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, calling goodbyes to Uncle Brian and the Hug, to settle 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."

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 left 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.

Shaun said, "the bracken covered slopes to the left are the area of initial ascent. Apart from Harrison Stickle behind to the right, the other actual objectives are hidden."

Crossing the road we walked along the drive to pass by the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. "The hanging baskets are very pretty and colourful", commented Little Eric.

"The route is through that gate and across the pasture", said Shaun. Then he went on, "now left through the wall gap and join, if for just a short way, part of the long distance path the Cumbria Way."

Coming to the next gate, Shaun said, "go through and then right by the wall."

"Definitely on the correct path, as that is the seat shown on the map in Wainwright's guide", pointed Allen.

"I know it seems to be too soon for a rest, but let's just sit a while to enjoy the fantastic view", suggested Tetley. "The valley is Oxendale with the Crinkle Crags and to the left the large bulk of Great Knott."

"Magnificent", cried Little Eric. "I like how the sunlight is dappling the mountains."

Dragging our eyes from the view we set off again. Shaun stating, "over the stile then go left to cross Dungeon Ghyll, and then start the climb in earnest."

"Dungeon Ghyll Force is the waterfall we can hear cascading down", said Grizzly. "What a shame it is hidden by trees."

After a steady climb across Mark Gate, the gradient then levelled as we crossed west over the open fell, before it steepened again on the final climb to the col between Thorn Crag and Loft Crag.

If you have read other of our stories, you will know that we and Dad are very fond of the lovely Herdwick sheep that inhabit the fells and we were to see many today.

"Aww Dad that one is posing for you and begging to have its picture taken", called out Tetley.

At the col, Shaun instructed, "Thorn Crag our first summit is to the right. It is a Birkett top."

A short easy climb soon brought is to the cairn. As we scrambled out to sit for our picture, Tetley said, "we have all bagged this summit."

"Although not mentioned in Diana Whaley's book on place names, from other similar entries, I can say that the name means 'the crag where the (haw)thorns grow', informed Grizzly.

Looking across the col, Allen pointed, "there are the first two Wainwrights today. Loft Crag and Pike o'Stickle."

As we settled in Dad's rucksack, Tetley said, "it is hard to tell whether this cairn or that over there is highest."

"I agree lad", replied Dad. "We'll visit the other one, so we can say with certainty Thorn Crag is summited."

Then returning to the col we crossed towards Loft Crag. "That rake going right to left is the route, followed by a short ascent right to the summit", advised Shaun.

As we jumped out and arranged ourselves on the cairn, Allen shouted, "mine and Little Eric's first Wainwright of the day. Get the camera out and take our picture, please Dad."

The first of the three Langdale Pikes now done the other two 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. "Picture time again", called out Little Eric.

Away over the valley, Tetley said, "that's The Band, the ridge that rises from Stool End Farm in Great Langdale to a col at Three Tarns. Going left takes you over the Crinkle Crags. To the right is the steep climb to Bowfell then leading to Esk Pike and Great End, that buttresses the Scafell Massive."

Beyond, Great Gable's massive bulk stood proud, and more distantly we could see Skiddaw, which we had climbed recently.

"What and awe inspiring panorama", breathed Little Eric.

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!"

"There's Harrison Stickle the last of the Langdale Pikes", pointed Allen. "I can see the narrow path we have to follow to the summit."

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

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

"Wow", cried Little Eric. "And just look at that view too."

"Oh yes, wonderful", agreed Allen. "That is Blea Tarn. You can see the road climbing out of Great Langdale to the right. This leads past the tarn and distantly on to Little Langdale."

To accomplish reaching Harrison Stickle, it was first necessary to reverse the scramble we had made up Pike o'Stickle. Then just follow the path Allen had pointed out across the ground that was boggy in places and the final steep ascent to its rocky summit.

Allen shouted, "yippee", as he sat on the cairn. Then exclaiming, "wow Dad just look at that amazing view of Great Langdale, you must take it for our story."

