What a perfect day to explore the depths of the Esk gorge! The dawn start paid off, we got parked and it was fairly quiet walking in to the start of the scramble at the packhorse bridge. It was already hot enough for the initial pool to temp several of to start the ascent of the gorge with a refreshing swim – which turned out to be the first of many. The water levels were much higher than when I did the route last summer, which rendered swimming or deep wading an easier alternative to some of the more challenging scramble sections. The stream runs through some amazing rock scenery and the ascent was made by a variety of ways and techniques – involving everything from complete immersion to Geraint’s more restrained approach, which involved the slight dampening of one sock.
At the final pool, there was general agreement that it was too darned hot to traipse across the Great Moss to climb Cam Spout and do a high level slog out. So we went back down to the bridge and ascended Link Cove Beck, another very attractive, grade 2, starred route, which had even higher water levels and succumbed to the same mixture of approaches. It proved a little harder than the Esk gorge in places, and the meet leader only got over one slippery boulder problem with the assistance of a pull from above and a push from behind! But it also yielded the best natural swimming pool ever.
Back down again at the bridge we were horrified to be greeted by scenes reminiscent of Ibiza, complete with hordes of sun-burning bodies, music, barbeques, alcohol, bags of rubbish and people letting their dogs off the lead to chase sheep. We did remonstrate with the dog owner as the sheep were frantic and the dog completely out of control – only to get a load of abuse back. How was the owner supposed to know that there were sheep around?!!! (Because it’s the Lake District? Because there is a sign on the farm gate?) We collected lots of litter on the way out, though none of wanted to investigate the pushchair which appeared to have been abandoned in a bog by the side of the path.
After all that we were desperate for a rejuvenating drink and the fates awarded us by providing the required three parking spaces at the Woolpack Inn.
The team was: Celia, Ros, Johnny, Martin Attwood, Geraint, new member Scott, Judith and guests Kath and Matt. Thanks for a really fun adventure.
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