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.
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.)