Langdale Pikes (Part 1)

Wednesday 14th September 2022

I’m going to try something different with this walk and break it up in to two halves. I’m often aware that my regular posts are never short in length; whether that’s for the quantity of words or photos. I could limit myself to ‘one photo and a few words’ per post so, I’m giving this a go.

This was my second walk of my week up in the Lake District. Having packed away my camping gear, I drove north to Great Langdale; knowing that, come the end of this day, I’d be checked in to my next campsite.

I’d decided to park on the south side of the B-road and across from the hotel and National Trust car park. I still had to pay another £8 in parking and it looked set to be another fairly-busy weekday.

Crossing over the road, I made use of the nearby toilets before plodding on towards Stickle Ghyll.

I met with the Cumbria Way very briefly here – a 73 mile long route that I’d like to tackle another time. Three other walkers carrying large rucksacks were heading off in the other direction. Probably on their way towards the finish line at Carlisle.

‘Ghyll’ may be similar to the term ‘gill’, which is used in the Yorkshire Dales, which can mean a narrow mountain stream or deep, wooded ravine.

Walkers ahead of me would keep to the west side of the ghyll, while I crossed at the footbridge to continue onwards and up.

Lumps of limestone paved the way forward. But it was a very unforgiving route. Only ever inclining. No immediate sign of nearing the top.

I’d soon arrive at the southern edge of Stickle Tarn. It wasn’t the highest point but would certainly do for now! A chance to sit, rest, catch my breath and open my flask of tea.

This would’ve been a perfect place for wild swimming, although no-one else seemed to have this same idea. I imagine it would’ve been busy during the summer’s heatwaves. People had encouraged me to pack my swimming gear before driving north to the Lake District… In all honesty, even if I was to carry the extra weight along a challenging hike, I still have fears about swimming on my own.

Following a short and much needed break, my walk would continue heading anti-clockwise around the edge of the tarn.

A few walkers I’d overtaken on the ascent had already crossed over via this dam.

I didn’t realise at the time (even though it’s clearly marked on the map) but I’d been sat before Pavey Ark, a rather well known fell of this area and one of the Langdale Pikes.

Meanwhile, on YouTube, Luke has informed me that you can see a popular scrambling route known as Jack’s Rake. It’s leading up towards 11 o’clock in the photo above… I could just make out a man wearing red or orange.

I crossed a few more streams and then, prepared for my route to turn vertical once more.

Looking back over my shoulder, I could see what I now realise was Windermere. On the other side of which, I would find my campsite for this evening.

A rocky path and with moments of scrambling led me to this rather untamed plateau. No man-made paths, waymark arrows or fingerposts.

I walked my way around and made it up to this cairn, where I’d then stop for lunch.

In the same moment, I’d assumed that this was the top of Harrison Stickle. But, as I consulted the GPS on my phone, I realised I wasn’t quite there. This was the first time I’d really had to pay close attention to my map up in the Lakes and I was struggling to accept how terrain can affect my average pace and progress on a walk.

I’ll end this one here for now. In Part 2, there will be more of the Langdale Pikes to discover and before I join the Cumbria Way.

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

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