|Distance:||18.5 km or 11.5 miles|
|Ascent:||1496m or 4908ft|
|Descent:||1496m or 4908ft|
Moving Time - 6h 31m
The basic route for this walk was a round from my parking up near Three Shire Stones on Wrynose Pass, up to Pike of Blisco (or Pike O' Blisco if you prefer Wainwright over OS) down to the top of Graet Langdale, up The Band & across the Climbers Traverse & up to Bowfell, head back over Crinkle Crags to Cold Pike & back to car. Full track below with profile.
This was day 2 of my holiday & entailed a reasonable drive from the campsite in Wasdale over Hardknott Pass to where I parked up near Three Shires Stone at the top of Wrynose Pass, one thing I can say about driving over Hardknott Pass is that it does test the skill of the driver with car, there were times ascending that I wanted to slow down for some of the more extreme bends but didn't want to drop engine revs & associated torque, so quick responses of multiple turns of the steering wheel were required, the descent was equally tricky but having done both a few times now it's one of those experiences you can be proud of. The other thing I'd say is that all the drivers I came across were equally as considerate as me stopping early in the passing places.
Starting off the walk is on a well worn path & It wasn't long before I got in a view of the highest point of my walk Bowfell.
Walking rather blindly on along such a path I missed where I'd planned to turn off path up Pike of Blisco but instead turned up where more people had gone simce I saw that path that heads North straight up although you then encounter the slight obstacle of Long Scar, following what others had done I walk round it on the grass rather than scramble up, one thjing to note about it is that the top side acts as a water trap, so whereas you may think that you'd then aim straight for the top again, I detoured along the rocky surface of the top, you can see the wetness etc in this pic of Black Crag.
It was then onto the top of Pike of Blisco, but by this time the cloud was drifting past so distant views became more fleating, however I did get a view down into Graet Langdale, from the summit & a nice pic of its summit cairn.
From the true summit I did move/scramble the short distance to go up it's secondary summit, from there it was SW down a well trodden path, but to illustrate the changing conditions this pic was taken about 300m away from the summit.
About 20 min later I reached the junction of paths were if I hadn't gone up Pike of Bliscoe I'd have reached, this is to the North of Red Tarn. pic below.
It also shows what a difference elevation can make in terms of being at or below cloud level. Having gone on as I was approaching the bottom of the hanging valley where I'd turn right, I saw a man below who had a moment when the wind caught his open map & took it from him, thankfully it didn't go to far before he caught it. Having reached the hanging valley floor it was then a turn down to Oxendale that is one of the horns of Great Langdale. Another break in the cloud gave me a view of Great Knott, that at this stage was in my plans to summit but from the other side on my way back.
The path then comes along side the stream issuing out of Red Tran that may or may not be Browney Gill at this stage, but it had a nice little water fall that requires a bit of nerve to get to the edge of its ravine to get a decent pic.
Moving on it's still a good path, as shown in the pic blow that also shows the rising slope up from Langdale of The Band, that I'd be going up, plus the almost egg shaped top of Pike of Stckle, in the distance that I wasn't planning on doing this holiday but I had seen it from some of my walks from Borrowdale the previous year.
The path down may be obvious but that doesn't mean it's easy, because as it became stepper as it dropped down from the hanging valley to the main valley floor it had been engineered with stones to form almost steps, however coming down the drizzle increased to a sufficient level for me to stop to add waterproof trousers, so that now I had wet smooth stones that also had a short depth to the `steps', any step when coming down where the ball of my foot doesn't contact the step I consider short, meant the going was tricky and I was often resorting to turning sideways & side stepping. I met a couple coming up & the man was having similar trouble but ball only and said it was down to our big feet as his small lady partner was fine.
Before reaching the valley floor a slight bend in the path a bit more to the E & with a lift in the cloud came this shot over the head of Langdale & the foot of The Band to the Langdale Pikes.
A few minutes walk further on from the last pic came this one up Oxendale to Whornyside Force that's just visible.
Having got down to the main valley floor the path then paralleled the South bank of the beck, crossed over on a footbridge to then merge with a drive-able track that would take you to the farm at Stool End, but before getting there you turn back at an acute angle & start heading up The Band, which splits the head of Great Langdale into its 2 horns. Finding a suitably prominent boulder to stop on with a good view I had Lunch part 1, let me explain for those of you who have read my other posts may have noted reference to lunch part 1 or part 2 before, what I normally do is stop about 11.30am for Lunch part 1 & then 1 hour later for part 2, on these day walks my lunch is a 2 litre tub packed full, the tub helps prevent squashing when in my rucksack. I find eating it in 2 goes is easier on the digestion than stuffing it all & walking on a full stomach.
