From there it was a short walk through the slate works and along a path through the woods to Skelwith Force. In normal weather, the 15 foot waterfall is impressive; in full flood, it is awesome!
Continuing up the valley, the next full view of the Pikes came when we reached Elterwater Common.
The two Pikes, Harrison Stickle (2,415ft) and Pike O’Stickle (2,326ft) look very different once you reach them. Pike O’Stickle is famous as the site of a New Stone Age axe ‘factory’ as many stone axe heads have been found there. My father was very proud of a stone he once discovered there which he was sure was a stone axe. It looked like any other stone to me!
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to the top of Harrison Stickle. The first part of the climb was by the side of a tumbling beck (stream) called Stickle Ghyll. This led up to Stickle Tarn, a small lake beneath the rocky cliff called Pavey Ark.
It’s possible to reach the summit of Harrison Stickle by traversing Pavey Ark via a gully called Jack’s Rake, but that route was too steep for me! Instead we went up the slope to the plateau between the two pikes, and from there it was only a short distance to the summit of either of them. From the summit there was an amazing view, not just of the wide expanse of the Langdale Valley, but of all the other mountains which surround it.
The route back to the valley was a path down the southern side of Harrison Stickle. On one occasion, I took a wrong turn somewhere, and ended up, along with my two daughters and their friends, scrambling down rocks to the point at which I was starting to panic (slight understatement!). When we reached a sheer drop, I was sure we were stranded, unable to get up or down, and I had visions of the mountain rescue helicopter having to rescue us! I can still feel the enormous sense of relief I experienced when the end of a narrow ridge led us back to the main flank of the mountain and from there to the path we should have been using!
Another route into Langdale takes you directly down from Blea Tarn to the head of the valley via a very steep road, with hair pin bends. By the time you get to the bottom (having been in low gear the whole way), a sign warns you to ‘test your brakes’. In the days of drum brakes, you could smell the heat from your brakes as you came down that road!
Beautiful area, and a lot of amazing memories of many, many times in the Langdale Valley.
Oh, and did I mention the pub at the foot of the Langdale Pikes? One of my favourites!