Scrambles in the Lake District – South: A sample route

By John Fleetwood
6 minute read

Covering Langdale, Coniston, Eskdale, Patterdale and High Street, John Fleetwood's Scrambles in the Lake District offers 106 scrambling routes in the south of the national park. Here is a sample route to give you a flavour of what's included.

ROUTE 9 Pavey Ark via Stickle Ghyll and Jack’s Rake

Scrambles in the Lake District -  Jack's Rake map

Start New Dungeon Ghyll car park (NY 294 064)

Grade Stickle (Mill) Ghyll 1, Jack’s Rake 1

Distance 5.75km

Ascent 610m (350m scrambling)

Time 3hr 45min

Conditions All weather, but the gill may prove problematic in high water

Equipment Rope advised for novice scramblers on the early part of Stickle Ghyll

Jack’s Rake is one of the most popular scrambles in Britain – and with good reason, since it takes a compelling line across a huge cliff that looks highly improbable but is revealed to be amenable. The route takes a diagonal course across the face, forming a natural trough which makes for fine situations, with exposure increasing as height is gained. The route makes a good viewing point for the many rock climbs that start or finish at the rake. Like all of the best scrambles, it takes the easiest line in a difficult place, providing a window into the rock climber’s world.

A large path runs up to the tarn at its foot, but the suggested route takes to the boisterous stream that falls from the tarn. Depending on the volume of water flowing, this also gives good scrambling on clean rock with several scenic falls. Given the quality and reputation of the route, you are unlikely to be alone.

31 Stickle (Mill) Ghyll 1 **, +200m, SE aspect, NY 294 066

Summary

Stickle Ghyll is a lively, open gill which provides a sporting alternative to the main path to Stickle Tarn. If there are beginners in your group, a rope will prove valuable. Scrambling is not allowed below the footbridge in the gill during lambing time in April and May.

Approach

From the Stickle Ghyll (New Dungeon Ghyll) car park a path runs up the valley by the side of the stream. It is possible to follow the gill almost from the start although you may have to dodge the many outdoor groups that frequent this area. Alternatively, walk up the path and cross the footbridge before passing a wire fence and stile to where a path forks left into the gill.

Route

The first part of the tree-lined lower section starts with a steep ascent between two small falls, before a tricky traverse on the right wall. Pools and easy steps in a good rock bed make progress interesting. Above the footbridge there is a small rock step then a steeper one, which is best climbed in its cleaner centre at a rib. Novices will need to be roped for this.

Traverse a pool on its right to enter a cleft, passable in low water with bridging past boulders. Otherwise go left to the side of a steep nose. Climb the left of this and move right onto the slabby crest. Soon the main cascades are reached. These are climbed easily on the right (excellent rock) to a junction with the path at a shelf. Here the path can be followed to Stickle Tarn.

Bonus scrambling can be had by an easy scrambling route up the easy-angled rock spur on the right. If the most continuous rock is sought this makes a good way to reach Tarn Crag. Ascend to a terrace where a gangway slants right. Continue to steeper rocks and climb to the foot of a rib. Cross to the more continuous rib on the right and follow it to a shelf below the left-hand side of Tarn Crag, where the Tarn Crag scrambles (23–27) can be incorporated into the day, or else the path rejoined to reach Stickle Tarn.

Jacks rake
Having fun on Jack's Rake

32 Jack’s Rake, Pavey Ark 1 ***, +150m, SE aspect, NY 286 079

Summary

An inescapable way up a big cliff with no route-finding problems but increasing exposure as height is gained. The rake runs diagonally across the crag and follows a trough for much of its course. The trough forms a natural drainage channel and is often wet and always polished by the hundreds of thousands of boots that have passed this way. On a fine day the route can be very crowded; apart from adventurous walkers, rock climbers use it to approach or descend from the climbs. Avoid dislodging stones, particularly onto hidden climbers on the cliffs below, and be aware of those dislodged by others.

Approach

Take the path around the right-hand side of Stickle Tarn. A path slants rightwards up scree to the foot of the rake.

Route

See topo below. The first section follows a polished rocky trough below the rocks of popular rock climbs. There is a stretch of continuous scrambling either in the trough for maximum security or, more elegantly, on its stepped left edge, to exit at a prominent tree. The rake levels briefly and passes below Gwynne’s Chimney before a short, steep, more exposed step. The trough then deepens again and exits at an airy platform, passing a prominent ‘gun’ rock on the way.

Topo
Topo of the route

Continue up the gully until the path goes left onto the front of the broad buttress. There is a well-cleaned, direct way with a steep start (Grade 3), but it is easiest to continue with a slight descent before the track climbs again to finish up slabs into a shallow depression with a large cairn at the top. This is just right of a prominent rock tower. Just over the wall is the walkers’ path but a better finish is over the rocks on the right to the summit.

Descent

The quickest way down is to take the path to the E down a wide scree gully, or you can continue over the top of Harrison Stickle, descending via the path past Thorn Crag.

Scrambles in the Lake District - South

Scrambles in the Lake District - South

Langdale, Coniston, Eskdale, Patterdale & High Street

£17.06

Guide to 106 scrambling routes climbing the rocks and ghylls of the English Lake District, covering the southern area including Langdale, Coniston and Eskdale. Routes range from grade 1 to V Diff (use of a rope is recommended for grade 2 and above) and can be linked to form 24 longer outings. With advice on equipment and safety.

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