Saturday, 21 January 2017

Pavey Ark via Jack's Rake

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Route: Millbeck, Whitegill Ravine, Stickle Tarn, Jack's Rake, High Raise, Sergeant Man, Stickle Tarn, Tarn Crag, Stickle Ghyll, Millbeck

Date: 21/01/2017
From: Millbeck Farm

Parking: Stickle Ghyll
Start Point: Millbeck Farm
Region: Central Fells

Route length: 5.9 miles (9.5 km)
Time taken : 03:28
Average speed: 1.7 mph
Ascent: 774m
Descent: 796m

Wainwrights on this walk: Pavey Ark (700m), High Raise (750m), Sergeant Man (736m)

Additional summits: None

Other Points of Interest: Jack's Rake

We were making use of one of the National Trust's heated pods to stay for a winter weekend in Great Langdale. Despite the lack of snow, it was forecast to be a chilly weekend, the Saturday in particular promising a cold, sun-filled morning. After scratching our heads for a while deciding what route to do - it dawned on me that I had yet to complete one of the Lake District's legendary scrambles; Jack's Rake.
A beautiful cold and frosty morning in Great Langdale
We were staying at the venerable National Trust campsite in Great Langdale which is a great location for exploring the many interesting fells that ring the valley. We kicked off proceedings by heading to Whitegill Ravine, a dry gully that runs up to the higher fells.
Great Langdale from Millbeck Farm
You can access it by following a path from the rear of the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, behind Millbeck Farm and passing through some woodland to its base. There, it runs directly up onto the Blea Rigg ridge beneath the watchful Whitegill Crag. It's a much more agreeable route than the Stickle Ghyll path, which can get very busy. In the ravine, we didn't see a soul.
Looking up towards Harrison Stickle
Great Langdale
The entrance to Whitegill Ravine
Whitegill Ravine
Whitegill Ravine
Side Pike backed by Wetherlam 
Sara in Whitegill Ravine
A lone tree stands around halfway
Looking towards the top of the ravine
It was warm and sunny in the ravine and it would stay that way for much of the day. After reaching the top, we made our way across to Stickle Tarn and around to the north shore where you can get a foothold on Jack's Rake. The rake can clearly be seen on the face of Pavey Ark, especially if the weather is good.
Blea Rigg
The amazing Langdale Pikes
Harrison Stickle
Sergeant Man
Pavey Ark
Jack's Rake runs from right to left up the face of Pavey Ark
The first task is to reach the bottom of the rake, which is located a short distance up a loose, boulder path. If you spotted the rake on the face of Pavey Ark then finding the bottom should be straightforward. One common problem on Jack's Rake is congestion so, if a group have recently started ahead of you, it's worthwhile giving then a 10 or 15 minute head start.
Reflection in Stickle Tarn
Stickle Tarn
Pavey Ark - Jack's Rake is even clearer
Climbing the scree to reach the rake
The bottom of Jack's Rake
Before I go into detail about the rake itself, it's worth summarising it for the benefit of whose who haven't done it. In short, it's a Grade 1 scramble meaning that a small degree of rock climbing is required, using both hands and feet. A Grade 1 scramble is essentially an exposed walking route and can be attempted without ropes and protection. As with most scrambles, a good head for heights and confidence on rock is essential.

Jack's Rake is largely confined into a rock groove, protecting from the sense of exposure though a few ledges offer no such protection. It I perhaps best described in sections, the first being the steepest from the foot of the route to the lonely Rowan tree.
Begining the first section of the rake - the Rowna Tree can be seen on the skyline
Looking down the first section
Sara emerges at the top of the first section
The Rowan Tree
Stickle Tarn and Great Langdale
The Rowan Tree
The rock can be greasy and wet, even on a dry day so care and attention are certainly the order of the day. This steep section is technically quite straightforward, rising up to meet the tree. I've read that to rocks and holds in Jack's Rake can be unreliable to make sure you check them before committing to a move.

At the tree, enjoy the view before some easy scrambling up large blocks leads to the first of the exposed grassy ledges. Beyond is the next obstacle, an awkward chimney that should be tackled head on, rather than trying to skirt around it. Keep to the rock and make your way up and the scrambling will ease until another ledge is reached - views from the ledges are incredible.
The contuniation from the Rowan Tree
The first grass ledge and the chimney
Continuing up, you'll reach a groove that runs up next to a large, slanted rock, again, this is best tackled head one. Once past this obstacle, a series of blocks and easy clambering will get you to the summit (you're on the right track if you have to climb down a few rocks before the final ascent).
Sara at the top of the chimeny
Looking down back towards the first ledge
The groove next to the slanted rock
Looking down the rake

Stickle Tarn
Sara reaches the top of Jack's Rake
Pavey Ark's summit
In all, it took us around 20 - 30 minutes to complete the rake and we took things steady. A more experienced or confident person could do it in less. It was busy on top of Pavey Ark and a few clouds now threatened proceedings so we ate a quick lunch, marvelled at our modest triumph and continued on towards High Raise.
Great Langdale from Pavey Ark
Thunacar Knott
Pavey Ark's summit
Cloud begins to sweep in
Off towards High Raise
High Raise
Cloud was now quickly filling the sky and was shrouding the top of High Raise when we arrived having made the easy climb up to the summit. The cloud was pretty set in so we took a bearing from High Raise to Sergeant Man, following a line almost directly south-east to the summit. I had hoped to see the view from Sergeant Man but, like the last time I was on the summit, it was hidden away.
Sara heads for the summit
Once last burst of sun
High Raise's summit
The summit of Sergeant Man
From Sergeant Man, we began our descent towards Stickle Tarn; sometimes on a path, often not, passing underneath the clouds as we did. With Stickle Tarn in sight, we wandered over to the main path that circles the tarn to the dam wall.
Belles Knott in Far Easedale
Approaching Stickle Tarn
Pavey Ark shrouded in cloud
Jack's Rake once again
Stickle Tarn
The Stickle Tarn dam
After an error of judgement, we followed the path to the left thinking it was the main pitched path alongside Stickle Ghyll. It turns out, this is on the right. The path to the left stays high, passing beneath Raven Crag before a series of outcrops and zigzags take it down to the main path and the waterfalls. From here it's an easy descent back to the car park.
Looking down into Great Langdale
Stickle Ghyll
Stickle Ghyll
Waterfalls on Stickle Ghyll
The real star of this walk is Jack's Rake which is an excellent scramble. We were fortunate that it wasn't too busy, despite the superb weather. The warm winter we're having meant that there was no snow or ice to impede us. If you have a head for heights and enjoy a bit of hand-on-rock action then you can't go far wrong with Jack's Rake.