"Broad Stand - Peak Performers"

The following is a true story of a walker who thankfully decided to remain calm and stay put rather than tackle the notorious descent on Broad Stand.  This rescue was particularly interesting as it resulted from the walker reading the safety warning notice about Lord's Rake on the top of Scafell.  Due to this notice he chose a different descent which he believed was safe, but was in fact far from it.  

Thank you to our cragfast walker who kindly agreed to write down his feelings on that day - your story is written from the heart and we as rescuers very much appreciate your comments.  I have passed a copy of the letter to Tim and Jane who were first on scene.

                     read the actual rescue account for incident 02/54 - 6 October 2002

plus Broad Stand photos from another incident             


A Tribute to Wasdale’s ‘Peak Performers’


A glorious autumn day, bright blue skies, sunshine, and near perfect visibility. A day to be in the mountains.


I’d camped the previous night close to Burnmoor Tarn and awoke just after 7.00 a.m. to this glorious day. I packed up all my gear and after a leisurely walk, reached the summit of Scafell before 11.00 a.m. Not a person in sight, it seemed as if I had the mountains to myself.


My plan was to walk over to Scafell. Pike via Lord’s Rake but a sign indicated there was a loose boulder and that an alternative route should be found. I turned back, intending to go down to Foxes Tarn, and then back up the main path to Scafell Pike. Less than 100 yards down from the summit a row of cairns indicated there was a more direct route to Scafell Pike. Although not indicated on my OS map, I decided (foolishly) to take this route.


There were a couple of difficult manoeuvres down as I’m a walker not a climber, and I began to feel uneasy about the route I was on. Wetness on the rocks added to my increasing unease, yet the path I wanted was so near. I had now reverted to one or two unsightly shuffles across the rocks, resulting in a very wet backside, but I carried on as I was only 40 - 50 feet away from the path. I had now reached a point though where there was no obvious route down. I spent 5 - 10 minutes crawling across the mountain trying to find a route down, but with no luck. Several hikers by the ‘stretcher box’ in the col between Scafell and Scafell Pike were basking in the sunshine and watching my plight. I called out, seeking advice on where the route down was, now that the cairns had run out. “There’s no way down; you’ll have to go back up” was not what I wanted to hear.


I’d never been in such a predicament before; there’s always an acceptable way down. By this time I was feeling quite uneasy and not a little unnerved. I now knew I couldn’t get down, but the sudden loss of confidence meant I didn’t think I could get back up again either.


After 25 years plus of walking and scrambling in the hills, I suddenly felt at a loss. I’d never experienced anything remotely similar before. Once I’d regained some degree of composure, I knew I couldn’t get myself out of this situation without taking considerable risk. Fortunately there were now people I could call out to, and who in this day and age, had mobile phones with them. A call to the Mountain Rescue Team was made.


Embarrassment, anger with myself, and guilt that I was needing to call out such a service was balanced with a feeling that I’d now be okay. One of several amazing things then happened. The man I’d called out to decided to stay a while to make sure I wasn’t too anxious or panicky. Steve, an engineer from Sellafield, was giving up a beautiful afternoon of walking in the hills to stay and keep me company. He was concerned for my safety and well-being. The first of several acts of humanity for which I will always be grateful. How amazing people can be when they see a fellow human being in trouble.


We soon learnt from another group of walkers, whose mobile phone was used to call and receive return calls from the MRT that a team had been assembled and were on their way. My nightmare would soon be over. This group of five men also got involved in my rescue and were inconvenienced by having to stay around to liase with the team. My apologies and thanks to them too.


Just after 3.00 p.m. the first two of the MR Team came into sight. What a wonderful sight. Steve filled them in on my predicament before heading on his way, knowing that I was now in safe hands. Steve had stayed with me for about three hours. Thank you Steve, you are a star.


Warm re-assurance came from Tim and Jane, the first two of the team on the scene, that I’d done the right thing by not trying to descend Broad Stand. They’d be able to rope me up and get me down. Several more members of the team soon arrived to help assess the situation and lend their experience and expertise to the rescue.


Tim and Jane could see that I’d lost my nerve a bit and were full of encouragement and reassurance to me. Their calmness was infectious. I eventually made it back down to ‘ground’ and experienced a total sense of relief. I was alive and in one piece. I found all the other members of the team who’d come out equally pleasant and reassuring. Not a critical comment from one of them, just affirmation of my judgement to sit it out and wait to be rescued. I began to hear stories of how notorious Broad Stand was, and how several serious accidents had occurred here.


We all have heroes when we’re younger, yet by the age of 47 are less inclined to have them. I re-discovered the concept of heroes that day, and will be eternally grateful for people who give up of their time and of themselves on a totally voluntary basis, in someone else’s hour of need. What a wonderful way to live your life - the ultimate ad of generosity.


A huge thank you.

read the actual rescue account for incident 02/54 - 6 October 2002

visit the Lord's Rake Black Spot

visit the Broad Stand Black Spot       

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