Jack’s Rake Scramble up Pavey Ark

jack's rake
Jack's Rake is an incredibly fun scramble up the face of Pavey Ark in the Lake District's Langdales. It has been on the list for a while so I took a sunny morning off to go and get this one in the bag. Here's the route I took and review of the morning.

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My name is Stacey and my toxic trait is that I’ll literally sack off anything to take advantage of a good weather day in the hills!

I’ve been making my way through some of the UK’s finest scrambles. Jack’s Rake up to the Pavey Ark summit in the Langdales areas of the Lake District was on the list for me. Reachable within under 2 hours from my house, this was an impromptu Friday morning trip. The early start was worth it to take advantage of the day’s weather. And while I was very much looking forward to bagging a few summits on this route (Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott and Harrison Stickle) the main event was the scramble up the first summit. The scramble, known as Jack’s Rake, takes you right up the front of the cliff face. From across the tarn, it looks like quite a feat:

You’d be forgiven for thinking on first glance that you might need your ropes! But as you approach the bottom of the scramble, it’s evident that this is a very “scramble-able” route, technically just a grade 1.

It’s a different type of challenge to ridges. So it doesn’t have the consistent exposure that something like Crib Goch has. As far as ridges in the Lake District go, I’d already done Striding Edge, Sharp Edge and Hall’s Fell Ridge. 

Pavey Ark via Jack’s Rake Scramble Summary

Here’s a summary of the hike using data from my Apple Watch (which consistently reports longer distances than AllTrails estimates – though I do tend to wander off route to take photos)!
Hike date26th May 2023
Weather conditionsGloriously sunny for most of the hike and quite warm 
Distance hiked7.8km
Walking timeJust over 3 hours including stopping to take photos!
Elevation gain total540m
TerrainEasy to follow path up to Stickle Tarn and then a rocky cliff face scramble up to Pavey Ark’s summit. Easy to follow paths from there.
Hiked withSolo

Jack’s Rake Route to Pavey Ark

Here’s the route I followed that day.

The route is very simple to follow. The AllTrails route above will take you to a National Trust car park. And there’s signposts from there to “Stickle Tarn.” 

It’s an easy to follow path, steep in parts. The higher you get, the rockier the terrain is, with some light scrambling required as you get closer to Stickle Tarn.

The views were beautiful throughout this ascent.

A grassy start with beautiful blue sky views set me up well!

And then I enjoyed the more “scrambly” bits towards the Tarn too:

As you can see from that photo above, this isn’t really requiring any significant climbing and certainly isn’t a graded scramble. But this last part on the hike up to Stickle Tarn will require hands in parts.

(And there’s a photo of me in that section wearing just about as many neon and bright clothes as I could apparently find that day. I look thoroughly delighted with my decision not to go to work and instead to hike that day!)

The main thing I like about this route to Pavey Ark’s Jack’s Rake is the fact you have an opt out of Jack’s Rake itself.

When you get to Stickle Tarn, immediately opposite you is the very imposing looking Pavey Ark and you can see the scramble. I walked anti clockwise around the Tarn to the foot of the scramble. 

For me, it was always going to be the scramble. That’s what I went for (and that’s how I get my kicks, it seems). But for anyone not totally sure, you can take a path to your right instead of scrambling. You can see these paths on the AllTrails map above. So I took a little drink and had a little snack. I also had a chat with another solo hiker who was there for Pavey Ark that day. She hadn’t initially decided whether she would be doing Jack’s Rake but we decided we’d scramble up together. Always a bonus to get chatting to people on the route!

How difficult was Jack’s Rake?

The scrambling itself wasn’t particularly complex for the most part. One thing to be aware of is that the scramble at times takes you through quite narrow segments between rock. It’s easy to get your bag caught here, so just be wary of it. I took a relatively small bag compared to my usual 36 litre hiking pack. I took an 18 litre, which I generally try to do for any scrambling route.

The exposure isn’t as consistent as you get on ridges and you’re only ever really exposed on one side. But there are parts with real exposure and some “don’t look down” moments:

The photos never look quite as steep, sheer or high as it does in real life, do they? But this as one of the views from around half way up Jack’s Rake when I did decide to look down!

As you get nearer to the top, there’s a section with quite a fair amount of exposure – but the views are incredible. Here’s a fellow solo hiker I met en route finishing a section on Jack’s Rake.

Scrambling towards the top of Jacks Rake-min

It’s not all scramble! The photo below shows one of a couple of little bits of the route that are walkable as opposed to scrambling – but note the exposure on the left. 

So, in short, not technically difficult scrambling, but some exposure and trickier segments.

Is Jack’s Rake Dangerous?

I say this a lot. Any sort of scrambling (and even hiking in mountains) has the potential to be dangerous.  It’s fair to say that a fall up there is likely to have some serious consequences.

Here’s a still taken from my GoPro footage of the Jack’s Rake scramble. You get some amazing views over the surrounding hills and back over Stickle Tarn as you climb up towards to the Pavey Ark Summit. But it highlights how sheer a drop some of the edges are.

The reality is that there have been several deaths on Jack’s Rake in the last 20 years. And a whole host of other injuries, some of which are highlighted on the this mountain rescue incidents page. Fatalities on Jack’s Rake are not simply the result of people being underprepared. In truth, a simple fall or slip on a scramble like this can easily result in significant injuries or death.

So yes, by its very nature scrambling up Jack’s Rake can be risky and dangerous.

For me, the precautions I take scrambling in order to try and make it safer are:

  • I try to reserve my scrambles for dry and clear days with decent visibility. This often means not being able to plan them so far in advance but they become more impromptu and last minute things
  • I take a smaller hiking bag so I have less to carry
  • I wear leggings and other clothing designed to give me full mobility and flexibility
  • I set out fully prepared to turn back if, at any point, I feel out of my comfort zone
  • I take it slow concentrating on each step and move I make
  • Where feasible, I follow 3 points of contact guidance and move one limb at a time
 

But everyone has their own approach.

Can you take children up Jack’s Rake?

This is something I considered when my 8 year old asked if he could come on this route. He’s a keen hiker and is doing more and more scrambling (most recently on Hall’s Fell Ridge).

I told him I would do it first and see how suitable it is for him.

I don’t think I would take him there yet. He does want to do CMD arĂȘte and, having done that one myself too, I am happier with him doing that than I am with him doing Jack’s Rake. CMD is a much much longer day with more sustained ascent, but I think you’re less likely to have a serious injury up there in good weather than on Jack’s Rake.

It depends, of course, on the age, confidence and experience of your child. But for me, this is not one my 8 year old will be scrambling for a couple of years yet.

Would I Scramble Jack’s Rake again?

Absolutely, yes. I categorically want to go back there and scramble it again. It’s a beautiful route and a thoroughly enjoyable scramble.

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