Posts tagged ‘Great Langdale’

March 26, 2012

Above Langdale – Pike of Blisco and Lingmoor Fell

by backpackingbongos

There was a humid and fetid funk in the air when I woke up.  The van had been fully sealed from a night of Lake District weather, rain beating a repetitive tune on the roof all night.  I had arrived at the disused quarry with Reuben at around 2.00pm the day before in less than appealing weather.  The hills had vanished and a constant driving rain fell, accompanied by swirling mists.  We completed a 7 mile dash across a couple of low hills simply for the sport of ticking them off my list of Wainwrights.  Even at a lowly 300 metres the hills firmly had their heads in the clouds.  We returned to the van just as it was getting dark, Reuben covered in muck and totally soaked, whilst the watery onslaught had been too much for my eVENT waterproof.  I was thankful that we did not have to sleep confined in a small backpacking tent.  However a smelly, wet and muddy dog in a small van along with my sodden clothes and shoes soon turned the atmosphere to that of a particularly smelly sauna.

The rain had stopped when I poked my head out of the door and there were pale patches of blue in the sky.  Mist was rising and falling around the surrounding mountains, the tops appearing and then vanishing in the clouds.  It was an atmospheric place to sit and eat breakfast, the quarry giving an excellent alternative to a busy campsite.

5.7 miles with 880 metres ascent

The day was improving rapidly as I drove through little Langdale and up to the empty car park next to Blea Tarn.  Sadly it is pay and display and I went over to the machine to submit a couple of quid to the National Trust who own it.  My exact words when reading the all day tariff was “**** *** ******* ***?”  They wanted £5.90 and the machine does not give change, effectively costing £6.  I was about to go and remove the Bongo from the empty car park so I could park irresponsibly nearby when I noticed the machine flashing that it was out of order.  I therefore decided to leave the van where it was.

I have no qualms about paying for parking, especially in areas where it is possible to reach by using public transport.  However when in the middle of nowhere and there is no alternative to driving I think that £6 is a royal rip off.  All it does is encourage people to park elsewhere, causing difficulties on the narrow lanes.  Rant over.

Reuben did not share my early morning annoyance and simply thought that the area was full of fantastic smells.  I rarely visit the Lake District preferring much bleaker and emptier landscapes.  However standing next to a deserted Blea Tarn in the early spring sunshine I felt that there was nowhere else better to be on the planet.

I imagine that Blea Tarn would normally be crawling with people, so I felt lucky to visit whilst it was so quiet and I could have lingered for much longer.  We took the footpath to the south of the tarn before following a series of sheep trods directly up the fell side.  My lungs were soon heaving and my legs like jelly, unconditioned to such steep slopes.

With height gained we contoured below Blake Rigg on easy grassy slopes, slowly climbing onto Wrynose Fell without too much effort.  Wetherlam and the ridge up to Great Carrs looked impressive and I imagine would give a good horseshoe walk around the Greenburn Valley.

A narrow ribbon of tarmac snaked its way across the hillside below us before steeply climbing to the high point at Three Shires Stone.  I stood with Reuben and watched as tiny toy sized cars silently glided up and down one of the steepest roads in the country, probably en-route for the Hardknott pass.

Rounding a corner the cone of Pike of Blisco came into view, the only 2000ft fell in this part of the Lakes that I had not climbed.  The cloud was now quickly rolling in, occasionally brushing its summit.  I wanted to reach the top before the mist came down and the views were lost.

Just as I found a sheltered spot on Wrynose fell for a mid morning snack and with the contents of my rucksack emptied on the hillside, heavy sleety rain started to fall.  With waterproofs on and Reuben starting to whine as the wind blew the rain into his face, the break was abandoned and we began to climb once more.  Reuben tends to forget his discomfort when his attention has been diverted to exploring the hillside with his nose.

The summit cairn was reached just as the rain was turning to wet snow, my waterproof once again being defeated by wet and sweat.  Time to reproof it I think.  The views from the summit were limited and I noticed that the higher peaks already had a light dusting of snow.

I took the main path eastwards from the summit as I thought this would be the easiest option.  I did not count on a couple of scrambly sections which to be honest were a little tricky with a dog.  Wet rock and a squirming hound made for slow progress.  Once on safer ground the rain actually stopped so it was time for lunch and a fresh hot brew.

The steep pitched path down towards Side Pike was slippery and jarring on the knees but was very effective in curbing erosion.  I tried to keep focused on the rather excellent views.

Contouring round to the summit of the road, the murk cleared from the Langdale Pikes.  I have walked their summits a few times and have to say that they are hills to be looked at rather than climbed.  From the perspective of this side of Great Langdale they are magnificent, a complex crumpled mess of rock and deep ghylls, one of those iconic mountain views.

A steep path climbed up towards Side Pike, giving a different perspective of the surrounding hills, the weather still not deciding whether to brighten up or rain.  It did both.

Mountain lassitude took over and I opted out of the short climb to the summit of Side Pike.  A path contoured around its rocky crown and we came to a cleft in the hillside which has to be squeezed through.  Reuben initially refused to attempt this and I had to remove my rucksack and shove my ever-increasing bulk through.  It took a bit of coaxing from the other side to get him through.  It was then a simple case of following the great wall of Lingmoor to the summit.

Lingmoor is a good case for biggest is not always best.  At a relatively lowly 469 metres it gives staggeringly good views right into the heart of Great Langdale.  To the south low hills and forest stretch to the far horizon and I could make out the distinctive profile of the Howgills.  I sat for a while whilst contemplating the view.

An approaching figure looked rather familiar but I could not quite place where from.  As he got to the summit cairn he asked me if I was James.  I recognised his accent immediately from one of Terrybnd’s videos, it was Yuri who I had chatted with virtually under the moniker @MooShad1969 on Twitter.  It’s a small old world sometimes.  Reuben then did his very best at charming the pants off of Yuri’s wife, well not literally obviously.

Descending the steep path to Bleatarn House I began to ponder if Lake District miles are longer than a standard mile.  My legs had carried me less than 6 miles, yet I felt like I had walked double that.  My knees had also started to creak.  However that was soon forgotten when the light did something magical to the surrounding fells, giving them a texture of painted canvas.  I returned to the van a happy man.