Peak-bagging from Langdale

Outline of Route
New Dungeon Ghyll - Pavey Ark - Harrison Stickle - Loft Crag - Pike o'Stickle - Rossett Pike - Allen Crags - Scafell Pike - Great End - Esk Pike - Bowfell - Crinkle Crags - Three Tarns - New Dungeon Ghyll (Grid ref. NY 296064)
Total Distance 15.3 miles, Total Ascent 6700 feet, Equivalent Distance 28.7 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. Descend from the top of Stake Pass to Mosedale and back to the NDG.
  2. Descend from Esk Hause past Angle Tarn to Rossett Gill, Mosedale and the NDG.
  3. Descend from Ore Gap past Angle Tarn to Rossett Gill, Mosedale and the NDG.
  4. Omit Crinkle Crags and descend The Band from Bowfell

Details of Route
The route of this walk was not planned in advance. I worked in Manchester at the time and had a rare day off to come to the Lakes. I just wanted to make the most of it, planning the route ad hoc and walking until I'd had enough. I had such a good time on the walk I've included it here. It is a long, demanding route suitable for fine summer days.

Starting from the one of the New Dungeon Ghyll Car Parks - the charge for a car is currently around £6.00 for 12 hours - head past the hotel complex and out onto the open fell. Avoid the footbridge that crosses to Millbeck and follow the path uphill on the left-hand side of Stickle Ghyll. Cross at the next footbridge and continue up the path on the right-hand side of the ghyll. Eventually you will find your way blocked by a steep rocky slab with its surface scored by countless boots from years gone by. Don't be fooled. Cross the stream and you'll find the path continues on the other side. Follow the path uphill and emerge at Stickle Tarn. You will have seen the face of Pavey Ark on the way up, but will only now see it in its full glory (photo).

There are four routes from here to the summit of Pavey Ark for walkers:-

  1. via the col between Pavey and Harrison Stickle,
    turn left and follow the clear path, firstly alongside the tarn, and then to the left as it wends its way across and up the fellside. This is the main route to Harrison Stickle which you must leave when you can see a path up and around the shoulder of Pavey to its summit
  2. the North Rake,
    Turn right, cross the stream, and follow the clear path along by the tarn. Cross another stream - stepping stones if I remember correctly - and continue to a third stream which is followed to the right hand edge of Pavey's rock face. From here an easy rake (photo) leads straight to the summit of the fell.
  3. Jack's Rake (photograph from Harrison Stickle), (photograph from the bottom of the Rake), and (photograph from the top of the Rake),
    The Rake stands out as what looks like a narrow ridge crossing the face of Pavey from bottom right to top left by a pinnacle near the summit. Walk round to the other side of the lake, the western route might be easier, and follow the well worn path to the bottom of the cliff face where the rake starts. The climb looks terrifying to a non-climber, when seen from a distance, but once one starts the ascent one becomes aware that it's not quite as frightening as it looked. Almost all the way up one is protected on the outer side by the rim of the gully, which effectively hides the drop. There is one short section, about half way up at a break in the gulley, where this protection is not present, but one is certainly free of the fearsome exposure of Sharp Edge on Blencathra. The scrambling is, admittedly, difficult, but perhaps no more difficult than Lord's Rake on Scafell. After the scramble up this gulley there is a right turn up Great Gulley soon followed by easier, less steep, scrambling up on the left to the aforementioned pinnacle and then the summit of the fell.

    Jack's Rake is one of the great delights of Lakeland fellwalking. The rock scenery is magnificent - if you have the presence of mind to look at it - and the climbing very fulfilling for the fellwalker.

    It seems appropriate here to introduce a word of caution. I stated in my introductory page that these descriptions were not meant to be a replacement for maps and guidebooks. Jack's Rake can be dangerous and this document does not provide sufficient information for the inexperienced.
  4. Easy Gully,
    This starts from the same point as Jacks Rake, (photograph as above) but rises to the right. It is not easy at all when one gets near the top of the gully as some huge boulders require a certain determination, and stretch of the legs, on the part of the walker (photograph from the top). The top of the gully meets the North Rake, giving easy access to the summit.

