This is a long report, but then again, we had lots of adventures! Probably best to grab yourself a cuppa first…
Well what an absolute scorcher of a glorious bank holiday weekend that was!
Over Easter weekend, 30 Scouts, Explorers, Network and Scout Active Support members from Hampshire Scouts made the annual pilgrimage to Great Tower in the Lake District for a luscious weekend of walking, climbing, camping and ghyll scrambling.
Last year, the weather was considerably snowy and had the addition of sideways hail hitting your eyeballs. This year however, with highs of 24*, welcome breezes and well-deserved ice cream breaks, what’s not to love?
As always, we set off on Thursday evening, vans were packed with excitement, kit, food, and quite a lot of naan bread, we arrived at Great tower at a respectable midnight, with all the busses close behind- We think this is one of the earliest times we have arrived, and our beds were calling us for a good night’s sleep.
After a late-night arrival, we were up early on Friday to make the most of the sun and started with a good hearty breakfast to give us lots of energy for the day ahead. We split into groups for the day with Chris and Rich leading four new members who hadn’t spent much time in the hills before on their first mountain day up a classic Lake District peak, The Old Man of Coniston. It was a hot day so they had a welcome stop at a tarn on the route up to cool down (though not all the group was convinced that the stream water was safe to drink!). They made the summit in time for lunch and enjoyed the great views over Coniston Water before taking a longer route back down (ice creams on the way home well deserved).
Jamie and Besty took other new members up to walk the Old Man of Conistion too via the Walna Scar Road summoning on Brown Pike, Buck Pike and Dow Crag to a very busy top at 803m. On the way down they swam in a tarn to the bemusement of the other walkers and explored the ruins of the old quarry.
Tom, Rosemary and Tilly had a navigation day up to Bow Fell, the heat was a scorcher with no shade. With crystal clear water pools on the way down, they too were thinking about going for a dip…. Until the discovery of a dead sheep near the pool was enough to deter them. Tom wanted to take the sheep skull home, but Rosemary didn’t think it would go with their living room decor… Such a spoil sport.
Dave, Chardae, Kirsten, Kieran and Josh went on a scramble up to Stake Ghyll before climbing up to Angle Tarn, they then scrambled up to Esk Pike onto Bow Fell, before walking back down to Dungeon Ghyll. Adamant they would stay dry all day, they did all manage to…except for Josh.
Russ started his day with a trip to the shops to replace the 80+ sausages that the Robinsons had left in the freezer….
After a long day in the sun, we descended back on GT for some dinner and debriefs. Due to late evenings and early starts, after dinner we went round the room to introduce everyone. It was great to have 10 new members as well as hear all about the old HSX expeditions to Malawi, Cambodia, Patagonia, Corsica, Nepal……….
Saturday was another great day and after tackling The Old Man with no difficulties Chris, Rich and the boys decided to head up Helvellyn, one of the highest peaks in the Lake District. They spent the climb up working on navigation skills and met up with another HSX group at the top. Even though it was another scorcher only Chris and Rich fancied a dip in Grisedale Tarn to cool down! They were back at the bus a bit earlier than Friday so had some time to look round Ambleside before dinner (and fill up on ice creams!)
Jamie’s group also tackled Helvellyn via striding edge and descended via Sierra edge. It was blisteringly hot and they tried to swim in red tarn but it proved too slippery under foot!
After a bit too much sun the day before, Tilly, Rosemary Kirsty and Finn decided on a smaller, less high, easier walk as Finn had informed us he didn’t like mountains. Whilst we were ploying Finn out of bed with fresh coco pops, Kirsty decided on a ‘small’ walk up to Eesdale Tarn in Grasmere. Spying a pharmacy, the last bottle of sun cream, seemingly in the whole of the Lake District was bought and off they went. Again, with no shade the walk proved quite difficult in the sun, but a lot of nav practice was had. On reaching the tarn, picnic lunch ensued. Back down via the ice cream man, a good day was had. Tilly’s top tips for tarn swimming include not stripping off while DofE groups are on the horizon and not choosing to ‘swim’ in part of the tarn where there is a floor bog.
Chardae’s group also hiked up Helveynn via Striding Edge and down swirrel edge. They went for a swim in Red Tarn while Dave ran to Catstye Cam- bets on the closest time it took and the winners got ice creams! After dinner back at base, they then hiked out to Rydal Water and found a new location to camp up by Buckstones Jum. A mild night meant we could sleep under the stars, though it didn’t make the natural plunge pool any warmer in the morning!
Back at Great Tower, we were joined by some Old Skool HSX for dinner. Ian had spent the day doing an 18km fell race and the Roses had all been climbing with Dan. (I can’t remember where, sorry!) Russ and Adam had also gone bird watching, after finding no Ospreys, they had found some grey seals…
With our last full day in the lakes we were up even earlier! Breakfast at 6 was beginning to be a struggle for some, but again we headed out for some great adventures.
Jamie and Rosemary took the 10 Explorers Ghyll scrambling alongside an instructor from GT. They ventured up stickle ghyll, climbing, scrambling and swimming their way up to Stickle tarn at 403m! It was amazing fun, however the instructor Miles couldn’t keep up and they had to keep stopping for him!! (they think broke him) Great feedback from Miles on how adventurous, safe, and trustworthy the group had been!
Tilly Tom and Kieran headed out an a nav ex learning about ticking feathers, thumbing the map and just honing in on map skills. Top tips from tom here included that if you’re meant to go up… don’t go down! Reaching the top they then went down via Pavey Arch and ran into the ghyll scrambling group having a splash about cooling off after their day. Chris and Rich shortly followed and as a group they all made their way down together… I think Miles was relieved that the end of the day was in sight!
Debriefs and dinner again followed for our 5:30 am start home.
I would like to say thank you to all those who helped plan this weekend in anyway. Rosemary and Tom for food and logistics, Russ, Jamie and Josh for sorting the kit out and those who offered and help take groups out on the k=hills. Your time and skill is all greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Another successful weekend in the Lake District. We are already looking forward to out next adventure in North Wales in June. Keep an eye on your emails as the invite has already gone out!