Eagle & Sergeants Crags, Borrowdale

12 06 2021

Richard and I had a trip back to one of our favourite hotels for a short break when the lockdown ended.  The weather was mostly dire and Richard’s legs were very unfit so we stuck to short walks between the showers where possible.  This was one of the shortest mountain walks I could think of in the area and, as I hadn’t done Eagle Crag for years but had been looking at it each time I was down Borrowdale, I thought it would make an excellent choice for our second day!

All photos:
Richard’s digi point and shoot as I didn’t bother to take my camera – I did direct the shots though!

I decided not to take my camera on the hill as, when it comes to the Lakes nowadays, I think I’ve pretty much photographed every rock.  I knew Richard would take his digi-camera and it takes reasonable photos so I decided to just rely on that.  Pretty much all the photos are directed by me though – you know ‘line it up on that’, ‘I want the photo to focus on that’ etc.  Richard was happy to oblige…

The first day, just to break Richard’s legs – sorry, to break Richard’s legs IN, we just did Dock Tarn via the wonderfully named Willygrass Gill, continued on to Watendlath and then walked back over the standard route to Rosthwaite and our hotel. I’ll put a couple of photos from that day here first…


Willygrass Gill


Eagle & Sergeants Crag from top of Willygrass Gill


Dock Tarn

On the second day, we’d walked to the foot of Greenup Gill, crossed the bridge to the bottom of Eagle Crag, passed through three fields and then set off up the steep climb by the wall which led to the foot of the crags.  Around a third of the way up here, Richard declared there was no way he was going to be able to get up the hill!

So, I had to switch to my usual mode – persuasion mode!  I convinced him that we’d go slower and take little rests and then he’d have no problem.  He looked doubtful but continued up.  I zig-zagged as much as I could to ease the angle of the slope and eventually we made it up to the little col under the crags.

There is an awkward leaning stile here over the fence.  I’ve no idea what you’d do if you were on your own (as I normally would be) as it was necessary for someone to hold the hand post in the fence up against the pressure of the person trying to surmount the high step to cross the stile.  Basically, without pulling on the hand post, you wouldn’t be able to get onto the step as it’s so high.  So, luckily there were two of us and the people behind us were also in a two otherwise we’d have had to wait for them and hold the post for them too.

The path then ascends steeply up a grassy rake onto a shoulder at the foot of a gully – the gully is key to the ascent but you can’t really miss it as you can’t continue along the rake after it.  From here it’s a stupendous drop down to the valley so I got Richard to take a photo of it.

 

The end of the rake (above) the shoulder (below)

 

We then headed up to the foot of the gully.  I’ve only done Eagle Crag once before from this side and that’s when I was still very green and cowardly and ‘doing my Wainwrights’.  All I can remember from the whole climb is THE GULLY!  I hated it back then.  I can’t remember any other excitements to the fell at all from all those years ago which is what makes me think the route has now changed…

 

Approaching THE GULLY – which is steeper and rockier than it looks!

Now Richard had with him a walking pole which, for scrambling, is a bloody nuisance!  So, for most of the way up the gully, I had to scramble one-handed (despite it being slippery and very wet) and take his pole up with me.  There were a few places where I had to pass it back to him and then have it passed back up and some where I just threw it up ahead but, thoughout, it was a bloody nuisance!  Luckily, I’m much more confident nowadays and so was perfectly happy.

At the top of the gully, I got a surprise!  The rest of the route was nothing like I remembered and there’s no way I’d have been happy on it all those years ago.  I believe last time, we went slightly left and then just clambered up various small rocky steps to the summit.  This time, we set off along a ledge – there was a bit of heathery ground before the humungous drop to the valley and I was perfectly happy.  Richard took photos…

 

Looking back to the tree at the top of the gully


There isn’t a handrail on the ledge – it’s actually a vein of rock!

You can see on the first of the photos of the ledge that it then continues round the corner gleaming wetly… Around the corner, the heather edging disappeared until you were pretty much at the very edge of the big drop.  I wasn’t really worried but hoped it wouldn’t collapse and that neither of us would slip on the wet, smooth rock.  I continued on confidently but wondered about the less confident-looking couple behind…

I looked behind periodically to make sure they were still following okay – they were but didn’t look totally happy.  I kept a bit of an eye on them and, eventually, after a long traverse, the path decided to hop up to a higher ledge away from the drop and go back the other way.

There was then another ledge running back the other way again and I started to look for easy ways up the crag band – at this stage around 15 feet tall.  I soon found a very nice looking gully and we hopped up that.  We were still in sight of the other couple so I assumed they’d follow which I think they did.

There was then another ledge right and, as it petered out, there were at least two easy ways up to the summit.  Richard went the grassy way and I romped up some slabs to the summit.

 

Presently the other couple caught up.  Richard asked them if they’d found it fun?  They didn’t really agree but they looked glad to have finally reached the summit.  We left them to it and headed off towards Sergeants Crag – a very easy stroll across a col.

 

Sergeants Crag from Eagle

Leaving Eagle Crag, you descend to a wall where there is a small and fun rock step – you pretty much have to sit down for this one… We then continued wetly along the ridge for a short distance to the start of the ascent of Sergeants.  This is a very easy ascent and you’re soon at the summit…

 

Looking back to Eagle Crag – the ledges work their way up the left-hand side from the obvious shelf above the more vertical stuff

 

Sergeants Crag Summit

After a short sit we set off down the grassy back into the coombe behind (having to climb over an awkward fenced wall en route) to rejoin the Greenup Beck route for our return.  There was a nice tarn down the back…

 

I’m always fascinated by Lining Crag as it’s a huge excrescence on an otherwise grassy hillside so I got Richard to take lots of photos of it…

 

We then crossed the valley to join the route down beside Greenup Gill – a very pretty and pleasant route it is too!


