THE LANGDALE PIKES, THUNACAR KNOTT & PAVEY ARK
from NEW DUNGEON GHYLL HOTEL, GREAT LANGDALE

(Allen completes Book 3 - Central Fells & passes 200 Wainwrights)

 


Summary

Date - 8th October 2009 Distance - 6.3miles
Ascent - 3164ft
Map - OL6 Start point - New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel (NY 296064)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Thorn Crag 2106 642 NY 2801 0713
Loft Crag 2238 682 NY 2774 0713
Pike o'Stickle 2324 709 NY 2740 0735
Harrison Stickle 2414 736 NY 2818 0739
Thunacar Knott South Top 2372 723 NY 2797 0799
Thunacar Knott North Top (Wainwright summit) 2351 716 NY 2791 0813
Pavey Ark 2288 697 NY 2846 0790

 

Preface

Allen, Grizzly & Tetley, were sitting quietly, pouring over the recently produced list of the 70 odd Birkett Fells that remain to be climbed. They had Bill Birkett's book too, and were trying to see which might be easily done in the shorter days of the coming winter.

"I think those in the far north and west will probably be left until next year", commented Tetley.

"Yes, you're probably right", replied Grizzly, "as they will involve Dad in long drives to reach the start points."

Just then Shaun trotted in with Little Eric, who had hitched a ride on his back.

"Something's afoot", he said. "I noticed Dad has got one of the Wainwright books on his bedside table.

"That could be good news for Allen and I as he must be considering doing some of your outstanding ones", said Little Eric.

"I'll go and find out", cried Allen, as he rushed off in search of Dad.

It was not long before he was back. "We are doing the Langdale Pikes on Thursday", he cried with glee. "I have longed to do this walk, and Dad said we he will take me to the other tops so that I will finally complete Book 3. Oh and there will be a Birkett top, that we will tick off too."

"Great" chimed in Tetley, "it will be good to do that walk again."

 

The Walk

Thursday finally arrived and we were up early impatient to be off, and as soon as Dad put his gear in the car we rushed out and settled on the front seat.

"It's chilly this morning", commented Grizzly.

"Yes", agreed Tetley, "there is definitely an autumnal feel, but it looks like we will have plenty of sunshine too"

Finally we were off, having said our goodbyes to Uncle Brian and the Hug. We drove to Windermere and then continued north by the lake to Ambleside, where we took the road towards Coniston. At Skelwith Bridge, we took the right fork towards Great Langdale. To our left we espied the small pretty lake of Elterwater. Soon after this we entered the Great Langdale Valley and suddenly there were high fells all around us.

"Look Allen", called out Shaun. "Those are the Langdale Pikes on the right."

They towered up and dominated the scene.

"I'm in for a great day for sure", replied Allen.

Before long we reached the sign for the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Just on the right of the road was a large and convenient car park, and was our start point. As Dad got ready we looked out to the fells we were shortly to climb.

The bracken covered slopes were to be the area of initial ascent, but the actual objectives are hidden behind, although Harrison Stickle can be seen behind on the right.

Crossing the road we walked along the drive to pass by the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

Beyond we passed through a gate, crossed a pasture and going left through a wall gap joined for a short way part of the long distance path the Cumbria Way. After another gate we then turned right by the wall. We knew very soon that we were on the correct path, as the seat shown on the map in Wainwright's guide was reached. Although it seemed too soon to be resting, Dad did sit a while so that we could enjoy the fantastic view over Oxendale to the Crinkle Crags with to the left the large bulk of Great Knott, dappled in the morning sunlight.

Along our path ahead was the stile in the wall, where we then went left crossing Dungeon Ghyll, and starting the climb in earnest.

There are waterfalls on the ghyll, and we could hear the water cascading down, but sadly they are hidden by trees. After a steady climb, the gradient levelled as we crossed west over the open fell, before the final steeper ascent to the col between Thorn Crag and Loft Crag.

If you have read other of our stories, you will know that Dad is very fond of the lovely Herdwick sheep that inhabit the fells. We were to see many today, including this one that posed looking directly at Dad.

From the col it was just a short easy climb to the cairn marking our first summit of the day Thorn Crag. This was a Birkett top, which we all bagged. Looking across the col, Loft Crag and Pike o'Stickle our next two were clearly in view.

First we crossed the other cairn on Thorn Crag (it was difficult to tell which was higher, so having been to both, we could with certainty say we had reached the summit). Then descending to the col we crossed to Loft Crag. You can see the rake we took climbing left, before the short ascent right to the summit

As we jumped out and arranged ourselves on the cairn, Allen shouted, "get the camera out and take our picture." Well it is about time we put in an appearance.

