Fellwalking: The Langdale Pikes

“Once seen, never forgotten. Other places may slip from the memory but the distinctive profile of the Langdale Pikes, once seen, leaves an indelible imprint on the mind.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

This is another classic Lake District walk, the Pikes proving irresistible to huge numbers of walkers. Located in the same area as the previously described walk, Bowfell, the weather I experienced could not have been more different – a glorious summer’s day.

We parked by the side of the B 5343 near the Old Hotel – it was very busy as is usual on a fine weekend day. The walk commences on the Cumbria Way  as it passes the Old Hotel and then proceeds westwards into Mickleden. After a longish flat section, the track turns north uphill by the side of Stake Gill. The track gets steadily steeper before levelling out at Langdale Combe and then dropping down to Pile of Stones.

From here the track proceeds southwards across Martcrag moor eventually reaching Pile of Stickle, one of the five peaks in the Pikes. We then dropped down eastwards and then climbed Harrison Stickle before dropping back down again and then traversing Loft Crag and following the path to the south of Dungeon Ghyll downhill back to Langdale, curving off south-west from the public footpath just after Raven Crag to take the path that passes the Old Hotel and most importantly, its Hikers Bar, before arriving back at the start of the walk. 

My rating: A
Map: OL 6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Wainwright Anniversary: The Southern Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book 4

Fellwalking: Bowfell

Summit of Bow Fell (I think...)

“…the majestic peak at the head of the valley, the dominant height on a lofty, encircling skyline, its rocky summit pyramid set on a plinth of grassy slopes. This is Bowfell, unassuming and rather withdrawn from public attention yet a commanding presence.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

It rains a lot in the Lakes – something you have to get used to if you are to enjoy walking in the area. This was (another) one of those days with the rain not letting up for the whole walk, preventing any decent views (or photographs).

Parking in the parking area at the end of the B 5343, we walked towards Stool End and then took the steady climb up The Band, passing White Stones and eventually joining the ridge at Three Tarns to the south-east of Bowfell (Bow Fell on the OLS map). From here its a shortish but steep scramble to the summit.

After a rather miserable lunch break we dropped back to Three Tarns but this time took the path that drops by the side of Hell Gill and then into Oxendale before arriving back at Stool End.

Not the greatest day out due to the weather, but that’s how it goes…

My rating: B (probably weather affected)
Map: OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Wainwright Anniversary: The Southern Fells (50th Anniversary Edition):(A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells): Book 4

UPDATE:

I did this walk again in 2011 and had much better weather.

[nggallery id=95]

Fellwalking – Newlands Horseshoe again

Newlands Horseshoe Panorama, Lake District, England

I was fortunate enough recently to do this walk again. Weather started out somewhat unpromising, but it ended up being a beautiful afternoon. The walk confirmed my view that this is one of the most enjoyable day walks in the Lakes.

More detailed notes from a previous visit can be found here. For a gallery of photos for the walk, see here (note this link requires up-to-date browser software and a broadband connection).

######
More updates to this site will be made soon, including a full trip report for Wainwright’s “A Coast-to-Coast” walk in England, which I recently completed, and some gear reviews.

Fellwalking – Scafell Pike

View from Summit of Scafell Pike (Lake District, England)

Been too busy to do any walking, so another walk from the ‘archives’.

“Scafell Pike is massive, shapeless and without a touch of elegance … but superior altitude counts for much and the Pike is the magnet that attracts all active visitors to the district, giving them a sense of achievement: there is a unique satisfaction in standing on the very highest point in the country…”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

My first proper walk in the Lake District was an ascent of Scafell Pike, back in November 1998. There are numerous routes, following are a couple that I have done.

From Wasdale Head – the most direct way to get there, but this means it’s relentlessly uphill pretty much from the start. We followed the bridleway that heads almost due east from Wasdale Head, past Bursting Knott and Toad How to Sty Head, after which we turned south and followed the “corridor route” to the summit. For the descent we followed the path that goes west via Brown Tongue (Wainwright refers to this as the “tourist route” up Scafell Pike – it is the most direct but possibly the least interesting) and then turns north to return to Wasdale Head.

Looking towards Scafell Pike with Broad Crag in the foreground Scafell Pike summit marker

From Borrowdale – a rather longer route, but an interesting variation. We commenced at Seathwaite, and took the bridleway south to Stockley Bridge. From here we followed the footpath that ascends steeply by the side of Grains Gill. This path joins another footpath just south of Sprinkling Tarn and below the northern face of Great End. We followed this path south-west to a junction and then followed the footpath that travels south and then south-west via Esk Hause and Ill Crag, before a short but steep climb to the summit. We descended initially the same way but then headed north to join the corridor route back to Sty Head, and then descended via the bridleway that passes Styhead Tarn, eventually returning to Stockley Bridge and then back to Seathwaite.

Leaving Seathwaite bound for Scafell Pike Descending via the path by Styhead Gill
My rating: A, A+
Map: Via Wasdale Head: OL5 – The English Lakes: South Western area (1:25,000); the route via Borrowdale also requires OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: Book four, The Southern Fells

Fellwalking – Fairfield

Summit of Fairfield (Lake District, England)

“It is the north flank that gives Fairfield distinction. In complete contrast to its bland appearance in other directions, a series of rocky buttresses and screeshoots plunge suddenly from the edge of the summit plateau into the head of Deepdale with startling ferocity: it is a dramatic scene that escapes attention on the southern and western approaches.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Commencing at Patterdale, I walked southwards along the A592 until I reached a permitted footpath to the west of the road, following this path until it reached the lovely Brothers Water. The track becomes a public footpath here, skirting the western shore of Brothers Water and continuing southwards before curling to the south-west and crossing Dovedale Beck, thence continuing westish to pass Dove Crag and thereafter to join a footpath traversing the ridge. From here the walk continues north-west over Hart Crag and then turns west briefly before attaining the summit of Fairfield, from which there are great views in all directions.

