We thought it was time to do something slightly different from our usual walks, so we came up with a journey amongst the fells. Starting from the New Dungeon Ghyll, follow Dungeon Ghyll up towards its source amongst the Langdale Pikes. Visit Harrison Stickle and Thunacar Knott, and then joining the long south east spur from High Raise walk the length of the ridge all the way back to Ambleside.
Its purpose; to watch the changing scenery, from the pastures of the Langdale valley floor, up through rich green summer bracken to the rough and grey volcanic tuff of the Pikes. Then joining the gradually descending ridge of Blea Rigg you walk back through bog, heather, and more rock, into bracken lands again. Along the way if you feel like it there are a number of small Birkett tops you can visit, but these aren't obligatory. The steep climb over Loughrigg Fell comes as rather a shock after such a long gentle descent, but it's the termination of the ridge and has its own great views. On the other side you also descend easily into the heart of Ambleside via Rothay Park whilst encountering the least amount of tarmac road. So a rather fine journey.
It is possible to escape from Blea Rigg back to Langdale by taking one of the paths back to Stickle Tarn, then descend Stickle Ghyll back to New Dungeon Ghyll. Alternatively there is a path descending to Easedale Tarn via Belles Knott, but there is a short section of rocky down scramble which is often wet and slippery from the boggy fellside. Further along Blea Rigg you can turn off and descend into Easedale in a number of places, and from there into Grasmere. If you reach Red Bank road above Grasmere, you can obviously walk into the village, or continue along Loughrigg Terrace then the track past Rydal Cave to follow the Underloughrigg road back to Ambleside.
The walk starts at New Dungeon Ghyll where there is a large National Trust car park, a pub and hotel. If there is a group of you, parking a car at either end is an option. We really envisage you starting from Ambleside, where there are various parking options, and taking the 516 bus into Langdale.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Thunacar Knott, Silver How, Sergeant Man, Loughrigg Fell, Little Castle How, Harrison Stickle, and Blea Rigg; and includes 6 Wainwrights, 6 Birketts, 2 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, 1 Hewitt, and 1 HuMP.
If you need accommodation we have details of 21 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Proceed up through the National Trust car park, past the information panel to zigzag behind the buildings into the open grass area. Continue past the old style Stickle Ghyll sign, and then in a few metres at the end of the wall on the left bear left up rough ground to the kissing gate at the top of the enclosure. Go through the gate, immediately turn right and at the top cross the step stile - it has a dog gate.
Ignore the path immediately ahead but instead bear left to cross Dungeon Ghyll at the ford. Then take the stone pitched path bearing right climbing steadily. Keep on the path as it climbs through the bracken. The ghyll is over to your right thundering over hidden waterfalls. A few rocky steps are easily clambered over. Cross two short grassy areas generally bearing left on both. At the end of the second patch of grass the path swings right to climb a steep stone pitched path between the buttresses of Thorn Crag and Loft Crag. Higher up it becomes a rough and rocky scramble.
Reaching the top keep right, cross the head of Dungeon Ghyll, initially bear left and then at a small cairn turn sharp right to climb Harrison Stickle. Although rough with rocky steps there are no difficulties.
The summit cairn of Harrison Stickle is to the left but there are fantastic views down to the valley and beyond over to the right.
From the summit of Harrison Stickle drop to the left into a gully and then turn right to head slightly west of north (NNW). A few paths meander in the right direction, but it's a bit of a lottery to get the most useful one. If in doubt, take a compass bearing. Cross the grass expanse, avoiding the little boggy patches and tarns would perhaps be for the best.
Continue across the top of Thunacar Knott, and down into the depression. As you start climbing again, with High Raise ahead, bear right across the grass to pick up one of the clear paths heading for Sergeant Man -it's the prominent knoll to the north east. Follow round the head of the coire drained by Bright Beck and strike off to climb the last steep slope to the summit of Sergeant Man.
Leave Sergeant Man by dropping left off the summit, and then sharp right onto a clear path heading roughly south east. The ridge of Blea Rigg is ahead.
