Author Topic: Avoiding Dore Head screes  (Read 697 times)

GeoffB

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Avoiding Dore Head screes
« on: 15:04:18, 26/08/17 »
In the early 1970s I was on a guided day walk anticlockwise around the Mosedale Horseshoe, starting and ending at Wasdale Head. When we got to Dore Head, the tour leader (a school friend of mine) stopped and told the party, "That down there is Dore Head Screes. For those of you who fear for your lives, there's a path over there that avoids the screes and will get you down to the pub in about half an hour. Having said that, I'm going down the screes: come on Geoff!". Being totally unprepared I followed him and lived to tell the tale. These days (or rather, at my age) I would never dream of doing anything so foolhardy - even if there was any scree left there to run. However, on my annual pilgrimage to Wasdale Head this September, I want to walk the Horseshoe but avoid going over Yewbarrow or down the Overbeck valley (and in particular avoid that nearly two-mile walk along the road back to Wasdale Head). I have been trying to find out where the "path" was that my friend referred to that day, but I can see no obvious path or route down from Dore Head into Mosedale that avoids the screes. Does anybody know if there is a way I can descend without going down the screes? I'd be grateful for any advice. Cheers, Geoff

Sarah Pitht

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #1 on: 08:38:05, 27/08/17 »
I wonder if he was having you on? I don't know of any routes, other than those you have already mentioned.


You could look in some books e.g. Wainwright, Stuart Marshall, Bill Birkett etc and see if they have any suggestions.
Heading North in spirit; Heading South in body...

Percy

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #2 on: 09:00:39, 27/08/17 »



Looking at this picture the only thing I can think of is that there is a zigzag path slightly to the right of the pale gash. It is still very steep with quite a lot of loose stone mixed in with the grass.

GeoffB

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #3 on: 12:26:04, 27/08/17 »
Sarah: No he wasn't having us on, because the rest of the party did indeed descend by some path and rejoined us at the Wasdale Head Inn. Having run down the screes, we were actually there ahead of them. I think that it's odd, though, that these days nobody seems to talk about any routes other than down the screes, over Yewbarrow or along the path to the west of Yewbarrow. I'm sure my knees would complain even if I tried to walk down the screes, and running is now out of the question, even if the practice weren't frowned upon these days.  :-\


PS: I don't have the Wainwright that covers the Mosedale Horseshoe and probably wouldn't be able to acquire it here in Canada in time before I depart, but I am pretty sure there's one at Burnthwaite Farm, so I could at least check that.  :)
« Last Edit: 12:29:10, 27/08/17 by GeoffB »

GeoffB

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #4 on: 12:35:51, 27/08/17 »
Percy: I think you're probably right, there is something there. As you say, though, it's probably pretty steep and since my main concern is to save my knees, it may not be a viable option. I was just hoping that somebody might have actually used a route that avoids the screes and could reassure me that it was practically possible. It's strange that nobody has tried cutting diagonally across the grassy area to the right in your picture, though even that would not really avoid what is probably the steepest part, which is the top quarter of the screes.

Sarah Pitht

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #5 on: 17:32:18, 27/08/17 »
Having just consulted Wainwright, he describes 'grass to the right of the scree' (looking up from Wasdale Head). This is perhaps what your friend was referring to. On wainwright's sketches, the route is drawn as zigzags which chimes with what Percy describes in his photo.


Stuart Marshall, in his book of demon routes, writes, when descending from Dore Head, 'drop into Mosedale by a path on the left of the worn out scree run'.


Birkett writes of the Dore Head descent, 'Unfortunately the top section of the screes has now been badly eroded by both humans and nature. The result is a steep and hard surfaced gully offering little grip. Do not take it directly but first descend the flank of the open hill side to the north (left). This is not difficult though it is very steep and exposed.'


It's amazing what you learn if you read thoroughly! I reckon that route will be a killer on the knees, but if you prefer that to Overbeck plus road (I have taken that option before now), you might be onto something. Do report back!!


Hope this helps.
Heading North in spirit; Heading South in body...

