Blog Post 22
Date: Wednesday 23rd December
Wainwright count: 2
Wainwrights: Pike of Stickle and Harrison Stickle
Who with: Susie, the Patterdale Terrier!
Distance: 6-7 miles (approx.) – forgot to turn my GPS when I got in the car, so my distance was 60 miles, and my average speed was about 70mph when I got home….D’Oh!
A belated blog on my behalf, but I have been busy eating and drinking plenty over the Christmas period. This day was actually one of the few over the festive period that was not very wet and blowing a hooley, so I decided to take advantage and head for the Lakes. We hosted 10 family members on Christmas Day and this being the day before Christmas Eve, my wife decided that I would be better out of her way as she prepared for the big day, which suited me perfectly! J
So, what with the terrible floods that have hit Cumbria over the last few weeks, I decided that Langdale was the safest place to head to, as there were still flood warnings in place in North Lakeland and Glenridding for this day. I had been to Glenridding a few days prior for a walk with my wife, Hannah, and it was devastating to see some of the shops in the village recovering from the devastation that the terrible flooding had caused. They were trying to clean up, knowing full-well that there was forecast for more flooding to be on the way, which is a frightening thought. Shops such as Catstycam, which are situated metres from the Glenridding Beck still had the dirty water marks, which showed the level that the flood water had reached. A sad time and my thoughts were with them, but the best thing for them and the rest of Cumbria hit by the floods was for people like me, to safely visit these areas and start spending money again, not avoiding the areas completely, as this doesn’t nothing to help local businesses. It was a wild day in Glenridding that day, and unfortunately the area was deserted, so no one was around spending money! The Cumbrian Spirit is being well and truly tested at this time, that’s for sure.
Back to the walking. So, I headed for Langdale on what was forecast to be a dry, bright, but windy day, which was fine by me. I parked at the Old Dungeon Gill, not on the National Trust Car Park at £7 for the day, but instead at the hotel’s parking where they ask for a £3 donation which goes to the North West Air Ambulance and Mountain Rescue, which were two charities that have been well unbelievable in supporting Cambrian’s in need, throughout the recent floods in the area. So, having parked up and got my gear on and the dog out, I proceeded behind the pub on the path above Middle Fell Farm, keeping Susie on a short lead, whilst we negotiated past the sheep!
I followed this path, which is part of the Cumbrian Way to the end of the valley. It is a lovely flat walk with stunning views in every direction, and runs adjacent to what was a very fast-flowing Mickleden Beck after all the rain that has hit the area over the last month. Susie was running wild and free now the sheep had been passed, much to her disappointment, but it wasn’t too long before she was jumping in the many new streams that washed across the path and into the Beck!
We proceeded to the head of the valley, where the path splits, with one way heading parallel to Rossett Gill, and the second way, which we were heading up the distinctive path alongside Stake Gill and over the distinctive Langdale Combe. This popular path is excellent and upon gaining a bit more height, the force of the wind became all apparent, not that you mind when you are wrapped up in all the gear and have spectacular views such as across Lakeland.
I quite enjoy walking alone (although you never feel alone with a man’s best friend as a walking companion), as it gives you time to think when you have no other modern day distractions to contend with, and when you are far removed from the pressures of working life, or the real world as I call it. Nothing beats clearing your head than a walk in such a stunning area, in my opinion. While I said that no modern-day distractions were present on the walk, I was actually using my new GPS system, my Satmap Active 12 for the first time! To say that I was impressed with it is an understatement. I’m not one for relying on technology, but I have adopted using it as a complementary means of navigation, but NOT my primary means. I enjoy the added information that it provides me on my walks and is something that I have now come to enjoy. There is a place for modern-day technology in the outdoors, but it worries me that many will believe that this removes their need to be able to practice navigational skills. It only takes a battery to go flat, and without the necessary skills in your portfolio, it can leave you in a vulnerable situation, resulting in unnecessary calls to Mountain Rescue teams, or worse.
Anyway, down off the soap box. Having crossed Langdale Combe, and reached the Pile of Stones, where we would head off to the right, up towards Martcrag Moor, before Pike O’Stickle. It was hear that the path disappeared slightly and the recent rain was apparent having left the stone path, now heading across a boggy area for a short distance. The wind was now blowing right in our faces, with the clouds moving quickly high above us. Heading over the featureless Martcrag Moor, we continued on to the Pike, a dominant feature of the Langdale skyline, and a rather distinctive peak for the Lakeland fells. After scrambling our way to the top, the wind was such that it was best not to hang around too long, even though the chance of blowing a 14.5stone Nick off the top was slim-to-none!
We continued down, across Harrison Combe, above Loft Crag, which was also very moist underfoot to say the least, leaving me with sodden boots, and Susie with sodden paws! Upon reaching the top of Harrison Combe, I decided against continuing on across Pavey Arc and round Stickle Tarn, as I suspected it would be sodden with the hundreds of inches of rain we have been hit with recently. Instead, I decided to retrace my steps back towards Loft Crag and take the path heading down towards Mark Gate. Dropping down the fell-side a few hundred yards really eased the wind somewhat and provided extensive views down the valley. It wasn’t until I reached Mark Gate that I met others enjoying the fells, which I wasn’t sure was as a result of the media coverage on Cumbria, or whether it was simply the time of year, being so close to Christmas Day…
Anyway, being grateful to my wife for allowing me to get out of her hair, so she could do the important stuff, I decided not to push my luck and to get back home for a reasonable time, so that I could ‘offer my assistance,’ so I pressed on. Although I would much rather have carried on over Pavey Arc and extended the walk somewhat. I took the path to double back on myself towards the back of Old Dungeon Gill, where I was parked up, getting back to the car for around 12.30pm, just as the rain was starting to come in, despite the forecast suggesting the first rain-free day for some time.
It was a lovely morning stretch out in the fells, and such was my excitement at being extremely pleased with my new GPS, I forgot to switch it off, so upon reaching home, my walk’s details were somewhat distorted to say the least.
I just want to finish reminding people to get themselves back into Lakeland, whether you are a fell bunny, or a shop lover, the local economy needs people to visit, not stay away. So, why not plan your next trip, whether it is next week or next month, but make sure it is next year! It is a stunning area and I would have missed out on a great day in the fells had I been put off by the media’s coverage of the recent disasters, which is the exact opposite of what the area needs currently!