So yesterday evening we were discussing our walking/hiking excursion for today and Kieran said “look up Jack’s Rake on Google”. I duly obliged and agreed it looked like a suitable challenge and yes I was up for it (only half paying attention – note to self, give full attention when looking up suggested routes in future).
Previously in my training for our trip to the Gorges du Verdon next year, I’ve tackled Goredale Scar at Malham Cove and the ‘direct route’ up Roseberry Topping on the North York Moors. Some hairy moments but all fine. Mainly learned lessons about appropriate attire and how much food to take (a lot apparently in my case).
This morning we set off for the Lakes and I was prepared – this time with newly purchased shoes and socks plus my own rucksack filled with waterproofs, hanky (essential as apparently my nose is connected to my knees and runs like mad when I walk), enough food to feed me for the day (including some Chocolate Almond Espresso Fudge Balls I made the night before) and water bottle.
When we arrived I couldn’t help but notice the very moutainous terrain. We set off and not 50m in and Kieran suggests we take the alternative route up the ghyll… aka waterfall. OK I say, after all it looks more interesting than the footpath and altogether less populated. No dramas – apart from my water bottle falling out of my rucksack every time I bent over – it seems I’m happier scrabbling about with both hands and feet in contact with the rock Gollum style, whereas K goes for a more upright gazelle style, gracefully leaping from rock to rock.
Nicely ‘warmed up’ we then cross over the path to climb alongside the next waterfall. Altogether steeper and more treacherous. High box step up and pull-up practice certainly came in useful here – I’m having to use my hands to haul myself up the rocks by this point. Halfway up and we have a pit-stop to put on our waterproofs… it’s raining.
After what seems like hours – but probably less than one – we reach the top. Success! And what an amazing sight… Stickle Tarn. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. Even shrouded in mist and drizzling rain, it seemed magical. We decided to take a moment to reflect and re-fuel. I’m smugly munching through my Marmite and cucumber sandwich when K says “look at those people way up there climbing the steps”. Oh yeah I say – why would you, I think to myself…
Sandwich and fudge balls consumed I innocently ask so where next. “We’re heading for that green patch over there” replies Kieran. “What that green patch at the bottom of the ‘steps’ those people are climbing” *heart in mouth, stomach in shoes*. “Yep” says Kieran. The ‘steps’ to you and I are not in fact steps at all but a vertical cliff face and we were heading for Pavey Ark – the beginning of Jack’s Rake. See below.. yes the mountain behind K, that’s the one!
Off we go and the going is tough. I had no idea. At one point we’re in a ‘gully’ and I’m actually stuck. I can’t find a hand-hold to get any further up and I certainly can’t go back down, so just clinging to the rocks for dear life really *deep breath in, and out* on what feels like a precipice. Each time I try and move my rucksack pulls me backwards away from the cliff. Suffice it to say that with some perfectly timed help and words of encouragement from Kieran (who was behind me) I finally managed to find a handhold and carried on up Jack’s Rake.
To give you some visual reference of how hard this felt, think Frodo, Sam and Gollum climbing The Stairs of Cirith Ungol. I kid you not.
Exhausted mentally as well as physically we reached the top to find it shrouded in mist, raining and blowing a gale. I was secretly quite pleased that we couldn’t enjoy the view – I would probably have been horrified at how high up we were. After battling with the map and compass for a little while we finally made our way back down… legs shaking and soaked through even our waterproofs, we arrived back at the car for a change of cloths and more food. Of course.
First Grade 1 Scramble completed *proud moment*.