Author Topic: TR - A Langdale Round, an Esk Pike sunrise, and a Great End breakfast!  (Read 541 times)

richardh1905

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An afternoon promenade over Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Esk Pike, where I camped just below the summit, then on to Great End for breakfast, past Angle Tarn to Rossett Pike, Pike of Stickle, Thunacar Knott and Harrison Stickle, returning to my start point past tranquil Blea Tarn.

14th-15th September 2020


The forecast for the week ahead was excellent, so I started hatching a plan to get up into the hills for a night. I did originally plan to camp on Glaramara, but for various reasons, I didn’t get that far and settled for Esk Pike instead.



Viewranger route HERE

The walk didn’t go to plan at the start – I drove all the way up Wrynose Pass, only to find all of the parking spaces taken, so back down I went, parking at the bottom of the eastern side and getting on my way at 13:19. Although this meant I had to slog back up the pass in the hot sun, this probably turned out to be a blessing in disguise, given the state that I was in at the end of the walk. I went well on the hill, pushing hard to make up for lost time, and got to the top of the pass in just over half an hour. I was glad to get off the road, though, and enjoyed the steady climb northwards up towards Red Tarn, passing some climbers enjoying the afternoon sun on the crags of Long Scar to my right.


Looking down Wrynose Pass from Wrynose Bridge, about half way up.


I caught sight of Crinkle Crags and Bowfell as I approached Red Tarn

I crossed the beck at the north end of the tarn, and started climbing the path that cuts across the northern flank of Cold Pike, hard work in the hot sun. The path eased off a bit as I climbed past Great Knott, and I approached the rocks of Crinkle Crags, the southern end sticking up almost like the prow of a ship in a sea of grass.


Langdale Pikes from near the head of Browney Gill


Looking back towards Pike O’Blisco from the head of Browney Gill

I enjoyed the walk northwards along the spine of Crinkle Crags – it is one of those routes where you don’t know what is coming next, with the path winding around and sometimes over small crags. The views were fantastic.


Looking down into Great Langdale, the shadows starting to lengthen.


Looking back from Crinkle Crags towards the Coniston fells, Caw to the right.


A glimpse of the Great Moss of upper Eskdale, with the Scafell range beyond.

I crossed the south summit, and soon approached the notorious Bad Step – I had absolutely no intention of attempting this with a full pack on my back, and happily took the path to the left that leads along the base of the crags before bypassing them by climbing a slope of boulder scree. I remember many years ago I had come this way, and, not liking the look of the Bad Step in the mist, had given myself a fright tackling the crags to the left; steep grassy runnels and slimy rock.


The notorious Bad Step to the right of the chockstone cave – I took the easy path to the left!


Bowfell from the summit of Crinkle Crags

As I headed north over Crinkle Crags, a mountain rescue helicopter made its appearance, and proceeded to hover around the eastern end of Bowfell, before circling around and hovering several times. I wondered whether it was the real thing, or a training exercise, and uncharitably wished that they would clear off and leave the mountains in peace, before thinking that someone might be hurt, and that one day it might be me in need of their services. Eventually they hovered one last time, winched someone up, and departed, and peace returned to the mountains.

Edit – turns out that it was a real incident – a woman had injured her ankle and was evacuated by coastguard helicopter.
https://www.lamrt.org.uk/incidents/2020/incident/56


Scafell Pike, Ill Crag, Great End, Esk Pike and Bowfell all laid out before me, glorious in the afternoon sun.


Looking back towards Pike O’Blisco and Wetherlam, the lower hills of the South Lakes lost in the haze beyond.


Bowfell, one of the most photogenic of the Lakeland fells.

It took me longer than expected to traverse Crinkle Crags, and time was marching on – I realised that it would be dark long before I reached Glaramara, so I set my sights on Esk Pike as a place to spend the night. But Bowfell was in the way, and it was quite a slog climbing up the path that picks its way diagonally up the mountain through boulder scree.

I had met a few people on the hill, but not that many, and the numbers were really thinning out now. A couple of men were setting up camp below me at the Three Tarns between Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, and shortly after the summit I was passed by a group of 5 young men with heavy packs heading south – I suspect that the Three Tarns were going to be busy! But after that, I was on my own.


The upper part of the Great Slab of Bowfell still in sunlight, a striking piece of mountain architecture.


Looking down on Lingcove Beck from Bowfell, Harter Fell and Black Combe beyond. I had camped at the head of Lingcove Beck in July.


