Tuesday 4 September 2012

And so into Autumn 2012. The Esk Gorge.

After a few days off, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services found himself back at work, this time in Eskdale in West Cumbria.

Bob Bettinson & his son Paul had arranged some time previously to attend an Esk Gorge Day with Iain. The pair were up from Essex and visiting Bobs other son in Lancaster. Todays ghyll scrambling session was in fact, meant to be Pauls Christmas present from last year!

Photo One shows Bob (left) & Paul (right) on the walk in to The Esk Gorge. Iain had met the pair in Ambleside and they had transferred to Iains car for the journey to Eskdale.

The Esk Gorge Trip is not something to be taken lightly. It is a full day session due to the fact that it is an hours drive to the venue over Lakelands two most exacting mountain passess - Wrynose & Hardknott - followed by a 3km/1 hour walk in to the venue. It feels like a real expedition!

The Esk Gorge lies at the head of Eskdale - one of the most beautiful and remote valleys in The Lake District and is, in itself, in a remote location. The nearest habitations are 3 km away and the gorge is surrounded on three sides by high mountains. The River Esk collects its waters from the basin of Upper Eskdale on the slopes of Englands highest mountains - Scafell and Scafell Pike, naturally one of the wettest areas in the UK.

Because of this the Esk is a powerful stream and this can be evidenced by its deep gorge and even deeper pools. Photo two shows Paul going for it into the first really deep pool in the gorge - forty feet long, twenty feet wide and twenty feet deep!

Because of the remote nature of the venue and the importance of remaining warm - much has to be taken into consideration when running these Esk Gorge Sessions. Cold wet weather makes running an Esk Gorge trip inadvisable when people can get chilly or the water level can rise and it can rise rapidly; although escape from all parts of the gorge is relatively easy.

On this particular day it was not cold (neither was it particularly warm) and water levels were at about their maiximum for running such a session safely, but the pair were keen to give it a go. In photo three Paul & Bob can be seen just below the highest fall in the gorge - we actually went right along the foot of it before climbing up the wall to the right!

Photo four sees Paul tackling the wall to the right of the main fall whilst Bob looks on from below.

There is a considerable amount of variation on this Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling trip with the usual walking upstream being interspersed with jumping into pools and some deep water swimming as well as roped climbing.

Today, it was a hardcore trip with the power of the water on occasion being quite surprising, but as the weather was improving ( it stayed dry throughout the day) there was no chance of the water level rising any further.

Shortly after this though, at about the half way point in the gorge, both Bob  Paul decided that they were getting a little chilly so we wisely decided to get out  and go and get dry.
The final photo from this Esk Gorge Session shows Paul & Bob back at the bridge at the foot of the gorge getting changed and warmed up with a hot drink and some food.

Despite cutting the session short, both agreed it had been fantastic fun and that they would have to come back next Summer to finish the trip off when the weather was warmer & the water levels a little lower.

Altogther, we covered half of this 2km venue which has a total fall of 200m over the 2km - no wonder there are so many waterfalls & deep pools! Despite the remote nature of the venue we saw many other people - mainly hill walkers passing en route for Scafell Pike but there were also a group of youngsters enjoying a similarly wet session in the gorge.

If you would like to try this - the ultimate Lake District Ghyll Scrambling session then contact us to arrange it for you. We look forward to working with you.

Upcoming work sees us running three ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions in Church Beck over the next four days - one of these for one of our corporate clients and one for a stag party. Watch out for the reports coming up on the blog.


Paul Bettinson said...

My dad and I both thoroughly enjoyed our day at Esk Gorge with Iain. A drive in from the meeting point was followed by a trek through the most beautiful scenery along the river Esk.

The gorge walking itself was tough going and the power of the water exhilarating in places. At all times we felt safe though, and Iain’s knowledge and the right equipment were always on hand. There was a good mix of walking, swimming, jumping, scrambling and climbing with ropes along the route; the variety added to the challenge and the fun. Iain took lots of photos (including some action shots of the jumps) during the day which meant we have some nice mementos from our trip.

We enjoyed our gorge walking along the Esk so much that we’re hoping to make a return visit next summer.

Iain Gallagher said...

Thanks Paul, we are pleased that you enjoyed your session with us. The Esk Gorge Trip is undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating sessions that we offer and feels like a real adventure. We look forward to seeing you both again next Summer and getting to do the top half of the gorge with you then. All the best, Iain.