The Knipe boys had been planning this walk for some time. It was their third attempt within a year, and there had been recorded failures spanning several decades. They had got so close that they’d even renamed Wainwright’s ‘Shelf’ route and called it the ‘Ledge’ route. They had previously nearly fallen off it.
What’s easier to fall off? A Ledge or a Shelf? I wonder?
Anyway, John’s friends Ian and Brian had been in subconscious telepathic communication with me, and our three strong Essential Support Group assembled at Braithwaite with the two protagonists, Mike and John, who then eagerly led us up Coledale, as shown above.
They were panicking a bit as the weather lady had predicted the tops to be somewhat like Himalayan peaks in a monsoon.
They rushed across the ford at the head of Coledale, whilst I fell in trying to take this picture.
I’ve cropped out most of the blurry, splashy bits and am relieved that the camera seems to have survived its dunking, even if my knee has severe bruising.
Anyway, that slowed me down a bit for the slog up to the Shelf/Ledge via a welcome stop for a hot drink that was needed to wash down Nallo Lady’s CCS.
Soon we were on the Shelf, romping along its grassy flank. It was here (see below) that John admitted, “We turned around at this point as it seemed too dangerous.” It’s about 20 metres from there up to the point where the easy (but mildly exposed) Shelf joins the main highway coming from Coledale Hause.
John and I waited, admiring the view (below) back down Coledale, with the (Cole?) mine hidden to the left, Blencathra still clear in the distance, and our descent route to the right. Mike eventually fought his way up to join us, his vast pie consumption having taken its usual toll on his speed of ascent, and Ian – having admitted to suffering from extreme vertigo – was finally allowed to take off his blindfold. Meanwhile Brian’s phone had been playing jolly tunes, but he also made it to the ridge.
It was a breeze, then, as opposed to the predicted Himalayan monsoon gale, to reach the summit.
Everyone was very happy.
Especially Mike and John, who seemed to think they should get some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award.
Then we all trudged off to Sail, Outerside and Barrow (a hill), in continuing fine weather apart from a little drizzle on Barrow, and with even the distant Scafell peaks in good, if grey, view.
Back in the Coledale Inn in Braithwaite the Brothers marveled at their success, and at the (previously hidden) route card that I had managed to produce in anticipation of today’s route.
It had indeed been a grand little stroll, and as I pottered off down to Grasmere for dinner at the Red Lion in the excellent company of Brummie Dave, Connecticut Susan and Wainwright bagging Peewiglet, it never did do anything more than drizzle a bit.
Here’s the 13 km route. It involves just over 1000 metres ascent and took us about 5½ hours, including stops. (Full route card here.)
In his widely acclaimed illustrated essay: At Last! Eel Crag by The Ledge Route, Mike Knipe provides further insight into the history of today’s attempt and bemoans the fact that his life is ‘now but an empty vessel.....’.
It was a fairly ‘grey’ autumn day, but for anyone interested my full set of 21 images is here.