Hello, my name is Mal Tabb.
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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

An Evening in Roughton Gill

With: Alan Rainford

Weather: Warm, humid, odd flash of lightning & clap of thunder

Where: Lake District Northern Fells


Alan Rainford in Roughton Gill

The Lake District's Northern Fells, especially those round the back of Blencathra & Skiddaw, are most commonly associated with solitude, tranquility and in many ways are the paths less travelled in this popular corner of the country. They are seldom linked to more adventurous outdoor activity. However, having lived in and around the area for the last eight years or so we have spent quite a bit of time seeking out some of the alternative features of these "Pennine-like" hills which mark the northern extremity of the National Park.

I've whiled away many days & evenings in Roughton Gill - exploring the mines both underground and on the surface; fell running in and about the area and generally ratching around. Alan & I have often considered the possibility of a gill scramble directly up this watercourse.

So earlier tonight, the recent spell of fine weather having broken this morning and giving way to claggy humid conditions with some rain & occasional thunder we decided last minute to go have a look.

Leaving the car at Fell Side it was 20degC at six o'clock and the area was shrouded in low cloud. We set off up the track heading alongside and above Dale Beck, soon wet through due to the high humidity. Every now & again a flicker of lightning could be discerned through the haze followed by a clap of thunder.


Looking North Along a Moody Dale Beck


At the foot of Roughton Gill the first scrambling is awkward on loose flaky rock, its better to stick to the path on the right hand side of the gill (when heading south) until this miners trod drops down to the gill bed. I'm not going to attempt to describe every move other than to say the scrambling right up to the head of the gill is enjoyable; its never continuous -rather its more like a series of semi-linked bouldering problems; we never got our feet wet; we never used a rope and there was just about always a "step out of the gill option" if there was something you didn't fancy.

On the night we stopped in the Thief Gills area - the scrambling gets better the further up the gill you go and is at least as good as many of the grade 1 scrambles described in the extensive literature that has been written on this subject elsewhere in the Lake District. We opted to follow a route out that by & large followed the gill back down the fell. However, to ascend Roughton Gill this way would make an excellent prelude to a bigger day exploring the fells in this area eg. a trip to the Knott or another of the surrounding summits.

This particular route took Alan & myself about two & a half hours (we weren't hanging about though) and the temperature was still 20degC on our drive home, we got a thorough soaking during the last fifteen minutes or so when the heavens opened. For the first time ever we saw an organised fell race in the area.


More of Alan Scrambling High in Roughton Gill



There Are Some Impressive Waterfalls & The Gill Contains Several Mines







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