Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.


The “Great Pass”, a narrow col connecting two of the highest mountains in England, Scafell and Scafell Pike. The direct route up to Scafell requires the ascent of a small rock step called Broad Stand. It’s just of two metres high. In climbing grades it’s a mere Difficult. Not particularly hard but too risky for me. Today there was some attempts at the Bob Graham Round taking place and the crag had been roped to provide an easy climb to the summit. The Bob Graham Round is a challenge requiring the climbing of 42 Lakeland fells within 24 hours. I did the Round in 1979 along with my old KIMM partner, Peter. We opted to do it unsupported carrying our day sacks and with no pacers and navigators so naturally we didn’t have Broad Stand roped. Instead we had to lose some height left before climbing back up via Foxes Tarn, the route I repeated today. A route much rockier than I remember and Foxes Tarn is just a puddle. Traditionally there was an alternative route off right dropping down to Lords Rake but this is now deemed impassable due to a rockfall.

There an interesting account of a descent of Broad Stand by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Lakeland romantic poet in 1802. He wrote in a letter to his one time love Sara Hutchinson (he later married Sara’s sister):

I began to suspect that I ought not to go on, but then unfortunately tho’ I could with ease drop down a smooth Rock 7 feet high, I could not climb it, so go on I must and on I went. The next 3 drops were not half a Foot, at least not a foot more than my own height, but every Drop increased the Palsy of my Limbs — I shook all over, Heaven knows without the least influence of Fear, and now I had only two more to drop down, to return was impossible — but of these two the first was tremendous, it was twice my own height, and the Ledge at the bottom was so exceedingly narrow, that if I dropt down upon it I must of necessity have fallen backwards and of course killed myself. My Limbs were all in a tremble — I lay upon my Back to rest myself, and was beginning according to my Custom to laugh at myself for a Madman, when the sight of the Crags above me on each side, and the impetuous Clouds just over them, posting so luridly and so rapidly northward, overawed me. I lay in a state of almost prophetic Trance and Delight — and blessed God aloud, for the powers of Reason and the Will, which remaining no Danger can overpower us!







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