Pike of Stickle
Well, how about that… after going years without managing to be in the same part of the country as my cousins, suddenly I found myself able to meet up with two of them, in my local area, within a fortnight! Barely a week after my cousin Sue and her hubby packed up the contents of their motorhome and bid us farewell, Jen and I were happily arranging a meet-up with another member of the extended Duringer clan. My cousin Sarah (who only missed her sister Sue “up north” by a week) and her hubby Nick were heading to the Lakes for their anniversary. What better excuse for a family get-together and another good long hike!
Nick is a true Lake District veteran; he comes up every year for his own reunion with former schoolmates… which provides a clue as to the longevity of that tradition! Sarah, meanwhile, is a regular contributor to the #walk1000miles initiative and goes out walking most days, whether on her own or encouraging a group. It stands to reason, then, that we’re all likely to get along swimmingly on the high peaks of the Lake District!
Jen and I had actually visited the Langdales only a couple of weeks earlier, a first for both of us, and climbed Pike of Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell. That meant that there were plenty of other mountains towering above the car park at Dungeon Ghyll which we had yet to summit, and lo and behold, a couple of those were also on Sarah and Nick’s to-do list.
So, having learned my lesson about early morning meet-ups far from home (i.e. not to do them) we agreed to meet up at the Dungeon Ghyll car park for a leisurely 10am start…
On said morning things were looking good. Jen pushed me off the bed in good time so that any concussion caused in the fall might have passed before I was ushered car-ward. In fact, I believe I even had time to shovel some porridge down my front before the journey began. Who could hope for a better start to the day?!
The outward journey was also pretty smooth… no traffic hold-ups, and Google’s estimated journey time was spot on; we were even five minutes early. It’s generally at such moments that I become a tad suspicious, but hey ho… why shouldn’t things go well, sometimes? I directed Jen into the car park, where we did a brief sweep to look for Cousin Sarah and Nick… not here yet. So we waited, and waited…
“Jen, I did say the OLD Dungeon Ghyll car park, didn’t I?”
“You might have, but you just told me to park here… This is the New Dungeon Ghyll car park…”
Thankfully, Sarah and Nick are a patient pair, and were still smiling when we rocked up into the ‘correct’ car park around 20 minutes late. They were even so good as to point us towards the last available space…
Nick, with his knowledge of the Lakeland Fells, was taking the lead on this day *BONUS*, and so our map remained in the daysack as we finally got moving. We took the bridleway back towards New Dungeon Ghyll, where we would turn left on a path climbing alongside Stickle Ghyll. There are actually paths on either side of the Ghyll; however, we opted to cross the water at the bottom and then keep it to our left, so that we could then enjoy the mini-scramble about halfway up to Stickle Tarn.
For those visiting the area, I can tell you that Stickle Tarn would be a lovely place for a picnic, with the formidable Pavey Ark looming large on the opposite side. Those of us at the bottom had a great view of some intrepid folk taking on a Grade 1 scramble, known as Jack’s Rake, to Pavey Ark’s summit at 700 metres.
For us it was time for a bit of light refreshment before we meandered onwards and upwards on the steep path towards Harrison Stickle, the highest peak of our day at 736 metres. Once again we had been blessed with views that I’m becoming accustomed to in the Lakes – ironically, the kind that many folk believe almost never happen up here! I’ve been spoiled lately, it’s true… on this day we again enjoyed the kind of far-reaching, clear views that remind me what the effort is all about. I must remember, though, that my next clag-shrouded hike can’t be far away, and try not to be too disappointed when it comes…
Having all reached Harrison Stickle summit, we were going to move on to Pike of Stickle (709m). On our way we came across some more hikers, peering over the edge of a long gully that stretched far below us. One hiker, perhaps a member of their group, had ventured down it a good way and looked as though he was about to disappear over a steep ridge… We never saw him again, but the lack of news items would suggest that he either made it down safely, or realised his folly and climbed back up after we had moved on.
As we approached the Pike of Stickle, tummies were rumbling and a call to food seemed imminent! However, Jen and I were keen to visit the top of this peak before rewarding ourselves with lunch. So our group temporarily split up, and Jen and I headed up the final scramble to the summit. This was great fun, despite the crowd of us all then clustering on the top (I’d guess about 14 in total, on our little rocky crag)! The climb back down was then enjoyably tricky, but not so much that we were unable to wave to our two companions, who looked a long way below us on the path! Jen and I shimmied down that little scramble, beating a group of lads who had been on the summit with us (competitive? Us? ahem) before regrouping with Sarah and Nick. A little way further along the path, the perfect lunch spot presented itself… and there’s not much that can beat food and great company enjoyed alongside inspiring views.
After lunch, the rest of our route was all downhill. Passing Harrison Combe and heading over Martcrag Moor, we would finally reach the six-path junction of Stake Pass. From there, we took a left to follow the Cumbria Way, an ancient trading route, alongside Stake Gill and down to a footbridge. This marks the beginning of a) the valley floor, and b) a flat route back to the car!
As we walked down the valley, the rock faces and crags that Jen and I had been so curious about when walking down the Band on our Bow Fell outing began to make sense. We noted Stickle Breast, Gimmer Crag and White Crag, and then the most impressive Raven Crag, tall and imposing on our left.
We were almost back to the cars, but not quite ready for home! The afternoon had earned us a slap-up meal at the White Lion in Ambleside, before we all said our farewells.
Simon Duringer is an award-winning blogger, interviewer and author. His own books can be found on Amazon too by clicking any of the following icons…