Friday, 19 October 2012

Loft Crag, Pike of Sticle & Stake Pass. The Langdales.

This is a 'follow on' from my earlier entry regarding High Rigg in St. Johns in the Vale, though being a quite separate valley and fell range I thought it better to separate them. We headed into Langdale through varying weather to The Old Dungeon Ghyll and due to the lateness of the morning decided to eat our bait before heading up. Our destination was specifically Loft Crag as my colleague had missed it when in The Langdales, though at the time wasn't working through a Wainwright list. With the dogs we cut through behind the hotel heading for the route leading below Gimmer Crag, giving access to Loft Crag, though one may as well make a walk of it and we were going to continue on, though whether to the left or right we were undecided at this point. We read the signs indicating path erosion so decided to avoid that route, our original plan still seemed sound. We cracked on up the steep well made path and before we knew it were on the scree path we had decided to avoid. We were thrown by a new fence and gate so thought we had to be right, but after my colleague climbed a big rock outcrop we decided it was the route told not to take. It seemed safer for me to climb than him lower himself down, so up I went after manhandling The Beast up the outcrop. Now, for those who have walked with me, you know if The Beast can't manage it, it has to be awkward and with two hands engaged I could only use the top of my head to push the dog up by easing it up via it's backside. This involved rolling my head so face was uppermost and raising further on my tiptoes. Imagine the scene, The Beasts backside millimetres from my clenched lips, but it's front crampons finally got the purchase it needed and off it went. No photo of this, thankfully!

Our track up behind Old Dungeon Ghyll. Side Pike opposite. We were on this a month ago and a cracking small fell it is, giving access to Lingmoor Fell.

Here you can see our mistake, a well made path through the gate above and up the piece of fence behind. Wrong move.

This is past the 'dogs behind in the face' incident and you can begin to appreciate the steepness.

I was starting to get a bit of vertigo here and we had at times to scramble up steep grassy banking, so it was 'don't look back' time. Always forward, the ground eventually eased to a more walkable slope and we eventually crested onto the well made up path for Loft Crag and much happier I felt for it.
Once on the plateau this erratic rested last disturbed only by an ice sheet thousands of years ago. To take in the significance of this, before man could know of such things his only explanation was Giants & Trolls put it there, a part of folklore throughout the county.
 We turned and continued on for Loft Crag via Thorn Crag, taking this and it's view of Blea Tarn in first.
Thorn Crag with the path to the left.

The view from Thorn Crag with Lingmoor Fell to the left, Blea Tarn centre and Wrynose Fell(leading to Pike of Blisco) on the right. Windermere is far left and Wetherlam in cloud.

One view of Pike of Blisco with the Sky improving.

A second view, more cloud but heaven shone through.
We were set then for Loft Crag, our real destination, it and Pike of Stickle could clearly be seen as above. The path was well marked and I have walked this a few times this year. We got to the summit but as is my error occasionally I didn't photograph the cairn and it's background drop.

I remembered on the route toward Pike of Stickle and managed this photograph looking back. With the sun on it's western face I believe I got the better photograph here.
Between Loft Crag and Pike of Stickle looking to the Langdale Valley and Pike of Blisco. Was this where we should have come up? I'll find out next time.

We got onto Pike of Stickle and after the ascent got one of the best views of the day, with Loft Crag beyond the summit cairn, Harrison Stickle to the right, Lingmoor Fell and Blea Tarn behind, with Winderemere filling the distant horizon. It may not have been the best weather day, but still a good view and worth the climb. Time to move on now for Stake Pass and Langdale Combe as the route to the valley floor, by the Martag Moor path.
We picked the Stake Pass path up to the left(as you head down) of Langdale Combe. I love viewing these moraines and was hoping to catch them in low sunshine to enhance their contrast against the landscape. This was not to be, or if it was it was eating into pub time at The Britannia and you've got to be sensible here.

This is a 'stitched' panoramic shot looking back to the head of the Combe showing the full extent of the moraines.

The Stake Pass view down the Langdale Valley and Pike of Stickle to the left.
Without incident we descended the Pass taking in the view of Bow Fell and The Great Slab(to the left of the 'V'). I'll have to get back on that one day soon. Although not as long as The Langstrath Valley it is a long way still, back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park. Incidentally, the clue is in the name for both valleys. 'Lang' is cumbrian dialect for 'long' and so you have Longdale; it makes sense now. (I only say long when trying to be posh and that's not often).
A final shot of the valley and Pike of Blisco to remind us that it seems always at the journeys end that you get the best of the weather. We make the car park after just short of 10km walk with 700m ascent. With the earlier walk up High Rigg, this amounted to about half our normal distance but I have to confess it was a Wainwright bagging walk. One more to go and that is it.
Q. Which one?
A. Muungrisdale Common.
Q. Why that one?
A. Because it's a small one, journeys end, more pub time, a beer festival in Carlisle and a mates retirement do round the corner to finish off on. It's a celebration plan!
 Speaking of drinking the walk isn't over as the celebratory couple of pints were downed in The Britannia at Elterwater, a gem of a pub. Walk ended. I love this life!



  1. Great report Ray and refreshing to know even the locals can start up a wrong path, something I'm highly skilled at :-)
    Just need to start recording routes now?
    Agreed about the Britannia too.

    1. Thanks Martin. I jusyt followed the big path and it then wasn't supposed to go anywhere! Britannia spot on but one man fills the toilet block! Perfect beer though.