A larger than usual group got off the coach at Skelwith Bridge ready for a varied walk to Great Langdale. It was great to have Gayle Bell back walking with us and she and the ladies from the D1 group started their walk with coffee and cake at ‘Chesters’ in the Skelwith Bridge Hotel.
Peter Dent and his group set off up towards Elterwater whilst the rest of the C party listened to Steve White’s safety brief before picking up the path to Skelwith Falls. The weather was mixed but there were some bright spells to keep us hopeful.
Following Cumbria Way we headed out to Birk Rigg Park, passing the falls and the elegant and contemporary footbridge over the River Brathay. The Woodburn Bridge is named after a local man who suggested a route across the river suitable for wheelchairs and prams. The route is nicknamed, ‘miles without stiles’ and really lives up to its name.
Continuing on through the park, we make our way past Elter Water and The Nab and into the village of Elterwater and the popular ‘Brittania Inn’. Popular with our group for the toilets it seems…
Crossing the bridge we make our way past Elterwater Hall and started the climb up to Howe Banks where there are some great views South East back across Fletchers Wood to Colwith. We made our way to Little Langdale with views over Little Langdale Tarn but these were largely overshadowed by the towering Great Intake and Wetherlam looming high to the South West. The sun came out briefly and rainbows popped into view and seemed tantalisingly close at times. Lunch was taken sheltering behind a wall just above the picturesque Slaters Bridge. Looking back to Stang End gave us a vista of glorious colours: burnt orange ferns and dark green pines hemming in the Greenburn Beck outfall.
Climbing out again past the Low Hall Garth climbing hut we made our way along the foot of Great Intake, dotted with quarry workings and coppices. Here we crossed the beck again at Fell Foot Bridge and began the 25% grade slog up to Blea Tarn. Another stop in the quiet of the pine woods at the tarn gave us the energy to start the long slow climb up Rakerigg and the gap at the foot of Side Pike. From here we had our best views of the Mickleden Valley and the looming spires of Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle. Behind us, equally imposing, were the peaks of Pike ‘O’ Blisco and Crinkle Crags, both summits not always visible due to the low cloud. Our thoughts went out to the A party who were traversing these summits while we walked.
Dropping down to the campsite we made our way across Great Langdale Beck for the last half mile of our ramble. Here the going underfoot was really tricky and once past the thundering Dungeon Ghyll Force a couple of our walkers had some potentially serious slips. Fortunately, everyone was OK and after a few minutes taking stock we carefully made our way down to the Sticklebarn hostelry for a few well-deserved drinks in the warm and cosy bar. 7.3 miles and 1700ft of ascent completed in 4.5 hours. Very respectable.