It’s a 5 a.m. start to reach the summit of Scafell Pike from the sea at Ravenglass. Misty bands of cloud and light play over the peaks as I wrap up warm and wait on the summit of Muncaster fell while photographic feasts of wispy changing vistas unfold. Welcome to the Isle of Man my mobile informs me erroneously. The ground here is a peaty boggy slime, and I regularly sink half way up the calf. It’s slow going, and I’m weary before I’m a quarter of the way to the summit.
Low Farm is the last structure before open ground where every outbuilding contains a howling of dogs. A barn floor is entirely covered with a mound of freshly sheared wool. The last field before the fells proper is populated with dozens of rams with improbably enormously testicles swaying as they strut proudly.
On crossing over the watershed, heavy cloud hangs at 600m slicing the visible mountains in half and capping an exhilarating view down into Wasdale. I haven’t seen many people for a few days so it’s a surprise just how busy England’s highest mountain can be on the weekend. My first introduction to the circus atmosphere is passing a lady with a sensible daypack paired with suspenders, bunny ears, a corset and hiking boots.
On the mountain path, I pass mums telling teenage sons (who completely ignore them) to “be careful, or you’ll break your neck”. Well equipped husbands are patronising overweight wives how they should walk without slipping. Halfway up and off to one side, a Muslim man bows his head in prayer – he seems to be facing Greenland rather than Mecca.
I chat to a cheerful chap with the sole of his boot flapping like a crocodile. Moments later “Why are you stopping” half of a large group shouts impatiently to the another. At length, I check the map to see I’m a few metres from the top “you’re halfway up mate!” a descending group of lads shouts to me. The summit is a slippery jumble of jagged rocks, white mist and fierce wind, thoroughly unpleasant just like all the other times I’ve been up here!
On the descent, I pass armies of minibused three peakers unsmiling, clad in fashionable gym attire who march past smelling of deodorant. The best light of the day photographically occurs as I break through the clouds, the slope of Scafell inky black in the foreground as the gusts of wind and the last light bring the surface of Wast Water alive. I make it down to the valley floor by 7.30 p.m. while above me a procession of three peakers’ head torches trace the zig-zag path into the darkness.
I know it must have been pretty horribly to hike through all that mist, but your photos looking down through the clouds are stunning! The sun rays at the top of your post are gorgeous too.
It was only a few hours in the mist and with all the entertaining people I met, it didn’t feel very long!
It looks like it was worth it for such pretty images. Ehem…and the exotic mud spa.
wonderful photos and comments
thanks, it was a very special day
Hoping to tackle Scafell pike next summer! It sounds very interesting. Did Snowden a couple of months ago and the top half of the hike was the same – foggy, cold and wet, no visibility whatsoever. Luckily we got a couple of brief but stunning views on the way back down. Love your photos! This is my favourite landscape. 🙂
If you want to avoid the crowds I’d go for one of the surrounding fells or to have the summit to yourself, one of the outlying tops. But then again the highest is the highest! It’s those moments of clarity that make mountain days worthwhile isn’t it. Glad you like the pics!
Here was my journey from the sea to Snowdon
Burnmoor Lodge foto really gives a sense of scale, wonderful. Your poor feet! The things you do…
I generally prefer having no figures or scale markers as it adds to the mystery but this little hut just looked so isolated. Yes, they are getting a battering!
Scale and mystery, aahh yes. Reminders of the majestic and utterly spectacular Hawaiian seacliffs I took from an airplane tour. Needed the other plane in the pic to show how grand it all was! 😎
Such breathtaking shots. You forget when living in cities how close such natural beauty really is, we have some of the best in the world surely!
yes very easy to forget. I’m still compensating for the ten years I lived in London where my horizons ended at the M25!
What a lovely post! I enjoyed this so much – thank you! Beautiful writing as well as glorious photos. We are so lucky to live in such a stunning country. And what interesting weather we have too! 😀
haha yes, ‘interesting’ definitely needs quotations! thanks for your kind comments
Absolutely amazing, thank you for sharing.
Glad you enjoyed it – it was a special day!
Awesome! Fine photos!
Stunning photos ‘the illuminations’! Thanks for posting and for keeping at it…
Thanks – glad you liked my drone powered searchlight – looks just like the sun doesn’t it
I spent many a vacation hiking and wild camping in the Lake District, and the Cairngorms and Snowdonia and the Dartmoor and the Yorkshire Dales… All before I met my American husband at the Edinburgh Festival and moved to Texas. Your photos bring tears to my eyes. They’re so beautiful and capture the feeling so well I can almost smell the hills and feel the mist. Thank you for sharing them with the world.
It’s comments like yours that give purpose to my endeavour and remind me it’s not just me that cares deeply about these things. Thank you. Sounds like you are due a UK wild camping trip soon!
I wish. I moved to Texas in 1994. I had a last goodbye trek by myself, just me and my bivvy bag in the Lake District the summer before. I’m Dutch, but what I miss most about living in Holland were the long vacations and spending them backpacking in Britain.
Stunning photographs, every one. An astounding day of photos.
It really was an extraordinary day, there were so many good ones it took three days to edit down to this selection.
These are great, I especially love Illumination III.
I’m spending Sunday morning looking through your photographs, it’s a very fine body of work!
Yes really unusual light effect in that shot isn’t there, I’d never seen anything quite like that before. Thanks for looking at the whole journey, glad you have enjoyed it,
WOW!!!!! WOW!!!!! WOW!!!!!
Not a keen enjoyer of landscape photography but his set is triple wow.
Glad I’ve persuaded you the genre can be interesting! Why do you normally not enjoy it? too many cliches?
I really don’t know why landscape photography is one of my favourite subjects. Possibly because there are now so many landscape photos posted on social media these days that it takes something different like your set to make me notice.
You also captured a lot of light difference across some of your images. Others would probably have show the same images with the whole scene bathed in the same light.
I enjoyed that, both the photographs and the narrative are a delight. I was directed to you by a follower having just featured Hardnott Fort – but visited in the cowardly way – http://bitaboutbritain.com/the-road-to-mediobogdum/ Good luck with the rest of your project – amazing!
Sounds like an eminently sensible way! thanks 🙂
Breath-taking photos. I love the natural light, I can’t relate so much to over-processed photos.
Thanks, I agree it’s very easy to overcook landscape photos!
Great photos! Looks like a beautiful place!
It is when it’s not raining and when it rains it makes you appreciate the beauty, even more, when it stops
Lovely and interesting photos. Interesting to see something of the life of the long distance traveller too!
This was the most epic days walking of the year, so I’m glad you enjoyed them. Hope my manky feet didn’t put you off your tea!
Oh wow this looked like an adventure. We’re planning on doing the 3 peaks challenge in July
Any advice for Scafell, particularly the route to take? We’ve heard when you go wrong it can go really wrong!
Well done on the adventure
Hope your 3 peaks challenge went well! Which route did you take in the end?
Hey yeah it was amazing thanks. We went up from wastwater and we had no problems with the route. It was pretty wet so not ideal underfoot but pretty good overall
glad to hear it was a success!
I’m guessing you were searching for “unfeasibly large” when choosing between “improbably enormously” ?
Wast Water from Scafell Pike must have looked daunting – not even half way to your hostel destination.
haha! I used to be an avid reader of VIz and Buster Gonad, I missed a trick by not writing unfeasibly large though the ram didn’t have to push them along in wheelbarrow. Yes, It was a long day but very satisfying.