Hills: Pike o’Blisco, Crinkle Crags
Wainwrights: (hills listed in AW’s Lakeland Fells guides): Ditto
Hewitts: (hills in England and Wales over 2000ft): Ditto
Date: 16 October 2010
Weather: Just for once… glorious!
Who: self, Stuart and mates
Time: 6 ½ hours including breaks
Distance: About 8 miles
Ascent: About 1000m, maybe a bit more
Warning – do not adjust your computer screen. This is not a mistake. The sky, hills, valleys etc really did look like that. It was a glorious autumn day – one to savour and quite definitely not one to wreck by being hungover on the way up the hill. With blue sky and everything!
It was a few weeks since we had returned from our last trip to Scotland – which had been characterised by rotten weather and not a single view from a summit – and after a few weeks in the flatlands of London we were getting itchy feet. 😦 A plan was hatched for a return visit to the Lake District along with our mates who we had gone there with in May. It was time for another episode of Wainwright Walks the Malbec way… still with more rioja involved than Julia Bradbury’s version, rather less planning, and definitely less embroidered combat trousers. On that point Craghoppers had clearly made a bob or two out of us for the weekend as we were all sporting the same blooming trousers although at least mine were the womens’ version.
We arrived at the Youth Hostel in Ambleside shortly before midnight on Friday night following a slightly delayed exit from London. Given the late hour the wine consumption (rioja) was fairly restrained which meant that we were actually awake relatively early and hitting the maps in order to formulate a plan of attack for the day. Various options had been considered but most of them centred around Great Langdale which was (a) relatively close and (b) scenic, and allowed for lots of options. After some discussion, we settled on Pike o’Blisco (701m) as our first target with the option to continue along the ridge to Crinkle Crags and possibly to Bowfell if time and energy levels allowed. It also allowed for bail out options in the event that time and energy levels were less than ideal which was a bit of a concern as I had been very tired over the last couple of weeks. It is usually combined with my back deciding to play up and remind me I do actually have metal plating in it.
We parked up at the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel and were ready for the off just before 10. At that point the higher hills were still in cloud, but our initial objective was clear. However before we had even got too far along the path the clouds started to lift.. and our spirits along with them. Were we finally going to get a decent weather day on the hills?
The path is well signposted to start off with although there were some childish giggles at the name of the starting point, Stool End. Not worked out yet where the dungeon is at Dungeon Ghyll, either.
The initial ascent, up Browney Ghyll, was quite steep and for the first part of it I was feeling pretty out of sorts. 😦 No not due to hangover! However the views were opening out all round, back to the Langdale Pikes and over to our probable next objective and the path was good which always helps. We had a couple of very short breaks before getting to the saddle between Pike o’Blisco and Crinkle Crags and then started the ascent. The boys decided to dump their packs behind a rock but I opted to hang on to mine, realising I would want the water more than the weight would slow me down.
Pike o’Blisco looks like a mere toddle up from the saddle but there was actually more ascent to get to the top than it had looked 👿 and I was glad of the water by the time we all reached the top. There is a decent enough path, which splits at various points and is a bit rubbly at times but is perfectly serviceable. Reached the top at around 12 noon to cracking views all round.
There are 2 cairns on top and I made sure to visit both just in case. After a short break we headed off back to the saddle and then up towards Crinkle Crags. The gradient along the ridge is pretty gentle and it didn’t seem to take too long until we were approaching the first ‘crinkle’.
There are five ‘crinkles’ or tops along the ridge, although it is fairly obvious which one is the highest and therefore the ‘real’ summit – it’s the second one along approaching the ridge from the direction we did. It’s an interesting ridge all the way along, although there is a lot of up and down and it would be a nightmare to try and navigate in mist. Mostly it is straightforward, although there are a few points at which hands are useful for balance.. that is, until you get to the bad step.
The ‘bad step’ is just visible in the picture below. The path basically peters out before a relatively short, but also relatively vertical, rock climb. What isn’t visible is that there is an obvious, albeit rather loose and eroded, bypass path to the left of the crags shown in the photo. At this point, there was clearly a decision to be made!
Three of us decided that discretion was the better part of valour and that we would head for the bypass path. One of us –the mountain goat – decided to give it a go. He can be seen heading up in the photo below. Not my cup of tea! He was also keen to press on and do more hills since he walks a lot faster than the rest of us so we arranged to meet up at the pub later on.
The rest of us headed up the bypass path (which would probably not be that pleasant to come down as it is very loose in places) and soon arrived at the very busy summit. Lots and lots of people here all converging at once! The views, however, were absolutely spectacular. We spent a fair bit of time on the summit drinking it all in before heading off to Three Tarns and our descent route.
At Three Tarns, there was a decision to be made. Although Bowfell didn’t look that far away, there did look a fair bit of ascent. We were also conscious that time was marching on and also that we were getting tired. Plus although I had got my second wind on the ascent to Crinkle Crags I was still feeling tired and we had the descent via the Band to go before there was any chance of a post walk drink. We therefore decided to call it a day – after all it is not as though Bowfell is going anywhere! I subsequently did it at Easter 2010 by public transport on a windy, but pretty good, day.
Descent via the Band was straightforward with some good views over to the first hill of the day.
The path was generally excellent, though paved in parts. I’m not a massive fan of paved paths – less because of the visual effect than because in wet or icy conditions they can be extremely slippy. No such issues today though and a straightforward descent to the pub.. where the inevitable post walk drinks were waiting. Our mountain goat mate joined us a bit later on having carried on over Bowfell and Esk Pike – oh to have that sort of energy!
All in all an absolutely excellent day on the hills.. which was nicely followed up by a meal in Ambleside and a few drinks in an excellent bar which was playing live jazz. A great way to round off the day. No walks on the Sunday as the weather was pretty miserable and we were all a bit tired but this left plenty of time for gear shopping (and in my case, a new Rab insulated jacket to keep me toasty over the winter). And this may be sacrilege but I think I’d rather have a view from a Wainwright than not get one from a Munro! Though I still haven’t decided whether I’m actually bagging them…