"Get properly settled lads", said Dad as he lined up the camera. "There are lots of people here including that group of about 10 who are just arriving, so we need to free up the cairn."

As Dad was doing this Grizzly told us, "the name means 'the peak associated with Harrison family'."

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.

"Seems we are becoming famous", said Tetley quietly.

"Time for lunch", said Allen. "After all the excitement I'm hungry."

"Yes", agreed Shaun, "Dad deserves a well earned rest."

Then before leaving Dad said, "A few pictures are in in order for the story.

Here some walkers rest on the summit.

"That of the mighty Helvellyn Ridge, is a must", suggested Allen.

Then he proceeded to do what Uncle Eric refers to as the Eric Robson, and name the summits. "From the left is 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.

"It will be worth taking a zoomed shot Dad", said Tetley. "Seat Sandal centre foreground with St Sunday Crag behind, with Cofa Pike and Fairfield right. Dollywagon Pike are the slopes left."

"Time to go", said Dad. We quickly got settled and then headed north to Thunacar Knott. This modest top, has two summits neatly divided by this small but pretty tarn. "The mountains behind are Bowfell, Esk Pike and Great End", stated Allen. "And below Great end is Allen Crags, the fell I am named after."

"The fact that Thunacar Knott has these two summits makes this otherwise dull fell more interesting", said Grizzly. "The south summit here, is the highest point at 2372ft and is the Birkett summit."

"Then we had better hop out and have our picture taken", said Little Eric.

Then pointing Grizzly stated, "that is the cairn on the north summit at 2351ft. It is more important to go there as that is the point Wainwright considered to be the summit."

In short order we were there. "Fantastic", cheered Allen. "This is my 200th Wainwright, just 14 to go."

"You must have your picture taken on your own to mark the achievement", insisted Tetley.

Then we joined him for our group photo.

Returning to the south summit, Dad picked up a narrow path over boggy and rocky ground to reach the rocky tor summit of Pavey Ark.

"Yippee", cheered Allen. "Another milestone on my Wainwright challenge. Finally all 27 Wainwrights in Book 3 are done."

"Well done pal", said Shaun, as we all gave him a hug. "You have to have your picture on your own here too."

We all joined him for the group picture, in particular to mark Little Eric having reached the summit. Great Langdale and Lingmoor Fell form the backdrop.

Grizzly told us, "the origin of the name is uncertain, but possibly 'Pavia's shieling' and hence the peak above it, with a female personal name plus aergi/erg 'sheiling'."

After pausing to enjoy the views, Shaun said, "we now have to make the descent via North Rake."

"Yes", sighed Dad. "Very steep rough and eroded. My knees are going to suffer some pain."

So consequently he was was very glad to get down to Bright Beck and across on to an easier path to Stickle Tarn.

This is dominated to the left by Harrison Stickle, and behind Pavey Ark.

Before we descend, let's stop here and have a second picnic", suggested Dad.

"Oh yes", cheered Allen. "I'm hungry again."

"You're always hungry", laughed Shaun. "Good job we packed extra rations."

So all that remained was the descent of Stickle Ghyll. This was rather easier compared to North Rake due in part to sections of the path having been reconstructed so making it like a stone staircase. "I'm not surprised about this", remarked Tetley. "It is the tourist route to the Pikes."

There was the pleasure of seeing the waterfalls on the Ghyll, these being two shots Dad took.

Close to the bottom we met a couple from Devon, and Dad chatted to them.

Seeing us, the lady said, "we think idea of them climbing all the fells is fantastic. We have been here for a week and done some good walks. We are going home tomorrow."

"So glad you have has a good week. We all wish you a safe journey home", Dad said.

By now it was after 4 o'clock, so Dad decided just to drive straight home after a great day.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for today", said Allen. "I have achieved so much, and had a truly fantastic time."

"Me too", agreed Little Eric.

"It is another area completed both for Wainwrights and Birketts for us all", added Tetley.

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