English Lake District
Alfred Wainwright on the Langdale Pikes
Wainwright's Pictorial Guide to the Central Fells has chapters on each of the Langdale Pikes and surrounding fells. The quotes in the main text are taken from this book.
OS Map of the Langdale Pikes
If you are planning a walk on the Langdale Pikes, the ordnance survey map for this area is The English Lakes: South-western Area (OS Explorer Map Series)
Fell Walking on The Langdale Pikes
For more gear and equipment suitable for fell walking on the Langdale Pikes, visit the - Lake District Online Walking Shop.
Although the Langdale Pikes are not the highest peaks in the Lake District, they have a distinctive profile characterised by rugged slopes, and three Craggy summits in close proximity. These are Harrison Stickle, Pike of Stickle, and Loft Crag. As Wainwright states "No mountain profile in Lakeland arrests and excites the attention more than that of the Langdale Pikes ..." (Wainwright 1958, Harrison Stickle 2). Part of the reason for this is the way they gain their height. Wainwright goes on to say "The difference in altitude between top and base is little more than 2000 feet, yet because it occurs in a distance latterly of three quarters of a mile, it is enough to convey a remarkable impression of remoteness, of inaccessibility, to the craggy summit surmounting the rugged slopes" (Wainwright 1958, Harrison Stickle 2).
View of Harrison Stickle, taken from Pike O' Stickle. Photograph by Ann Bowker
At 2,415 feet (736 m), Harrison Stickle is the highest of the Langdale Pikes, and is also the most dominant visually. Writing about this fell, Wainwright gives this description "the ridged summit is liberally buttressed by crags, as is a curious shoulder running down to the hanging valley occupied by Stickle Tarn ..." (Wainwright 1958, Harrison Stickle 3). There are direct walking routes to Harrison Stickle from the New Dungeon Gill Hotel in the Langdale valley. These either follow Stickle/Mill Gill to Stickle Tarn where the final ascent to the summit is made (north of the above mentioned curious rock shoulder), or by taking the path that traverses Thorn Crag South of the Summit.
Pike O' Stickle
The next highest peak is Pike o' Stickle which is 2,326 feet (709 m), and has the unique feature of rising in a continuously sharp gradient from the valley floor at Mickleden to its summit peak. Wainwright states "the smoothly-soaring pyramid of Pike o' Stickle, rising to a tapering thimble of rock without interruption or halt between valley and summit, is an imposing and impressive feature that contributes much to the head of Great Langdale" ( Wainwright 1958, Pike o' Stickle 2). There are routes going to this summit from the New Dungeon Gill Hotel via Thorn Crag, or by taking a route via Stake Gill from the head of Mickleden valley. Wainwright also mentions two direct routes from Mickleden. Whichever route is taken, the final ascent onto the summit has to be made from the north, where there is a short scramble accessible to walkers.
Loft Crag from the Pike of Stickle. Photograph by Mick Knapton
The smallest of the Langdale Pikes is Loft Crag at 2,238 feet (682 m). This fell is located between its higher neighbours. Wainwright notes that "It lies between Pike o' Stickle and Harrison Stickle but south of them, having a small abrupt summit ... directly below which is the magnificent buttress of Gimmer Crag, most popular of all climbing-grounds" (Wainwright 1958, Loft Crag 1). The most direct route to Loft Crag is the path from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to Thorn Crag, which is actually one of its subsidiary summits. From the top of this path it is just a short ascent to Loft Crags main summit.
Generally people visit the Langdale Pikes from Great Langdale. There are, however, some less direct routes from Grasmere, and Stonethwaite in Borrowdale. These are longer routes which involve walking some distance before the Pikes are reached. These routes may also involve ascending some summits of other fells in the area. This is particularly the case from Grasmere where Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man, or High Raise may be passed en route. Walkers from Langdale may also choose to take in other summits such as Pavey Ark and those mentioned above due to their reasonably close proximity to the Pikes. This website's Virtual Tour of Langdale Pikes maps some of these possible routes.
Langdale Pikes. From left to right - Pike of stickle, Loft Crag, and Harrison Stickle. Pavey Ark can also be seen on the far right. Photograph from Wikipedia.
The 'curious' east shoulder of Harrison Stickle. Photograph by Ann Bowker
On Pike of Stickle seen from Loft Crag. Photograph by Mick Knapton
Gimmer Crag below Loft Crag. Photograph by Ann Bowker
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