Early December, cold, crisp, snow covering the tops of the peaks with winter sunshine blanketing the Langdales in a red glow. Well that would have been nice but it was cold, cloudy, sun in the wrong place windy and no snow. However it was dry and we all met in the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park at 8.30. An early start due to short length of the day.
Two new faces on this walk from Nottingham, Granty and Pearsy, both from the walking forum I frequent, and both most welcome. Two of the usual suspect s also came along, Pete and Mike made us a nice sized group of 5.
I had not been out for nearly 3 months due to holidays, losing a car and the arrival of Peanut the wonder dog so I was really looking forward to this one, bad weather or not!! We all set off towards Stool End Farm and over to Oxendale for the foot bridge over the river to the path up to Pike o Blisco.
The path led us up a restored and stepped path at quite a steep climb but the Pikes were bathed in sunshine behind us giving plenty of excuses to stop and take pics for a breather. The path led up to a split, left for the climb up to Pike of Blisco and right for Crinkle Crags. We took the left path to POB not that we could see the summit in the cloud tops but we set off up anyway. The lack of visibility made the steep climb easier in some respects as not seeing the summit meant I didn’t know how much more uphill was left and when the summit cairn did appear I was pleasantly surprised to be there.
The top was covered in mist, the wind blowing it all around us and we stopped for team photos as another Wainwright was ticked off the list. In good weather there are great views in all directions but for us just a grey haze. We descended back to the path towards Red tarn and a momentary break in the clouds allowed a view to Wetherlam and beyond.
Next to appear out of the mist was the Crags of Great Knot and Long top which led onto Crinkle Crags. In the mist we followed the ridge along the tops and started to descend to where we thought Crinkle Crags started when we discovered we were off course. It was remarkably easy to get caught out like that and it was the use of Pete’s sat nav map that brought us back on course. We had been heading in a Westerly direction and needed a Northerly one, soooo easily done with no reference points to see.
Back on course we headed for the Crinkle Crags and the Bad Step. True to form Pete and myself plodded along in the mist and totally missed Bad Step and Granty came after us and we turned back to find Mike and Ian already up the step. Bad step is a climb of only about 10-15 feet with a drop to one side. In the dry no problem, good hand holds, quite easy but slippy rocks in the mist made me grip on that little bit tighter and up I went. Some before, some after but we all made it up and after a clamber up more rocks on the crag we stopped for lunch.
Out of the wind the temperature was not too bad but in the space of half an hour my hands were very cold and it took a good 10 minutes for them to stop aching once my gloves were back on. It was very misty on top and within 20-30 feet you could quite easily loose someone so we kept together as a group to keep safe, waiting if someone did fall behind a little.
We progressed along the Crags through to Shelter Crag and a semi frozen tarn. With the gradual climb in height patches of snow started to appear clinging to the spaces in the rocks giving an idea of how cold it really was up there. Lots of slips trips and falls were happening on the route as rocks were wet but we weren’t quick enough to snap any falls. Whilst up there though the clouds parted for a minute or so and we had views over Pike of Blisco to Windermere and round to the rest of the Langdales.
We finished the crags in good time and all pushed on past the 3 tarns to the Great Slab, a massive piece of rock, wet, slippery and at an angle of at least 45 degrees, not a day for venturing on today. Our route down hugged the left hand side of the slab over the boulders but first we had to get to the top of Bowfell. Again no summit could be seen and we set off into the mist only to arrive 10 minutes later at the summit cairn in 50 mph gusts facing a slippy trip over the boulders down to the slab.
With the last climb of the day out of the way we headed off down the slab, over the boulders and trapped snow to the climbers traverse path which led to the Band and out path down to Stool End Farm. As we reached the Band, the weather took a slight turn for the worse and we had our first rain of the day which was hitting us from behind fortunately so not too bad. The descent however was playing havoc with my knees and very shortly they were giving me a lot of pain. Bloody specialist can’t fix them so onwards without complaining. Pete too was suffering a little with sore toes, so not alone in my discomfort.
Back to the farm start point and the car park where I had to leave to get back and sort Peanut out and later the kids as Jan was away for the night. The other four chaps went and had a well deserved pint in the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub, the ultimate walkers pub in my opinion, and I had to wait till home and sorted out for some medicinal beer for the knees !!
Another great day out, cold, but mostly dry and very enjoyable.