Drawing 360: The summit of Scafell Pike
Direction of view: NE
Notes: Impossible to miss the location the sketch was done from, and practicable in virtually any conditions! The cairn has been repaired, and now has steps where AW shows it collapsing. The ground may have altered, or he was standing on tip-toes to get the perspective on trig column and cairn. This scene does not appear elsewhere in Wainwright’s published works.
Comments: My first visit to get this sketch was on 13th January 1991, with Peter Messenger; a classic winter expedition with the fells covered in snow and perfect visibility, but a bitterly chilling wind (image 1). We also got sketches 128 and 22 this day.
On 5th November 2012 I made my 17th ascent of Scafell Pike, and got my shot for the digital project (image 2). I had for some time been planning a big day out, with 14 sketches to get, but I had to wait a while for decent weather conditions. When they finally came it was late autumn, with the benefits and drawbacks of low sunlight. It was, however, a glorious day: fresh snow on the ground, virtually cloudless skies, and little or no wind. Starting from Seathwaite I walked via Stockley Bridge to Sty Head, up the Corridor Route, onto Lingmell, then Scafell Pike. In doing so, I saw just three people, one on the summit of the Pike. Descent was along the EskHause path, detouring to Great End. From EskHause, back to Sty Head, and down to Stockley Bridge again: in the course of which time I saw not a single other person. It was a splendid expedition, and I got photos of 13 sketches. Inevitably some of these shots were not in ideal lighting conditions, but conversely several benefitted from lovely light. The day was a delight – beautiful, exciting, quite adventurous in the conditions, and with the fun of hunting down sketches: some of the foregrounds eluded me, others certainly didn’t!
The cairn on Scafell Pike was erected in 1921, with a plaque marking the summit as a war memorial. Work to repair and rebuild the cairn began in May 2018, as part of a commemoration to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. Seven National Trust rangers worked on the restoration of the cairn, incorporating a time capsule to act as a record of the conservation work that goes into maintaining the mountain.
On 7th October 1818, Dorothy Wordsworth climbed Scafell Pike with her friend Mary Barker, a maid and two local men. She wrote an account of it, written in the first person singular, which William Wordsworth included as an addendum to his Guide to the Lakes. Many therefore assumed that this was William’s account of an ascent by him, but not so. Dorothy wrote: “I know not how long we might have remained on the summit of the Pike, without a thought of moving, had not our guide warned us that we must not linger, for a storm was coming on”. Very many fellwalkers down the years might mutter in reply: ‘Been there, done that’! The storm soon passed over, leaving the Langdale Pikes “decorated by two splendid rainbows”.