Thursday 31 May 2012

Do the Lake Districts ultimate ghyll scramble. The Esk Gorge.

The Esk Gorge in The Lake District has to be the best ghyll scrambling or gorge walking trip in The Lake District.

Kendal Mountaineering services offer the Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling day as one of our many ghyll scrambling & canyoning in The Lake District packages.

Most of our ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions are of half day duration but if you want to spend a full day in the wet stuff then we recommend the Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling trip for you.

This is not for the faint hearted and you need to be fit. The journey into the gorge starts from the foot of Harknott Pass in Eskdale and is a 3km 1 hour journey from the road to the get in point (photo one).

The price per person for this gorge walking bonanza is £75 per person for a minimum of two persons and a maximum group sixe of six per instructor.

As part of the fee we issue you with wetsuits, bouyancy aids, walking boots, cagoules, helmets & harnesses and you will be accompanied by one of our experienced instructors. Bearing in mind the walk in and remoteness of this venue you need to arrive with rucksacks big enough to carry your equipment in plus food, a hot drink, a towel and dry clothing for the end of the session.

The best way to do the Esk Gorge is as a ghyll scrambling or gorge walking trip but you won't just be walking - you'll be doing a lot of swimming too! There are many pools on this 2 kilometre journey in excess of 15 feet deep and there will be many occasions when your feet won't touch bottom - so you need to be a competent swimmer and some of these pools have to be exited by climbing up the next waterfall so this is a strenuous session as well. Any climbs will be protected by a rope where necessary.

Photo two shows the second deep pool to be encountered on the upstream ascent of the Esk Gorge. The chap in the photo is Iain Gallagher who runs Kendal Mountaineering Services - we don't take you anywhere we haven't already been ourselves!

Photo Three shows what is easily the highest jump on the Esk Gorge at approximately  9 metres and here, a local lad is going for it.

There are many waterfalls to climb on this ghyll scrambling trip and many pools to jump into - however, do not expect to do this jump with us - by all means come back and do it on your own on another occasion.

The local lads apparently call this "Lemmings Leap" and Iain can see why. He has also tried it and the impact of hitting the water from such a hieght hurt therefore we deem this unsuitable for use with clients.

It is great fun to watch someone else doing it though!

Photo four shows some of the waterfalls in the Esk Gorge upstream of Lemmings Leap and about half way up the gorge.

It is possible to climb the right hand side of the upper fall roped for safety, it is also possible to get out and walk around any section deemed too difficult for any reason and a very good footpath runs along the eastern edge of the gorge from Lingcove Bridge at the bottom to Upper Eskdale at the top.

The hieght gain on the Esk Gorge ascent is 200 metres or approximately 660 feet - thats a lot of hieght gain and a lot of waterfalls to climb. Thankfully many of them are not very high - the one in this photo is probably about the highest!

The Esk gorge ghyll scrambling trip constantly alternates between shallower easier angled sections of gorge and steep sections with waterfalls and deep pools.

The pool in photo five is just over halfway up the gorge and is entered by a short steep climb up a waterfall from another deep pool. This pool has two jumping in points - one just behind the person who is jumping and another from where this photograph was taken.

The waterfall at the back is too steep to climb so we exit the pool at the left of the photo and get back in upstream of the fall.

Shortly above there is another deep pool with another jumping in point.

Photo six shows the second to last waterfall in the upper section of the Esk Gorge ascent.

This is not climbable but is avoided by going to the right of the big boulder right of the fall. Beyond this, an easy amble takes you to the last deep pool and the last waterfall on the Esk Gorge.

By now you will have been walking, climbing and swimming upstream for around 4 hours although, if the weather is fair and you are well kitted out as you will be with us, then you should still be comfortable.

However, by now, you will probably be getting tired too.

Having been roped up the final waterfall, it is a short walk upstream past a circular pool that looks as if it has been made by a giant rock drill and a final clamber up a very minor cascade sees you at the end of the gorge.

Upstream from here is the hanging valley of Upper Eskdale (photo seven) bounded on the west by Scafell & Scafell Pike - Englands two highest peaks and Esk Pike & Bowfell to the east.

Scafell Pike (3210 feet) is the peak visible in the distance (centre of photo). Upper Eskdale is the most remote place in The Lake District and a favourite haunt of wild campers and groups undertaking Mountainwalking Leader (Summer) Training & Assessment Course expeditions. It is a beautiful place.
Photo eight shows a satisfied ghyll scrambler heading back down the previously mentioned footpath on the east side of the Esk Gorge (photo right).

Having exited at the head of the gorge we walk back down to the get in point in our wetsuits to get changed back in to dry kit and finish off our lunch and have a drink before packing up and making the return 3km journey to the vehicles. Walking back from the top to the bottom of the Esk Gorge only takes about 20 minutes along this path.

Before starting the session, it is a wise idea to get food & drink as once we get going we do not stop until we get to the top unless for reasons of safety or wellbeing - so you can be expect to be in the gorge for up to four hours.

At the end, you will hopefully feel exhilarated by what you have just done. Wet, but still comfortable, tired -very likely! but hopefully also very satisfied indeed at having experienced the best ghyll scrambling & canyoning venue The Lake District has to offer.

No doubt the full impact of what you have undertaken will hit you later on in the evening when most people feel absolutely whacked and this will probably go on into the next day.

Is it worth it? Undoubtedly! To book your Esk Gorge all day ghyll scrambling & canyoning session with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here. Further photos from a recent session in the Esk Gorge can be viewed here. We look forward to sharing this adventure with you.

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