Oliver Gill Scrambling

10 06 2016

Tue 10 May 2016
As it’s named after me and I’d heard good things about the scrambling in it, I thought it was high time I had a look at Oliver Gill. Most Lake District aficionados have probably never heard of it and don’t know where it is so, not only will I tell you, I’ll provide pictures 🙂

click on photos for full size/resolution – Richard’s photos as marked

Under the west side of Scafell, Oliver Gill gives a great route up onto Great How Crags from Burnmoor Tarn. From the east end of the tarn, head towards Scafell’s broad side by crossing both rivers across the boggy moss towards Great How Crags. Keep walking under the steep side of the Crags until you reach a pretty gill heading up them.

On the way past Burnmoor Tarn, we saw where the fire had been the day before. The Fire Brigade were in Boot Village eating ice cream from the village shop when we arrived back from our walk the day before.

Burn Moor Burnt Moor!

On reaching the gill, all starts off very calmly and, for a while, I thought the scramble was only really going to consist of rocky walking along slabs in the beck. As it was dry weather, the water level was quite low and the rocks were very dry so it was pretty walking but very tame. It was a lovely hot day though so neither Richard nor I minded this. He pretty much stuck to the bank and took photos as he doesn’t feel supple enough for scrambling nowadays.

Oliver Gill Start

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R Wood

At one point, there was a lovely, long and narrow arête on the left-hand side which we both balanced along the top of for the practice. For some reason though, neither of us seemed to have thought of taking a photo of this which is a shame…

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Richard took a photo from it though…

The gill soon reaches a corner where it suddenly leaps upward in a large double waterfall either side of a high, smooth block. The right-hand section is the more practicable (the left side looked well out of my league for lone scrambling) and, in the dry, is fairly easily ascended. I only chickened out at one point and went up exceedingly steep grass to the right for a short distance…

(following photos R Wood)

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I initially avoided a tight corner near the top of the fall with a small chockstone at the bottom but, after studying it from above, went back down to tackle it instead.

Oliver Gill-the waterfall crux
from directly above (click for close-up)

Oliver Gill-scramble out of waterfall top
from the approach – Richard waiting above

After a few brave (for me) moves, I was atop the chockstone and looking at a short, slimy chimney. I puzzled over this for a while but, in the end, did my scrambling ‘party trick’ and went up backwards! People find this really strange and one of my guides was very amused to see it but it seems a great way of wedging yourself up a tight spot. I basically just put my leg high up on the opposite wall and push myself hard backwards up the opposite wall. With it being slimy, this was extra easy and I soon had my bum on the step above. From there it was a bit of easy clambering to join Richard at the top.

Oliver Gill-looking down waterfall
Just came up there 🙂

Richard’s photos of the left branch of the waterfall – too tough for me!

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The top of the fall was a great spot to lounge in the sun on the large rocks in the middle of the river.

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R Wood

Burnmoor Tarn from Oliver Gill Watefall

I sent Richard to look at my ‘tight spot’ on the waterfall and we eventually strolled off along the upper gill towards its source.

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R Wood

If you didn’t mind getting your feet wet or were suitably shod, you could easily scramble the whole gill but the pools were a bit deep and I didn’t want to either scramble in bare feet or get water in my boots so I had to stick to the bank from here.

Burnmoor Tarn from Oliver Gill
final look back to Burnmoor

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couldn’t get to this rock ladder on the right for a pool (both R Wood)
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The side banks are pretty steep in places but I think you could proceed along either side. We chose the right-hand side which had a bit of a path along it so I think we’re in the majority there. All was very straightforward.

Oliver Gill to Wasdale
Steep sided gorge

At a split further up, we stuck to the left-hand branch but, if you wanted to visit the seldom-visited summit of Great How Crags, you’d be better on the right-hand branch as that heads straight for them.

Oliver Gill (upper)
Final look back…

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Richard’s photo is actually better I think

I knew we could pick up the Terrace Path back to Eskdale (Wha House carpark) if we headed towards the foot of Slight Side so that’s what we did. There was a mile or so of tedious pathless moorland walking to reach it and we were surprised to find a small piece of crashed plane along here. I remembered hearing about a crash under Slight Side but couldn’t remember the details and we couldn’t see any more sections of plane.

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Slight Side (R Wood)

We were soon heading down to Eskdale on the excellent Terrace Path. I’ve only ever followed this in ascent to Slight Side to do Scafell and have to say that I found it harder to keep track of in descent. It’s very pretty though and keeps a nice gradient all the way back to the road.

Cat Crag & Crinkles from Terrace Route

Descending Slight Side on the Terrace Route

Slight Side from Terrace Route

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Back to Slight Side (R Wood)

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14 responses

27 06 2016
McEff

I’ve learnt something there. I thought I knew that area, but Oliver Gill’s a new one on me. Great stuff.
Alen

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28 06 2016
mountaincoward

I only really knew of it because I noticed the name on the map and was intrigued 🙂

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28 06 2016
McEff

I wonder who Oliver was.

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28 06 2016
mountaincoward

Well it was named for me of course! 😉

Liked by 1 person

24 06 2016
Blue Sky Scotland

Looks a nice scramble. Always nice on a hot day clambering beside waterfalls.

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26 06 2016
mountaincoward

Just, next time, I need to take some shoes I can wade in!

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17 06 2016
chrissiedixie

Not a big scrambler- but still looked fun. And I keep wondering about a wild camp at Burnmoor Tarn…

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19 06 2016
mountaincoward

Well we (me and you) were discussing having a wild camp at Brats Moss stone circles which I’d still like to do and that’s very near. I like Burnmoor Tarn as a location too – something brooding about that water 🙂
Carol.

Liked by 1 person

17 06 2016
fedup

Interesting looking gill, I’ve only crossed its upper reaches on my way to Great how from Wasdale, wish I’d followed it up! There are the remains of two Hawker Hurricanes on that side of Slight Side which make for a worthwhile detour.

Cheers Simon

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19 06 2016
mountaincoward

I’ll have to try to find the rest of the crashed aircraft next time. Definitely take some shoes you can use in the water and give the whole gill a go. It was great above that waterfall too (although that was definitely the biggest and hardest bit) but the pools were just too deep for me with my normal approach shoes on.

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12 06 2016
tessapark1969

Nice report. I might need to try your scrambling technique!!

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12 06 2016
mountaincoward

It’s weird but easy 🙂

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11 06 2016
underswansea

Very nice looking country. Sounds like a wonderful day. I would have enjoyed scrambling through the rocks when I was younger. Now it’s all about the easiest way. I like the sound of your ‘party trick’ manoeuvre. However, I hope I never have to use it. I always enjoy your adventures. Take care. Bob

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12 06 2016
mountaincoward

Thanks Bob – that’s our beautiful English Lake District!

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