Percy

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #6 on: 17:42:57, 27/08/17 »
I walked this a year or so ago so my description of the zigzags as very steep and still with a lot of loose stone is accurate. I found it OK but the guy coming down behind me with a heavy rucksack full of camera equipment slipped two or three times. I use walking poles, not sure if I'd fancy it without them.


As Sarah says, it is to the right of the gully as you look from Mosedale or the left of the gully when you're at the top looking down.


You can't see the path on the photo I posted earlier (one I found on the web) but I remember it as being fairly obvious apart from the very top section which took us a while to locate.

MarkA

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #7 on: 11:21:41, 28/08/17 »
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GeoffB

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #8 on: 13:55:08, 28/08/17 »
I take the point about routes down the side of the screes probably being steep and probably just as hard on the knees as coming down the screes themselves. However, this probably really applies if one tries to descend from a point close to the top of the screes and skirt the edge of them. Although after a short distance you can begin to zig-zag, right at the beginning it is clear that there isn't room to do that, so the descent will be as steep as the screes themselves. However, I am prepared to be a little more inventive and try to find a route that involves broader zig-zags right from the start. I have a photo which I took a couple of years ago from Mosedale in which I think I can see a diagonal path coming down from the ridge a short distance before the top of the screes, which could be the start of one "zig" extending almost to the screes, at which point I would "zag" the other way, mainly over grass. After that I guess I'd just have to adjust my course so as to avoid crags and rock fields and make my way at the gentlest possible incline down to the valley floor. I have tried to attach the photo, but I'm not sure if it has worked.


GeoffB

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #9 on: 13:56:46, 28/08/17 »
OK, yes, it worked. What I'm talking about is the clear path going diagonally from the ridge, close to the right hand margin. It's clearer on my original photo than at the resolution we're allowed to post here, I'm afraid.
« Last Edit: 14:05:03, 28/08/17 by GeoffB »

GeoffB

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #10 on: 14:03:45, 28/08/17 »
Will this be of any help?

http://www.knowledge.me.uk/walks/yewbarrow.html


It doesn't actually take in the scree descent, but that's an interesting website that I haven't seen before. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.  :)

bajers

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #11 on: 12:42:35, 05/09/17 »
Hi,
I found myself at the top of these screes a couple of years ago and didn't like the look of coming down them so just traversed down a 'path' at the left hand side (when viewed down from the top and to the right on the photograph) with no problem at all. Poles helped though.

GeoffB

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #12 on: 13:45:09, 05/09/17 »
Hi,
I found myself at the top of these screes a couple of years ago and didn't like the look of coming down them so just traversed down a 'path' at the left hand side (when viewed down from the top and to the right on the photograph) with no problem at all. Poles helped though.


Thank you, that is very reassuring! My plan now is to reconnoitre on arriving at Wasdale Head by walking up the path towards Black Sail Pass and studying the far side with binoculars, possibly continuing up the Wind Gap path until I find a way to cross the beck and returning below the screes. I will then go round the horseshoe later in the week. One option if I feel my knees aren't up to the descent is of course to go UP to Dore Head alongside the screes, though this is a tough start to the day's walk! It does have the advantage that the worst is over early, though :-)

bajers

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #13 on: 13:58:37, 05/09/17 »
I must say though Geoff, on the previous days walk along that very pass to Blacksail, looking up at the screes I commented to my partner that there was no way I would come down there!

Looked different again when actually stood at the top looking down. Steep, yes but quite do-able.  :)

Enjoy...

GeoffB

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Re: Avoiding Dore Head screes
« Reply #14 on: 14:23:44, 05/09/17 »
I must say though Geoff, on the previous days walk along that very pass to Blacksail, looking up at the screes I commented to my partner that there was no way I would come down there!

Looked different again when actually stood at the top looking down. Steep, yes but quite do-able.  :)

Enjoy...


Thanks. I stood at the top of the screes a couple of years ago and couldn't believe that I once RAN down them. But that was in my youth, when I didn't have to worry about my knees. Or maybe I should have done just that? Right now I'm packed and ready to depart for the airport and am looking forward to my six and a half days of walking in the Fells, something I do once a year. It isn't often enough, but there's a flight across the Atlantic between me and the Old Country :-(