Jack’s Rake is a popular Grade 1 scramble in the Lake District – but it’s by no means an easy proposition. We look at the skills you’ll need to tackle this classic route.
Slicing across the face of Pavey Ark in the Langdale Pikes, Jack’s Rake is one of the Lake District’s most tempting little scrambles. It’s so fabulously accessible – just a short trot up Stickle Ghyll from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel – and so enticingly visible from the main path.
Unlike some other Grade 1 scrambles, the rock on Jack’s Rake is notoriously unreliable. This natural crumbliness combined with the route’s popularity is a recipe for misadventure.
Once on the route, test constantly for loose rock and watch out for slippery sections. It’s wet most of the year, even in the height of summer. The poor quality of the rock also means that it’s essential to check all holds before you weight them. Give the hold a good bang – if it sounds hollow then don’t use it.
Spot the entrance to the ridge as you arrive at Stickle Tarn and keep it in your sights as you walk round the tarn. There’s a scree-cum-rock scramble up to the start, which begins at the bottom corner of Pavey Ark next to a large gully called Easy Gully. The first 75 yards, ending at a prominent rowan tree, is one of the trickiest sections you’ll encounter, and is quite often both wet and slippery so watch your step.
The most technical section – a short but steep and narrow chimney – will ambush you soon after the rowan tree. For safety, don’t move out of the gully, avoid the narrow grassy ledges to the left, and tackle the trickier climbing moves head-on.
After the chimney, the views down over Great Langdale become increasingly spectacular as the exposure ramps up. The climbing is easier, but it progresses up a series of intermittent block and grooves which are linked by vertiginous ledges.
Less experienced scramblers might come out of the chimney and find the exposure a bit nerve-wracking. There are several grassy ledges where you really have to keep your weight against the rock, and it can be intimidating for those who don’t have a natural head for heights. Therefore, reduce the risk of a heart-in-mouth moment here, by choosing a decent day for your excursion.
Still, don’t let yourself be deterred by the difficulties. It might require a head for heights and a sensible approach to the scrambling, but catch Jack’s Rake on a good day and it’s one of the most thrilling scrambles in the Lakes.
This scramble description has been taken from Hannah Lindon and the British Mountaineering Council.
If you would like to do a days scrambling with me, please get in touch on 07534 387152 or using the links below;