Monday 19 August 2013

The Esk Gorge. The Lake Districts ultimate Ghyll Scrambling Session. August 6th 2013.

Richard Farmer & his girlfriend Kirsty booked on to one of our all day Esk Gorge trips whilst having a weeks adventure holiday in the area.

The Esk Gorge is the best Ghyll Scrambling trip of it's type anywhere in The Lake District and is longer and more challenging than anything else in the area being some 3km long and having over 200m of height gain over it's length - meaning a lot of waterfalls and some very deep pools indeed.

Photo one shows the pair kitted up and ready to go and they were certainly up for anything Iain was to throw at them!

The Esk Gorge trip is a real adventure involving a 3km/1 hour walk in from the foot of Hardknott Pass at the head of Eskdale.

As well as the usual provision of wetsuits, cagoules, bouyancy aids, helmets & harnesses, we also provide you with rucksacs for the walk in and bin bags to keep your dry stuff dry - this is essential as unless the weather is warm you will be ready to get changed back into dry clothing after four hours of immersion in the River Esk. We recommend that you bring a flask of hot drink for that very reason!

On arrival at the foot of the gorge, we have some food & drink and then get changed at the sheepfold before getting in to the gorge. Straightaway- you'll be swimming and then climbing up the first waterfall before arriving at the first really big deep pool where there are two jumps. Following that, we climb up the fall at the back of this pool and, if as in this case there was too much water to climb the next bit you'll be roped out on to the side as is happening to Kirsty in photo two. However, we can pretty much get straight back in again!

After another 150m of swimming and picking the best route up the next cataracts we arrive at the next deep pool where there is a jump off the right hand bank (photo three) as well as one off the left as well.

Upstream of this there is a rather unexciting and slippery walk up a relatively level section of the river that we avoid by walking up the bank before jumping in at the next pool set in a tree lined ampitheatre below the highest jump at over 30 feet high.

We tend to avoid this jump (known as Lemmings Leap) the reason being that Iain tried it once and despite not hitting the bed of the pool ( you do land in a very deep pool) hitting the water from such a height hurt like hell! and there are many other less painful jumps that can be done.

Above Lemmings Leap we get to the highest falls in the gorge which we first swim under before roping up the rock to their right. Then, we are straight back in to another deep pool with a roped climb up a chimney followed by a big jump off the top of the rock back into the pool below - pure adrenalin!

Now we are at a point pretty much half way up the gorge. After briefly opening out, the gorge closes in again with more pools to swim and more falls to climb.

Further on we find ourselves in a narrow slot with a waterfall to climb after a swim. On this occasion, we couldn't get near the foot of the fall due to the volume of water ( you have to swim to the foot of the fall) so, Iain roped the pair up the side and then we immediately jumped into the next deep pool upstream - trying it from both banks!

The next section was unclimbable again due to the volume of water, so we walked up to the next jump where Richard & Kirsty jumped together (photo four) before we called time on the session.

Above here the gorge levels off after a small canyon and a walk eventually finishes at another waterfall and climb. A further 500m brings you to another deep pool and waterfall above which one arrives at the final deep pool and the point where the river meanders in from Upper Eskdale.

The Esk Gorge trip is a sustained adventure and a fantastic day out in good weather. It has to be highly recommended to adrenalin seekers looking for a real "out there" adventure. Kendal Mountaineering Services charge £75 per person for a minimum of two persons to experience this full day out with an experienced ghyll Scrambling guide. Contact us to book your session. To get a real flavour of what the Esk Gorge is all about view the  photos from this latest session here.

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