Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Langdale Pikes

Despite poor weather forecasts and the prospect of not finding a parking space due to the Langdale fell run being held on the same day, Claire and I took our chances and went for an exploration of Great Langdale valley and a walk up the Langdale Pikes.We clearly made the right decision, with only a few vehicles in the car park at New Dungeon Ghyll - perhaps others had been put off by the factors as mentioned.

The drive from Ambleside was a spectacular one past Loughrigg Tarn, Elterwater and through Church Stile, and gave plenty of ideas for the next rainy day/ non walking day in the Lakes.
The Langdale Pikes were swathed in cloud, although it was fairly windy so the cloud moved quickly, offering us glimpses of the path ahead.

 With the Central Fells guide in hand, Wainwright showed the way and it was a great route to follow via Pike Howe, passing streams, crags, waterfalls and with views all along Great Langdale.

Pike Howe
We headed up to Pike Howe and as always in the Lakes, each step offered an ever widening panorama behind us and soon enough we had a great view down the valley all the way back to Windermere.

looking back down Great Langdale towards Windermere

 After the Pike we were on the grassy plains and if we had had more time then it would have been well worth making the detour to view the cliffs of Pavey Ark over Stickle Tarn.

finally the tops of the Langdale Pikes start to reveal themselves
After the grass came the scree, and with the scree came the cloud and rain, and all of a sudden the going got much tougher. At times the cloud was very thick and it was easy to stray from the path, but fortunately we made it up to the top of Harrison Stickle with no problems. 

Harrison Stickle is up there somewhere

As with all summits on this walk, they were shrouded in mist and cloud, and the spectacular views they offer were to remain hidden all day. At least that gives us good reason to revisit the area.

Harrison Stickle summit

Coming down from Harrison Stickle we were tempted to break off the walk as the weather wasn't improving, but once we were back on the high level plains and marshes that connect the peaks of the Langdale Pikes, things were looking up and we could just about make out Pike O'Stickle in the distant cloud.

Pike O'Stickle from the slopes of Harrison Stickle

The walk across was pleasant enough with stepping stones coming in handy over the occasional marshy patches of ground. It was a short walk to the base of the Pike O'Stickle summit, with a pause at a steep gulley to enjoy the view before making the final scramble to the summit.
the view coming back off the summit of Pike O'Stickle

Once again, the tiny summit offered nothing in way of sights to see, so after a short pause we scrambled back down to the gulley for our lunch.

With no let up in the cloud we were fortunate to have the guidebook and map giving a good explanation of the route.

a ghostly Loft Crag

Finally Loft Crag appeared and it was an easy and pleasant walk to the summit. Although we were still up in the cloud there was a brief respite that gave us anewed views over the Great Langdale Valley over to Lingmoor Fell and Tarn and with the Coniston range in the distance.

fantastic view across Great Langdale to Lingmoor Tarn
The weather gradually deteriorated as we came down from the fell between Glimmer Crag and Thorn Crag, occasasional promises of break in the cloud soon gave way to cloud, mist and fine drizzle that accompanied us for most of the way.

looking over to Pike Howe coming off Loft Crag

Pike O'Blisco through the clouds

We did get some fantastic views back up to Harrison Stickle as we headed down towards the Great Langdale Valley.

Despite the poor conditions it was a spectacular walk in an area of the Lakes I'm sure we will visit time and time again.

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