After a lunch stop I continued on north and then north east along the ridge line that traverses St Sunday Crag and then drops down into Patterdale. The first section is very steep and a little tricky in places, before levelling out somewhat. As Wainwright points out, the view of Fairfield from this direction is very different from the southern and western approaches, looking most impressive with its series of rocky buttresses. The views down to Ullswater are also fantastic.

All in all, a great day’s outing – but a fairly demanding walk that took me over 6 hours.

My rating: A+
Map: OL5 – The English Lakes: North Eastern area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Eastern Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): Book One (A Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

Dovedale Beck View from summit of Fairfield Looking south-west towards St Sunday Crag and Fairfield Looking down to Ullswater

UPDATE: I did this walk again in 2012; this time I had a car and so parked at the National Trust car park at Cow Bridge. I’ve indicated this as the start position on the map of starting locations.

Walk of the Month: Mt Loch (North-East Victoria)


Summit of Mt Loch (560px)

An attractive short walk across the high country around the ski-resort of Mt Hotham in north-east Victoria, with great views.

The walk commences at the Mt Loch car park on the Great Alpine Road (B500) about 1km before Mt Hotham village. The walks follows a fire track that starts at the left hand side of the water recycling dam that has recently been excavated, immediately north of the car park. Follow the jeep track (which is also the Alpine Walking track) as it undulates and then starts to steadily climb northwards, passing numerous ski runs and lifts on the right hand (east) side. There are fine views of the Razorback and Mt Feathertop to the left. The poles that can be seen every 40m are snow poles designed to assist navigation in poor weather and continue all the way to Mt Bogong.

After about 1.5km, at Derrick Col, the track turns eastwards briefly before reaching a track junction. The walk continues on the jeep track that heads north to Mt Loch, now about 1km away (the other foot track continues along Swindlers Spur to Derrick Hut). The original access footpath to the summit of Mt Loch, which leaves the jeep track shortly after the junction, is now closed to allow revegetation and Parks Victoria encourages walkers to use a new access track which leaves the jeep track immediately to the west of Mt Loch (about 350m further on). Follow the access track for a 100m or so to the summit, marked with a large summit cairn. There are great views in all directions from the summit. If it is a clear day you will see Mt Hotham to the south, the Razorback and Mt Buffalo plateau to the west, Feathertop to the north-west and Mt Bogong and the Bogong High Plains to the north-east and east. To the immediate north the jeep track follows Machinery Spur before dropping down to the West Kiewa River.

Return to the car park via the same route. For a post walk drink head up the Great Alpine Road to the attractive Dinner Plain village.

SIDE TRIPS: There are a couple of additional side trips that could be taken on this walk:

  1. Red Robin Mine – Continue along the jeep track north as it follows Machinery Spur until it drops via a series of zig-zags to the east and reaches Red Robin mine, classified by Heritage Victoria due to its status as the sole surviving alpine gold mine.
  2. Derrick Hut – At the track junction mentioned above continue along the foot track (the alpine walking track) as it follows the snow pole line south east descending to Derrick Hut. Derrick Hut is a refuge hut, built by the Wangaratta Ski Club for Ski tourers. It is situated in a lovely alpine meadow.

Mt Loch fire trail Mt Loch summit with view of Mt Feathertop Red Robin mine Derrick hut

Walk date: Dec 28, 2007
Time/level: 1 day easy (around 2.5 hours)
Maps: Rooftop’s Mt Feathertop – Hotham Forest Activities Map (1:30,000), VICMAP Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: A

Fellwalking – Pillar (Lake District, England)

Descending from Pillar into Mosedale

“…Pillar, a fine bold mountain overtopping all else around and forming a high barrier between the valleys of Ennerdale and Mosedale”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

My first attempt at climbing Pillar ended without attaining the summit. The weather on that day was particularly bad – I ascended initially via the Dorehead screes (not a good idea). The wind was blowing over the ridge that leads north-west from Dore Head to Red Pike with brute strength, at one point a strong gust from the west blew my legs under me to the east, and I hit the deck. It was also raining – the wind driving the rain into my jacket and through the neck and arm holes so by the time I had reached Little Scoat Fell and started the final ascent to the east, I was cold and wet. At this point, with visibility down to less than 10 metres, I decided discretion was the better part of valour – leaving the summit to another day I descended down the rough footpath that cuts between Green and Elliptical crags, back into Mosedale and a very welcome late lunch at the Wasdale Head Inn.

I eventually climbed Pillar a few years later. As it happens, the weather was still fairly ordinary on the day (hence the lack of decent photos), but nowhere near as bad as the first time. The route we followed starts at Wasdale Head, following the bridleway that pushes north into Mosedale to the east of Mosedale Beck. After a junction with a path that continues northwards and forms the return of this route (the Wind Gap route – fairly indistinct last time I was there), the bridleway slowly curves to the north east crossing Gatherstone Beck and becoming the Black Sail Pass, eventually attaining the east ridge and a track junction. From here the path proceeds westwards, climbing for most of the way before finally reaching the summit.

The descent proceeds steeply south-west into Wind Gap before turning south east onto the screes and then a rough footpath that drops down into Mosedale and ultimately joins the bridleway from the start of the walk that leads back to Wasdale Head.

My rating: A
Maps: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000), the very start of the walk also requires OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western area
Wainwright’s guides: Book seven, The Western Fells