The tree above the Middlefell Buttress descent has now fallen: early November 21. It is lodged in the gully below. The remaining timber has been cleared. The blocks behind the tree are used as an abseil point into the gully. They may be weakened by the demise of the tree. Caution advised in using the blocks. It is possible to scamble down this descent, but it is loose and serious.
A significant rockfall from the split block on the normal descent has meant that a large block and oak tree which formed part of the descent route through its trickiest section are now gone. The descent (which was already awkward and had resulted in several bad accidents over the years) is now significantly more difficult and exposed. A great deal of care will be needed if attempting this descent now and alternative descents are probably better either by abseil or walking to the top of the crag, heading right and coming down around the side of East Raven Crag. 2018
2019 Update: Due to rockfall the traditional Split Blocks descent route can no longer be recommended. An abseil descent has been established. Details are as follows, guidebook references are to the definitive Langdale (2013) and Lake District Rock (2015).
The Langdale guide has photodiagrams on pages 153 and 160 that show the traditional Split Blocks descent. In Lake District Rock this descent is shown on the photodiagrams on pages 69 and 70. On the Revelation Area view in the definitive guide (page 160), a skull and crossbones symbol will be seen above the finish of Kneewrecker Chimney (route 24). In Lake District Rock (page 70) the symbol is an exclamation mark and Kneewrecker Chimney is route 11. These symbols mark the start of the even more unsafe scrambling descent warned about in these guides and it is now exactly where the abseil station is located. Likewise on the main frontal view of the crag, these symbols will be seen above the line marking the traditional descent route. To find the abseil station the general instruction is; From the top of the main buttress head up and generally rightwards for a few metres (vague path) and the abseil strop/station will be seen around a huge flake-block. A 30m abseil takes you to easy ground. However, this abseil can be done on a single 50m rope to reach ledges at 25m but care is required not to go past these and run off the end of the rope – tie knots in the ends of your rope!
Open access land, designated under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act (2000) give area access rather than linear access as provided by public rights of way. It also gives a legal right of access specifically for climbing, as well as walking and other quiet recreation on foot.
Please bear in mind however that the landowner still has the right to restrict access for up to 28 days per year (often used on public safety grounds for shooting in moorland areas), and can also apply for longer term restrictions with Natural England (such as bans on dogs, or regular restrictions during particular times of year). It is important to check for these restrictions regularly as they can be added at short notice – all details for open access land in England can be found on Natural England’s website.