 


Final look back up Greenup Beck to Lining Crag

 


And a final look back to our route up Eagle Crag

Despite Richard’s protestations at the start of the day, on quizzing him when we got back, it turned out that he’d found it a very entertaining and exciting day and absolutely loved Eagle Crag!  Just shows you should never give up but press on instead!

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17 responses

30 06 2021
tessapark1969

Nice to see you posting again. I haven’t done these two and really don’t fancy that route up the front of Eagle Crag!

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30 06 2021
mountaincoward

Just follow Greenup Beck until you’re just under Lining Crag and then turn across the river and go up grass to the back of them both. Really easy from that side – we did them that way in snow one winter…

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19 06 2021
underswansea

Great write up! Very nice photo of you standing on the boulders with the grey clouds behind. Definitely looked like some steep pitches to get up. Maybe Richard brought the sticks so you could pull him up these spots. (just joking) Good to see you out on the trails. Take care.

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21 06 2021
mountaincoward

Now he isn’t as supple as he once was, and now I climb and he doesn’t, there have been gullies where I’ve literally pulled him up steep bits on the rope!

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16 06 2021
Mark

An interesting post of a corner of the Lakes I don’t know that well. It’ll come in handy on the future I’m sure.

I’m glad I’m not the only person who doesn’t like walking poles. Okay, they have used. I often take one when carrying camping gear or if I think I’ll have rivers to cross. But beyond that I just find them a chuffin’ hassle. I do wonder if folk using them are losing their nature balance because of the poles. As for the claims about saving joints. I’ve yet to read any research that is any better than manufacturers survey claims. I’m willing to be convinced.

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16 06 2021
mountaincoward

Those are exactly my feelings about poles. They’re very useful for rivers and heavy pack carrying but I’d only ever take one anyway. I also think people relying on poles never build up the muscles around their joints and are definitely losing their natural balance.

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13 06 2021
bob

Borrowdale was where we first started rock climbing, hill walking and camping in the Lakes as it was the closest to Scotland travelling down from the north so I have very fond memories of it. Very lush and green with great little steep crags soaring out the woods below.

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13 06 2021
mountaincoward

I’ve just been looking up whether Lining Crag gets climbed – I assumed it did but our club never mentions it. Anyway, there’s 15 routes on it apparently including a Diff up one of the edges and it’s West facing. You never know, I might end up giving it a go one day if they decide to include it on a meet. Did you guys ever do it or did you stick to the stuff in the valley?

I’m off for an Amble to Dove’s Nest Crags sometime as there’s some subterranean climbs there and I’d be interested in those. I prefer to visit a crag for a look before trying to climb though – kind of get a feel for whether I like the place or not. Makes all the difference when I have to climb it!

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14 06 2021
bob

Low down- ten to 15 mins walk from road. Shepherd’s Crag- Little Chamonix VD and Ardus VS. Black Crag. Troutdale Pinnacle S. Raven Crag.- Corvus Diff. All multi pitch climbs between 3 and 7 pitches long. Glillercombe Buttress- Severe. 330 metres long. A big mountain route 7 pitches in total. Little Chamonix probably the best for you. Great views over Derwent water and easy with a rope and a rock climber leading the route..3 pitches long.

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16 06 2021
mountaincoward

I keep meaning to look up where Troutdale Pinnacle is (not that I fancy it – at all!) I don’t really do multi-pitch if I can help it but I do fancy Doves Nest area. I hated Shepherds Crag and probably won’t go again (I knew I would before I went).

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13 06 2021
John Bainbridge

Looks grand – soldier on!

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13 06 2021
mountaincoward

I’ll tell Richard – it’s him who needs to do the soldiering! 😉

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13 06 2021
treksandtors

Not done either of these two, but might pencil them in for when I come up in July as they always look amazing from Borrowdale, I’m guessing up Eagle Crag is far more suitable than down that way

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13 06 2021
mountaincoward

Neither Wainwright nor I would recommend descending that route in case of route finding difficulties. There are some large drops if you get it wrong! Definitely best to go up that way – it’s great fun. If you’re feeling energetic, you can do what I did the first time and continue onto High Raise, then across the col to Ullscarth.

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13 06 2021
Alli Templeton

No wonder you wanted to go back to Eagle Crag again, Carol. What a stunning landscape to explore. Stunning, but scary as well – as a vertigo sufferer I got burny feet just looking at some of those photos! That drop at the end of the rake and you on that narrow ledge without the aid of hand rails – eeek! I so admire you. Well done for reaching the summit. It looks sublime up there, clearly well worth all the hiking and scrambling. A great lesson in the merits of perseverance! 🙂

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13 06 2021
mountaincoward

I really enjoyed it this time as I’m so much more confident now I’ve started climbing. A great lesson for Richard in the merits of perseverance – every time he wants to turn back now, I’ll remind him how much he ended up enjoying Eagle Crag! 😉

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14 06 2021
Alli Templeton

A clever plan indeed! He wouldn’t be able to wriggle out of it then. 😀

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