Archive for the ‘Langdale’ Tag

Belated Birthday Weekend – Pike of Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell   18 comments

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Sometimes you just feel that the stars have aligned and everything is right with the world. A superb walk on the Langdale Pikes, a splendid meal, a night in luxurious room in a pub, Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Life was pretty good and I thought things could not get any better. Then we pull into the car park at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to these views.

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Added to that the fact the car park ticket machine was still broken so we avoided another parking charge and I was in birthday heaven and bouncing around like a kid. We were ready to go early (by our standards anyway) thinking the car parks would be rammed full on such a magnificent day but they were pretty empty and the valley sleepy and quiet as we set off.

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One of my all time favourite walks is Bow Fell (also one of my favourite mountains) via Crinkle Crags. Today we were adding in Pike of Blisco as its one of the few recognised peaks in the Lake District I’ve never done. The steep climb up from the campsite revealed more utterly breathtaking views.

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The panorama shows our route for the day. The skyline from the left through to left middle and down the ridge in front

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We decided to try to follow a route away from the main path and it was wonderful. Never too steep and a feeling of exploring small hollows and crags of Bleaberry Knott and Wrynose Fell that most don’t see from the main path

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The views from the summit of PoB were immense

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TBF bags our first summit of the day

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We took our first extended stop of the day. Much like the Langdale Pikes (below) of the day before, PoB is relatively small in stature but big in expansive views as its relatively isolated from the rest of the range

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Langdale valley and the Eastern Fells

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Panorama looking West and North

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One thing that has dramatically improved since my last visit here are the paths. Huge effort has been made to create these wonderful stepped paths with a mosaic of grass between the boulders. They are in equal measure a delight to look at, a pleasure to walk on and protective against erosion. I take my hat off to all the people who put in hard work to build them

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Progress onwards towards Crinkle Crags was effortless and a joy as PoB receded into the distance behind

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Crinkle Crags is itself a superb summit – or should that be summits, it has lots of them.

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We found a quiet spot with a sloping back-rest rock for a very long lunch. Further smiles were in order as I realised the pub made sandwiches as good as its breakfasts and bar meals

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Moving on towards a succession of Crinkles. You can see in the photo below the gully and “bad step” before the highest point. We wanted to tackle the ethical line but there was a crowd of people making a fuss of getting down it so we walked around it

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We found our own little crag to climb which was obviously a much more satisfying route

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The summit of Crinkle Crags reveals the classic view of Bow Fell and its Links (the line of gullies and crags below its summit

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Cairns always seem to make good foreground subjects

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The Scafell range

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The rocky walk across the knobbly summits of Crinkle Crags was just superb. To walk it on such a clear day was exceptional. The hills were alive with the sound of music, in my head anyway

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And so to the day’s final summit. I took a side route to take a look across the huge slabs on the north side of the ridge

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The slab is huge and seems to fall away to infinity with the famous crag of Bow Fell Buttress as a backdrop

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The panorama from the top was immense.

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TBF looking very pleased to be out on such a superb day

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Skiddaw and Blencathra in the distance

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Looking back along our route over Crinkle Crags and PoB

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The birthday boy

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Bow Fell is probably my favourite Lakeland summit. The views from it and its own aspect I find irresistible and I have many fond memories (now including this one). One in particular prompted the photo below. Me and Mark once slept out on the summit in the two obvious spots you can see, back in the early 90’s. It had been hot day down in Eskdale (we were wild swimming and generally lazing about), too hot to sleep so we decided to sleep on the summit. We watched the thunderstorms over the Pennines and slept little in such a magnificent setting under clear skies (and ready to run like hell if the storms came our way!) They never did although we managed to be asleep as the sun came up! A day/night that has a special place in my memories.

