Saturday on the lads weekend away and it was the day for the long walk. This year it promised to be more of a “tall” walk rather than a long one, but whatever. We always do one day where we just do a long walk – it gives the two owners of the flash cars the opportunity to not drive for a whole day.
We were staying in Great Langdale, so were ideally placed for some excellent walking. We’d toyed with the idea of having a go at Scafell Pike but the lay of the land meant that it was about 11 miles in each direction from where we were staying. That felt a bit too far for a day in November, especially given that we’d be needing some breakfast beforehand, and there’s no way we were getting up early enough to have breakfast before daylight. We therefore contented ourselves with going up the Langdale Pikes. I’d been up there a couple of years previously (see Langdale Pikes), so I kind of knew what to expect, except last time it had been June and the sun was out.
I managed to dash out before breakfast to check on the weather and take a couple of photos. What a beautiful spot we’d chosen.
The breakfast at the hotel was pretty good, consisting as it did of a generous selection of cereals, bread products and fried things.
Anyway, when you’re a group of fifty-something males it’s fairly normal for most things to be downhill, or at least on the level, so it was a bit of a shocker to come out of the hotel and look upwards at the main task for the day. I’d done it before, so I knew what was coming, but the other three hadn’t. Due to my currently rather portly disposition the other three were therefore finding it much easier up the first stretch of mountain than I was. Still, it was a nice day, so bum to them. The climb up to Stickle Tarn starts off steep but well paved, and then closer to the top degenerates into a scramble over rocks with no obvious path aside from the stream of other people. Even in November there were quite a few other people on the way up. At the tarn you’re greeted by a nice flat area with grassy bits to sit on, and you’re also greeted by the fantastic sight of the sheer face of Pavey Ark, with Jack’s Rake running across the middle. We took the opportunity to rest for a while at the tarn before beginning the walk around the tarn and up to the top. All of us had gone with quite lightweight coats because the weather forecast was pretty good, and that was certainly an advantage when doing all that climbing, but once up on the top, and exposed to the full wind, I think we were all teetering on the brink of being cold.
From Pavey Ark we hacked our way across in the direction of Harrison Stickle to get a different view of the valley, and then headed back away from the cliffs towards Thunacar Knott and to the back of Pavey Ark, where we decided it was about time for lunch. The hotel does packed lunches for walkers, so we’d availed ourselves of those before setting off, and found ourselves nestling into a small hollow to get out of the wind while we sat and ate. It was a truly beautiful day up there and the small hollow meant it was pretty much warm enough to de-coat whilst eating.
After lunch, the next obvious target was to climb up to High Raise – a particularly un-mountainous mountain that’s basically a gentle upslope from where we were sitting. It is the highest point above Great Langdale in this area though, and the views were impressive in all directions. The centre of the Lake District is one big, extended plateau, of which High Raise is a part. Several periods of glaciation resulted in all the deep valleys and residual lakes, but if you can get above the level of glaciation, like you can at High Raise, you can tell what the landscape maybe used to be like prior to the glaciers.
From High Raise we decided it was starting to get a bit late so we started to head in the general direction of home. This meant hacking over some pretty flat moorland to Sergeant Man and then descending a fairly steep and not very obvious path back down to the side of the tarn, and then back down the way we’d come up. By the time we got back we’d walked 12.81km in a little under five and a half hours, which might not sound like a big distance, but quite a lot of it was either steeply uphill or steeply downhill, so it was much harder than one might think.
We finished the day off in the way we usually do on these trips – by eating too much, drinking some beer, and playing board games ( Or in my case, bored games. I’m not a great fan ). There was a bit of a crowd in the hotel bar when we got down off the mountain, but by the time it had been dark for an hour pretty much everyone else had left, leaving only the hotel residents, very few of whom were spending their evening in the bar.