A Walk up Scafell Pike (Nearly)

The following is a true story about a family who were out walking in Wasdale with the aim of reaching the summit of Scafell Pike via Mickledore ridge - the family were well equipped and experienced however loose boulders sometimes have a mind of their own.  Thankfully the injury has now healed and Martin is back at work.

The record of this incident can be viewed 

by doubling clicking here...No.17 - 10 April 2000  

                                    Richard Warren - Secretary WMRT

16th July  2000


My name is Martin from Kirkham in Lancashire.  I was the casualty listed under callout  00/17 on the 10th April 2000.  At the time of the rescue I promised the team members to send in my account of the event and this is the result. I hope you can use it on your website. 

We had planned a week’s holiday staying in Newby Bridge with my wife Betty and two sons Adam (19) and Graham (17). It was going to be a week of exercise and we planned to walk or bike everyday. 

On Monday 10/4 it was such a good forecast that we decided that we would climb Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head. Adam had climbed it before as part of a Three Peaks challenge but the rest of use had not been up there before. 

We set off from Wasdale Head around 11am and climbed up towards Lingmell, we stopped for a bite to eat around 1pm on the plateau below Mickledore. The weather was fine and there were just a couple of patches of snow there to cool our cans of drink in.  The views down Wasdale were tremendous and we pushed on up the path towards Mickledore. 

As we reached the steep part of the path the surface underfoot became quite loose and we often had to scramble up on all fours.  Betty and Graham were leading with myself and Adam following about 30-40 feet  behind. 

Suddenly  we saw a boulder about the size of a portable TV rolling down the slope. How it had become dislodged we will never know. Betty shouted a warning  to look out and  I watched as the boulder picked up speed tumbling end over end. It was coming down at a rate of knots but it looked as if it would pass by us with a good 10-20 ft to spare. As the path was loose I could not move very quickly and was on my knees watching it come down. 

At the last second it took a bad bounce and headed straight towards me. I shied away and it hit me on the left hip area with quite a thud.  I was knocked a few feet down the path and ended up under Adam’s legs.

I thought that it had just glanced off me and although shaken up thought that I had been lucky. It felt as if I had just been given a ‘deadleg’ but I could wiggle my left leg and foot ok. 

Betty and Graham scrambled down the path back to us and asked if I was ok. We all sat there for 5 minutes or so as I got by breath back. We decided that we would continue upwards rather than go down and I started to attempt to stand up. At this point Adam spotted some blood on the stones below me and lifted up my fleece and T shirt.  Just above my hip bone on my left side there was a puncture wound about the size of a 50p piece which was bleeding profusely.  

At that point both Adam and Betty indicated that I would not be going anywhere in a hurry! 

Fortunately we had bought Adam a Mountain Leaders First Aid Kit as a Christmas present as he does a lot of climbing etc. He had it with him and so we were able to get a pressure dressing on the wound immediately.  We had 3 mobile phones with us but at the point of the incident in the shelter of the top crags we could not get a signal.  

Betty and Graham decided to go down until they could get a signal and call out the Mountain Rescue. They set off and I laid there fortunately not in any pain at all with Adam keeping an eye on me. 

The path where I was lying was very slippery and I decided that I would slither very gently about 15 feet down the slope to where there was a large rock to prop my self against.

I managed to ease myself down and felt a lot more comfortable pressed against the large rock although I could not see what was going on. 

The accident had happened around 2.30 pm and they managed to call the mountain rescue just before 3pm.

At this stage it was a case of just lying and waiting. I managed to put some extra clothing on and felt reasonably comfortable. It was only the last 20 minutes before the first team member arrived that I started to feel cold and start shivering. The first team member reached me around 4.30pm if I remember correctly and I was mighty glad to see him. 

The rest of the team arrived within 15 minutes and they managed to get me into one of the thermal bags  and put a bivvie cover over the top of us. It was quite cosy with about 5 of us under a small tent and I soon warmed up. Dr West checked my vital signs and was surprised to find me in such a reasonable state of health. 

When the team were ready to move me onto the stretcher and they removed the tent cover we realised that the group of us had actually slid a good 10 ft down the slope and the rock I had been pressed against was back up the hill! 

Once on the stretcher they used the vacuum mattress to stop me from moving about and I felt very secure and safe.  By this time the team had setup belays from higher up the slope and proceeded to lower me gently down the steep part of the path. 

When we reached the plateau where we had had our lunch we joined up with Betty and Adam, Graham already had gone down to the car park with other members of the team. 

We seemed to descend at quite a speed, but I must congratulate all the carriers on a first rate ride! 

On reaching the ambulance at the car park at around 7pm it started to rain and I said my goodbyes to the team. Their professionalism, skill and humour kept us all going on that eventful afternoon and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts. 

Once I reached the West Cumberland Hospital and was admitted into Casualty they found that I had not suffered any broken bones but the puncture wound was quite serious and they decided to operate that night.

Fortunately only muscle was damaged and no internal organs had been affected. They left me with a scar a bit larger than the one I started with but after 6 days in hospital and 7 weeks off work I am nearly fully recovered. 

Once again many heartfelt thanks to all the team members involved from both myself, Betty, Adam and Graham.


  Best wishes for the future



Picture of Martin in the Bell Stretcher just about to be transferred into the waiting ambulance at Brackenclose, Wasdale Head       Dawson1.jpg (349617 bytes) double click to view 


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