From the summit, the view of Langdale, some 2000 feet below, is superb. There is an easy walk from here, south-west to Harrison Stickle (photograph). Continue in this general direction then gradually bear to the left for Loft Crag, the often forgotten third Langdale Pike - it has Gimmer on its flank and deserves better (photo). The route to Pike o'Stickle (photograph) is clear from here - notice the gulley on the left where the stone-axe factory used to be - there is a choice of scrambles to the top of the Pike (photo). Head north-west now on a gradual downhill slope for the head of Stake Pass. Keep going west from here and then follow the ridge south-west above Black Crags to Buck Pike and Rossett Pike. From here, head down to the Rossett Gill/Angle Tarn path and down to the tarn itself, passing it on your left. Continue up the slope from here until you reach the crest of this path, which leads down to Sprinkling Tarn (photo of the Gables). From this crest there is an easy climb up onto Allen Crags on your right i.e. north-east. The views are good in all directions from this summit and its seclusion may tempt you to pause a while there (photo of the Gables in winter). Now return to, and cross, the Angle Tarn/Sprinkling Tarn path, ascending to Esk Hause where the upper reaches of Eskdale come into view with the rocky slopes of Ill Crag to the right.

Turn right along the busy path to Scafell Pike (photograph from Great End). It is easy going to start with but this changes over Ill and Broad Crags, where, stepping from boulder to boulder and clambering where necessary, you will find progress slows. The final steep push up to the Pike is a welcome relief (photo). From the summit, views of the Lakeland horizon cannot be bettered (360° panorama), this is after all the highest point in England. From here, on a clear day, the Isle of Man can be seen on the western horizon, jutting high out of the Irish Sea. It's as well to remember that its highest point, Snaefell, is over 2000 feet high. Scafell Pike is invariably busy and if you want some peace and quiet, wander over the boulders to the south peak, and contemplate the relative peace of Eskdale, way down below (photo) and contemplate the routes to Scafell (photo) for another day.

Return the way you came until Esk Hause is once again in sight. To the left a path goes off over a grassy slope towards Great End. Climb to the summit - the screes and crags of Great Gable are a fine sight, as is Wasdale Head and its surrounding peaks (photo) and a good northern panorama (photo). On clear days, as from Scafell Pike, the Isle of Man is visible from here (photo) beyond Lingmell and Sellafield. There is also the top of the crags of Great End's north west face with the Central Gully to visit (photo) and a good view southeast from the southeastern summit (photo). Return to the Scafell path where you left it and walk down to Esk Hause. The path to Esk Pike, roughly southeast, is clear (retrospective photo) but bypasses the summit by a few yards. There is a shelter just below the top, enclosed on all sides, which would do credit to many a more frequented summit. The view is fine (360° panorama) especially down into Eskdale and across to the Scafells.

Continue south east from the summit and rejoin the track you left earlier, heading down to Ore Gap (photo) and on to Bowfell. This beautiful conical peak (photograph from High Raise) has commanding views all around (360° panorama). That of the Scafells is particularly good (photo). It is deservedly, and perhaps unfortunately, popular. You will have made a slight detour from the main path to get to the summit so return to it and continue along it to the right to descend to Three Tarns. Keep going south and climb the well-marked path to Crinkle Crags. The fourth of the Crinkles from this direction is the highest point, and unless you wish to bag Cold Pike and Pike o'Blisco there seems little point in braving the "Bad Step" just to gather the fifth Crinkle. Return the way you came to Three Tarns. From here, to the east, The Band, with a fine view of Crinkle Crags (photo), and another of Pike o'Stickle and Loft Crag (photo), provides a well-worn and gradual crest-of-the-ridge descent to Stool End farm from whence the farm road and main road return you to the New Dungeon Ghyll. If you are returning south after your day's walk you may get a glimpse of the Langdale skyline like this.

Rev. 02 September 2014

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