North from the summit of Bowfell, Grasmoor centre left, Skiddaw to the right. Esk Pike is the sunlit top far left.

Not far to go now, but I was tiring and the shadows were lengthening. I spotted a path that traversed a little below the crest of Bowfell, and cut the corner to Ore Gap, where I managed to find some much needed water in a small pool. On up to the top of Esk Pike, easier going after Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, and I found a flat plateau just to the north of the summit, dotted with patches of comfortable wiry grass – the perfect mountain top pitch, 860m up. Sadly clouds to the west spoilt what could have been a glorious sunset, but I enjoyed sitting on top of a nearby crag overlooking Angle Tarn as the light faded – King of the Mountain, for one night at least!


North from Esk Pike – I camped just to the left of the dark crag in the centre of the photo.


Evening Skies over Scafell Pike

I awoke to a magnificent dawn….


Dawn approaching – time 0618


Just before sunrise, 0636


Sunrise, 0644, Angle Tarn far below


Breaking camp at dawn – time to be on my way


The Scafell range bathed in early morning sunlight.


Great End and Great Gable

I was feeling fairly fit after a good night’s sleep, and as it looked so close, I decided to have my breakfast on top of Great End. I took the path that traverses across to the left into Calf Cove, where I found the source of a small beck, a useful watering hole so high on the fells. I also noted a stone shelter cross, similar to that on Helvellyn, which for some reason is not marked on the map. The path steepened at the head of the cove, but I soon broke out onto the plateau above, and the summit of Great End was just a short distance away to the north east. There appear to be two summits – I visited both, and breakfasted at the south east summit, before returning to Esk Hause via Calf Cove. There were a few early starters about on Scafell Pike, no doubt they enjoyed the sunrise too.


Ill Crag and Scafell Pike from Great End


Great Gable and a glimpse of Sty Head Tarn, the Grasmoor hills in the distance.


Esk Hause, with Allen Crags and the Helvellyn range beyond

From Esk Hause I dropped down onto the Angle Tarn path, and followed this south eastwards below the cliffs of Esk Pike. I passed a couple of bivvi bags on my way down, right beside the path – one was still occupied! I had thought about having a swim in Angle Tarn, but there were no less than 4 tents pitched on the shore – it was a pretty grim setting in any case.


A rather grim looking Angle Tarn guarded by the cliffs of Bowfell – I managed to frame this shot to exclude the 4 tents pitched in the vicinity.

After passing Angle Tarn I was faced with a choice – take the faint path that traverses below the crest of Rossett Pike, or climb up the hill to the summit – I’m glad to say that I chose the latter as the view down Langdale made it worthwhile.


The upper Langdale Valley from the Rossett Pike ridge

I heard some strange howling and calls, and occasionally the sound of dogs barking, apparently from the steep slopes opposite, so I sat down on a convenient rock to have a snack and see what was going on. Eventually I spotted some white shapes moving in a very dog-like manner, they were moving fast over rough ground, and were obviously following a prepared trail. They appeared to be coming my way…

I continued on, following a path that skirts along the north side of the ridge, and suddenly the hounds appeared, about half a dozen foxhounds, so intent upon following the trail that they paid me no attention at all. They disappeared over the ridge into upper Langstrath, and shortly afterwards I met the huntsmen, struggling to keep up! An interesting encounter.

I took a small diversion northwards for the view down into Langstrath, before continuing on to Stake Pass, the path skirting around a small tranquil pool being patrolled by a dragonfly. At Stake Pass I was again faced with a choice, head on down into the lovely upper Langdale valley, or turn left and drag my weary limbs over the Langdale Pikes. The thought of an easy walk down the valley to well stocked bars did have its appeal, but I banished such weak thoughts from my head and took the left turn.


A beautiful view down into remote Langstrath

I was tiring though, and struggled on the slopes, despite the gradient being reasonable. The climb was interrupted by the appearance of a Typhoon fighter which came screaming up the Langdale valley before banking sharply over Angle Tarn and disappearing down the Langstrath valey – what a sight, especially as it banked to do the turn. The second unusual occurrence was the appearance over Pike of Stickle of a grey vertical line in the sky – this was a shadow formed by a contrail, which was perfectly aligned to cause this effect. Most unusual.



Eventually I neared Pike of Stickle, and took yet another rest, before ditching my pack and walking poles and tackling the short scramble up to the summit. I didn’t linger long as I was inundated by a swarm of flying ants – they covered my arms and glasses, got in my eyes and hair, and nearly drove me to distraction! I beat a hasty retreat.


