The Vault Regulars

Friday, April 24, 2015

Great Langdale and beyond.

Great Langdale
Great Langdale, conjures up all sorts of memories stretching right back to my first days in “proper’ mountains.
The only place in the world i have had backpacking gear nicked. (2 rucksacks from the drying room)
The only place in the world my tent was buried completely in snow.
The only place in the world i was totally flooded out. I remember feeling really comfy until i turned over and the water came through the door. The tent was held by 2 guy ropes and the water was over 1ft deep.
The only place in the world i have ever seen a 6ft 6”, 20 stone, bearded, long haired man in dungarees driving a PINK grey Fergy tractor.
And there are numerous more…….

Anyway, our weekend in Great Langdale was with Martin and Sue Bamfield. They were doing a pre TGO Challenge kit tryout as Sue has not backpacked for 6 years due to an injury. Sheila and I are not doing the Challenge because we are doing our own thing. We are getting Married instead.

Arriving in the valley and finding it very busy with a 10km run in progress and numerous other point to point competitors around, i thought we would have trouble parking somewhere for an overnight. As it happened it was easy, the field next to the ODG (Old Dungeon Ghyll pub) was being used as an overspill.

Day 1. Great Langdale to High House Tarn

Our route was a good one and involved going up to Loft crag and then following the path west and then south west to the top of Rossett Gyhll. From there we would head off north west to Esk Hause, cross Allen crags and camp for the night at High House Tarns.
The following day would be, back over Allen crags, past the shelter at Esk Hause, up Esk Pike, Pike De Bield, Bowfell, Shelter Crags, The 5 Crinkles including The Bad Step and back down to Langdale via Browney Gyll. (Martin and Sue also did the Cold Pike crags on route to Red  Tarn.)
 Day 1.
Day. 2
Maps kindly copied from Martin’s blog.
It was a stunning warm day, blue skies and no breeze to speak of. I was a little worried as this was my first backpack since my knee problem at Christmas and my withdrawal from yr Garn in Wales due to a stomach virus. I did not want to let either the others or myself down. Martin’s walks are always (hmm) well planned events. He has everything, tops, route, bearings, heights, times from A to B etc etc all marked on a postage stamp sized map. Almost military std’s.

Getting up to Loft Crag was a shock to the poor old body but it was done without too much difficulty and the views just got better and better as height was gained.

Lunch was had in a nice sunny spot adjacent to Loft Crag where we watched the myriad of folk on every path around and the throng upon Harrrison Stickle.
Things are on the up!
From Loft Crag the ridge is easy and leads to the prominent feature of Stickle Pike which was ascended in due coarse. The steep scree gully just before the top was the site of a Neolithic Axe Factory. Lots of debris and discarded axes were found here and made from a polished Greenstone which the Pike has a vein of. How neolithic people found this is quite a remarkable feat in itself.

Our drinking water was running out but luckily there was plenty of water flowing in Stake Beck and  not too far off the path. Replenished and watered it was quite a pleasure to be heading slightly down contours to the top of Stake Pass. Looking down Stake Pass you can see the moraines left by the Langdale Glacier 12,000 years ago.
On route to Stake pass.
We had three tops to hit before the next descent to Angle Tarn. Black Crags, Buck Pike and Rossett Pike. The view from these tops is just magical on such a clear calm day. I have been up here in atrocious weather on previous trips so it was good to enjoy the scenery. Looking North we had good views of Derwent Water, Keswick and Skiddaw too.

Picking our way down the crags to Angle Tarn we noticed so many banana skins dropped. What’s wrong with people. Why can they not carry the skins back with them. Do they not realise that they can asphyxiate sheep.

The water of Angle Tarn shimmered under a strong sun and the slabs of Bowfell stood out spectacularly. A tiny figure could be seen walking along the top of the slabs.

The path up to Esk Hause is a bit of a slog although it has been re paved in places. It was becoming noticeable that the numbers of people had been gradually reducing until we met a large group of about 30 just leaving the Hause.
Nobody else was met as we crossed Allen Crags and dropped down to the only tarn in this group of mountains that i had not camped at. High House Tarn.
I for one was glad to get there, i could tell i was tired because i didn’t particularly pick out a great spot for the tent. It was just a matter of “This will do” it isn’t forecast to rain for the next couple of days. It wasn’t until we had got the tents up that we noticed we were not alone. A couple of hundred yards away was another backpacker. he had picked a nice spot which got the last of the sun and the first sun the following day.
Viewing Angle Tarn
I dropped a clanger and pitched the tent with the doors opening the wrong way, into the wind and so had to turn it round and pitch it again. We had taken the Scarp 2 for luxury purposes and its not a big deal to drop it and turn it.
I had also taken a gas stove instead of my usual meths and also solid food instead of de-hydrated. As we were only out for one evening meal solid food would give us the equivalent weight of 3 or 4 dehydrated ones and taste much nicer.

Our evening meal of chilli and rice was excellent and we were so full we didn’t even have the Apple and Custard for afters. Martin had this idea of going up Glaramara later on in the evening but we both got comfy and fell asleep by 8.30pm. He went alone and i will say no more about it.
 Camp at High House Tarn
 Evening Meal.
 Reflections in High House Tarn
Sunset from High House Tarn
We did get chance to take a few sunset shots and then it was zzzz’s.

Day 2. High House Tarn to Great Langdale.

It was a bitterly cold night according to Sheila and Sue. Martin and I didn’t notice. We were in our PHD Minim 500 sleeping bags, but Sheila was still cold. I am guessing that Martin and Sue had Rab Neutrino 400’s but i’m sure he will correct me if i am wrong.
The Scarp 2 was 1/2 solid with frost and quite large globules of ice had formed along the edges that didn’t face the sunrise.
We were up at 6.10am but there was no sign of life from M and S until around 7.00am.
A frosty morning
We watched the sunrise but the day was much cloudier than previous. As the sun rose the wind speed increased. It was getting decidedly cooler. Even with down jackets on it was bitter.

