A mountaintop walk that outmanoeuvres cliffs and crags, delivering you without fuss to four breathtaking summits.
Your route to a walk of a lifetime in the Lake District.
The compact group of peaks that form the Langdale Pikes are among the most easily recognisable mountains in England. As you enter the Lake District from the south the magnificent, almost Alpine profile of the ‘Pikes’ jumps out at you across the ever-changing waters of Windermere. From this distant angle every walker will instantly want to climb them, but viewed a little closer from their base in Langdale their flanks are craggy and appear very steep: the sort of territory that appeals to climbers rather than walkers. However this is something of an illusion, for although there are plenty of crags to keep climbers happy the fells that lie between them are not as steep as they first appear – a trick of perspective. This provides adventurous walking in a very dramatic setting.
A real gem of a route, the classic walk takes an anticlockwise loop around the four main mountains that form the Langdale Pikes. The return is along the ancient packhorse trail via the high col of Stake Pass and along the entire length of Mickleden. The approach up Stickle Ghyll is fairly steep but the path is excellent, and as it is enclosed by dramatic crags and contains a series of waterfalls there are plenty of excuses to stop and admire the view! Stickle Tarn offers another excuse to rest with its superb views, both up to the crags of Pavey Ark and outwards across the whole of Great Langdale. A sneaky path around the side of Pavey Ark then opens up a stunning high-level walk over the summits.
1 NY294064 From the top of the car park join the path to the left of the toilet block and follow it to the side of Stickle Ghyll. Take the path up beside the beck to the footbridge. Cross it and continue along the path up the right-hand side of the beck (east) as it climbs to Stickle Tarn.
2 NY288075 The level of Stickle Tarn was raised by 2m in the middle of the 19th century to provide water power for the gunpowder works at Elterwater. Only the dam now remains, the pipeline has decayed and the gunpowder works have been taken over by a time-share complex. The crags of Pavey Ark behind the tarn
hold a huge selection of multi-pitch rock-climbs. If you fancy a bit of a scramble as part of this walk, the distinct diagonal break that crosses the crags from lower right to upper left is the popular Grade 1 scramble, Jack’s Rake. If followed it leads to a spot adjacent to the summit of Pavey Ark. The more normal walking route skirts the east side of Stickle Tarn to pick up a path beside Bright Beck at the eastern extremity of Pavey Ark. Once around the side of Pavey Ark a grassy rake comes into view; this is North Rake, and it offers a simple path direct to the summit of Pavey Ark.
3 NY284079 From the rocky summit of Pavey Ark descend south-west then south to the col below Harrison Stickle. Cross the col and make the short ascent onto Harrison Stickle. The summit is made up of a number of cairns so make sure you visit each one to get the best of the views. 4 NY281074 From Harrison Stickle, descend the path west then south to cross the upper reaches of Dungeon Ghyll at a grassy combe. Make the short ascent south on the other side to reach Thorn Crag’s summit cairn.
5 NY280071 From Thorn Crag, Loft Crag is reached by a simple 300m walk westnorthwest.
6 NY277071 Next in line from Loft Crag is the shapely rocky knoll of Pike of Stickle. To reach it, continue west-north-west from Loft Crag to the head of a steep walled gully. This used to be a popular scree run but heavy use has led to serious erosion and it should now not be attempted. In the right-hand sidewall of the gully you may notice a square shallow cave; this is a prehistoric stone axe factory. Pass the head of the gully and follow the path as it skirts rightwards to gain the rocky summit of Pike of Stickle.
7 NY273073 Descend northwest and follow the path over Martcrag Moor to the broad col at the head of Stake Pass.
8 NY265086 Turn left and follow the bridleway south-west down into Mickleden. At the bottom join the valley track and follow it south-east to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. The track passes directly below Pike of Stickle, Loft Crag and Thorn Crag. The obvious long line of scree is that seen earlier beside Pike of Stickle.
9 NY284061 At the Old Dungeon Ghyll a bridleway climbs, slightly, east behind the hotel toward the car park beside the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Alternatively you can take the valley road.
On Loft Crag, looking to Pike of Stickle and beyond.
Stickle Tarn and Pavey Ark.
Looking down Mickleden.
Old Dungeon Ghyll...
...New Dungeon Ghyll!