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Enough of such reveries. It was time to go down. Another one of those moments when I just wanted to sit and admire these views forever

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We followed the ridge of The Band back to the valley. A long laborious route of ascent but a perfectly angled route of descent for tired limbs

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PoB and the deep ravine of Browney Gill

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Pike of Stickle

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And the ever green and pleasant land of the Langdale valley

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The walk across the pastures of Oxendale back to the car was a final delight to end a truly memorable day

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A long day at around 14 miles and 4,500 feet of ascent but totally rewarding. I had in my mind’s eye a day that pretty much matched what we actually experienced. I still can’t believe my birthday wishes came true

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Adults Only Weekend Part 1 – Easedale Round   17 comments

I love my kids, bless ’em, but there comes a time in every doting mum and dads life where they need some quality time away from their constant maintenance. Born over a few beers in Little Langdale a few years ago the rather weakly punned “Adults Only” weekend has been a great hit for our little band of University friends the past few autumns. A chance for everyone to relax and enjoy a decent walk without spending the whole day encouraging the kids to keep going.

Far Easedale

Far Easedale

We returned to the Travellers Inn at Grasmere, a convivial Lakeland pub with nice rooms and great food. I wasn’t encouraged by the forecast but news reached us via ED that Saturday was set to be stonking and that was before EWO had arrived. The old apprentice was right though and the day looked promising as we all faffed about in the car park, which is what forty-something’s do I guess. To the east Fairfield’s ridges towered above us swathed in cloud but to the west the lower rocky hills above Easdale looked clear and bathed in sunlight under a patchy blue sky.

9 miles, 2,700 feet of ascent

Easy choice although I was expecting crowds, Grasmere is a real tourist fleshpot and I imagined numerous fair-weather hikers clad in brand new brightly coloured and rarely used gear cluttering up the paths. That’s the walking snob coming out in me I guess – sorry 🙂

Far Easedale

Far Easedale

It had clearly not long stopped raining as the first field was absolutely sodden and the air dripping with misty cloud patches as the sun tried it’s best to dry out the views. The combination of this together with the shafts of sunlight and deep browns of autumn on the hillside was glorious. It’s easy to forget sometimes, amongst the crowds, the tea-shops, cheesy souvenirs and insanely expensive car parks just how beautiful the Lake District is. I’d not really explored Easedale since my university years and its collection of rocky knolls bouncing ghylls and secretive tarns is seductive. With promise of sunshine and a the clarity of the air you get after a period of rain I was really looking forward to the walk as was everyone else. Off the leash they were bounding with enthusiasm, in so much as any of us can bound these days

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The Laydees

From the first few strides across the fields it was clear that wet feet was to be the order of day. A landscape can only soak up so much water and the Lake District was clearly full. Every field, path and hollow was smeared in mud and every hollow higher up was oozing bog. Conditions that mandated boots and gaiters so I wore trail shoes and spent pretty much the whole day with light unencumbered, but wet and cold feet especially at the latter end of the day but more of that later.

We paused as ever at the stepping-stones to see if someone would do the decent thing and fall in but despite noisy encouragement even TBF declined to do a crowd pleaser.

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No sense of theatre

Frustrated and disappointed we headed off into Easedale as the skies cleared revealing large patches of blue sky squeezed between some rather darker clouds.

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Autumnal Ramblers

The light was just fantastic and I gave thanks to whatever greater power was dealing out my good fortune with another spellbinding autumn day amongst a truly appalling spell of weather. Sourmilk Ghyll across the valley was looking every bit its name streaking the hillside.

Sourmilk Gill

Sourmilk Gill

Helm Crag, Far Easedale

Helm Crag over Far Easedale

We took to the path up Far Easedale and turned to head up the knobbly ridge towards Tarn Crag. The path was fine and quiet and draws you up without much effort towards its summit.

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The climb to Tarn Crag

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Grasmere & Easedale

From below it looks dramatic but up top its just another knoll that scatter this upland region. Most of the tops round there are all around 2,000 feet but the terrain is complex and gives it a tougher feel than its height and close proximity to Grasmere would have you believe. The views across Helm Crag (complete with Rainbow) to Fairfield were just staggering.

