Wilderness Camping and Hiking - articles and reviews


A superb days hill walk from Great Langdale is to do a horseshoe type route up some of the best hills in the Lake District. This walk can be lengthened or shortened depending on your mood, and can add a little scramble if you wish, or you can walk around it on relatively easy ground with very well trodden and defined paths.

We usually start from our favourite base in Elterwater which is a quiet village with one pub yet easy access to a village store in Chapel Stile (the next village) and at the head of the Little and Great Langdale valleys. There are numerous walker friendly holiday cottages in the village superbly equipped and a fantastic base for these walks, scrambles and climbs. Grasmere is a short walk away for the famous Gingerbread too for families with little ones.

For the Adventurous, either walk from Elterwater or drive the minutes up the Langdale road and park at the overflow car park at the Old dungeon Ghyll hotel run by the National Trust. Even on busy Bank Holidays there is usually parking albeit expensive at ?6 per day at May 2012. If you want, you may be able to find a pull in area off the side of the road but you can get a ticket even on a Bank Holiday!

At the car park cash and flash from the machine and walk across the road, over the small bridge over the beck and head west towards Oxendale on the large and wide track.

You will walk through a farm with clear footpath signs, bear left. At the footbridge the path forks left or goes straight on. Take the left fork across the beck and looking up you will see the route between Pike O' Blisco on your left and in front, and Great Knott in front and to the right. The path runs between the two on the true right bank (left side as you look from the bottom).

It is an easy climb as the path has been stoned to avoid erosion and a steady slog will take you up to the saddle near Red Tarn. As it levels there is a clear left and right for the path.

If you want to bag Pike o' Blisco turn left and do an up and down (40 mins if you are reasonably fit). The view from the top is fantastic of the Great Langdale valley and well worth it, probably one of the nicest panoramas. There are two cairns on the tops about 50m apart. The one on your left as you climb is the real top.

If you do not fancy Pike o' Blisco simply turn right heading towards the back of Great Knott under the summit and round to Crinkle Crags and one of the best tops in the Lakes.

As you approach Crinkle Crags on the well marked path you will dip into an obvious saddle. Looking up the path splits to the left which contours around the first of the 5 tops of Crinkle Crags. Where the path bears right you will notice it seems to stop at the bottom of a small crag in a v shaped nick. This is known as the bad step and is a grade one scramble and relatively easy being exposed for 20-25 metres or so. Whilst it is a notorious accident spot for Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue to attend, it does not present a challenge to most experienced hill walkers. Take a look from close up at the bottom and there are obvious well worn easy steps. But if you do not fancy it, simply walk around the summit contouring on the very well marked path.

Over the bad step you are on the main top of Crinkle Crags and the views of Great Langdale are superb. From here you can walk towards the saddle at the bottom of Bow Fell and walk down the Band back to valley bottom where you started on a well defined and relatively easy path which can be a bit rocky and wet but is a grand route off. Those of you with energy left can bag Bow Fell and take a look across at the magnificent Sca Fell and Sca Fell Pike across from Bow Fell, which on a clear day is absolutely breathtaking.

The route up and down Bow Fell back to where you join the band is rocky but well marked and another 45 minute extension to the day. From the summit of Bow Fell you can of course continue on to Esk Hause and down past Angle Tarn to the valley, but if you have had enough at the top of Bow Fell simply retrace your steps down to the start of the Band and turn left down to the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub for a well earned pint. In bad visibility take note that in the area around Ore Gap and Bow Fell, metal ore in the ground can distort compass readings.

People do get lost and on bad days care is required in navigation, but the paths are extremely well worn and defined, you just need to choose the right one of the many!

Give a thought to Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue team who are a charity and volunteers, if you see their boxes put some coins in to appreciate the fact that if your hill walk up Crinkle Crags goes wrong, they are always there for you. For advice on Hill walking before venturing our if you are inexperienced please visit the British Mountaineering Council's website and the Mountain Rescue of England and Wales website for advice and guidance. Enjoy the magnificence of Great Langdale in all its glory!