It was good to get packed up and away. The wind was quite fierce and i was very pleased with the way my Black Diamond Alpine Start jacket coped with it.

Back up and over Allen Crags, passed the + shelter and then onto Esk Pike. Again the views were fantastic looking across to the Scafell Range and down into the Great Moss. The geology of Esk Pike is many large boulders all the way to the top and that was the trend for the rest of the day. Tiring on the legs. I think Sheila recorded 20,000 steps for the day.

Bitterly cold at the summit meant we didn’t linger, a few photo’s and then we were away. Dropping down the eastern slopes of Esk Pike Martin asked if we should do Pike de Bield seeing that we were in the vicinity. I don’t recall having done it before so we went and had a look. Great viewpoint, glad we went.
We contoured back along a grassy plateau to pick up the path to Bowfell. At the summit we watched as a squally rain shower passed beyond High Raise to our North East. The Scafells were becoming covered with cloud. The base being at around 3000ft. Our tops were still clear but M and S decided to put on over trousers just in case. At this point the shower dissipated.
Squall approaching from the North
Numerous fell runners were out and as is the norm for this sport they wear very little. Bright red faces and legs showing signs of wind chill. Again, it was too cold to spend time at the summit, we just wanted to keep moving. Picking our way carefully down Bowfell to Three Tarns reminded us that this was where we last saw Robin Evans in 2010.

A good pace along Shelter crags brought us to the Crinkles and from our direction we had the 5th Crinkle first and the Bad step on Long Top, the 2nd Crinkle, was good fun.
The Bad Step
Dropping down to the good path which leads to Red Tarn Martin wanted to do the crags of Cold Pike so we arranged to meet at the tarn outflow as we were ready for something to eat.
We hadn’t been sat down long before M and S appeared.

We had a nice lunch but we couldn’t get out of the wind too much. It wasn’t a time to be lounging and enjoying the sun as we had done yesterday. We made our way down Browney Gill which was steep and tiring. The re-laid path was awkward and at one point i went flying and almost bowled Sheila and Sue over. We were glad to get to the valley floor where a good bridge crossed Oxendale Beck.
Track down to Oxendale
Then as we entered Stool End farm, we came across the highlight of the day. A Fermec (MF) 860 TDL (tractor digger loader) which no doubt i would have been involved with it’s manufacture. An old weary looking David Brown 990 which Martin took to. I think he is becoming a tractor buff. A MF 290 in good condition and a new John Deere which i didn’t photograph.
There were plenty of twin Herdwick lambs around which Sue took too and then we just had to finish the day in the ODG.
 David Brown 990. Seen better days
Fermec (MF) 860 Tractor Digger Loader. Made in Manchester with a little help from yours truly.

We had been very lucky with the weather and Sue had come through her first backpack in 6 years seemingly unscathed. It’s a good route and quite hard on the legs with a full pack. We enjoyed the weekend very much. Thanks to M and S.

Slideshow of the weekend (57 images)


Al said...

Looks like it was a great trip Alan...Lakes in weather like that is there anywhere better?
I've got to say your excuse for not doing the TGO challenge is a bit weak! :-))
Congrats...I'm sure your day will be special.
Best wishes for the future.

Anonymous said...

Looks like an amazing trip. I can't better your Langdale stories, though I did once wake in the night (on the campsite) to find a hedgehog in my porch tucking into my cheese. Pike de Bield is one of the Lakes better kept secrets I think, a really great view point for the Scafells. Congratulations on the forthcoming nuptials!

Phreerunner said...

Excellent report, Alan, and I confirm we were using RAB400 sleeping bags - Sue was a bit cool on her Neoair full length mat whilst I was fine on an old Karrimat. Well done on producing a fine slideshow as well.
And apologies for Sue's misunderstanding re the torch - I should have told her it was quite a long way to Glaramara, and I was going to be using the torch!

AlanR said...

I don’t think there is anywhere better in the UK Al.
Thanks for the good wishes.

AlanR said...

Thanks. A very good trip it was. I don’t think i have had a hedgehog in my tent in Langdale but i have had rabbits.
Pike De Bield has a fantastic vantage point. I bet there is some neolithic history too. I must check it out.

AlanR said...

Cheers Martin. Funnily enough Sheila was using a new Neo Air mat whilst i was using the Karrimor x-lite. I think the closed cell foam mats are in ascendance again.
No harm done with Glaramara thankfully, but i think Sue aged quite a bit. Ha. Amazingly dark night all the same.

Dawn said...

A fantastic trip by the looks of it Alan. Oddly I can remember the camp site at Great Langdale being flooded, the tent ended up being pitched, (more or less) on a bit of raised bank near the car park. Crinkle crag is always fun. Wonderful photos too. Also, congratulations to the pair of you, may you both have a fantastic day.

AlanR said...

Hi Dawn, Langdale campsite has been prone to flooding throughout its life. They should have spent money on defence against it instead of electronic gates etc. The main field needs to be raised up and decent drainage tunnels put in. So much water comes off the fell side but they have hardly done anything to stop it ponding.
Thanks for the good wishes.

afootinthehills said...

Great trip, great weather, fabulous place. How do you top that? Easy. Get married! Congratulations to you both and all the very best for the future.

AlanR said...

My original reply has somehow disappeared.
We are having 2 weeks in Scotland straight after the ceremony. 1 week on Skye and a second in Mellon Charles.
So we have equalled Langdale.
Thanks for your best wishes.

Unknown said...

Great scenery. Seems like a long way work.

AlanR said...

Thanks for your comment thats great.

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