Drawing 361: Scafell Crag

Direction of view: SSW

Notes: The viewpoint is Pulpit Rock, which AW described as “the best of all viewpoints for Scafell Crag”. This sketch also appears on page 110 of Wainwright in Lakeland, page 200 of Memoirs of a Fellwanderer, and a different drawing is Lakeland Mountain Drawing 144.  In the mountain drawing, Wainwright gives the viewpoint as Pulpit Rock, and portrays a figure standing on a rocky buttress at the bottom right of the drawing.

Comments: I took this picture on 18th October 2018.  It is a splendid depiction of the crag in Wainwright’s drawing, but very difficult to get sunlight on the crag.  I was lucky that morning sun had disappeared behind clouds by the time I took this picture; otherwise it would have been impossible, with the sun right above the crag.  Having got my picture, I enjoyed my picnic lunch, admiring the view.

Central Buttress features prominently in this view; its first ascent has always been regarded as marking the beginning of a new era in rock climbing.  It was first climbed on 22nd April 1914, with Siegfried Herford leading George Sansom and C. F. Holland. The crux of the route is the flake crack, which they climbed by the leader standing on the shoulders of the second.  Other magnificent (but easier) routes on this part of the crag are Moss Ghyll Grooves and Botterill’s Slab, both of which I have climbed.

Lake District writer A. Harry Griffin thought that “to a greater degree than anywhere else, it was on these unrelenting cliffs that rock-climbing became a sport in its own right…..All the great names in the first decades of British climbing….were associated with the development of Scafell Crag”.  Rock climbing guides use line drawings to identify routes on the crag; but no drawing illustrates better than Wainwright’s its uncompromising nature.