Helm Crag, Fairfield, Seat Sandal

Helm Crag, Fairfield, Seat Sandal

The clarity of the light combined with the brown/blue contrast between hillside and sky compelled a rest. So we did. One our party had to return home the same day so we had a longish stop before she had to head down. As always a time for some oft-repeated stories and general mickey-taking for all.

Tarn Crag

Old people need to rest

Codale Head, Tarn Crag

Codale Head and Tarn Crag

From Tarn crag the way became much rougher and wetter, hard though that was to imagine. After a brief and light hailstorm we stopped properly for lunch on the slopes below Codale Head. A dark and brooding spot but the views east kept us happy.

Eastern Fells, Codale Head

Eastern Fells from Codale Head

On to the high point of the day Sergeant Man, a prominent rocky knoll becalmed in a sea of boggy tarns. It was exceptionally wet up here, a challenge to pick your way dryshod.

Sergeant Man

Sergeant Man

For the first time in the day we saw some crowds. There were are least 20 people milling about near the top and it was suddenly, shockingly and blisteringly cold. The cold front was upon us and the warm air of the earlier part of the day and had turned decidedly wintry. We had planned to take in High Raise but its a bland and boggy top and doesn’t possess the interest and intrigue of the lower hills. No time to hang about so we plodded off along the broad rock studded ridge that leads back to Grasmere. Scrambling about the various rocky piles is a delight and as there were several regular descent options we thought of continuing until we’d had enough and then head down. I was in my element as I love these complex turning ridges with the micro-landscapes of rocks, gullies and little scrambles, each one with its own character and particular views. Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle were now visible, looking dark and a forbidding cast in complete shadow.

Stickle Tarn

Sunset over Stickle Tarn

From then on we were treated to one of natures light shows. For 30 minutes the sun appeared and disappeared behind stormy clouds and hail showers over Langdale sending shafts of sunlight like searchlights across the sky and illuminating the rocks and hollows where we walked.

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Rays of light

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Searchlight

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Setting sun

We stood in awe and applauded the show. I’ve not seen a sunset quite like that before in many years on the hills. It’s one of those moments that despite the numb cold in the hands you just don’t want to tear yourself away and head down.

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All weathers

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The sun and the hail

Sunset, Coniston Fells

Sunset over the Coniston Fells

Then reality kicks in. You’re 1,500 feet up in the hills, a few miles from the road on a compex ridge with steep descents – and you’ve just watched the sun set, yes SUNSET which normally precedes NIGHT and DARKNESS. You suddenly realise why you haven’t seen a soul in the last hour, they’ve all gone home. And of course you now realise there is not a chance in hell you’ll get back down in daylight across some pretty rough and boggy terrain. Still it was well worth it and how hard can it be. Then you look at the map and realise you have to traverse a countour-less tract called Blind Tarn Moss and you sigh – they didn’t give it that name for nothing. You look at your already sodden and peat stained trail shoes with a knowing look and head for the pub.

Sunset, Coniston Fells

Eternal Weather Optimism

So how was it, this treacherous descent through the crags and bog. Well I’ve built it up for dramatic effect as any good writer would, but it was actually great fun (apart from one clumsy oaf who turned his ankle in an extravagant and expletive filled manner on the flat farm track at the bottom of the valley). It was very, very wet and slippery with numerous slips and slides and several unpleasant watery graves for any remaining dry feet but we all had a great laugh and, well, we did have the hillsides to ourself. Actually got me thinking I should do a night hike in the winter. On a clear frosty moonlit night above the trees I reckon it would be rather splendid.

You can read Marks superb write up the day here

Great Castle How

Sunset on Great Castle How

Back at the pub by 6 and time for a cheeky pre-evening meal beer to celebrate a fine day of fine views great walking and breathtaking views. Like the party animals we are, we ate and drank heartily (some even stretched to 3 pints) and crawled into bed at the ungodly hour of 11pm.

We’d have to do it all over again the next day – bring it on!

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