valley

AW7_RC-17Latrigg in the evening sun as we approach Keswick

Early in Keswick didn’t matter as it gave us extra time to get sorted for the night section and time to “sit in” at the fish and chip shop – a real bonus. Pleased as we were with the weather we were barely aware of the special full moon that was rising as we ate – a perigee full moon. The word perigee describes the moon’s closest point to Earth for a given month and this would be the brightest of the year. So bright and strong that we didn’t need torches on Skiddaw where we were accompanied by moon shadows both up and down the mountain.

Eventually, dark clouds blew in and obscured the moon and we were obliged to use our torches. We left Keswick about half an hour ahead of schedule assuring Pauline and Geoff that the combined effects of weariness, darkness and the fish & chips would ensure our pace would slow and we wouldn’t be early again but we were. After breakfast and before first light we headed south to Helvellyn on a very cold morning. High hazy clouds developed and the sun was long over the horizon when we summited.

AW7_RC-18Helvellyn (6) Trig Point looking east

AW7_RC-20Looking west a little later

AW7_RC-19St Sunday Crag under its own cloud cover

AW7_RC-21Angle Tarn with High Street (7) in the distance

AW7_RC-22Seventh Summit [Will, Tom and self]

AW7_RC-23Looking down into Mardale

After the glorious weather on Saturday and through the night we watched the clouds build during Sunday morning until we could see heavy showers to both the north and the south of the High Street ridge. Approaching the summit the first of the showers, snow showers, arrived – a perfect finish!

Six of us set off from Dunmail for High Raise and Mark had to head home after Keswick while Rae & Helen had to head home after Helvellyn leaving Tom, Will and myself to complete Wainwright’s Seven Summits before dropping down to meet Geoff and Pauline. Thanks to everyone who came along but most especially to Geoff & Pauline for providing flawless support despite our inability to get anywhere near the schedule.

The numbers: about 61 miles, 19,000 feet of climbing and 29.25 hours of eating, drinking & walking.


  1. Blooming brilliant Ian. Well done on completing the Seven and on the cracking photos!

  2. A great write up Ian and really good photos. A great weekend.

  3. Some fantastic photos there well done Ian!

  4. Very impressive!