The Mosedale Horseshoe? Not a chance!

(Tuesday 2nd June 2009 - Wasdale Head to Looking Stead)

The Scafell Massif from the Wasdale Head campsite - taken the previous afternoon

What a glorious day. It's 7:00 a.m. and the weather couldn't be better - clear blue skies and not a breath of wind - it's going to be a hot one!

Today Andrew and I are planning to walk the Mosedale Horseshoe...... From Wasdale Head up Black Sail Pass to Looking Stead then a short haul up to Pillar with, hopefully, lots of opportunities to take photos of Pillar Rock. Then on to Wind Gap and Scoat Fell (I don't know what to expect there). On to Red Pike (and the famous chair - an outcrop of rock that's been converted to a 'comfortable' seat with back rest and arms). Then down to Dore Head and finally descend via Yewbarrow. That was the plan.

The trail can be inspected or downloaded to GPS from alternatively go to the EveryTrail site at the bottom of this post.

We walked from our campsite (National Trust at the northern tip of Wast Water) to the start of the walk at the Wasdale Head Inn. By the time we got there it was clear this was going to be a VERY hot day. Never mind we had sunblock and at least 2 litres of water each - that's always been more than enough in the past.

Walking along Mosedale Beck I was trying to keep in the shade.

towards Mosedale from Wasdale Head

Three old men were already racing ahead of us and a young woman who clearly thought she was going to be slower than us deliberately let us pass her. Ha! It wasn't long before she overtook us again. I was already drinking copiously and by the time we reached the crossing over Gatherstone Beck we were both feeling the heat so we took the opportunity to cool ourselves down.

At this point I must take time out to recommend the Tilley Hat - it makes a perfect bucket for pouring copious amounts of freezing water over your head. It's also a perfect sponge - holding the water in the headband and slowly evaporating - the perfect head cooler bucket!

By now the old men were feeling the heat too - one was complaining he couldn't get his heart rate to fall below 160 beats per minute. I don't know what mine was but I'll bet it was more than 160 b.p.m. It was bad; the sun, the heat and the water was running out fast.

The rest of the walk up to Black Sail Pass Andrew found easy but myself and the old men kept criss crossing as we took it in turn to rest, walk on, rest, etc. until we got to the top.

At the top (Black Sail Pass) I was feeling quite guilty. Andrew was not having any difficulty and was clearly being held back as he waited for me. He likes to push himself whereas I like to take it slow and enjoy the scenery. (Andrew manages to do both - but at speed, easily taking 2 to 3 times as many photos as I do).

On the path from Black Sail Pass to Looking Stead it was clear I was not going to have enough water to get to the top of Pillar, never mind getting round the rest of the Mosedale Horseshoe. So I suggested to Andrew that I stay at Looking Stead while he took the much more demanding High Level Route to Pillar Rock then from there scramble/climb to the summit of Pillar, before returning to me on Looking Stead.

I found myself a comfortable spot and took photos of Andrew as he slowly (for him) traversed the High Level Route and disappeared into the distance.

Andrew at the start of the High Level Route

The Last view of Andrew (the ant on top of the rock face)

I then set about looking for some good shots of the magnificent surrounding scenery.

I have very rarely had the luxury of staying in one area for 2 hours with just my camera too keep me company. Just one thing was missing - my inspiration.

I was hot, tired, thirsty and just a little worried for Andrew's safety. My heart wasn't quite into taking lots of photos - what a waste of all that energy. Just one word springs to mind - Angst.

Nonetheless while keeping an eye out for Andrew I took photos:

Green Gable, Windy Gap, Great Gable and Kirk Fell from the summit of Looking Stead

Great Gable from the summit of Looking Stead

The strong sunlight determined that I should use both UV and Polarising Filters. This would result in slow speeds at small apertures and default ISO 100, so I set AUTO ISO to automatically adjust ISO when speeds fall below 1/30 sec.

I also set exposure compensation at -0.3 ev for about 50% of the shots I took. On reflection I should have had the confidence to use compensation in all my shots.
Camera Work: (for the last photo shown above)
RAW (12 bit), focal length 60 mm, Vibration Reduction on, exposure: 1/30 sec, F16, Auto ISO 280, no exposure compensation.

Post Capture: (in Capture NX2)
White Balance: Direct Sunlight (5200K),
Custom Picture Control: Sharpening 7, Contrast 0, Brightness -1, Saturation -1, Hue -1.
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 ev (to bring out the cloud texture)
Black & White Control Points set.
Strong High Pass filter applied to a mask just below the horizon (to avoid unsightly fringing on the horizon)

Style: Organised Landscape

Post Script:
We never saw the young woman again - she was clearly much faster than any of us. As for the three old men we met one of them at the campsite and told us that they had followed in Andrews steps up to Pillar and then despite having no water continued 'zombie like' all the way round to the scree at Dore Head and descended from there. On arriving dehydrated at the Wasdale Head Inn they proceeded to drink it dry - long after Andrew and I had left (thirst fully quenched).

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