Tuesday 5 June 2012

The Esk Gorge. The Lake Districts ultimate ghyll scrambling trip. June 4th 2012

Gemma Athey booked a whole day of ghyll scrambling with Kendal Mountaineering services for herself & boyfriend Nick whilst on a weeks holiday to The Lake District.

Gemma had done some research online and had found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website. She had liked the sound of our bespoke service and that she could book an activity for just the two of them and not be forced to join in with a larger group - even if it was a little more money.

On that note, we are happy to provide any of our half or full day activity sessions for a minimum of two people - or even one provided you don't mind paying the 2 person rate! Gemma & Nick paid Iain £150 for the day and for that they got a full day of ghyll scrambling at the Lake Districts best venue, a lift from Ambleside & back and all of the equipment you can see them wearing in these photographs. Exceptional value or what! 
The Esk Gorge is a 3km/1 hour walk in from the foot of Hardknott Pass although often we'll do that in slightly less time.

Once at the foot of the gorge it is a good plan to eat & drink before getting changed into the ghyll scrambling kit as it will likely be at least four hours before you will eat and drink again!

Having stashed kitbags we get in at the foot of the gorge and the fun begins.

Immediately - you'll be swimming! The first small pool is a good 7 feet deep and then, after scrambling up a few small waterfalls and pools you are presented with a massive pool some 50 feet long, 18 feet wide and at least 10 feet deep.

There are many such pools along the Esk gorge such as this one set amid high cliffs and offering the opportunity as seen in photo two to make a challenging jump into deep water.

Not only are there deep pools to jump into and swim across on an Esk Gorge ascent, but also a number of waterfalls that require the use of a rope for safety when ascending.

The waterfall in photo three is about half way or 1 kilometre up the Esk Gorge and here, Gemma climbs whilst Nick waits below. To get to where Gemma is now one has to pass right through the waterfall which is a particularly powerful and challenging jet.

The Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling trip is approximately 2kms long and an ascent of 200m or 660 feet in vertical hieght. There are easy angled sections with deep pools interspersed with steeper sections with rather higher waterfalls and there are some sections where you are hemmed in by high rock walls as you scramble upstream - swiming through pools and climbing up waterfalls.

The upper part of the gorge is a real canyon - full of trees and at an easier angle compared to the lower & middle section of the trip. However, it narrows in on a number of occasions with the inevitable deep pool and waterfall. Eventually, one climbs the last fall and arrives at the last deep pool (photo four) before finishing at a gentle meander where the Esk leaves Upper Eskdale.
The final photo shows Gemma & Nick above the head of the gorge with breathtaking mountain scenery beyond. Scafell (Englands second highest peak) forms the rugged backdrop on the left and Scafell Pike - Englands highest mountain is just above Gemmas head.

Fortunately, after all of that time spent in the gorge, the way back to the start is an easy angled path down the east bank back to the bags and this only takes about 20 minutes.

After getting changed and walking back out, it was still 16:15 before we got back to the KMS Mondeo and we still had the drive back over Hardknott & Wrynose to get the couple back to Ambleside where Iain had collected the pair at 09:00.

For this reason, the Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling trip is not included in our half day activity sessions such as ghyll scrambling at Stickle Ghyll or Canyoning at Church Beck - these can be done in four hours and at a starting price of £45 per person. However, the Esk Gorge as a full day outing is hard to beat at £75 per person.

To book your Esk Gorge day or half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here. Additional photographs from Iains Esk Gorge day with Gemma & Nick can be viewed here. We look forward to working with you.

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