Approaching the Pike of Stickle


The view west from the near Pike of Stickle

After I picked up my pack and poles, I took a boggy path that cut across the head of a hollow and climbed the gentle slopes of Thunacar Knott at a snail’s pace. Time for another rest! I considered heading east and descending north of Pavey Ark to Stickle Tarn, but decided that it would be a shame to miss out Harrsion Stickle, the highest of the Langdale Pikes (good decision, as I later saw that the path up Stickle Ghyll was mobbed with people).

There were more flying ants on Harrison Stickle, but not in such numbers, and I was able to enjoy the view. There were noticeably more people about, though


The view west from Harrison stickle – Bowfell, Scafell Pike, Esk Pike, Great End, Allen Crag, Great Gable. Pike of Stickle in the foreground, and Rossett Pike can be seen just to the right, below Esk Pike.


Harrison Stickle panorama, from Wetherlam to Great Gable.


Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn


Great Langdale and Windermere from Harrison Stickle

My thoughts now turned to the bars in Langdale, and how to get down to them quickly. I descended westwards down to the head of the Dungeon Ghyll, and followed a path that traversed high above the ravine, below the cliffs of Harrison Stickle, with Langdale visible far below, a dramatic route.


Looking down into the top of Dungeon Ghyll – the path traverses the slopes to the left.

As I descended, there were fine views into the depths of Dungeon Ghyll to my right, and further down, of the cascades of Stickle Ghyll to my left. The path steepened lower down, a nasty eroded section, but things eased off as I neared the pub. I took the opportunity to bathe my hot feet and have a quick wash in the stream before heading to the bar.


Stickle Ghyll waterfalls, Tarn Crag to the right, Pavey Ark just visible above

After sustenance and refreshment at the Stickle Barn, I was still faced with a 3 mile walk back to the car, and I was now very glad that I had parked at the foot of Wrynose Pass rather than at the top. Any thoughts that I had entertained of climbing Pike O’Blisco on my way back had long since disappeared. I still had to face the 1 in 4 climb up to Blea Tarn though, and I struggled in the afternoon heat, what must have been a pitiful sight, suffering at times from what HW Tilman described as ‘Mountaineer’s Foot – the inability to put one foot in front of the other’.



Langdale Pikes from the foot of the Blea Tarn road.

The level path to tranquil Blea Tarn and its shady woods was a welcome relief, a pleasing contrast to the more rugged terrain above. Sadly my phone battery had died, so no photos. All that remained after the tarn was a hot half mile walk along a rough path that traversed across the hillside to the foot of Wrynose Pass, and my car – after a tough 18 miles and 5,700′ of ascent I was so glad to see it!
« Last Edit: 18:00:31, 17/09/20 by richardh1905 »
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April

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Fantastic report Richard  O0 Fab piccies too from 2 great mountain days  :)


We always use the bypass path avoiding the Bad Step when we have camping gear too. Fun to do with a day pack, not so much fun with too much weight on your back!


Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Esk Pike are great fells but a rough, tough walk to do carrying camping gear. I think we have been across these twice carrying camping gear.


We have been plagued by flying ants on Loft Crag, gits they are  :D


I've never seen anything like that vertical line above Pike of Stickle before, remarkable  :o
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

Ridge

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Great report Richard, loads of lovely photos.  O0

karl h

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Thats a fantastic round Richard, beautifully illustrated with great pictures  O0
I don't envy you walking up Wrynose pass though,  did it when i was 17 and it's scarred me for life  :)
show your love for Lady Nature. And she will come back again.
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Ridge

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I don't envy you walking up Wrynose pass though,  did it when i was 17 and it's scarred me for life  :)
Not my idea of fun either. Though, as he says, probably best to have done it at the beginning rather than have it waiting for him at the end.

karl h

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Not my idea of fun either. Though, as he says, probably best to have done it at the beginning rather than have it waiting for him at the end.


