Ice Cold in Langdale
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:52 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark, Pike o'Stickle
Hewitts included on this walk: Harrison Stickle, Pike o' Stickle
Date walked: 13/01/20178 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
This was a long weekend at the excellent Holly How Youth Hotel in Coniston, tackling the Langdale Pikes on the Friday, and the Old Man of Coniston on the Saturday. After an early rendezvous at Burton-in-Kendal services on the M6, we drove on to start our walk from the National Trust car park at the Old Dungeon Ghyll, which is free if you have an NT membership card (worth knowing, in light of the swinging tariff at the public car park at New Dungeon Ghyll).
Here we are at the start of the walk, just above the Old Dungeon Ghyll.
IMG_2890 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Langdale was looking rather nice under crisp snow. In my mind I always liken the head of Langdale to the Breithorn and Matterhorn at the head of the Zermatt valley: on the right there is Bowfell, a pointy and photogenic peak, and here on the left, Crinkle Crags' imitation of a multi-summited Alpine monster.
IMG_2888 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The peaks of Langdale rose all around into a cobalt-blue sky - ahead of us was Whitegill Crags, part of the undulating ridge that rises towards Blea Rigg.
IMG_2912 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We followed the Pike How route, a well-constructed path of laid stones. The repaired paths here are a tribute to their builders and help prevent the Langdales looking like a scarred mess. Perhaps the repairs are funded by that swinging tariff I mentioned.
IMG_2918 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Below us, a drumlin in the valley bottom caught the sun
IMG_2916 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
While above us, the path rose towards the grand outline of Harrison Stickle.
IMG_2919 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We took a breather, to admire the frowning face of Pavey Ark. Does anyone ever look at this cliff face and not try to trace the line of Jack's Rake?
IMG_2929 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Soon we had a view onto the depths of the upper Dungeon Ghyll ravine. Thorn Crag is on the left.
IMG_2925 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We entered the portals of the ravine, an ominous, Lord-of-the-Rings type place. There was a view ahead through the defile of Pike o'Stickle, but we were too busy looking where to put our feet to admire it fully. We'd put it off until now... bit it was definitely time to sit down and put on the crampons.
IMG_2954 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Onwards, the narrow bit of the path above the Dungeon Ghyll canyon alternated between awkward steps of hard ice and gullies full of deep unstable snow... we had definitely put the crampons on at the right time!
IMG_2972 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We were soon past the worst though. This is the view looking back down the ravine.
IMG_2975 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Beyond the ravine we entered Harrison Combe, the strange, shallow upland hollow surrounded by the Pikes. We braced ourselves against the strong winds which were blasting towards us from the tundra-like High Raise plateau, and headed across the valley toward the odd, almost comical dome of Pike o'Stickle.
IMG_2984 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A view down Pike o'Stickle's deep gully famed for its Neolithic stone axes - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langdale_axe_industry. The skyline is Wetherlam, Black Sails, Swirl How, Great Carrs, Pike o'Blisco, Dow Crag, Grey Friar and the rocky tors of Cold Pike.
IMG_2995 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The final scramble to the summit of Pike o'Stickle.
IMG_3000 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Bowfell from the gully near the summit.
IMG_3002 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The dinky summit cairn.
IMG_3017 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A brooding view of Pike o'Blisco and the Coniston Fells from the summit. Pike o'Blisco is special to me: it's the first Lakeland hill I climbed, and the first climb I did solo (before that , I had persuaded my rather reluctant father to accompany me to the top of Cnicht, and then the Glyders).
IMG_3056 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Looking down on Loft Crag and Langdale.
IMG_3059 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We then headed back into Harrison Combe under wintry skies.
IMG_3065 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
After a short climb we reached the rocky summit of Harrison Stickle.
IMG_3083 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The south summit gives an excellent view of Great Langdale and Windermere. A favourite early writer of mine, H. Symonds, said something like "people decry Langdale because it has no lake - they forget that it has a ten-mile long lake, if you know where to look for it."
IMG_3075 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The wind at the top of Harrison Stickle was numbing - not a place to linger. We headed away from the summit, with Arctic scenes around us. The skyline here is Scafell Pike, Esk Pike (Rossett Pike below it), Great End, Allen Crags, the Gables, something that might be Robinson or Dale Head, Glaramara and the Grasmoor group.
IMG_3091 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We were soon looking down on Stickle Tarn. We looked down at the route which descends direct to the tarn, but it was uninviting - steep and covered in deep soft snow.
IMG_3097 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We decided to keep to the higher ground, and add Pavey Ark to our walk instead. The hinterland of Pavey Ark's summit is an undulating place of rocky knobbles and little ponds.
IMG_3109 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The last little clamber to the rocky summit. High Raise and Sergeant Man can be seen on the left skyline, with Helvellyn in the clouds over to the right.
IMG_3113 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Pavey Ark summit. The wind was less brutal here and we spent some time admiring the scenery.
IMG_3118 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Looking down from the summit to Stickle Tarn.
IMG_3140 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A view of the fells around Grasmere. The left-to-right skyline is Dollywaggon Pike, St. Sunday Crag, Seat Sandal, Cofa Pike and Fairfield, Hart Crag, Great Rigg and Dove Crag, with probably High Street in shadow beyond it. The prominent little ridge in the middle distance is Gibson Knott and Helm Crag.
IMG_3152 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We descended down the steep ramp just behind the cliff edge, called "North Rake" by Wainwright. This turned out to be choked with deep, collapsing snow and was the hardest part of the whole day, with a number of tricky downward steps. But eventually we reached the shore of Stickle Tarn, which reflected the late afternoon sky.
IMG_3180 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The stony path down to the New Dungeon Ghyll was largely iced-up, and we kept the crampons on until we were nearly back in the valley. A last look back at Harrison Stickle...
IMG_3190 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
All in all, a superb winter day among some classic Lakeland scenery!
by Phil the Hill » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:01 pm
by Beery Hiker » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:09 pm
by jacob » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:28 pm
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:44 am
jacob wrote:Wow, these are indeed very good photos. Great depth in all of them. Great report
Cheers jacob! - thanks very much
by dav2930 » Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:51 pm
by ChrisW » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:07 am