Great Langdale – Stickle Tarn – Harrison Stickle round
Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region.
Great Langdale and its neighbouring valley Little Langdale are known simple as Langdale. Great Langdale beginning at Skelwith Bridge is a u-shaped valley formed by glaciers whilst Little Langdale is a hanging valley. The Langdale valley contains two villages Chapel Stile and Elterwater and a hamlet at High Close. The two villages were centres of the Lakeland slate industry. Elterwater Quarry, being the largest, and Spout Cragg Quarry are still working using modern methods and are operated by the Burlington Stone Company. Other local quarries have now fallen into disuse. Langdale was also an important site during the Neolithic period producing stone axes created on the slopes of the Pike of Stickle. It also supplied stone for some Bronze Age items and Neolithic cup and ring marks are found on the Langdale Boulders at Copt Howe. Langdale is home to Crinkle Crags, Pike O’Blisco, the Langdale Pikes and Bow Fell which is the highest fell in the dale attracting walkers, climbers and fell runners. Scafell Pike, Cumbria and the Lake District’s highest mountain can also be climbed from Langdale.
On the northern side of Great Langdale lie a group of peaks called the Langdale Pikes and are one of the dales most prominent features. Together they make up one of the most picturesque and probably the best known mountain groups in the area. Harrison Stickle at 736 m (2414 ft) is the largest of the four peaks that make up the Langdale Pikes the other three being Pike of Stickle at 709 m (2326 ft), Loft Crag at 682 m (2238 ft)and Pavery Ark at 700 m (2297 ft). A stickle is a hill with a prominent rocky top. The summit is a short rocky ridge with a cairn at each end the northern one being higher and provides superb views of the valley and all the surrounding major fells groups. Below the steep eastern face of Harrison Sickle lie Stickle Tarn and its ghyll thus ensuring that all drainage from the fell is to Great Langdale. Stickle Tarn is a small turn of about 50 ft deep enlarged by the building of a stone dam in 1838 and is used to supply water for public consumption in Langdale. Alongside Stickle Ghyll which descends from Stickle Tarn there is a well walked path from the Stickle Ghyll car park at Old Dungeon Ghyll up to the tarn, parts of which have been improved with stone slabs to reduce erosion.
Dungeon Ghyll is a ravine on the north side of the valley that starts on the fell slopes between Harrison Stickle and Loft Crag. It is a narrow and a No-Through Route for walkers. The waterfall is known as Dungeon Ghyll Force.
Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel was originally a farm and inn bought by historian Professor G.M. Trevelyan who donated it to the National Trust. The hotel and the Hikers Bar have a long association with climbing and many famous climbers have stayed at the hotel or drank in the bar. Further down the valley there is the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel built in 1862.
We park in the car park with public toilets next to the Dungeon Ghyll pub and head forward on the path to the left of the toilet block. We turn right through the wall then left through a gate and follow the track uphill with Arkle Beck on our right. At the bridge we cross over and keep following the beck now on our left steeply uphill scrambling over the rocks along the way. We eventually cross over the beck via some large stepping stones and keep heading forwards until we arrive at the dam wall of Stickle Tarn. We turn right crossing over the beck (not deep) again via the rocks and head forwards following the path by the side of the tarn on our left. At the end of the tarn we bear left heading along the valley following Bright Beck on our left for a short way. At the cairn we cross over the beck and head forwards to scramble up the rock face. At the top of the rocks we follow the small cairns which bear to the left then at the larger cairn we bear right and keep following the path and cairns until we come to a dip which we cross and head uphill to the summit of Harrison Stickle. We then head back down and turn left towards a large cairn and bear right heading steeply downhill with Pike of Stickle in front of us. When we reach the dip we bear left to a cairn and at the next cairn we bear right to cross over the stream and follow the track uphill on the other side for a short way. At a large white stone we turn right off the track and follow a faint path rising to a brow and a cairn. We now follow the more distinct path and the cairns downhill and then on the level before heading downhill to the pub and car park we can see down below.
This is a hard walk on good tracks and paths with steep inclines and declines.
Elevation: Approx lowest point 90.2m (296ft) approx highest point 731.2m (2399ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 3.6 miles allow 3 hours using OS Explorer Map OL6, The English Lakes south-western area.
Start point: Dungeon Ghyll National Trust car park half a mile west of Chapel Stile.
The Langdales are in the south-western area of the Lake District, Cumbria.
Directions and Parking
From the A66 at Threlkeld take the B5322 on the left. At the t-junction at Legburthwaite turn left onto the A591 by the side of Thirlmere. At Ambleside take A593 following the signs for Coniston. At Skelwith Bridge turn right onto the B5343, continue through Chapel Stile and after about half a mile there is a car park on the left and another car park with public toilets on the right at Dungeon Ghyll.
Parking: Two National Trust pay and display car parks at Dungeon Ghyll Force, £6.50 for all day.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets in the car park next to Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. For refreshments there is the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and Hikers Bar, further down the valley there is the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel and at Chapel Stile half a mile back down the road towards Ambleside there is a shop, a cafe and Wainwrights Inn.