A New Look at an Old Favourite

One of the abiding memories I have from a trip to Australia, was the remarkably unimaginative names given to truly remarkable places...
...Ocean Beach, Steep Point and Point Perpendicular to name but a few classics.
Researching place names while writing an article on a sea kayaking trip in the Outer Hebrides, I was bemused to find that some of the evocative Gaelic names are no more imaginative, often referring to prominent features used as leading lines or markers by generations of fisherman. Because most fisherman of centuries past worked a relatively small section of coast, and because they would name the same kind of landmarks such as headlands or islands, these being the easily identifiable features that would guide them safely into sheltered waters, there are countless places sharing identical names, throughout Scotland.
It seems the Celts were no more imaginative in their naming of the River Esk, which comes from the Brythonic name Isca, meaning nothing more remarkable than water. If you have walked across Great Moss where the infant Esk rises, on a wet winter's day however, the name will assume greater significance.
In fact, water levels were the reason for our visit; we had come to the valley, to inspect the river and get an idea of the best water level for a descent of the Upper Esk.
I have scrambled the length of the gorge and swum in the many beautiful pools on countless occasions but considering the descent by kayak, at grade 4 and 5...
...with notable sections of 6, I found myself looking at a river which I thought I knew well, with a very different perspective.
Approaching the junction of The Esk and Lincove Beck above which are the Seven Falls - these actually form the lower part of the upper gorge...
...where even the most talented must portage. Running this particular drop would certainly be a brief and terminal affair, ending as it does, on a rock.
We arrived at the southern end of Great Moss as the light failed, pitching in a favourite spot, sadly abused by yet more idiots leaving the usual scars: fire rings, litter, glow sticks...
A number of logs carried in from the valley had been 'considerately' left in the fire pit, amongst the rubbish, for the next arrivals. I threw them in the river.
We carried the rubbish out in the morning, which began as I woke to the sound of snow sliding from the tent walls.
Continuing towards the source of The Esk, we passed beneath Esk Buttress. A magnificent crag and a formidable sight from the valley floor.
A different view of the crag from beneath the snow line, at the top of the upper gorge, Scar Lathing , the dark wet crag on the right. I cannot imagine what possessed those who completed the first ascents but there are numerous routes here for those who have exhausted all other options...
Lower down, Tim checks out a small drop between beautiful pools...
...before reaching this lovely fall, as a snow shower passes through leaving a rainbow in its wake.
Taking a close look at another tricky slot, we decide that something in the region of another foot of water would be ideal...
...before passing the farm at Brotherikeld, Bowfell and Cringle Crags standing proud above.

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