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Suddenly, you find yourself in the Lake District... You are heading along the A592 with Windermere to your left. You look to the north and in the distance you see a curious mountain formation. Two hill tops strangely positioned against each other. What is that? You wonder. It is - or should I say they are - the Langdale Pikes. And today, constant reader, I am going to take you by the hand and guide you across this beautiful terrain. Hope you have brought your boots and some food and water. Best make you sure you have your waterproofs too, it can rain a bit here, as I am sure you might know.
We move onto the A593, heading towards Coniston. But before Coniston we turn right for Dungeon Ghyll (B5343), where our destination is. If you have arrived here not knowing where the Lake District is, then I shall briefly tell you that the Lake District National Park is set within Cumbria, in the North West of England. Here is housed England's highest, Scafell Pike, but we are not going there today - that is another review. You get here by heading up - or down, depending on which way you travel, the M6 and taking Junction 36 for the southern end and 40 for the northern side. Okay... all happy? So, we are here ready to discover the Langdale Pikes further...
The Pikes are:
Harrison Stickle (2403 feet high)
Pavey Arc - and it's famous rake Jack's Rake (2288 feet)
Loft Crag (2270 feet)
Pike o' Stickle (2323 feet)
Thunacar Knott (2351 feet)
Wainwright said, 'No mountain profile in Lakeland arrests and excites the attention more than that of the Langdale Pikes,' and I quite agree. People of all ages grace its hill tops every day, from novice walkers, curiously following the hordes, to the experienced of walker. A draw pulls one to this place and a return is quite like being back home. The most common way to the top is from Dungeon Ghyll (might I just mention here what a rip off the cost of parking is here, but that is all the space I am giving those greedy people here...) Pavey Arc or Harrison Stickle is the usual first port of call when one has ascended by the Mill Ghyll route (a favourite route of many). Walkers reach Stickle Tarn and are grace by a truly magnificent view of the tarn and the buttress of Pavey Arc. On a still day the tarn looks a thousand feet deep, with the cliffs of Pavey Arc reflected on its waters, and on a hot and sunny day it looks far from fearsome. From here one can see Jack's Rake skirting across the cliffs, but more of that later...
Heading left takes the walker towards Harrison Stickle and beyond to the Pike 'O Stickle and Loft Crag, right usually takes one to Pavey Arc. The walker can head along and easy path to the right of Pavey Arc. Or they can take on the challenge that is Jack's Rake.
I first ascended via the rake in my mid twenties, having taken on Striding Edge (of Helvellyn fame - that's another review, too) months before and ready for more of the same. I found it fairly challenging to say the least. More recently I climbed Jack's Rake for a fourth or fifth time and if I am honest, it doesn't get easier. It is a ridge that runs from bottom right to top left across the cliff's and crags of Pavey Arc. There is a lots of scrambling involved and quite a few places the walker can get exposed. It is a steep climb, but it is an exhilarating climb. And when one reaches the top, they feel that they have achieved something great. It is not 'dangerous,' but one needs caution, people have fallen here and died. I would not touch it in snow or icy weather if I was not used to that sort of thing.
Pike o' Stickle
This fell is not only famous in its own right as one the Pikes, but it is also known for an ancient axe factory. Here the primitive inhabitants of Lakeland made axes from the volcanic rock on the Pikes. Many old axes have been found here and the place was once excavated. Part of the factory is a man made cave located on the south scree and can fit two people inside it. There is extensive erosion here, however.
The Who once said, 'I can see for miles and miles,' and on a clear day a whole number of mountains and lakes can be seen. Blencathra, Helvellyn, Fairfield, Windermere, Coniston Old Man, Bowfell, England's highest Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Glaramara and Cat Bell's, to name but a few of the more famous ones.
There are many ways one can discover the Langdale Pikes. There are many routes (check out Wainwright's Pictorial Guide Book Three: The Central Fell, or any other decent book you can get your hands, too). Perhaps you may want to saunter. I guess my only qualm is that it is a victim of its only popularity and you find you are never alone here, unless you are there on a bad day. In summer, the hordes are here in full.
Also written for Ciao UK by me as 'Borg.'