Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Langdale Pikes from Grasmere

Date : 16th March 2010
Route : from Grasmere via Easedale Tarn to Pavey Ark, Langdale Pikes and High Raise. Back via Sergeant Man and the Blea Rigg ridge.
Wainwrights : Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle, Thunacar Knott, High Raise, Sergeant Man, Blea Rigg.
Distance : 12 miles (19.3km)
Height Gained : 3425 feet (1044 meters)
Time Taken : 8.5 hours

The route : from Grasmere

 This is a great little figure of '8' walk from Grasmere. It is a long days hiking but has the advantage than you can bail out and head back at any point and by a variety of routes. For example you could cut it short at Harrison Stickle and come down the other side of Stickle Tarn and return over Blea Rigg or continue on but at the cross over point, return the same way via Easedale Tarn. There are many options.

I set off at 6:30 am mindful of the daylight available at this time of year and wanting to avoid heading back in the dark. I had reached Easedale Tarn an hour later with the morning mist still clinging to the fell tops. As I headed upwards past Belles Knott the mist began to clear but it was still swirling around Stickle Tarn when I arrived there another hour later.

A misty Easedale Tarn

The upwards path from Easedale Tarn

Belles Knott 'the Matterhorn of the Lake District'

Still Misty

First view of Pavey Ark & Harrison Stickle

Mist over Stickle Tarn

A Frozen Stickle Tarn

By 9am I was stood under Pavey Ark contemplating the fearsome looking Jacks Rake. According to Wainwright, it looks worse than it is and so with the benign weather and visibility continuing to improve, I headed cautiously upwards. Jacks Rake is a diagonal route which cuts into the sheer face of Pavey Ark. It heads steeply upwards from right to left (as you look at it from over Stickle Tarn) looking very exposed from below and appearing more like a rock climb than something within a walkers capabilities. Once on the 'Rake' however the expected feeling of exposure largely vanishes as the route is cut deeply into a gulley of sorts which is protected on both sides by rock. There is a section towards the top where for perhaps 30 feet or so that protection dissolves and care is needed as you scramble up the crags onto the summit. I would guess this is where accidents happen as unfortunately there have been a number of fatalities over the years on Jacks Rake. Care and full attention is therefore required at all times along this route. There are alternative ways up either side of Pavey Ark which do not involve the use of hands so consider all options, particularly regarding the weather and your own capabilities before committing to this route.  

Pavey Ark with Jacks Rake just visible rising steeply on the left

Jacks Rake centre

It looks steep - and it is!

Looking up whilst on Jacks Rake

When I emerged onto the summit of Pavey Ark there wasn't much to see as the mist was swirling over the summit. I headed over to Harrison Stickle which is an easy stroll on a good path. At this point the mist finally lifted for the rest of the day.

Looking back to Pavey Ark

Harrison Stickle view down the Great Langdale Valley

Harrison Stickle view across to Blea Tarn

Loft Crag and Pike O'Stickle from Harrison Stickle

Harrison Stickle view down to Stickle Tarn and Pavey Ark

High Raise & Sergeant Man from Harrison Stickle

After spending a good 30 mins on Harrison Stickle summit I headed off to Loft Crag and Pike O'Stickle.

Pike O'Stickle looking unimpressive from this approach

Looking back to Harrison Stickle and Loft Crag from Pike O'Stickle

Loft Crag

Compared to the drama  of the past 2 hours the grassy stroll up to Thunacar Knott and High Raise was positively benign. 

Looking over Pavey Ark towards Windermere from Thunacar Knot

Looking back to the Langdale Pikes from High Raise

High Raise summit view west

High Raise summit view north-west

High Raise summit views east towards the Helvellyn range

 There was a surprising amount of snow on the way to Sergeant Man sometimes in drifts up to knee deep which made for interesting progress.

Sergeant Man

The back of Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn from Sergeant Man

Looking along the Blea Rigg ridge from Sergeant Man

Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn from near Blea Rigg

Pavey Ark with Jacks Rake visible climbing steeply leftwards

Codale Tarn from Blea Rigg

Seat Sandal & Fairfield

Easedale Tarn

The onwards path looking towards Loughrigg and Windermere

And so concludes a highly recommended route given enough daylight hours and plenty of stamina.

Wainwright Count : 21/214

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