The plan for today was to do a massive mountainous walk. Minimus wasn’t bought into the idea so she decided to stay home and have a day of chillin’ in Ambleside. The rest of us had an appointment with the Langdale Pikes. Langdale is home to a seven Wainwrights in close proximity, which offers the opportunity for a monster hill walking day. Of the seven, we’d all done Pavey Ark before. I’d also been to Harrison Stickle, Thunacar Knott, High Raise and Sergeant Man. That was on my weekend with the lads in 2018. So two new Wainwrights for me, and six for Ami and Kas.
My day began with a light breakfast and the by now traditional fetching of sandwiches from the shop down the high street. From there, we fetched my car round to leave it outside the house. We all jumped in Kas’s car to head up Langdale.
The accommodation we were in had streetside parking and provided a permit for one car. We had both with us though, because Kas was off to Swansea for an event at the end of the holiday. They also provided a permit to use in multiple public car parks in the south lakes. That meant we could always have one car at the house and one in a public park. During the day, while we were out, we made a habit of leaving a car outside the house, just to make sure we had the space available when we came home.
We left home at about 9 am.
Up We Go
So at about 9:40 we were in the National Trust Car Park at the foot of Dungeon Ghyll and ready to rock.
The walk up to Stickle Tarn took us about 80 minutes, which I was quite happy with given my poor state of fitness. We had a short break at the tarn before setting off for Pavey Ark. As ever we decided to climb the so called North Rake, which leads fairly steeply up the eastern side of the mountain’s crag. The weather had been distinctly iffy all the way so far, with the peaks going in and out of cloud and there being a bit of breeze. When we got to North Rake it was also raining.
The weather forecast said it was due to get better as the day went on, so we didn’t shirk. The walk up the rake was quite slow because of the damp, but it’s still the best route, in my opinion.
We reached the top of Pavey Ark at about midday and decided that was good enough for lunchtime. After peering over the edge and taking photos we found a sheltered hollow and nestled down for our sandwiches.
The Other Pikes
After lunch we made our way over to Harrison Stickle. It looks easy from Pavey Ark, but in fact it was a pain in the backside. I think we chose the worse of the two paths across, and as a result we were doing a lot more ascending and descending than we needed as well as it being uneven underfoot.
Harrison is the highest point of the four pikes though, so it was always going to be a bit uphill from where we were. Finding the top of Harrison Stickle proved a challenge, but by this time the weather was improving and the views were pretty spectacular.
From Harrison, the walk over to Loft Crag was the next in sequence. Loft Crag is relatively modest compared to the peaks surrounding it, but nevertheless the view was impressive.
Next up was Pike of Stickle, which is much more prominent. When we got to the foot of this one we started the scramble up and I frankly had a bit of a moment where I nearly didn’t bother. It seemed really steep and craggy to me. Sometimes my onboard defense mechanism kicks in, especially if I’m a bit tired. Ultimately though, I decided to go for it.
The view from the top was excellent again, and we took the time to have a second lunch break. It had been more than a couple of hours since the previous lunch break at Pavey Ark.
All the time I was up there I was a bit apprehensive about having to come down again, but once I got into it I gained a lot of confidence and we were down in no time. Looking back, I wonder what I was worried about, especially after looking back at North Rake on Pavey Ark while we were walking back down.
Over the Flat(ter) Bits
Next up was a long but flat-looking walk over grass from Pike of Stickle to Thunacar Knott. It wasn’t as flat as it seems, to be honest. We actually descended about 50m and then ascended another 70m, but you don’t notice because it’s a long way. It was sufficiently far that we needed a little rest halfway over.
From Thunacar Knott, the walk over to High Raise is similar to the last stretch. It’s about a mile and a half with about 30m drop and then 80m climb. It takes a long time to notice you’re going upwards though. Eventually you reach a point where you can no longer see the summit from the path, and it gets a bit steeper from there.
The top of High Raise is good from the perspective of having a view around most of the area, but you can’t see any lakes and can only see the (unimpressive) backs of the Langdale Pikes. It is the highest point in the area though.
By this time it was nearly 4 pm and I was getting tired. The others were a bit too. So, one more Wainwright to do, which was the barely noticable Sergeant Man. Wikipedia describes this as a secondary peak of High Raise, but notable because it is rocky and craggy. The rest of High Raise is grassy. To be honest though, the grassiness means the paths are tricky to follow. We needed the GPS maps to show us which bit was actually Sergeant Man. When we were there, there was another guy there who was unaware he was on a separate Wainwright.
Where’s The Path
The best reason for going to High Raise and Sergeant Man is that you get to avoid descending the North Rake. That means a flatter and grassy way down, but also, as I should remember, a route down that is very difficult to follow. We strayed a bit and kept ending up on seemingly impassable bits. Eventually, we were at a point where we could see a clear route over grass back to the path around the tarn.
By the time we got back to the tarn it was well after 5 pm and the sun was well and truly out. So much so, that I topped up on suncream, just to make sure. It was a gorgeous evening, but we were feeling the press of time by now. A while back, Minimus had asked what time we’d be home, and I’d estimated about 7 pm. At the time though, we were still on High Raise, and it was a wild guess.
So the walk back down the Stickle Ghyll was quicker than the climb. I was about out of beans but we made it back to the car for 6:40, and hence we were back in Ambleside not long after 7.
While I was getting changed and showered, Kas and V walked down to the nearest chippy to get some dinner for us all. They were good. Especially because of the wonderful supporting performance made by a couple of beers.
In total we’d walked about 14km over the flat, but had climbed a total of 1200-1300m. We’d been away from the car for 9 hours. We’d earned a beer or two.