At a distinctive sloping slab, keep left to go around the slab, behind it. Then keep slightly left to drop steadily onto the ridge. It isn't always possible to see the next destination and there are paths coming up from either side to be aware of. Stick to a general heading of south east.
Confronted with a wide open boggy expanse the path swings right on mostly dry ground at the edge of the morass to a cairn on the other side. At the cairn bear left. In a little over 400m (440 yards) the path climbs onto broken ground of rocky outcrops, follow it up and meander amongst the outcrops.
Reaching a small boggy patch skirt past it on the left and climb the outcrop ahead on the left. A small collection of stones marks the summit of Blea Rigg.
From the summit of Blea Rigg bear right, following a grassy path descending into a short rocky gully. Drop down and at the bottom turn right below the crag and then left on reaching a path.
The path is quite clear now, but meanders a lot. For a while it heads eastwards to avoid a boggy area and seemingly, to visit the Castle How tops before resuming an aggregate south easterly direction.
Passing down the right hand side of Lang How, Silver How finally comes into view across 600m (660 yards) of Brigstone Moss. The path keeps mostly to the headlands which are not particularly boggy, but the summit cairn on Silver How does re-appear with a bit of relief.
From the summit of Silver How turn right to pick up a path through the grass, heading SSW. In 400m (440 yards) or so reaching a large cairn, turn left to pick your way down the steep descent. At the bottom turn right and then bear left along the clear path. Soon you are faced with a choice. Keep left for views of Grasmere. Or keep right to go over the knotted ground of Spedding Crag and Dow Bank which overlooks Elterwater and Chapel Stile. We chose the latter. there are many quite wide, clear paths amongst the grass and bracken, so you can pick which knotts, or knolls, you go over. Take care not to be drawn into descending down into the valley.
At the far end there's a slightly confusing finish. The path descends steeply a short distance. Cairns confirm the path, but it looks to descend to Elterwater. It doesn't as at the cairn below bear left along a short terrace and then continue further left to climb a little beside a wall. Ignore the gate to the left and let yourself be funnelled between walls to a gate. Go through and follow the path keeping generally right through the enclosure to reach Red Bank road.
Turn right along the road for only a few metres then bear left down a little short cut to bear left along the path to the end of Loughrigg Terrace. You now have the lovely view down to Grasmere with fells on the skyline. Don't go along the terrace!
Take the stone pitched path on the right leading upwards. It's steep but take plenty of breathers for the view behind you is fabulous. The stone pitching ends but the path continues upwards, rough but clear and well trodden. Eventually you reach the trig point at the summit of Loughrigg.
Continue south east, initially a steep path descends from the summit and then wanders though the profusion of knotted ground. Eventually you reach the Little Loughrigg to Ambleside bridleway, where you turn left. This is a wide rough track. Going through the fell gate continue on the recently resurfaced lane, and tarmac. At the Underloughrigg road turn right, across the cattle grid and then left over the packhorse bridge into Rothay Park. Go straight ahead eventually coming out into Ambleside town centre.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Cumbria Way - Dungeon Ghyll to Keswick||20m (22 yards) away|
|High Raise, Sergeant Man, and Blea Rigg from Langdale||50m (55 yards) away|
|The Langdale Pikes: Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle||80m (88 yards) away|
|Crinkle Crags||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|Lingmoor Fell and Side Pike||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|Bowfell, via Worneyside Force, Hell Gill, and the Great Slab||0.9km (0.5 miles) away|
|Rossett Pike, Angle Tarn, Esk Pike and Bowfell||0.9km (0.5 miles) away|
|Blea Tarn above Langdale||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Waterfalls and the Cathedral Cavern, from Elterwater||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|An Elterwater Stroll||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|Cold Pike and Pike of Blisco||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Allan Bank Woodland Walk||4.1km (2.6 miles) away|
|Great Carrs and Grey Friar||4.1km (2.6 miles) away|
|Silver How||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|A circuit of Grasmere||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Alcock Tarn||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Easedale Tarn||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Helm Crag||4.4km (2.8 miles) away|
|Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag||4.4km (2.8 miles) away|
|Grasmere and Rydal Water||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|Easedale Tarn, Codale Tarn, and Tarn Crag||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Seat Sandal||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011