Five hours above Scandale

21st September 2012

I had every reason not to have done this walk. Her name is Sandra Sharkey & she lies in a hospital bed almost comatose since 11th September, she is my mum & grandparent to my children.

Spending 12 hour days at her bedside has took its toll on me, on all of us, this on the back end of a house move has seen every emotion trip through my wires, I & we as a family are in a tangled state, watching, doing nothing as my mum sleeps her remaining days away far from home in that side room. Mum at times is coherent, the doctors gave her three hours to live after restarting her heart back on the 11th of September, in mums medical notes it states Do Not Resuscitate, this, the fast response ambulance was un-aware off, he only did his duty & for that, we are wholly grateful. Mum is a fighter who would make Margaret Thatcher & Bet Lynch think twice.

For those un-aware, my mum has lived with brain aneurisms for the past thirteen months.

Sharkey’s Dream is a Lakeland blog, I take you with me & at times I cannot hide what is inside, I try to keep my blog as accurate, fair & most important, truthful as to what the author is experiencing the moment boot sets foot on fell.

I think it is only fair as a blogger & writer you: as  readers of my blog know the true authors feelings during my time in Lakeland.

Sometimes, even the best of us, find it difficult to hide what’s inside & I am no different.

I needed just a few hours away, to skrike, to think, to make sense of life & indeed my families future. Besides my family & close friends, only Lakeland can do this.

Back to the walk eh?

During my time off the fells & the rare occasions I spent at this here desk penning new routes took my mind of what is affecting me right now, I did this in a somewhat faraway state, subconsciously even, but for those few hours spent, I came up with this route. With just over an hours drive & a more or less central spot in Lakeland, Scandale & her satellite fells worked for me. Parking however in & around Ambleside was going to be a slight problem, yes the car parks would of been empty early morning but as time was precious I didn’t really want to start & end the walk in one of Lakelands busiest towns.

For my parking spot today, I had to resort to Google Earth.

‘The Struggle’, is a narrow, twisty and in places, very steep minor road that leads from Ambleside to the top of Kirkstone Pass, which at 1,489 feet is the highest pass that is open to traffic in the Lake land, somewhere along the narrow lanes of The Struggle is a marginal layby, & by marginal I mean marginal, with only enough spaces for two, maybe three exceptionally well parked cars, being early was key to the whole walk, after all, I didn’t quite fancy climbing over 1,000 feet to reach my car after my walk had officially ended.

My route today would involve new territory in Snarker Pike or affectively Red Screes southern ridge. Sadly Snarker Pike holds no distinction on any hill baggers list to the best of my knowledge which is sad, as the views along its spine offer fine panoramas above central & eastern Lakeland on a good day, today however, I saw very little in the way of long distance views throughout the morning, instead Snarker Pike was moody & un-revealing which kinda matched my mood.

Today I have fond memories of Snarker Pike, I can look back with a slight smile & say, you are the only Lakeland fell I truly found myself lost on in dense cloud as I cut my teeth as a fell walker over four years ago, today with a little more experience under my belt Snarker Pike, just like back then, was giving away nothing & that’s a great memory from todays walk.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Eastern Fells

Here, in small space, is the wonderful childhood’s dreams, lingering far beyond childhood through the span of mans life: its enchantment grows with passing years and quite eventide is enriched by the haunting sweetness of dear memories, memories that remain evergreen through the flight of time, that refresh and sustain in the darker days, how these memories…….


Ascent: 2,191 Feet, 668 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Red Screes, Little Hart Crag, High Pike & Low Pike
Weather: Overcast am With Fresh Winds On Tops – Turning Brighter & Warmer pm, Highs Of 12°C Lows Of 9°
Parking: Roadside Parking, Kirkstone Road (The Struggle) Ambleside
Area: Eastern
Miles: 9
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL7
Time Taken: 5 hrs
Route: Kirkstone Road – South Ridge – Snarker Pike – Raven Crag – Red Screes– Little Hart Crag – Scandale Tarn – High Bakestones – Scandale Head – Thack Bottom Edge – High Pike – Low Pike – High Sweden Bridge – Rough Sides – Kirkstone Road

Map and Photo Gallery



08:04am 9°C

Second gear was the order of the morning after leaving the A591, this did little to lift my early sprits knowing that if I did not change my route back to the car after my walk, I would find myself having my ‘own struggle’ up ‘The Struggle’

I put this to the back of my mind as I approached the tiny car park I had spied on Google Earth the evening before, spying the car park is a little stretched I might add, as the car park was well lit with a camper van.

Please have left enough space for me…

I was in luck, by the looks of things the camper had spent the night at the tiny lay-by & going by the smell had a full English on the go. An empty dogs water dish lay beside the camper as I opened my tailgate & proceeded to kit up.

Damn its bloody cold.

Considering we have only just said goodbye to summer I chose wisely in packing my Rab soft-shell fleece as I zipped it up under my chin & quickly wrapped my Rab Latock jacket over. The warm air of the journey in the car quickly leaves my body & I soon find myself reaching for the hat & gloves.

By eck, is winter here already?

Off I go over the gaze of Ambleside in search of my footpath which by any means is quite easy to locate, just look out for the double stone walls.


After only a short climb the views really start to open up, here we have Windermere’s northern tip closely watched over by Ambleside.


 This time with Wansfell (L) in the picture.


Grasmere & The Langdales under brewding skies.


