Ever since I started going to the lake district as a landscape photographer I have been visiting the Langdales for one reason or another, often Blea Tarn and places like that and because they dominate the skyline, I have always wanted to see the view from the Langdale Pikes. A year ago I thought it would never happen as I simply wasnt fit enough, but a year later and I have done a lot of hiking and I am physically quite fit. In fact, I am very proud to say that I have done 95 Wainwright summits this year alone (Oct 2015). Today... is the day I finally climb the pikes.
My intended route was to take in 9 Wainwright summits, as follows:
Here is the route in typical map format via Viewranger which I use to plan and follow routes.
Converted over to a KML and viewed afterwards in Google earth, it looks like this.
As usual, I picked Steve up from his house in Blackpool at 6:30am and we grabbed a McDonalds breakfast en-route to the motorway. The roads were nice and quiet and we made great progress. As we pass through Elterwater, that same breathtaking view appeared that has always made me want to do the route we are doing today... We got out of the car here and took in the scenery with a brew about 8am.
Having had a coffee and took in the surroundings, we got back in the car and drove the couple of miles to our start point and were parked up in the Dungeon Ghyll car park by 8:30am before the crowds arrived. This is a great car park for many reasons, but primarily, its large, its free for NT members, it has great toilets on site and it even has a pub next door. Do car parks get any better?
Boots on - Lets make a move. We follow the route out of the car park past the toilets and head towards Mark Gate.
The turning point to Mark Gate is easily missed, but essentially you want to follow the wall up to Mark gate and not the stream up to Miller Cragg. This is a view looking back towards the car park as we start to gain height.
There is a nice little bench on the way up for a breather.
And what a view it affords you. This is one of those benches you could spend your whole day on. Here is the view looking back over to my youngest daughters (Ella, Age 7) favourite of all her conquered fells so far.. Pike O Blisco.
Moving on, we cross over Dungeon Ghyll.
And we just keep on upwards. Its a relentless ascent path, but we know it will be worth it. The autumn colours keep our spirits high. The lake district is unbeatable for colour at this time of year and the browns and greens are really ascentuated round here this week.
The higher we go... the better the views get. Look at this view of the Langdale Valley!
And the view to our right is almost as good. What a great area.
I spotted a lone sheep just sat here enjoying the view of his home... the Langdale Valley.
Looking back over the valley to Lingmoor and Side Pike.
There are a few hands on sections up here so in parts we gain height very quickly.
As we gain more height and level off with Side Pike, we finally get a view of a place I have spent many a morning awaiting the sun to rise. Blea Tarn. The amount of times I have sat at that little tarn in the dark looking up here as the sun comes up is incredible.
For those of you whom havent had the pleasure, here is a view to where I am standing if you are on the far side of Blea Tarn. I should be approximately just above the smallest right hand tree, to the end of the left side forest tree line by the water.
And to the right, the Crinkles.
Ahead of us, there is plenty of ascent still to go. As this section levels out a little and gives our legs some welcome respite from the ascent, the two main summits up here come into clear view. Loft Crag to the left - Harrison Stickle towering out of view to the right. We are going to head up between the two then bear left for Loft Crag.
Looking back now, the Crinkle Crags are looking amazing in the early morning light. (Try as i did, I couldnt get that sheeps attention)
Loft Crag up ahead, our first summit and we are almost there after 2hrs of pretty hard ascent...
Summit one done. Here is Steve looking across from the summit of Loft Crag, to our second Summit, Pike Of Stickle.
Behind it, Bowfell looks awesome covered in cloud.
And behind us, the third summit, Harrison Stickle.
When the cloud clears, Bowfell just looks incredible from here. The views here are worth the climb alone. I may come back to this point with all my SLR gear and make a day of it. What a view.
Steve on the summit with Pike Of Stickle directly behind him.
And me, standing ahead of Bowfell sporting my lovely new Montane Down jacket. For anyone considering a new winter jacket, this is highly recomended. It packs down very small and weighs about 0.6kg so you will never be tempted to "leave it in the car" as we have probably all done... and regretted!
