for a Sight of Burnmoor Tarn
The following letter was
written by a group of walkers from the south of England. They became lost
in the mist on the north-western flanks of Scafell. Unsure of their
position they decided it was best to stay put and call the team - a very wet day
in early October.
Thank you for your
Richard Warren - Secretary WMRT
My name is Tony and I am one of four who were rescued
from Scafell on
Saturday 7th October 2000, incident number 0048.
We set out at 0900 hrs from Wasdale Head in drizzle and low cloud for a
circular walk via Styhead and along the corridor route to the summit of
Scafell Pike. This went well and after lunch at approx. 1400 hrs we started our
second leg towards Scafell via Foxes Tarn. Despite our disappointment
the national trust built stone staircase, as featured in our guide book, had
disappeared, we made an exhausting scramble up to the summit of Scafell.
At this point we faced an unpleasant cold wind and driving rain coming from
the west which was combined with poor visibility. The team leaders checked
and double checked our position and it was decided to alter our proposed
and more difficult route down for the easier route to Burnmoor Tarn and then
back to Wasdale Head.
After hurriedly adding another layer of clothing we began our descent which
began as an obvious path but after a while seemed to vanish. We couldn't
any more cairns amongst the boulder strewn landscape. We zig-zagged and
back-tracked trying to pick up the path again but with the poor visibility
were unable to see any landmarks below that could confirm our position.
We walked in several directions hoping for a glimpse of Burnmoor Tarn.
now grassy terrain was very boggy under foot and we were becoming cold, wet
and tired. We could see a fast flowing stream which we thought may flow
into the tarn, so we began to follow it down but after a while became
concerned that it might be leading elsewhere. We were also aware that
if we went into a valley we may loose our mobile phone signal should we need
help. After further discussions and countless examinations of the map we
convinced ourselves that we should change direction again but as dusk began
to fall we realised that we were lost and would not get off the mountain
before dark. The landscape was exposed with nowhere visible to shelter.
We had food and water but due to the conditions didn't think we were
particularly well equipped to spend the night on the mountain. It was agreed
that we should call for assistance and at 1840 hrs we reluctantly dialed 999.
We gave as much information as possible including a position from our GPS
(Global Positioning Satellite navigational aid) which had not been working properly all day.
It was suggested by the mountain
rescue that we should head north which we did until our progress was halted
by a large crag. With only one torch we did not feel happy to move about in
what had now become total darkness, so we called 999 again to inform them of
our decision. We found the largest stone we could for shelter but this was
little help against the wind and driving rain. During our wait
it was comforting to get a call on the mobile confirming that the rescue was
underway. Strangely at this point the wind and rain stopped as quickly as it
had begun and the cloud cleared to reveal the lights of the Wasdale Inn
ahead and the dark shape of Wastwater to our left.
So near yet so far.......
It was about 2230 hrs when we heard the sound of the search parties whistle and
eagerly returned their call. We were all able to walk off and an hour or so
later were experiencing the delights of hot soup in the Wasdale Head Inn
with the rescue team. It turned out that we had been at Green Howe above Rakeshead Crag.
We should like to thank all the members of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team
for the most professional and friendly way in which they brought us down.
The four walkers on the summit of Scafell Pike - earlier that day and
before the ascent of Scafell via Foxes tarn
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October 2000 - created 17th October 2000 by.......©