Cam Crag Ridge Scramble

3 07 2021

Sat 17 Apr 21
Our mountaineering club were having a Saturday meet to do Cam Crag Ridge in Langstrathdale.  I normally work Saturdays but have wanted to do this classic ridge for a long time now and decided that, as I’m still a quite cowardly scrambler, it would be best to do it in expert company rather than on my own!  I was glad I did…

Photos:
my digi-camera on the day, my Zenith manual film SLR on previous visits and guest photos from fellow meet attendee Celia Watson as marked

First of all, I’d like to thank fellow club member and meet attendee for the photos of the actual scramble. I’d actually clipped my digi-camera to my belt but had my hands literally too full most of the time to take photos! And, of course, I’d like to thank Judith for leading the meet…

We all met up in Stonethwaite (no car sharing allowed of course due to Covid) and it was a truly beautiful day – warm, sunny, blue skies and calm too! We set off fairly socially distanced but I have to admit you soon forget and walk closer and chat to people – we were out in the fresh air anyway so probably minimal risk really…

Around Blackmer Pot (a lovely deep pool through a narrow gorge for those who don’t know Langstrathdale), we set off steeply uphill on grass to reach the foot of our route. It was pretty warm going up here! I’ll put a photo of the ridge here but this was taken from further up the valley on my return…

Cam Crag Ridge

We had a couple of group photos (I’m in the orange top and helmet) and then set off…

The group at the foot of the scramble (Celia’s photo)

Many of the lads went up the first section but we went around as it was just large boulders and I thought I was too unfit to bother with this bit – I thought I’d best save my energy for the next section when I’d be using a lot of nervous energy as well as physical!

The first bit of crag went okay but then we reached the second bit… this was quite a bit more awkward. I climbed up behind Judith and we reached a narrow groove with some quite reachy footholds. Judith was just about to have a hip replacement so decided to go around this section as she didn’t think she’d be supple enough. That left me next…

I looked and could see my hand and footholds and knew that, being very tall, I’d have no difficulty reaching them. However, I wasn’t sure about the handholds above that and, as I really like good handholds for confidence, I started to dither a bit. At this point I looked back down the section I’d come up and decided that, if I came off here I’d certainly hurt myself quite a bit – it was quite a way down and lots of rocks sticking out!

In the end, being a coward off the rope, I decided to swap places with the oncoming climbers and go around! I even found the traverse quite tricky but eventually got round and up to join Judith and the others who’d also gone around.

I don’t remember any really awkward bits after this but soon noticed that I was definitely going left a lot more than everyone else for the easier stuff. Anyway, the beauty of this scramble is that at least you have that option to make things easier if you want to.

I’m putting all Celia’s photos of the scramble in here as I’m not sure which section was which after the event…

quite a steep start! (Celia’s Photo)

me in the orange helmet trying not to look down! (Celia’s photo)

my bum! I was trying to stay in the lead group so that there was always someone behind me – as I do! (Celia’s photo)

An easier bit – I’ve managed to get my hands back on my hips! (Celia’s photo)

think I was having a race here! (Celia’s photo)

Think this was an easier bit? (Celia’s photo)

Quite a lot further up, we reached a wide, sloping grassy shelf and everyone stopped for a break. I was fine at first but exposure creeps up on me bit by bit. After around five minutes, I started to feel very insecure where I was sat and a little bit giddy – I was perfectly safe and knew I was but it felt like the big drop was getting nearer somehow! I was pleased when we all regrouped and continued on up.

From here it was very easy scrambling indeed and the flat ridge along the top, although it had looked narrow and bumpy from below, was actually completely fine. In no time at all, we were at the summit of the ridge and stopped for a proper break. As we were a long way from the drop now, I could completely relax and eat, drink and sunbathe.

There were some very humorous stories being told but my favourite was about one of the group’s dog. He said the labrador was fond of eating anything and everything and one time, it went off its food for a few days. Eventually, they saw something protruding from its bum and investigated… they found a rubber glove emerging! I thought they usually went the other way!

After our nice break in the lovely hot sunshine, we set off for Glaramara. As the group started to head to the normal route up Thornythwaite Fell (a route I find dull), I decided to leave the group and go off up to Combe Door and Combe Head.

After heading up the final stages of the gill to Combe Door, the route up onto Combe Head was a low wall of crag. I could see a couple of routes which didn’t look too bad but, now I was alone, my nerve failed me on attempting them so I just went up a grassy rake instead. The next photos are Glaramara summit crags from Combe Head…

I soon reached the scramble up the summit crags of Glaramara – just at the foot of them I heard someone shout my name and turned to see a group behind. I wasn’t sure it was our group though as they seemed to also be coming from Combe Head instead of the usual route up…

After a quick visit to Glaramara’s several rocky tops, I continued on across the fell for Allen Crags, admiring all the lovely tarns en-route. The digi-camera took some nice photos of Lincombe Tarn for me…


Lincombe Tarn

After passing over Allen Crags, I headed for Esk Hause for Esk Pike – one of my favourite summits in the area. Unfortunately for me, a very loud group of young men (around 10 of them) started to head up Esk Pike just as I did. Luckily, they were younger and faster than me so I was glad to let them get way ahead and out of earshot…

Around half-way up, I’d just passed a couple of their slower members and met the faster ones coming back down. They shouted to their friends;

“It’s the wrong bloody mountain – it isn’t Scafell Pike at all, it’s called Esk something-or-other”

I had a quiet laugh to myself at this and was glad to reclaim the fell to myself until the summit. That’s the second time I’ve met people going up Esk Pike who, for some unknown reason, think it’s Scafell Pike. It wouldn’t be called Esk Hause below if it was!

