Greater Langdale Round

 Or: Knock Three Times

After a night of high octane pub-quizzing in Keswick, CJ and I drove in convoy over Dunmail Raise and parked in the National Trust car-park in Langdale. From Keswick we’d been able to see at least some of the lower hills and it hadn’t been raining, but we’d been in the cloud over Dunmail Raise  and the cloud had been very low, and a steady light rain falling, ever since. We were soon in the cloud as we climbed the path beside Stickle Ghyll (or Mill Gill depending on who you believe). Even in the rain Langdale is popular and there were many other walkers on the the path. We met a couple of parties with kids who had turned back because they were unhappy about the point where the path crosses the stream – it did involve standing on submerged rocks, but wasn’t too bad. Anyway – the path on the right bank continues up to Stickle Tarn I believe. When we arrived at the tarn the cloud was so dense that we couldn’t see the far bank – but we could see lots of small fish with a dark stripe on their sides.

CJ was keen to try Jack’s Rake. At the back of my mind a little (timid) voice was telling me that I didn’t fancy Jack’s Rake, but I didn’t listen to it and accompanied CJ up to the base of the scramble. I hadn’t got far up the steep and wet beginning of the rake however before I decided that it definitely wasn’t for me on this occasion.

CJ continued up the rake and I retreated and then turned up easy gully. Again – a little voice was speaking to me, a vague recollection: “You did this before and got stuck near the top”. But again I didn’t listen: to my cost. After a very steep climb I found the gully blocked by large boulders. Clearly this route is used but I couldn’t see any easy way to get past the boulders and so reluctantly had to descend back to the base of the gully and the start of Jack’s Rake again.

I was at least rewarded with a short-lived gap in the clouds and a view down to Stickle Tarn:

Of the beginning of Jack’s Rake:

And back up ‘Easy’ Gully:

I worked my way around the base of the cliffs and eventually hit the more conventional path up Pavey Ark. CJ was patiently waiting on the top – I was doubly glad that he had waited since I had discovered that I had packed the wrong map in my rucksack – a real comedy of errors.

Navigation from Pavey Ark to Thunacar Knott and from there to Harrison Stickle proved to be surprisingly tricky in the fog. We weren’t the only ones struggling and the we bumped into some other groups more than once, exchanging cheery ‘Have you found it yet?’ type queries.

From Harrison Stickle it became much easier and we made good progress over Thorn Crag, Loft Crag….

…and on to Pike O’Stickle.

Dropping down across Martcrag Moor we finally emerged from the cloud. Indeed the cloud must have lifted because looking back we could now see Pike O’Stickle:

Although the Langdale Pikes had been our main objective we had thought that we might well continue as far as Rossett Pike, and with the prospect of some views we decided to do just that.

 Looking across drumlins to Black Crags and Buck Pike.



Rossett Pike

As we left Rossett Pike CJ drew my attention to a bird skulking nearby behind a rock…

It’s a dotterel.

It didn’t seem unduly concerned and I was able to take a few photos before it eventually flew off with a whirring call.

Rossett Pike again.

It was very late when we finally made it back to our cars. I think of all the walks I have written about on this blog, this is the one which I have found the most physically demanding. And I’m still stiff several days later. (Although I did manage a little pogoing the following evening when I went to see The Undertones at the Manchester Academy with X-Ray – but that’s another story.)

Greater Langdale Round

10 thoughts on “Greater Langdale Round

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      My capacity for excitement is not quite what it was – witness the 3 points for a refusal on Jack’s Rake. But the Undertones gig was very invigorating I have their songs on ‘shuffle’ in my head ever since, mainly, slightly surprisingly, ‘Hyponitised’ and ‘You’re Welcome’.
      I never saw them in their original incarnation (too young – well almost) but I did see That Petrol Emotion many, many times.

  1. Imogen Turner says:

    Hi Mark,

    Sorry to contact you via a comment box but I was unable to find any contact details for you!

    I was hoping to reach you in regards to a potential walking opportunity in Jersey. If you think this may be of interest, it would be great if you could provide me with an email address/phone number I can reach you at and I will be sure to get in touch.

    Many thanks,

    Imogen Turner

  2. You’ve been to see the Undertones!! You should have asked me if I wanted to go. You’ve got my number. Why don’t you use it!

    I have a similarly vague memory that Easy Gully on Pavey Ark is anything but. I’m also remembering that Jacks rake was nasty and greasy. Not been up the Langdales for Donkey’s year. When it’s dry there is some top notch scrambling. There is a relatively easy route that finishes right on the summit of Harrison Stickle

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Oh – I thought we discussed it in March!? Sorry – I promise to make sure you’re in the loop in future. They’ve been touring again since 1999 apparently so hopefully another chance will come along.
      The first walk that TBH and I did together included Jack’ Rake – its one of my favourite routes in the Lakes – when I’m up for it, but I was training for a marathon then and relatively fit – it’s wet and greasy and if you want to avoid massive exposure it’s also quite tight – no place for a lard-arse like me!
      Joking aside I also saw an accident there many years ago – I’ve probably depressed you with the details before – and it makes me feel a bit shakey now because of the association with that event.
      Enjoy your back-packing trip.

      1. Don’t worry about the gig – just my pathetic attempt to crow-bar an Undertones lyric into the comment. I’m sure I’ll get another chance to see them. It’s going to happen!

  3. Ooh – It looks like we were there at the same time as you, looking at the weather. We nipped up Stakes Pass and up over Rossett Pike before doing Allen Crags and camping at High House Tarn on Friday night. Then off to the Wasdale Head Inn for lunch and around the back of Kirk Fell and camping between Kirk Fell & Gt. Gable for Saturday night. Great weather Saturday & Sunday.

  4. Treasure that picture of the Dotterel!, It must be a Spring stopover on its way north, they are very rare and in summer only found in the Cairngorms, I believe.
    Pity about the claggy weather, the mist can make the rock slippery, Jack’s Rake is otherwise easy.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes – the dotterel was definitely something special – the icing on the cake of what would have been a good day already.

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