One thing I noticed while sitting having lunch was a series of weirs and then a reservoir of sorts, after a bit of pondering I decided that it may be as much a system for slowing the flow of water down & getting it to drop the stones its moving, rather than water storage. Having googled Oxendale Reservoir it turns out I was semi right in that it's now part of a local flood risk management strategy.
Slightly over ½ mile of going up The Band & before the gradient slackened & with the weather holding a view down the length of Great Langdale.
As I ascended my hopes of views disappeared as I went up into the cloud, this was my view towards the top of Bowfell at about the point where the path diverges of right for those wanting to take the Climbers Traverse path below the crags & slab, as I was doing.
My view below, from the area of Flat Crags of Bowfell Buttress & Cambridge Crag & from the same spot of the path ahead, I suppose that if you don't like drops then not being able to see down would have been a benefit but I like the views, so was disappointed.
Going along the path I did come across a spring issuing from the crag face but this earlier one is not the one referred to by Wainwright as that on is a couple of yards beyond where you turn up to achieve the top. It was around this point that there was a boulder blocking any level route on, but had paths going up above & down below it, I took the down below thinking it was just going round but realised shortly that it was continuing on at a downward angle, so I backtracked to the upper path that was the correct route. Having gone on to the correct spring & then scrambled up the gully between the Great Slabs & Bowfell Buttress I arrived at the level, in terms of contours only.
From here it was a scramble to the summit & this is one of those occasions where having a GPS unit with the summit position pre-entered as even a such a close distance with the cloud and associated dampness it was invisible but it was a case of slowly picking a way towards an onscreen mark & I did get to it, but it was only a brief visit as full exposure to the wind was enough to buffet one around & with poor footing & nothing to see I didn't even take a pic.
My plan if it had been fine was to go on to Esk Pike & then back, but with conditions poor it was an easy choice not to & it was leaving the summit of Bowfell that I started encountering navigational problems in that I need glasses to read map, compass or GPS unit, but conditions were such that with the blowing wind & drizzle in it, when on my face my glasses were water spattered & misting both inside & out, to reduce visibility further, such that I removed them for better visibility especially on the type of rocky ground that I was encountering here & on Crinkle Crags to come but in a catch 22 situation it was on this type of ground when a discernible path on the ground disappeared that I then needed them for navigation, which involved generally stopping & unhooking from the breast strap of my rucksack, giving them a wipe with gloved hand to give a uniform wetness before putting them on to read, this meant I had a bit of a tendency to wander off path where conditions were awkward and take a few minutes to get back on track. I was never lost but it did make me feel a bit uncomfortable.
Having got back on path after leaving the summit on a wandering route I took this shot of what I could see of the Great Slab/Flat Crags.
Onto a stony but level-ish section of the path and I was thankful for the cairns to show the way. But as you can see below that it was just the next one that was discernible, visibility in the 10's of meters I think.
It was as I was descending a rocky steeper bit, around 2.20pm that I meet a man coming the other way with backpack and it turned out that he was 71 years old, the pack was 30 pounds & he was on his way to Wasdale Head campsite via Esk Hause & Sty Head but he was prepared with head torch if needed he said. He warned me about the bad step on Crinkle Crags & said there was a way down to the left through a hole if you removed your rucksack, having read up on them before hand I told him I was planning to take the bypass round to the right. Which is what I did in my wandering way. However before getting there I had another of my errors when I kept on the path that goes off down The Band for a short distance before correcting. Passing the Three Tarns I could vaguely discern them. Moving on to Shelter Crags came my view of the Crinkles or lack of as you can see.
As I was going over them following the path & cairns although both seemed to disappear at times in the rocky/bouldery ground or I lost them, generally it was a bit of a torturous going with multiple ups & downs, having now looked at my track overlaid on satellite imagery I can see that the highly visible paths do disappear in the rocks & my revised Wainwright marks it as an intermittent path, although the books comment about this being a fell walkers delight & a walk to remember, well for me it will be a walk to remember but a delight - No.
Anyway having got round the Bad Step I found a good path to tramp onward, looking out for my turning off towards Cold Pike I didn't see anything obvious and continued until my GPS said I'd passed it, turned back then turned off where it was roughly & having reviewed the imagery it looks like there is no definite turning off, just vague tracks that then coalesce into a more discernible path that I picked up & lead me on to Cold Pike over moorland type ground, until getting to the Summit of Cold Pike & ascending the rock to its summit cairn perched up high.
Moving on as I got lower I dropped out of the cloud but the path disappeared into sheep tracks and it was more a case of following one going in the right direction avoiding the wetter ground. I did go onto the top of Rough Crags for one of my last pics.
Getting near the road new fencing & tree planting has taken place & there is a little stream to cross, but stiles have been put in place either side of the crossing. From the end of the fencing I just took a route that followed the contours & the grass and kept up on the moraines for drier ground & aimed for the decent track that I'd started the day out on before getting back to my car. By my recollection I saw about a dozen people only during the whole walk.