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High Raise - a Lakeland spoke

High Raise - a Lakeland spoke

Postby old danensian » Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:41 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Blea Rigg, Harrison Stickle, High Raise (Central Fells), Loft Crag, Pike o'Stickle, Sergeant Man, Silver How, Thunacar Knott

Hewitts included on this walk: Harrison Stickle, High Raise (Central Fells), Pike o' Stickle

Date walked: 09/04/2010

Time taken: 7

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 965m

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Friday morning and the forecast said that cloud would be lifting by early afternoon and clearing completely later. You can only believe it and hope.

High Raise was a top I’d never climbed, and when you look at a map you can see why it’s sometimes recognised as the central dome of the Lake District. I was also attracted by the line running south east, like a spoke reaching down towards the eastern end of Langdale, which would mean another two new tops by the time Blea Rigg and Silver How had been visited.

The early cloud gave the perfect excuse for a lazy start, and it was after 10.30am before I began the walk from the NT campsite along to Chapel Stile. The path via Side House and Oak Howe on the opposite side of the valley from the road is a worthwhile excursion in bad weather, but it’s also an untaxing three mile warm-up for a longer walk. Importantly, it also saves a dispiriting trudge at the end of the day when the route comes down at the Old Dungeon Ghyll. And anyway, I’m a sucker for a circular route.

Langdale and a sceptical Herdwick

The walk started in earnest above Chapel Stile by ascending to the left of the dark imposing cleft known as Meg’s Gill. I don’t know who Meg was but given its gloomy appearance I think I was glad not to have known her. There was a choice between this steeper path and the polite, gentle and open slopes leading over Spedding Crag, but the promise of waterfall views and a quicker ascent won the day. The decision also meant that peering into the gloom was marginally better than having to confront the view behind – across to the quarried slate scars being created by the workings in the valley.

Slate quarries at Chapel Stile / Elterwater

The steep path eventually opened up on to a playground confusion of little summits scattered across Silver How, each attracting its own gathering of visitors deciding that “the one over there is higher.” These mini-peaks were overlaid by a lattice of pathways, often barely distinct, sometimes brash and obvious, but always culminating in a deeply damp boggy patch.

Summits across Silver How

Further west, however, these tracks generally coalesced in the direction of Blea Rigg, which was now beginning to emerge from the slowly lifting morning cloud. The intricate complexity of the twists and turns of these Lakeland paths each revealed little crags, pools and corners and fooled your sense of direction to give surprising views in a completely different directions to those you thought were about to be displayed. The nostalgia of schooldays flooded back at one scene: the view up Langdale was a geography teacher’s dream – the U shaped valley, the hanging valleys, corries and ridges - I recalled why glaciation in O-level geography was such a cinch when you were familiar with all this stuff.

Next, the top of Blea Rigg was in marked contrast to the top of Silver How. The scattering of soft undulating curves was replaced by a shorter serrated rocky crest to the left of the main path. The message was clear: you’re in harder and tougher terrain now. Although there was still the odd wisp of cloud lingering in the corrie of Stickle Tarn, occasionally hiding Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle, the view ahead was now clear, if somewhat grey.

Sergant Man from Blea Rigg

Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark from Blea Rigg

Ahead, you could see that Sergant Man’s summit skyline bristled with popularity. As it got closer, shrill tones suggested that a new generation of fellwalkers were enjoying their first forays and ticking off their first Wainwrights. Once on top, the group seemed to change every five minutes as another shift of children were successfully herded on to the top. This was not a place to linger.

Crowds on Sergant Man

The half mile stroll to the north west across to the domed heart of Lakeland was like walking into another world. The hustle and bustle was left behind, and the silence and serenity on High Raise was welcomed, relished and enjoyed. Hellvelyn still hid under a veil of cloud, Skiddaw was a smudge in the haziness to the north, but the high peaks of the western fells were in full view; the lines of gullies and cornices were still traced by the remnants of winter snows.

Scafells, Great End and Great gable from High Raise

Harrison Stickle, Thunacar Knott and Pike o' Stickle from High Raise

Then, a slow easy solitary walk back south crossed Thunacar Knott on the way back to the throngs of the Pikes and Harrison Stickle. Descent from here had been the original plan, but Pike o’ Stickle and its neighbour Loft Crag were looking attractive despite the crowds and there was still plenty of time left in the afternoon so they formed a satisfying finish to the day. A proper hands-on scramble up the final few feet of Pike o’ Stickle had obviously defied the pavement makers who had established the paths between the Pikes. It’s reassuring that the alpine solution of ladders and chains haven’t been considered on these last few moments of interest.

Once on Loft Crag, eight tops had been visited, four of which were new, and the tent was in view in the valley directly below. The drop down to the Old Dungeon Ghyll was straightforward, if at times knee jarring, although I seemed to miss any path going down to the side of Gimmer Crag. Once down I topped up with salt from a packet of peanuts, which was most probably washed immediately away by the accompanying glass of Black Sheep. And then there was just the easy stroll across to the campsite.

A mug of tea, a warm shower, another mug of tea, sit in the evening sunlight that was now bathing the valley, another mug of tea, a pleasing sense of tiredness but achievement, another mug of tea, and ...

Wall End Farm and Crinkle Crags - departure day!

The most difficult bit was leaving Langdale in the glorious sunshine of the Saturday morning – but there were other plans ...
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old danensian
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Re: High Raise - a Lakeland spoke

Postby mountain coward » Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:52 pm

Saturday morning is the best time to leave Langdale - before the ravening hordes arrive!

The scramble up Pike O' Stickle's superb isn't it :D
mountain coward

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