This is the first of the three Langdale Pikes. The others were to follow next, namely Pike o'Stickle and Harrison Stickle. Eager to be on our way we settled again in the rucksack. Then Dad descended the rocky path towards Pike o'Stickle, seen ahead rising dramatically.

As you can see it falls away to the left, almost vertically down to the valley called Mickleden. Our ascent was accomplished by a rocky scramble up the right side. Away over the valley we could see The Band, a ridge that rises from Stool End Farm in Great Langdale to a col. Going left takes you over the Crinkle Crags, pictured earlier. To the right is the steep climb to Bowfell then leading to Esk Pike and Great End, this latter buttressing the Scafell Massive. Beyond, Great Gable's massive bulk stood proud, and more distantly we could see Skiddaw, which we had climbed recently. All these fells and more were in view, making for an awe inspiring panorama.

Shaun then piped up. "Hey, Tetley and Grizzly, do you recall last time we were here, when that jet fighter flew below us along the valley."

"Yes", they both replied, "it was awesome!"

Of the Langdale Pikes, just Harrison Stickle remained to be summited, a half mile away to the east. You can just see the narrow path we followed rising to the summit.

Before setting off however we looked south to study Loft Crag,

The lower top to the left is Thorn Crag. The distant lake is Windermere, and the smaller body of water Elterwater.

To accomplish reaching Harrison Stickle, it was first necessary to reverse the scramble we had made up Pike o'Stickle. Then a clear path over ground boggy in places led to the final steep ascent to its rocky summit.

Allen let out a cheer as he sat on the cairn, and then exclaimed, "wow Dad just look at that amazing view of Great Langdale, you must take it for our story."

Dad was happy to oblige...

There were lots of people up here including a group of about 10 walkers, who arrived just as Dad was taking our picture, so he hurried to free up the cairn.

The lady leading the group saw us and suddenly said to Dad, "I have seen you before, on Wetherlam, where I took your photo".

After a moments thought Dad replied "yes I remember it well."

What a coincidence!! The picture in question is included in the story of our adventure to Wetherlam in July 2008.

We spent a bit of time here including having some lunch, and giving Dad a well earned rest. He also took a few pictures, some of which we have included below -

Here some walkers rest on the summit.

While away to the east is the mighty Helvellyn Ridge.

From the left - Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike & Dollywagon Pike. The fell in the background in the gap is St Sunday Crag with Seat Sandal in front. Then to the right is Fairfield, with High Rigg running down right from it, and Hart Crag behind.

Well it was time to be off again and we headed north to Thunacar Knott. This modest top, has two summits neatly divided by this small but pretty tarn. The fells behind are from the left Bowfell, Esk Pike and Great End, with below this Allen Crags, the fell that Allen is named after.

Now the fact that Thunacar Knott has these two summits makes an otherwise dull fell more interesting. The south summit is the highest point at 2372ft and thus the Birkett summit. To the north is another cairn at 2351ft here seen from the 2372ft point.

It was necessary to visit this too, as this is the point that Wainwright considered the summit. This done, Allen & Little Eric had now bagged both the Birkett and the Wainwright. This was also Allen's 200th Wainwright and here he is with his pals at the cairn.

From the south summit, Dad picked up a narrow path over boggy and rocky ground to reach the rocky tor summit of Pavey Ark. The last of the day, and it marked Allen's completion of all the 27 Wainwrights in Book 3! To mark the occasion he had his picture taken on his own as well.

After pausing to enjoy the views Dad made his way north to find the descent path known as the North Rake. It is very steep and rough the path being rather eroded making the going harder. His knees suffered some pain on this descent and he was very glad to get down to Bright Beck and across on an easier path to Stickle Tarn, above which Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle looked majestic. By the outfall we stopped again to eat some more of our picnic. Dad took this shot of Pavey Ark too.

Just the descent of Stickle Ghyll had to be accomplished to regain the Car. This was rather easier, as parts of this path have been reconstructed so making it like a stone staircase. There were a number of falls on the Ghyll, and here are two shots Dad took of them.

Close to the bottom we met a couple from Devon, and Dad chatted to them. They saw us and thought the idea of us climbing all the fells was fantastic. They had spent a week here and had done some good walks. They were going home the next day, so we wished them a safe journey. By now it was after 4 o'clock, so Dad decided just to drive straight home after a great day.

Another wonderful adventure, thanks Dad!

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