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Langdale Horseshoe - a weather window - sort of

Langdale Horseshoe - a weather window - sort of

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:32 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Bowfell, Crinkle Crags, Esk Pike, Harrison Stickle, Pike o'Blisco, Pike o'Stickle, Rosset Pike

Hewitts included on this walk: Bowfell, Crinkle Crags (Long Top), Crinkle Crags South Top, Esk Pike, Harrison Stickle, Pike o' Stickle, Pike of Blisco, Rossett Pike, Shelter Crags

Date walked: 02/03/2014

Time taken: 10.5

Distance: 20.2 km

Ascent: 1825m

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It's rare to meet hardly anyone on the main routes in the Lakes, but Saturday was one of those days. MWIS gave one of those ambigous forecast that is fatal for those optimists among us. And after many months of enforced inactivity following quite a serious accident in September last, I was desperate to get out in them thar hills.

Notwithstanding that my last excursion into the lakes was done on the back of a similarly reasonable MWIS forecast, to do a Wasdale horseshoe, from Yewbarrow, to Scafell; and dense clag reigned for the whole 10 hours, with visibility rarely greater than 50m.....

I hadn't been to Langdale for 40 years or so, and it's nearer than Scotland, so I thought....

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So not much else to say really, except perhaps for a couple of worthwhile lessons:
1. You can have some great days when no-one else wants to be out there; and there were some reasonable views from time to time. So the pics are rather bitty, taken only when the cloud cleared.
2. If you can't see anything at all, don't trust to your instincts - trust to your compass, and use it every 5 minutes or so. I wandered around Harrison Stickle with visibility down to about 50m for a couple of hours, trusting to my instincts. It was only when I saw some footprints that looked suspiciously like those made by the shoes I was wearing that I got a bit more disciplined and sorted out where I was going!
3. There's a very interesting drop off the East end of Bowfell, that I'd rate as a G3 scramble/climb, especially when it's covered in snow etc. In the pub later I talked to a guy who'd passed on the top, and he told me it's avoidable, but many footprints led there. I imagine a few must have turned back.

After a 04.00am start, I got to Langdale at about 7.30am. No cars in the car park. A good sign.
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The Clag was obviously waiting above about 500m. A disgustingly lean and fit-looking fell runner passed me on the way up....

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It started to snow just before I arrived at Stickle tarn, and continued for about 20 minutes, giving a rather magical 3 cm dusting over everything.

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After wandering around in circles for a couple of hours in semi white-out and topping Harrison Stickle rather too often, I finally got my act together (= used my compass properly) and descended into clear air before ascending Loft Crag. Someone was curious as to what I was doing....

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Approaching the Pike of Stickle from Loft Crag. Visibility definitely improving steadily.....

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Looking back at the Pike of Stickle from Mart Crag.

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Looking North: Sergeant's Crag from near Mansey Pike

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Approaching Rosset Pike....

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Cloud clears a bit and there's Angle Tarn. Bumped into some guys a little earlier who'd camped there...

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Bow Fell is completely shrouded in cloud; which then clears briefly as I descend to reveal Shelter Crags and Crinkle Crags.

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And definitely clearing in the North East.

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Looking back at Bowfell from Crinkle Crags. It was an interesting experience following footsteps in the snow that suddenly stopped at a 5 metre vertical drop. Quite an awkward downclimb with snow and ice on the rock. A fellow walker I chatted to in the pub afterwards told me that it's known as "the Bad Step". Probably quite bad if you're at all iffy with heights.

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Blisco, with Windemere in the distance. Not too far now, and quite reasonable views.

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Quite a long descent from Crinkle Crags, and then a bit of a laborious slog to the top of Blisco. But rewarded with great views - here (yet again!) the Langdale Pikes. Haven't met anyone at all since the top of Bow Fell.

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Looking back, Crinkle Crags are all still in mist....

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....but this is the only view of Bow Fell all day. Downhill from here on, and I've worked up a thirst...

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What a welcome sight: a building of the greatest cultural, historical and architectural interest!!!

I'm really quite cream crackered at the end. The lack of fitness after 6 months of inactivity following quite a serious accident in autumn really shows. But a thoroughly enjoyable day. I probably met 10 people all day. In Langdale. Honestly!
Last edited by Alteknacker on Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Langdale Horseshoe - a weather window - sort of

Postby ChrisW » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:23 am

A fine read and a bloody long haul for a first trip back in 6 months, I laughed at the 'circling until you saw your own footprints' :lol: I think we've all done something similar at least once :roll: Only 10 people in Langdale all day....did you damage your eyes in that accident :lol:
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Re: Langdale Horseshoe - a weather window - sort of

Postby CharlesT » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:34 am

Tut-Tut you left out Cold Pike!!! You'll have to go back and do it again as a penance :lol:

Great report, took me back 50 years to my teenage weekends mostly spent in Langdale and have walked that route in full-on Winter conditions and met no-one. Where I learned to navigate and walk in circles too. Good the weather cleared for you, Esk Hause in zero visibility can be a nightmare.

Stay healthy.
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