Four of these trips up Scafell Pike were early morning or late evening walks, all part of Three Peaks Challenges (we were working for various companies on these - Highpoint Mountain Guides, Raw Adventures and Advocate Adventures). The one I did during the early hours of Thursday morning was beautifully quiet for much of the way - we only passed a couple of other groups out doing the challenge. It was only when we were descending the Brown Tongue path below Hollowstones that it started to become busy with folk...out to enjoy a beautiful sunny day in the fells.
By contrast the weekend 'Three Peaks' ascents were considerably busier with a great many teams out, almost all of them raising money for charities. Driving down Wasdale in the dark I could see many headtorches on the mountain. The Lake Head National Trust car park was also very busy with teams leaving and setting off. I set off with my group at first light and met lots of teams on their way down from the summit but there were also many just starting the ascent like ourselves. It was good to see that there are now many organisers of these events (including the ones we worked for) who have looked into encouraging changes to itineraries and logistics to fit in with the codes of practice. The Three Peaks code of practice became necessary due to the many thousands attempting this challenge every year, and the impact they are having on the local and mountain environment, especially in Wasdale. For example starting from Lake Head National Trust car park and also not ascending the mountain between the hours of 11pm and 6pm is a small way of minimising the impact these events can have on the local residents. Litter did not seem to be as bad as on previous occasions although there were still many banana skins lying around - did you know that it can take up to 2 years for a banana skin to biodegrade in the mountain environment? We always encourage our clients to 'leave no trace' which means that absolutely everything you take out with you in the mountains, returns with you at the end of the day!
Mark was out with George on Monday, an 80 year old who was full of many interesting stories and advice about life and times gone by. George was an inspiration...very active and fit for his age, passing many younger people on his way up the mountain!