Jack’s Rake and the Langdale Pikes
A walk around the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District central fells via the classic grade 1 scramble of Jack’s Rake. This route starts at Grasmere before making it’s way to Pavey Ark by the way of Silver How and Blea Rigg. Altogether, a total of nine Wainwrights are covered.
Length: 11.66 miles
Area: Lake District – Central fells
GPX File: Download
Silver How – (Height: 395m, Drop: 28m)
Blea Rigg – (Height: 541m, Drop: 11m)
Pavey Ark – (Height: 700m, Drop: 15m)
Harrison Stickle – (Height: 736m, Drop: 53m)
Loft Crag – (Height: 680m, Drop: 22m)
Pike of Stickle – (Height: 709m, Drop: 54m)
Thunacar Knott – (Height: 723m, Drop: 27m)
Sergeant Man – (Height: 736m, Drop: 12m)
Tarn Crag – (Height: 549m, Drop: 4m)
Other POI: Grasmere, Kelbarrow, Brigstone Moss, Lang How, Swinescar Pike, Little Castle How, Great Castle How, Stickle Tarn, Jack’s Rake, Harrison Combe, Greathead Crag, Ecton Crag, Sourmilk Gill, Easedale, Easedale Beck
This was the second walk in my quest for all the Wainwrights, taken again from Stuart Marshalls book, ‘Walking the Wainwrights’. The route covered a total of 9 Wainwrights, starting and ending in Grasmere, and included the Langdale Pikes. I amended the route slightly as it seemed a shame to ascend Pavey Ark and miss out on the popular grade 1 scramble, Jack’s Rake. I was accompanied on this walk by another blogger, David from the lonepeakbagger.com.
It’s not often that I get out to the Lake District, and each time I venture out there, I’m reminded why. The journey is tedious and, combined with the early wake-up call, I have a real struggle staying awake for the journey there and back. It almost certainly involves stops on the way for a caffeine boost in the form of coffee, which then naturally leads to more stops for toilet breaks!
Silver How and Blea Rigg:
Anyhow… after a very long drive, I arrived in Grasmere just after 10am, paid an extortionate 7 quid for the car park, met David, and nipped to the Co-op to buy water and 2 boxes of cereal bars. We were then as ready as we were ever going to be and so started the walk. From Grasmere, we headed west for a short distance before the track curved into a more southerly direction, keeping the bulk of Silver How on the right. Eventually, a path appeared that headed up towards the top of Silver How via a natural cleft in the hill. The path follows this cleft onto the top. It was pretty steep to begin with but the gradient soon eased and the summit was visible up on the left. This was accessible via a path that headed up to the top just north of the summit. The views back to Grasmere were gorgeous and definitely worth a photo or two.
Once we had claimed the first Wainwright of Silver How, we headed north-west towards Blea Rigg, keeping where possible to the high ground. We skirted around to the left of Lang How, Swinescar Pike, and Great Castle How as the route slowly started to curve into a more westerly direction. The terrain looks very similar in every direction and I can imagine that it’s very easy to become disorientated up here when the mist comes in. Eventually we arrived at the summit of Blea Rigg – Wainwright number two in the bag. There were some fantastic views from up here, both north-east looking down to Easedale Tarn, and west towards Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark, and Stickle Tarn.
Jack’s Rake and Pavey Ark:
From the summit, we continued north-west for a little while before descending east to Stickle Tarn. As we got closer, the distinctive line of Jack’s Rake became visible on Pavey Ark’s south-east face. It looked daunting from here, but as I knew it was only grade 1 rated, I wasn’t overly worried. David on the other hand hadn’t really done much scrambling before at this level and was amazed that we were actually going to go up that way! Once we arrived at the tarn, we skirted around it anti-clockwise until we were beneath the start of Jack’s Rake, then we headed up the scree slope. As an alternative access method, it’s also possible to ascend the path up Pavey Ark’s east ridge until around half way up, and then dropping down to Jack’s Rake.
The scramble was enjoyable with only a handful of really exposed sections. The climbing was fairly straight forward, however care needed to be taken as much of the rock was wet and slimy. Occasionally, there was a choice between a climb up wet rock, or more exposed but dry rock to the left. The carcass of a sheep that met an untimely end is still visible around halfway up, and I almost stood in the thing. David found the whole thing quite exhilarating as he admitted he’s never done anything like this before.
The Langdale Pikes:
Once up, we had a brief climb to the summit of Pavey Ark before following the edge south-west and bagging the Langdale Pikes of Harrison Stickle, Loft Crag, and Pike of Stickle. We crossed Dungeon Ghyll between Harrison Stickle and Loft Crag, and it looked pretty impressive as I looked down into it. It’s certainly one that warrants further exploration in the future. The views were fantastic across Mickleden towards Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, and also south towards Pike of Blisco.
Once down from the summit of Pike of Stickle – the sixth Wainwright of the day, we headed north-east across boggy ground towards Thunacar Knott and bagged our seventh summit. A path was clearly visible from here heading north to High Raise. We followed this until just past the head of Bright Beck, where the route veered off to the right and contoured around to Sergeant Man (Wainwright 8).
Sergeant Man, Tarn Crag, and the Journey Back:
Route finding from this point onwards was rather more difficult as there was little in the way of tracks, and various sections of boggy terrain to navigate. Basically though, it was a case of sticking to the higher ground and heading in a roughly east north-east direction towards Tarn Crag. Some altitude was naturally lost as this Wainwright is around 150 metres smaller then the previous.
From Tarn Crag, we followed the ridge east, descending all the while. The track eventually curved to the south a little more and headed down to Sourmilk Gill which we crossed (with a little difficulty) to pick up the defined path that heads back to Grasmere. It was a fantastic days walking in mainly great weather, and another 9 Wainwrights in the bag. So far, so good. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to come back another couple of times this year to add to my collection. At the car park, I parted company from David and began the incredibly tedious journey back home to Nottingham. Always a bit of an anti-climax.
Walk completed on 9th June, 2017