The Langdale Pikes via Mark Gate.

Start. New Dungeon Ghyll car park Great Langdale.

Route. Stickle Barn - Mark Gate - Loft Crag - Pike of Stickle - Thorn Crag - Pike Howe - Stickle Barn.

Notes. On the menu today Pea Soup as much as I could eat, today's walk was a wander through lots of the stuff, the real thick kind, the kind that clings to you, visibility on the tops was just a few yards, which was a pity because the path I chose with the exception of Jack's Rake is probably the most interesting route up the Langdale Pikes. My original plan was to take in Harrison Stickle, Thunacar Knotts and High Raise before descending to Stickle Tarn, in the event, with navigation being a bit on the difficult side, even in a landscape full of paths and good features I decided Loft Crag and Pike of Stickle were enough for one day.

I left the car park following the main trod, the tourist path up Stickle Ghyll. Leaving it almost immediately at the first junction on the left, my route headed west up a small rise before crossing a stile allowing me to descend into Dungeon Ghyll. After fording the gill the climb begun, not too hard but a steady pull. Ascending above Raven Crag, White Crag and Gimmer Crag this wonderful path swings round above Mickleden, normally gifting the lucky ramblers with stunning views the length of the valley, I ascended into mist eventually reaching a cairn on a grassy coll. The cairn marked the start of my ascent of Loft Crag, after carefully picking my way across the summit I descended to the head of a scree gully, here I searched out some shelter, had a brew and assess the situation.

The mist was getting thicker, I decided to descend the Dungeon Ghyll. Walking on a compass bearing I made my way along one of many paths that dissect this vast upland area. Suddenly I found myself on the narrow path above a vast chasm, a cool breeze blowing up into my face, the sound of falling water far below my feet, the fall hidden by thick swirling mist, quite unnerving, I knew then this was the right path. I carefully picked my way down, when I dropped under the cloud base I found myself on a wide grassy ridge looking to the small rocky knoll of Pike Howe, a good place to have my second brew before starting the short descent to the valley floor.

I get a smug sense of satisfaction after navigating through conditions like today's, emerging where I expected, at least I knew I'd done something right. Don't let low cloud put you off, pick a walk with plenty of features, keep the map and compass in front of you, tick off features as you pass them, walls, streams etc. Some of my best days in the hills have been when the mist starts to clear, it's quite magical.

view route map.


Seen from the start of my ascent Side Pike across Great Langdale.

Under cloud Pike of Blisco.

Viewing Side Pike with the ridge of Lingmoor Fell dropping in from the left.

Hazy views down Great Langdale.

Lingmoor Fell seen from near Mark Gate, a hint of sunlight on the valley floor, maybe a promise of better weather to come.

Just visible over the slopes of Side Pike, Blea Tarn

The summit Loft Crag.

Wainwright described this scree run as a quick way off the hill in bad weather, it takes a brave man to step over the edge into that lot, it's actually a site of some historic significance, once home to Neolithic stone axe factories, flint axe heads from this site have been found all over England, in particular Lincolnshire, and as far afield as Northern Island.

I stepped from the murk onto this wide grassy ridge, I'm looking over the ravine of Dungeon Ghyll to the ridge I ascended earlier.

Pike Howe with limited views over Langdale.

The summit Pike Howe with Windermere Lake now visible in the distance.

As seen from Pike Howe, it's head in cloud Pike of Blisco.

Fell walkers sods law, when you're nearly down the cloud starts to lift, under lighter cloud than before Pike of Blisco with Side Pike to the left.

This is the path most walkers use to ascend the Langdale Pikes, the Stickle Ghyll path a real scar on the face of Langdale.

Looking to Side Pike with Wetherlam rising into the mist behind.

Across the deep ravine cut by Dungeon Ghyll my ascent route, under cloud Pike of Blisco with Great Knott also under cloud across the small coll, top right.

A final look to the head of Langdale, maybe the cloud isn't lifting after all.

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