David Matthews
Professional Mountain Leader

Ideas for some Lakeland Days

The Langdale Area

The Langdale Pikes are so distinctive on the Lakeland skyline that even a first time visitor is likely to pick them out. Wainwright described the Langdale Pikes as the loveliest square mile in Britain, and he wasn't wrong!  The Langdales offers the visitor everything, walking, scrambling or climbing of every grade, surrounded by magnificent scenery. In the Langdales, the scenery is so close that the walker gets right inside the landscape, touches it and feels a part of it.  This makes the area an excellent choice even on those days when visibility is not at its best.

1. The Classic Circuit:

An excellent day that takes in the main Langdale Pikes of Pavey Ark (2288 ft), Harrison Stickle (2404 ft), Pike 'o Stickle (2323 ft) and Loft Crag (2270 ft), enjoying a rest at Stickle Tarn under the magnificent rock precipice of Pavey Ark, looking down the awesome drop from Pike 'o Stickle, and admiring the Lakeland panorama from Harrison Stickle, ending with the descent alongside the deep chasm of Dungeon Ghyll.  There are also many possibilities to incorporate rocky scrambles into the route up from the valley. A day to remember forever!

2. The Crinkle Crags and Bowfell


Almost certainly the mountains at the head of Langdale possess the very finest summits in the whole of the Lake District. Bowfell (2960 ft) summit is a small pinnacle of upthrust rocks that leaves the walker in no doubt where the exact summit stands. It is one of Wainwright's top ten summits. Crinkle Crags (2816 ft), clearly visible as a distinctive outline from Ambleside, has a number of summits, each different in character, and their neighbour Pike ' o Blisco (2304 ft) has a very fine summit with a 360 degree view.  For the walker the circuit of all of them ( a tough day!), or just two of them, offers an incomparable day trip.


3. The 'bump' on the horizon!

There is a little 'bump' on the horizon north of the Langdales which seems to be visible from many different places in the Lakes, but it looks quite insignificant in its surroundings. This is Sergeant Man , a small, barely noticeable summit rising to 2414 feet. Do not be deceived, the walk to Sergeant Man is very worthwhile and from its summit the view is magnificent, away to the East over Grasmere as well as back to the Langdales and the Coniston Fells.  A short walk to the rise to the North, High Raise (2500 ft) gives access to the views towards the Scafells and Great Gable.  One to savour! Sergeant Man is also an excellent destination from Grasmere by walking up the Easedale Valley, then returning over Silver How, the views over Grasmere must be seen to be appreciated.

Coniston Area

1. The The Classic Circuit

The most interesting way up the 'Old Man' (2633 ft) is the walk past Goats Water under the awesome precipice of Dow Crag (2555 ft), then up to the summit for wonderful views down to the azure waters of Low Water, then traversing the ridge of Brim Fell (2611 ft), down to Swirl Hause before descending past Levers Water and back to Coniston.

The alternative is to walk the Walna Scar Road before crossing the summits of Brown Pike and Dow Crag, climbing the Old Man, then descending to Coniston through the impressive quarries.



2. The Wetherlam Circuit

From the lovely valley of Tilberthwaite the climb is full of interest, with a choice of walking, or scrambling up the rocks to the summit (2502 ft). The route is steep and you have no choice but to use your hands, it feels like real mountaineering!  The view from the summit is one of the finest in the Lakes, stretching from the Old Man to Scafell Pike, all of the Langdale Peaks, the Helvellyn Range, the Fairfield Group and even Skiddaw peeping over the tops in the distance.  The descent is as steep as the way up, with the awesome drop into the valley close by, so a reasonable head for heights is required.

The Eastern Fells

1. Thornthwaite Crag and High Street

At the bottom of Kirkstone Pass lies the village of Hartsop, from where a long uphill pull reaches the top of Threshwaite Cove, followed by a steep acent to the summit of Thronthwaite Crag (2569 ft) with its magnificent cairn.  We then follow the route of the Romans up to the summit of High Street (2718 ft) for wonderful views of Mardale and the profile of Gray Crag. The route continues to the modest summit of The Knott (2423 ft) before descending to Hayeswater reservoir to return beside the cascades to Hartsop.



2. Helvellyn - the classic circuit

Probably the most romantic name in all Lakeland, and the name that almost everybody is familiar with. On this classic circuit the route starts in Patterdale and rises to the 'hole in the wall' for a welcome rest.  The way ahead rises gradually onto the magnificent exposure of Striding Edge, an experience to stir the soul, an easy scramble then leads the way to the summit at (3118 ft). Another rest is spent gazing in wonder at the awesome Eastern face down to Red Tarn a long way below. The descent very carefully a steep (but easy) downwards scramble onto the narrows of Swirral Edge, no less inspiring than Striding Edge, for a return to Patterdale.  If the party are feeling very motivated, there is the option of a small detour to the summit of Catstycam at 2917 ft. With time on our side, we visit Lanty's Tarn, a viewpoint with a lovely view of Ullswater.

The Fairfield Horseshoe


A long day taken at a leisurely pace to savour the wonderful views.  Leaving Ambleside we take the long plod up to High Sweden Bridge and cross Low Pike (1657 ft) and High Pike (2155 ft) to reach Dove Crag (2603 ft), then enduring the ups and down we cross Hart Crag (2698 ft), on the way we have unsurpassed views of all the far Eastern fells,  to finally reach the summit of Fairfield (2863 ft).  The backdrop for our lunch is the Helvellyn Range in all its glory.  The descent takes us over Great Rigg (2513 ft), Heron Pike (2003 ft) and Nab Scar (1450 ft), with wonderful views of the Grasmere fells and beyond.  We return to Ambleside tired, but happy.

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