One of my few solo hikes this year, and it was epic!
Since the summer is finally here (or more hours of light at least) and with me in dire need of some miles on my legs prior to my Ben Nevis climb in under a month I figured it was time to get a hike in after work. I couldnt finish work before 5pm that day so I wanted somewhere reasonably close, so chose Pike O Blisco in the Langdales as I can get there in about 1.5hrs and with that in mind I made the plan that if traffic wasnt too bad and I was parked up and underway early enough I would try and get Crinkle Crags in as well as thats a new one for me. Turns out I am very glad I did... and I am especially glad that for only the second time this year, I took all my SLR gear with me.
So my plan for tonight is:
Off I set from Blackpool. The weather was brilliant all the way and was even better in the Lakes. This was the view across Wrynose pass from where I parked up.
I have plenty of pictures of this route to Pike O Blisco elsewhere on my blog as its a favourite of mine and enjoy it with Mandy and the kids so I will leave the majority of them out of this one, but this is the view back to the car after about 15 mins walking.
As always, my favourite sheep, the Herdwicks are in abundance around here, all just quietly going about their lives and giving the occasional smile to passing hikers like myself. I try and grab an image of one for every hiking blog I do.
The path up towards Pike O Blisco is in good repair, its an ankle breaker if your not careful, but its easy to follow and mostly dry.
After about 30mins, you will come across Red tarn with the imposing Great Knott and Crinkle Crags behind it. I shall visit these tonight. The sloping landscape up to the right of the image is the ascent path I took up Pike O Blisco.
And finally, on my 6th (I think) visit... perfect views! Most of my visits here have been in poor weather, but this time it was just perfect... what a view down the Langdale valley.
The summit cairn at 2310ft. Or one of them, there are two actually, I always visit both.
The Langdales look incredible from up here. I stay for about 30 mins and then make my descent back down. The light looks good and I think I probably have time to get over to Crinkle Crags before sunset.
Back down at the foot of the climb you come to a junction, its left to head to Wrynose Pass, and straight on to climb upwards again to Cold pike and onto the path to Crinkle Crags. For the first time, I go straight on.
The sheep and lambs seem very friendly tonight.
Or maybe hes just smiling because he knows how hard its going to be to get my camera gear up here having already made one 1000ft ascent and descent!
As an excuse to get my breath back, I took a selfie from the first level section, up near Great Knott. As you can see, the sun was starting to burn my face. I tan easily so need to take more care!
Moving onwards, I come to Great Cove and the view back to Great Knott is beautiful.
As I climb higher still, to my dismay the clouds start rolling in. I enjoy the cold damp feeling of being in cloud, but its disappointing when you had great plans of shooting a sunset with all your SLR gear, filters and tripod... Hey ho.
And it was getting worse quickly.
Turning back towards Crinkle Crags, it was incredible just how fast the view had changed and what was once a clear path up a mountain, was now looking tricky to follow in this cloud!
This little lamb looked at me as if to say "Do you really want to carry on? This is no place for a lowly human!" And I must admit, I pondered a retreat for a minute or two. Had I not been alone it wouldnt have been an issue, but Larry the Lamb was right, this weather and the terrain ahead isnt ideal when your alone with no phone signal. Its also cold. Very cold, but thats not an issue, I always carry spare core warming clothes, balaclava, gloves and full winter hardshell no matter what the weather as I was caught out up high once and almost froze to death, a harsh lesson quickly learnt. So I wrap up and ponder some more...
But Crinkle Crags is so close I can almost touch it. Well, the bottom of it, theres another 350ft or so of ascent to go, and I have never been here before. I can work out two paths up with Viewranger on my phone and one looks easier than the other, so I take that one. The one to the left.
Its still pretty precarious in places but generally speaking, not too bad.
Until I get to the top. Have you ever wondered what its like to stand inside a dense cloud on a sunny day and look towards the sun. I have.. and now I know what it looks like. It looks like this. 2820ft high and I just know its a beautiful day down below me. Strange feeling.
With a little rooting around and the help of Viewranger on my phone (map and compass are pretty useless in these conditions IMO), I find the Summit cairn. I am pretty tired so stay up here 30 mins and have my tea and a drink. Its windy and I cant see anything, but its still amazing!
