Skiddaw House; Walking Weekend

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2010-04-24

There was a good turnout of eleven members on fine day with a slight breeze for the above venue.
The programme was (with everyone’s approval) to go from Scales, over Blencathra via Sharp Edge and down to stay the night at Skiddaw House Hostel, and the next day over Skiddaw, coming down to Latrigg saddle and then follow the lower route back to Scales.
Unfortunately, two of the party were not well enough to follow that programme, due to injury, so they took the lower route, from Scales via the Blencathra Centre to the hostel, whilst the remaining nine opted for Sharp Edge.
Our route took us up to Scales Tarn, where we took refreshment and viewed Sharp Edge, before the group committed itself.

All were advised ‘to take things steady, not to rush, and seek out the best footholds and handholds, making it an enjoyable experience'.  We then set out with Bob B leading the way whilst I followed on watching performance, bolstering nerves, and giving anyone the option to call for the walkers confidence rope, if needed.
Everyone made good progress, coping with the route with individual abilities, with one member of the group requiring the assurance of the confidence rope shortly after gaining the rocky part of the ridge. This was probably due to the enormous pack he was carrying, having taken on the role of porter for others in the group, but he quickly regained courage, once roped up.
Having reached the top of the ridge, and congratulated each other on the achievement, we continued over Blencathra, with magnificent views over the fells, down to the track leading from the Blencathra Centre to the hostel.

This hostel, whilst enjoying benefits of being in the YHA listing, is not in actual fact a YHA hostel, and is financed/managed by a trust known as ‘Friends of Skiddaw House’.

The hostel had suffered so much in the winter months, the warden and partner having to seek refuge at a nearby farm, that major refurbishment of roof etc; was being carried out whilst we were there.

This however did not affect the warmth of welcome and hospitality of Marie-Piere and Martin, and way they sought our group’s opinion regarding proposed improvements.

Sunday morning brought a change in the weather, with a wet and windy start.
Mark and Linda decided that they would best retrace their route of the previous day, and were given the confidence rope in case they found the rocks at Gates Ghyll to be a repeated problem.
The rest of the group followed the path from the back of the hostel to the top of Skiddaw,
and down to the saddle of Latrigg, where a lunch stop was taken in improving weather conditions. Walking east for a while, our route turned north before rejoining the track of the previous day, we then took a southerly course to Blencathra Centre.

Here, we headed east along the bottom of Blencathra’s ridges, as the weather finally turned pleasant, and negotiated the rocky step into, and out of Gates Ghyll by providing assistance amongst the group, before returning to Scales.
The whole group then enjoyed a ‘good value’ bar meal at the White Horse Inn before the return drive home. I gathered that everyone had an enjoyable weekend, and were looking forward to the next Walking Section weekend in July, which will ‘over night’ at Buttermere YHA.

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