That's very true. I couldn't imagine doing that climb after that round. I would have had my thumb out or called a taxi :D
show your love for Lady Nature. And she will come back again.
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richardh1905

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Fantastic report Richard  O0 Fab piccies too from 2 great mountain days  :)
We always use the bypass path avoiding the Bad Step when we have camping gear too. Fun to do with a day pack, not so much fun with too much weight on your back!
Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Esk Pike are great fells but a rough, tough walk to do carrying camping gear. I think we have been across these twice carrying camping gear.
We have been plagued by flying ants on Loft Crag, gits they are  :D
I've never seen anything like that vertical line above Pike of Stickle before, remarkable  :o


Thanks April - the walk northwards over Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Esk Pike is in my opinion the best high level walk in the Lakes, full of interest and through some really spectacular remote country. I fancy an upper Eskdale horseshoe walk sometimes, continuing on over Scafell Pike and Scafell. I'll save it for early spring, perhaps - don't want to repeat Crinkle Crags and Bowfell too soon.
The flying ants were a bane - but at least they don't bite, unlike their terrestrial sisters. Now that would be a nightmare! /shudder
I've seen it once before, the sun has to be aligned behind a contrail that appears vertically in front of you, and there needs to be a bit of haze in the air. Very rare though, and most unusual.
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richardh1905

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Great report Richard, loads of lovely photos.  O0

Thanks Ridge  :)  So many photos that my phone died, and I couldn't photograph lovely Blea Tarn - but I'm after a power bank/torch.


Thats a fantastic round Richard, beautifully illustrated with great pictures  O0 
I don't envy you walking up Wrynose pass though,  did it when i was 17 and it's scarred me for life  :)

Thanks Karl, it is a great round. even though I missed off the excellent Pike O'Blisco.
Wrynose Pass was no bother, despite the hot sun and heavy pack, as I was fresh and felt full of energy. I seriously doubt whether I could have got up it at the end of the walk though, the small one in four hill up to Blea Tarn nearly finished me off as it was!
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richardh1905

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Not my idea of fun either. Though, as he says, probably best to have done it at the beginning rather than have it waiting for him at the end.


Indeed! Being unable to park at the top of Wrynose was a blessing in disguise.
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April

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Before we got the car we have walked from Great Langdale up and over Wrynose Pass and then up the Hard Knott Pass too ;D


That is what we had to do in them days, to do Hard Knott and Harter Fell.
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

Sarah Pitht

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Fabulous route and photos. You made a good call taking in Rossettis Pike - amazing views down Mickleden for not too much effort. What was the route like from there to the top of Stake Pass - was it clear/obvious? I've only ever descended Rossett Gill from there.


The Langdale Pikes are probably my favourite group of fells and I love the varied ways of ascending and descending. I have done the route of your descent - but in ascent. And that final stretch across to the foot of Wrynose - I've walked that a couple of times - so remote and peaceful - but I fear you were a tad too jaded to fully appreciate it! :D


Thanks for a lovely TR. :)

richardh1905

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Thanks Sarah  :)  A pleasure.

Yes, lovely view from Rossett Pike. I went out to the cairn near the cliff edge - a better view from there than from the highest point. The route is obvious in that you just follow the ridge ENE, but there's not much of a path at first, at least not from the viewpoint cairn. I did come across a more obvious path as I descended towards the top of Stake Pass.

The Langdale Pikes are wonderful hills - I'm constantly surprised by how rugged and steep they are on their southern flank, especially after the easy ascent from Stake Pass. Quite a lot of people around on Harrison Stickle and as I said in my report, the path up to Stickle Tarn was mobbed (whereas my route down was very quiet - I think that I only met 4 people.

Lovely as the Pikes are, I do think that I prefer the more remote splendour of the Crinkle Crags and Bowfell ridge.

...and you are right - I was rather too jaded to appreciate the Blea Tarn path - I must go that way when I am fresh sometime, perhaps a family walk with the dog.
« Last Edit: 17:40:14, 17/09/20 by richardh1905 »
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richardh1905

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Before we got the car we have walked from Great Langdale up and over Wrynose Pass and then up the Hard Knott Pass too ;D
That is what we had to do in them days, to do Hard Knott and Harter Fell.

Ah, reminds me of my pre-car days when I lived in the Conwy Valley - long walks to get to the Carneddau, up the 430m high road to Llyn Cowlyd from Trefriw, where I lived (20m above sea level).
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sparnel

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Great write up Richard! Really enjoyed your report even though I wasn't sure where you exactly were, not knowing the LD hills too well. It seems to me that just about every hill and hillock in the Lake District has a name. This is unlike the hills in Scotia.......I can see four Munros from my front window, all with Gaelic names. The various lumps and bumps on them don't have names.

redeye

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Enjoyed that, nice one O0  Been around the Bowfel/Langdale area a few times and never tire of the area. Good stuff  O0