Near Miss Foxes Tarn, Scafell

Tuesday 25th September 2007

Photographs of the rock fall here 

Hello ,


 I was reading your web site following a visit to the Lakes ,and saw that you were interested in any "near miss stories."
Four colleagues and myself intended on a two day visit to the Keswick area ,arriving Tuesday 25/09/2007.
I had planned to walk to Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via the corridor route and then onto Lords Rake ,onto Scafell and down Foxes tarn ,and return via Mickledore ,Broad Cragg and Great End.
The walk went smoothly until Foxes tarn . Whilst descending with one colleague ,about halfway down Foxes tarn gully I noticed a lot of fresh fallen rock and very large boulders ,it was that fresh I could even smell that sulphourous smell, that rocks make when struck together. The largest of these boulders was about 10 ft x 15 ft  approx. We passed without incident.
The three friends behind reached this area a few moments later, one was behind the largest rock one was passing to its right and one in front  when it has all moved again , sliding about 15 to 20 ft further down . The two lads either in front and behind were luckily unscathed apart from a minor hand injury but my friend at the side became trapped under some large boulders .  From my position I though he had gone under the largest rock ,but fortunately he had gone to its side . Having got two of the party out of the gully , one of my friends and myself removed the rocks from my friend and whilst very wary that it was all going to move again we managed to get him to his feet and out of the side of the gully. I was expecting a broken leg at least when I saw the position of his feet and legs but it seemed he had got off relatively lightly . He had a twisted and knocked about ankle and bruising to his calf area , he had banged his head in the fall but without too much apparent damage and had injured his right arm , possible broken bone in his hand and elbow .
We managed to slide him down the grassy side of the gully to the path at the bottom , where we assessed his injuries.
Luckily he was able to slowly get down to the valley bottom and we decided the easiest way down was to follow the valley route to Honister pass.
We feel we had a very lucky escape considering the size of the rocks and boulders that fell .
I'm very glad that we didn't need your services , but its heartening to know that we could have turned to you should the outcome have been worse.
I think some contributions to the Mountain Rescue are long overdue ,something I will put right soon .                              
yours sincerely
Further email 28/9/07 with photographs

Dear Warren ,

thanks for responding to my email .
I have included some shots that I hurriedly took after the event . Its hard to get a sense of scale without something or someone to refer to , but I am sure you are very familiar with location .In some of the photos you can see the fresh scratch marks on the rock where they tumbled upon each other.  Sorry about the amateurish stick man , but it shows where Hugh became trapped by the three rocks lying around him .He was facing down hill ,on his front but legs twisted around each other with one of the rocks pinning them down.  His ruck sack was trapped underneath the uppermost rock .
Just for the record ,I am a 38 yr old police officer, with previous walking/scrambling experience ,My four friends have all walked before but to a lesser extent ,and all are of a similar age to myself and all are policeofficers.  We were well equipped for the day with the exception of helmets .Lesson learnt !!!!!
many thanks again,

Photographs of the rock fall here

Email from another walker - 30/9/07


Hi Richard,

It's scary!

I had planned to walk Scafell at weekend anyway. I ascended Lord's Rake which seems fairly settled at the moment, walked along the ridge to Slight Side, dropped down to the valley and climbed up by the side of Cam Spout and up Foxes Tarn Gully.

In the lower section of the gully there were always a number of large chock-stones that seemed to be immoveable but they have moved about twenty feet down the gully.

Now that they are in the middle of the gully and not attached to the rock wall they will almost certainly move again. The smaller boulders that fill the gap between the larger ones are piled up several deep and you have to clamber up them, they are fairly stable at the moment but will also move again when the larger ones do.

Those guys certainly had a close shave.

I got photos that by themselves don't show much, I'll find some from earlier in the year and see if there is a good before and after comparison.



telephone call from a concerned walker 1st October 2007

Lady from  from Northallerton, North Yorkshire reported that a group of 6 ladies from Hambleton Ramblers were ascending Foxes Tarn from Camspout 27/9/07.  One lady stood on the big boulder which then moved - she fell but was not injured - the group then had to move across to the right hand side of the gulley - beware

A couple of team members went to have a look at the gulley (14 October) with the following report.

We went to have a look at the Foxes Tarn Gully yesterday. We scrambled up the grass alongside the gully to the location of the rockfall and then took various photos which we will e-mail for the website. The rockfall is from a section of the sidewall that has obviously been loose for a long time. It has fallen into a fairly concentrated area with 3 large boulders and lots of smaller TV sized boulders. The largest boulder is approximately 10x5x5ft across its largest dimensions. However, this boulder does look the least stable of the lot and another large boulder of about half that size is resting against it. I was happy to enter the gully for a short period and have a look and get some photos.