After a while, I realise that sunset is in about 30mins so I start to head down, hoping I can capture at least one image of a nice sky to make it worth carrying 16kg of camera gear with me! Visibility does improve a little as I descend, although it just serves to remind me of some of the 2000ft drops if I venture too far off the path.
And then suddenly I find myself coming out of the cloud line. Its a nice feeling to be able to see again, but as I turn to my right, that feeling gets a whole lot better! A bank of cloud has descended downwards and is moving away from me... downhill... fast. I dont think I have ever travelled as fast with all my camera gear on my back. I just had this feeling that it might settle in the valley below Pike O Blisco, Great Knott and Cold pike. Thats Pike O Blisco ahead peaking out above the cloud. Great Knott is "just" visible below it, with its summit peaking out a few inches.
And it did settle! I dont think I have ever unpacked my SLR and associated junk as fast in my life! It must have been on the tripod and firing in 10 seconds flat as the cloud cleared the skyline and let me see what I was missing!
As if that cloud wasnt beautiful enough, there was some really odd and beautiful light developing in the sky too. I later discovered there was a VERY high KP index that night meaning the sky was charged with photons and electrons that make the Northern Lights visible to us. (Aurora Borealis) So I can only assume it was their presence influencing the light display I was now seeing.
I headed towards the scene for some closer shots. Great Knott to the left, Cold Pike to the right. Gorgeous.
Pushing my luck, I packed up and walked as fast as my tired legs would carry me and climbed up to the top of Great Knott to see what the view was like from there. I wasnt disappointed as this is my favourite shot of the evening. Thats Pike O Blisco ahead, with my descent path down the side of Cold Pike to the right.
Here is a gratuitous zoomed and cropped shot.
The view the other way was nice too, but compared to looking at that cloud, it was "Just another sunset sky" Typically, this cloud appears to be the cloud I was stood in on Crinkle Crags as of course its now cloud free as you can see. Should I have stayed up there? Who knows...
But the cloud is now starting to engulf me again and since its gone 10pm and getting dark fast I figure I better head down as I am still at over 2300ft. The cloud comes and goes, its a wierd night, one minute the visibility is poor like this...
And the next its fabulous again!
But its time to get down, its the only sensible option as I know that no matter how good my head torch, cloud makes it impossible to see much. The same as headlights and fog.
Virtually at the bottom of Cold Pike now and the cloud is still hovering above Red Tarn ahead of me.
The light in the sky is fading and the moon is prominent in the cloud free sky to my right.
Or at least it was. The further I walk, the worse it gets.
Until eventually I am in the cloud. Head torch on, I slowly pick my way back to the car. Visibility stays like this all the way back to the car and for about 30 mins into the drive home. It seems while I was up enjoying amazing light, the rest of the Lake District was engulfed in cloud. Perfect. Well, for me at least.
And thats all I have for you folks. It was an awesome nights solo hiking and I was rewarded with some awesome images to remind me of a great night.
Here is a Movie showing the route via Google Earth.
And a little movie compilation of short clips I made on the trip.
Finally, here is 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.)
Here is some data from my Viewranger Account. mileage etc on this isnt really accurate as I have it set to powersave so only updates my position occasionally. I save it for emergency access only. (This map can be changed to others like OS maps etc instead)
A little about me:
For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about landscape photography. I love nothing more than leaving the house at 4am and heading to some distant landscape with a view to capturing an awesome sunrise during golden hour and then staying out shooting all day until night falls and trying to capture an incredible sunset... this escalated into a love of hiking.
Sometimes it's very successful, as you will see from this website, but other times its extremely frustrating and I just spend 12hrs getting cold, wet and downhearted with the weather, but that comes with the British climate and makes the great captures all the more satisfying.
My equipment centres around the incredible Canon 5D MK3 Body which is a fantastic camera by any standard and with a resolution of 22mp allows me to create very large prints with no loss of detail, and I have the amazing 18mp high speed Canon EOS 7D as my backup body... just in case of disaster! If hiking any distance, or with long, hard ascents I often just take the awesome Canon G7X, a 21mp pocket camera that is almost as capable as my 5D MK3.
I hope you enjoy reading my trip reports and looking at my images. If you would like to hang any on your wall and its not part of my main gallery (A trip report image for example), please feel free to drop me a line and I will upload a high resolution version to the main gallery for purchase.