Pictures can be found here

Last weekend saw the second of my planned Lakes trips this year, last time I took in Bowfell, Great End and Scafell Pike from Langdale, wild camping at Angle Tarn. This time it was planned to be a climbing trip, taking in Middlefell Buttress, the Scouts and possibly Pavey Ark, staying in the relative luxury of the National Trust site in the same valley.

You remember the Crowded House song “Always take the weather with you”, well me and my partner in crime Mike always do, and that weather is always wet. We had the 2006 and 2007 trips to climb Pillar Rock, fine until a mile before we get there and then it rains just enough to make it unclimbable. In fact in 2007 I appreciated the upside down view from the Notch in Slab and Notch after coming off a metre or two above the start, due to wet conditions.

I’ll be honest, we could have got 3-4 hours climbing in on the first day, however when we had pitched up the tent, the clouds above Crinkle Crags and Bowfell looked quite dark and ominous, so we decided to do a walk instead. Mike had done Crinkle Crags before, so we decided to extend it to take in Pike O Blisco, which was a first for both of us and to take a small diversion to look at the needle on Long Crag.

Leaving the campsite at the far end, we moved up through the wood at the base of Side Pike, and zig zagged up to the plateau between Langdale and Hardknott Pass. After a nice warm up climb to 250m, we were then faced with what I consider to be one of the less well known gems of the Lake District, the Blea Tarn area. I had certainly never heard of it before, and I’m not a stranger to Langdale by any means. In fact there were only 3 cars parked up and we only met 4 people all the way through here, so I guess I am not alone.

If you have a young family and want an afternoon out in the Lakes without a lot of height climb for the kids, then you can easily park at the top, and then go exploring the woods just past Blea Tarn, let them scramble on one of several rock escarpments, or just enjoy the walk through some stunning countryside with fantastic views of the mountains at either end of the pass, and surrounded by rocky hills either side. If they are a bit older then the walk up from Langdale wouldn’t be too taxing either. It is like someone has taken one of the big valleys, shrunk it in scale and transplanted it at 250m altitude.

After a pleasant half hour of walking through this, we started to head to the right over Blea Moss following the hill out of the valley to meet the road up Hardknott Pass as it headed uphill towards the roman fort. Half mile of tarmac followed before we look lunch at Wrynose Bridge. A welcome break before we took on the 500m of ascent we needed to gain to top Pike O Blisco. Having driven the pass before myself, the unmistakeable smell of clutch plates and brake pads drifted over us even 20m away from the road, and you could tell some people were going to have fun with overheated brakes towards the bottom of the pass!

We followed the stream for a mile up the hill which would take us to the plateau at approx 500m, crossing several small streams as it split up higher up the hill to the North. As we ascended the views of the surrounding hills got better, with Wetherlam and Swirl How on the opposite side of Hardknott pass, with the impressive curling approach ridge and eventually the Langdale Pikes as you reached the small plateau near Long Crag. However our objective was slightly to the west, and we headed over to the summit of Pike O Blisco over the intermittently boggy ground we have been dealing with ever since we left the road at Hardknott Pass.

The route to the summit meandered for just under a mile, with steady climbing up to 705m, where we were rewarded with a typical rocky summit for this area. Views from here stretched along the Langdale valley and back towards the head of Windermere and Little Langdale, as well as higher levels views of Wetherlam and Swirl How

For all the climbing up to the summit, we now had to descend the rocky path down to the pass between Blisco and Crinkle Crags, some 200m below us. At this point my knees fell out with me and didn’t make friends again until I got back to the camp site. Don’t blame them after how I treat them sometimes :^)

We then took a small diversion, heading on the track back towards Wrynose, to check out Long Scar for a future climbing trip, and more specifically the needle at the end of the crag. The route looked interesting, with some nice chimney work needed, however there were several other lines which looked worthy of some investigation, including some nice crack routes.

Once back on the main Blisco to Crinkle Crags track, we started the long slog up to the triple summit that is Crinkle Crags. This was an almost constant 350m of ascent with a short plateau behind Great Knott, and several short breaks were needed for the aching legs. I would love to tell you the views were worth it, but I can’t, from behind Great Knott to the top of the Band, all I saw was cloud, cloud and more cloud. This accounts for the lack of photos from this section of the walk! It also made later navigation over the top of Crinkle a regular map checking affair as it was all too easy to take one of the many wrong paths with no visual point of reference. This is one summit I am going to have to revisit in better weather to appreciate them properly.

Taking in the 3 (or 4) tops we then started the descent to the three tarns at top of the Band and our final stretch of the day. I have a love and hate relationship with the Band, as I ascended up on my previous trip and descended it on this trip, and it is the same either way, you get nowhere fast, apart from the top and bottom sections it seems to go on forever without you seeming to gain a lot up or down. Looking at a map you can see why, you don’t, its the last kilometre at each end where you make the gains or losses. However it does get you to some great places.

It was halfway down the Band the rain finally hit us, and it hit me hard, with hailstones which stung, for 15-20 minutes. I also found out my waterproof trousers were not entirely that as well. I was glad when the rain stopped and the farm at Stool End came into view, and soon was behind us. The last 2 km to the camp saw intermittent showers, before we reach the, still there, tents.

Getting into dry kit, we sat out the showers in the tent and did a run to the Old Dungeon Ghyll during a break in the rain, which didn’t make an appearance for the rest of the night. The planned camp dinner got abandoned for 6 pints and a chilli at the pub. And 6 very nice real ales they were too! In fact they must have been good as I felt fine in the morning.

After breakfast and a cuppa at the tent, some early rain put pay to any climbing in Langdale, so we headed out to Ambleside for shopping and a cuppa and second brekkie at Nicks Kitchen (nice spicy ketchup for the sausage butties), and then back south for some local climbing. The rain followed us all the way to the Barrow area, where we shot down the A6 to go to Warton Quarry, but that was closed for a nesting pair of peregrine falcons, unfortunately we didn’t see the parents, just the chicks. An alternative of some easy climbing at Denham hit the spot, before heading to pick the car up from my mates house.

Not what we planned for the 2 days, but a good one nether the less, with most of the Langdale hills done now (only Langdale pikes left now, which I will do in a day trip). Was also impressed with the National Trust site and will be returning there.