|Balancing Rock on Stickle Ghyll|
I love walking on my own, as a couple or in large groups. I like the solitude on my own and I am very independent but I like the sharing and laughter with others as well and I am lucky to have a lot of family and friends to walk with (whether they feel they are quite so lucky being dragged on long walks is another matter – one of my best friends would say not!) Having taken my friend’s family to Blackmoss Pot in the Langstrath Valley for some wild swimming a few days before, they were keen for me to arrange a longer mountain walk and I was happy to oblige – I chose for the occasion the Langdale Pikes via Stickle Tarn as the cascades and waterfalls on the way up the Stickle Ghyll and the rugged background to Stickle Tarn is I think one of the most wonderful parts of the Lake District.
|Catching the sunshine|
|Getting a lift across the Ghyll|
It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon and we set off from the National Trust car-park at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel (noting Sticklebarn Tavern for the end of the walk) in high spirits. We were four adults, two children and one Lurcher puppy called Tully in total and it was Tully’s first mountain walk. The route up Stickle Ghyll was beautiful. The white water danced on the dark rocks and caught the sunshine like diamond buds opening up in the spring. One rock was in the middle of the Ghyll and it looked like it could fall any moment but I bet it will still be there in a hundred years. I could have watched it all day but the route ahead beckoned and we headed up the path (created by the “Fix the Fells” team) towards Stickle Tarn. Tully was leading the way and with the occasional “how much further until the tarn Tanya” (childhood flashbacks of me asking my parents “are we nearly there yet” and appreciating for the first time how annoying that might be) from the two children we made steady progress. Here I can cheer because unlike usual, I was not at the back of the group! Hurrah! In fact, I was often at the front!
|Pavey Ark & Stickle Tarn|
As we crossed the Ghyll, Tully was given a lift across and with one last push we made it to Stickle Tarn with the imposing crag of Pavey Ark backing it. I looked around as everyone stopped and took it in. I knew they would love it and they did. I was content just to soak up the atmosphere but the two children and their Dad decided to go for a wild swim! Rather them than me that is for sure although I admire their bravery.
After the swim, a coffee break and lot of star jumps to warm up from the swim, we headed up Harrison Stickle. This was not something the two children were delighted about the prospect of but when they knew it was not optional, they leapt to the front and headed on up. When I am walking in this area I am always on the lookout for people heading up Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark. Jack’s Rake is a diagonal scramble up a route that is very dangerous. Having done it once, I would never do it again but cannot stop myself watching others. We spotted someone in a red waterproof about half way up and I was totally distracted the whole way up Harrison Stickle watching his or her progress. However, there were also two sheep near the Rake having a mid afternoon graze without a care in the world! Herdwick sheep are amazing.
The person in the red coat seemed to make it to the top and before long we were all on the top of Harrison Stickle looking out at the wonderful views around to the tiny Helm Crag and beyond to the Helvellyn range, the Coniston fells, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and the many other fells surrounding us. The summit was busy as you would expect for such a popular mountain. Some people came and went quickly and others lingered. Whatever their motivation though we all shared the same sense of achievement of being on a summit.
|Web of Streams - Mickleden Beck|
The plan had been to head down after Harrison Stickle but we decided (much to the angst of the children) to head onto Pike O’Stickle. The last time I was on that fell it was covered in mist so there were no views at all and up close, the Pike really is a sight to behold and looks unassailable. We found a route up though and the children found their mountain goat feet. Tully had to sit this one out though as he was getting tired (either that or his owners were getting tired....) On the top of Pike O’Stickle we met the man who had been climbing Jack’s Rake in the red coat. He said there were moments when he was “terrified”.
|Tully's "carry me" eyes...|
|Dungeon Ghyll Force|
Given Loft Crag was only a short diversion on the route back down to Dungeon Ghyll, we strolled over that mountain as well and stopped on the top to admire the view down to Mickleden Beck. The myriad of tributaries looked like a spiders web glistening in the sunshine and we stood in awe for ages. The homeward journey was upon us and we headed down the mountain. Tully put on a face with eyes that said “carry me” and was promptly carried over the rocky parts (never works for me). We walked down past Dungeon Ghyll Force and unlike the cascades of Stickle Ghyll, this waterfall is long and thin but still with a beauty of its own as it plummets in all its glory down the craggy mountain side. As the Ghyll reaches the lower slopes near the car-park, it skates over rocks that you have to find your way across. With the sun shining towards us, I managed to capture my own rainbow in the water. A really wonderful moment at the end of a lovely walk that it was great to share with friends.
More photos available here....
|Creating my own rainbow...|