From here its an easy hike over to Pike Of Stickle. It doesnt really get steep until the very foot of this gorgeous piece of rock! We thought that sheep up there was stuck for a while but he eventually turned round and wandered off. Sheep are surprisingly good mountaineers!
On the way up to the summit, I spotted a great photo opportunity... Co starring another sheep.
With a little body part direction from me on where to place Steve's arm and hand, we turned this scene into a great "Comedy Sheep" image.
Onwards and upwards now...
We had wandered off the path here, favouring a more scrambly route up to the top, but came to a pretty dramatic looking dead end.
So we turned left and just clambered up what was left of the ascent.
Pike Of Stickle summit, looking back to Loft Crag and Harrison Stickle.
Looking down into the Langdale Valley. I wish I had my DSLR and filters today to make something good from all the crepiscular rays beaming down. Alas the G7X is all I had but the little pocket camera served me well.
And the view across to Bowfell is also just stunning.
It was hard to leave this summit, such were the incredible views. Steve was taking pictures here to send home to his wife.
But leave we must... on the way down we came across a section you really would need to avoid in the dark!
The path to Harrison Stickle, with a couple of hikers in view coming off Loft Crag for scale.
Its an easy, well maintained path... and Harrison Stickle ahead keeps you interested as its a great looking rock with lots of ascent options both easy and scrambly.
As we approach the summit of Harrison, the view back to Pike Of Stickle is fabulous. the lone hiker in red at the path crossroads in this image gives it nice scale.
Summit 3 done. Harrison Stickle. The views from here over Stickle Tarn below are really nice.
As is the view over to our next summit. Pavey Ark
And down the valley towards Windermere... no matter which way you look, its beautiful.
After a brief chat with a nice gentleman up here from Wales with his daughter, we started the walk over to Summit number 4, Pavey Ark. This is the view of Harrison as you drop down to lower ground.
Pavey Ark is about 20mins walk from Harrison... nothing hard or laborious.
And here we are. The summit itself was clogged with people so we dropped down about 10 feet and found a nice big rock to set ourselves down on and stop for lunch. One of the best viewpoints I have had my lunch at to date and a very welcome rest from the days ascent.
From here its onwards to Thunacar Knott. Easy terrain, if not a little boggy in places.
Personally, I fail to see why Wainwright even considered this a summit at all. Its just the high point in a stretch of field really. But a summit it is, so we touched it and moved on after taking a couple of images. Here is the view back to Pavey Ark.
And the view looking onwards towards our next destination. Summit 6, High Raise. The two hikers making their way towards us scales the image nicely.
The path up to High Raise is simple enough although the path is changeable from very good to very boggy. Nothing challenging really although I did drop down into a rut and nearly bust my ankle again so care is still needed. (More care than I was taking obviously).
When we reach the summit, there are a couple of nice wind shelters so we set down for a coffee.
The wind has picked up now and the clouds are threatening to spoil the great weather we have enjoyed thus far. However, they certainly add something to this great image back towards the Scafell range with Brandreth, the Gables and Grey Knott.
Since the wind has picked up and chilled us down, Steve decides to don his new Rab down jacket. Like mine, his is equally as amazing if not more so and you cant help but be impressed at the way it goes from this neat little 0.6kg bag in his hand...
To this full on extreme weather Down jacket.
Suitably refreshed and warmed up, we set of towards summit number 7. Sergeant Man.
When we reach it, we enjoy the views from the summit back over to Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn. We will walk along that waters edge in a few hours time during our descent path.
Our 8th destination Summit, Tarn Crag, is at the end of the ridge in the distance, about a mile away.
This was probably the least enjoyable section for me. My left knee was playing up and the terrain was tricky in places as we went quite a way off path to save time. However, en-route to Tarn Crag, we pass Codale Tarn. A beautiful place, and one we will take a closer look at later on our return path.
Summit 8, Tarn Crag. The views here over Grasmere area are lovely. We met a couple up here whom had come up from Grasmere so after a brief chat, we left them to enjoy the summit alone.
From the moment we planned this trip I was excited to see Easedale Tarn. We couldnt see it from here and upon planning the route I thought we would be able to. Unwilling to miss out, we had to drop off the summit and head south a little to the top of Slapestone Edge. This is the view back up to the couple enjoying the summit of Tarn Crag.