Esk Pike summit

I didn’t stay at the summit but continued on down toying with the idea of maybe doing Bow Fell. In the end, as this was my first big hillwalk of the year, and knowing how far it is back down Langstrathdale, I reluctantly decided against it. I gave Bowfell a sad wave and headed off down from Ore Gap for Angle Tarn…

descending to Angle Tarn (film shot from another trip)

I had a very quick sit in the sun and a coffee at the tarn and then headed off down Angle Tarn Beck – an unfrequented route down to Langstrathdale…

descending Angle Tarn Beck (film photo)

At the foot of Angle Tarn Beck, you join the main river and you get to see just how LANG Langstrathdale is!

very LANGstrathdale!

There are some pretty waterfalls though and also another nice little gorge section at Tray Dub (which I didn’t break off to visit this time as I was staying on the right-hand side of the beck).

Coming back down the valley you get superb views of Cam Crag Ridge…

a cracking film shot of my scramble ridge from another trip (centre of photo)

Not too shabby a scramble for a mountain coward eh? I was an extremely weary mountain coward when I finally reached my car back at Stonethwaite – tired but very satisfied with my day 🙂

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16 responses

5 07 2021
underswansea

Fine write up. I admire your gumption to tackle these areas. Wonderful looking country. Thought the photo of the falls and Lincombe Tarn were superb. Great scramble, you didn’t look cowardly at all. Lucky for the dog the glove passed.😀

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6 07 2021
mountaincoward

It was very lucky for the dog – but you just had to laugh – I mean, those rubber gloves so often go the opposite direction when you visit the doctor’s!

Lincombe Tarn is noted for its beauty – I think mainly because of its rocky surround. Up there used to be one of my mother’s favourite walks…

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5 07 2021
Alli Templeton

Not shabby at all! Very impressive in fact! I couldn’t do a scramble like that as I get far too burny feet with heights and steep faces like that, but I admire anyone who can. It must be reassuring to go with a group like that too, when you can all look out for each other. I don’t blame you for breaking away later though to go to Coombe, that scenery is outstanding. What a day. Love the photos, as ever, and really enjoyed your adrenaline-fuelled adventure.

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5 07 2021
mountaincoward

Thanks Alli. I think my worst moment was when I’d sat on that shelf for a while and started to notice how far down it was! I’m very glad I didn’t attempt it on my own though – much better with a group – sort of encourages you on…

Liked by 1 person

7 07 2021
Alli Templeton

Goodness, if that was me on that shelf I’d start feeling dizzy. You’re quite right to stick with a group for that sort of thing. There’s safety – and encouragement – in numbers.

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8 07 2021
mountaincoward

I’m not sure there really is safety in numbers – about all it does for you is get you rescued quicker if you do fall off (and possibly some people on the meet might be able to do basic first aid). But there’s nothing they can do to stop you falling off really. It certainly gives encouragement to be out with others though and they can help verbally or point out holds or routes etc.

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4 07 2021
bob

That looks a really good scramble Carol. I’d no idea it was there either although I have been up Bowfell and a few of the others. I might join a walking club in the autumn/ winter again, all going well, as I miss the company of a group..Alex is still bagging his endless list of hills but left to myself I prefer the lesser ranges these days as that’s what I enjoy the most, certainly at the moment as I’m involved in other things that take up most of my spare time.

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5 07 2021
mountaincoward

I kept wondering how Alex was nowadays – still bagging then – good on him! You never know, Covid permitting, I might get back up to Scotland myself next year! And Wales hopefully…

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4 07 2021
treksandtors

Fantastic route, can see why you went with a group

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4 07 2021
mountaincoward

yeah it was – I’d been looking at it for years but not sure about going alone – it’s okay on your own until you get stuck and then what?! So I was glad the club did it and I took the day off.

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4 07 2021
Natalie Minnis

That looks like such a great route – great scrambling and beautiful once you top out. I like scrambles where you can to some extent pick your route because things can go wrong, as the report posted by Paul Shorrock shows. I feel very grateful when people share the details of accidents, as it helps us all to learn from them. This is a route I will earmark to do sometime, wearing my helmet and in dry conditions.

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4 07 2021
mountaincoward

Oo-errr – I’m not sure I like reading about when things go wrong. I didn’t mind reading about the fall but the awful recovery procedures! eek! I honestly think it’s inhumane to have people awake for those kinds of things – they should put you to sleep.

Definitely a helmet – there has been rockfall on that route over the winter – you could see some large unweathered bits! And definitely in the dry (I think all scrambles should be done in the dry if possible personally)

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4 07 2021
John Bainbridge

Admire your energy

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4 07 2021
mountaincoward

I think it was mostly nervous energy in my case – always tires you out more. I really enjoyed relaxing across the mountains afterwards – a great way to wind down again.

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3 07 2021
Paul Shorrock

It’s a great route, but not one to take lightly (as I know you didn’t). I don’t know if you have seen this article before, but it’s a good reminder (if needed) for folks to take care.

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/features/my_scrambling_fall-9587

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4 07 2021
mountaincoward

That’s horrific. As I’ve said above in my answer to Natalie on the subject of the article – it’s the recovery which sounds terrible. They should definitely put you to sleep for all those procedures!

I’m always breaking things and I never get proper ‘shock’ where you go all airy and faint and don’t know what’s happening – I always get the full experience – the total amount of pain and so on. So I can imagine how horrendous it would be waiting 8 hours to be rescued (but, even with a group, it would still be a few hours before they got to you).

Funnily enough, after I put this post out, I had nightmares last night about a man in a kilt tumbling off a scramble and bouncing all the way down like in the article you’ve linked to. I’m pretty psychic and probably knew you’d put that link out there and that would be what sparked the dream (I’m being serious there – I often dream about some of my past experiences I’ve blogged about and then read my stats the next day and seen that someone was reading about them around that time).

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