Looking south towards Wetherlam & the Coniston fells, slowly but surely, the weather is starting to pick up, but don’t speak too soon…


Sporadic cloud continues with views towards Nab Scar, Heron Pike & Rydal Fell seen centre, the ridge you see in the foreground is the High/Low Pike ridge, my descent route.


Looking back on Windermere as Ambleside slowly disappears beyond the fell side. The twin stone walls offering great protection from an ever increasing biting wind, however, the sodden wet ground underfoot I could do nothing about.

If ever I needed a reminder that Winter was just around the corner, todays walk was it.


Looking over Loughrigg as Wetherlam catches the sun briefly.


Looking back on Wansfell from a little higher up the path, is someone about to turn the lights off?


Breaching sun over rough stone wall.


Snarker Pike summit cairn.

I had now been walking through low cloud for the best part of twenty minutes & despite the lack of views when eventually they did open up I was treated to menacing & moody scenes such as this, pretty well timed even If I do say so myself.


Snarker Pike (NY390075) summit cairn is situated a little off the summit path over a broken stone wall (the same wall in the previous photo) the cairn is perched upon a bed of rock & is no more than two feet in height, blink as I did, & you may very nearly miss it.


Setting the scene as I pass through Snarker Moss.


Raven Crag summit cairn & sadly again Raven Crag (south ridge) summit bears no distinction.


Pushing on through the cloud not before passing Red Screes summit Tarn.


Red Screes summit Trig Point.


Ahead through the mist lies High Bakestones & Scandale, just to the right is Little Hart Crag my next destination.

This section of the walk was particularly un-favoured as I spent much of it on my backside, three successive times I slipped down the muddy fell side & as funny as I may have looked, on one occasion I seriously thought I’d put my right knee out, now looking like no one owned me, I pressed (and slid on)

The Scandale Pass, although not clear in this photo runs parallel from right to left at the col you see running through the centre of the picture.


Place Fell, Angletarn Pikes & Brothers Water seen from my slippery descent.


Little Hart Crag from the Scandale Pass col.

What a difference a few minutes can make, the skies are clearing all around me as I make my ascent on Little Hart Crag via the grassy path you see in the left of the picture.


High Pike & Low Pike from Scandale Tarn.


Scandale from just beneath Little Hart Crag summit.


The eastern fells & the High Hartsop Dodd ridge from Little Hart Crag.


Dove Crag & Hart Crag with Saint Sunday Crag summit just under a nick of white cloud.


Before I leave Little Hart Crag summit I took this photo of my route over Bakestones Moss, you can just about make out Scandale Head cairn (C L) but first, I had to negotiate my route across without getting my feet wet, on any other given day I would of headed as the crow flies, but given the amount of rainfall the fells have had, my route took me along a distinctive path before I took the detour over higher ground just beneath High Bakestones.



Little Hart Crag, Middle Dodd & Red Screes now completely free of cloud as I make my ascent on High Bakestones &  Scandale Head cairn.


Windermere, High Pike & Low Pike from Scandale Head cairn.


Lunchtime with a view.


The southern fells from Wetherlam (L) to the Scafell massif (Far R) under beautiful blue skies.


Bearing down on High Pike with beautiful views of Windermere & in the far distance, Morecambe Bay.

Despite the blue skies the temperature really hadn’t risen much, not to worry, the hat & gloves came off long ago. Believe it or not the fact now that I had started to meet other walkers & the embarrassment of looking the way I do must have made them chuckle.


If there’s mud, Paul ‘l find it.

This was just the one leg, I can assure you the other matched perfectly from previous falls, so did the right side of my jacket & camera bag & last but not least my whole right arm from wrist to shoulder including around the back of the elbow.

Not safe to be let out springs to mind!


Scandale Head from High Pike.


With views as good as this, I’ll take the mud every single time, what a view to make my descent by.


Scandale Head & Little Hart Crag from just beneath High Pike’s summit.


Low Pike lies ahead, but first its more mud to negotiate, I guess if I took in the distance travelled to avoid the boggy sections I could add another mile to the walk!


Scandale Head & Little Hart Crag from Low Pike summit cairn.


No dignity in descending the Rock Step!

I was totally unprepared for this little scramble as the last time I traversed this ridge It had been cut short via Rydal, I guess an ascent would be much more fun but I got there in the end.


Grasmere, Nab Scar & the southern fells taken just before I leave the ridge for High Sweden Bridge.


High Sweden Bridge crossing Scandale Beck.

The rocks to the right of this beautiful packhorse bridge were awash with picnickers & who could blame them, from goths to the pensioners, everyone was enjoying this little corner of Lakeland.



Rough Sides.

It was while walking the 1.5 miles through Rough Sides woods did I get contempt with the next chapter of my walk ‘The Struggle’  although I still felt good in my stride I took it upon myself to feel that I had planned the walk, or at least the remainder of my walk badly.

The path that passes through Rough Sides is indeed Ambleside bound & then an ascent up The Struggle would of been needed to reach my car parked at the top of it.

That laid on my mind until around the next half mile when I spotted this…


A gate that would allow me to cross open fell side thus taking away a last ascent on The Struggle, this made me a happy boy.

I pass through the gate & take in a little more ascent over rough pastures above Nook End Farm before finally reconnecting with the twin stone walls whence I had left just over five hours ago.

Texts & the phone call to family connected me with mums condition throughout the whole of the walk & this but if any, put my mind at rest if only for a short while.

Apologies in advance if my work on my blog has faltered but I guess I have my reasons.

Thank you for letting me share Lakeland with you.


Back to top