After a short walk, the view over Easedale Tarn actually shocked me. Suddenly, the cloud broke and lit the tarn up like a hot summers day. We spent about 30mins here just enjoying the scene and taking pictures. Here is one I took of Steve.
Personally I think the one he took of me was much better. Steve chose not to include the sky and Windermere and I think its a better image for it. His photography is coming on leaps and bounds. Its time he bought a camera! LOL
As proven by his next shot. This one for me tops every image I took all day. I will cherish this image forever because every time I look at it I am reminded just how I feel inside when I am high up above the Lake District. I just love this image... I shall call it "Tranquility" and I will be printing it for my wall. Thanks Steve.
The suns getting low now and we have a lot of ground to cover so we move on. Our destination is Codale Tarn where we plan to set down and get some calories and hot drinks inside us ahead of the final big ascent up to Blea Rigg.
Upon arrival we note there are folk wild camping at each end, so we set down on the outflow stream where Steve gets to work with his gas stove making hot drinks.
They are made with fresh stream water as usual. Boiled on his stove of course!
Now we tend to get our boots & socks off for a while before the last section of any big hikes we do. As well as just feeling amazing, It dries out the skin and prevents blisters. If there is a stream nearby we often paddle in it to refresh our feet. But this time it wasnt for me, it was just too cold... although Steve did anyway! I am just glad he filled the kettle BEFORE he put his feet in it. LOL. Me? I was happy to just take the boots and socks off and don a fresh pair of socks before moving on.
This image is Steve pointing back towards the summit of Tarn Crag that we just left.
Feeling refreshed but getting cold, its time to move on to the final summit of the day. Its uphill for quite some way now and then we have to double back on ourselves along the ridge to Blea Rigg.
The views back over Easedale Tarn again were lovely as we gained height. Helm Crag as a background reminds me of the day we did that horseshoe route in a snow blizzard and missed out Helm Crag in favour of a warm car! Mandy and I will do that one day.
After scouring the local terrain and my map, we figured that we could cut our own path up Eagle Cragg and save walking a good half mile of the original route. That was feeling like a great idea now we were tiring, so we did just that.
Looking back to Codale and Easedale Tarns.
Easdale Tarn with Helm Crag lit up in the distance.
After a fair old slog we made it to the ninth and final summit of the day, Blea Rigg. We didnt stay long, we had some miles to cover and darkness was going to set in very soon.
The path back was easy to navigate as we just headed for the imposing rock that is Pavey Ark... and soon, Stickle Tarn came into view.
The Stickle Tarn stepping stones and Harrison Stickle.
Its amazing to reflect on the fact that only this afternoon we were sat right on the top of that rock eating our lunches and drinking coffee in the sun.
And now, a few hours later we are sat below it, eating a nice Pot Noodle! Made with fresh stream water of course.
Its head torch time now. The sunlight is long gone and its about to get dark fast!
There is no better way to end a days hiking in the Lake District than to descend in the dark. On a clear calm night, there is no place I would rather be than under the stars in an area with so little light pollution. We turn our torches off quite regularly and just enjoy the amazing night sky, full of tiny stars we would never be able to see from our home towns. Here is the last image of the night... Steve descending back to the car park.
And that brings the blog to an end. The Langdale Pikes are such an amazing feature of this local landscape that I cant imagine anyone ever having looked at them from the ground and not wondered what it would be like to climb them. I know I have many times and finally, I know the answer. I cant wait to return here and do it again. Maybe we will return next time we have some snow!
All images in this blog were taken with my Canon G7X point and shoot pocket camera. My camera of choice when hiking any distance. The Canon 5D3 SLR stays at home and only comes back with me if I come across any location really worth coming back for with time on my hands to make the best of it.
Here is a little Suunto movie of the trip, showing the route via Google earth.
Here are the "Ups and Downs"
And finally, some data aquired by the Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch too. Interesting for ascent, descent and mileage etc. (calories are pretty accurate as I wear the Suunto Smart HR monitor too.)