A day for exploration among the crags of Langdale.
741 metres ascent
6 1/2 hours
Scrambling at about grade 1
With a suspect ankle I didn’t want to commit to a big distance so I thought I’d just amble and wander around the crags, trying to find alternative ways up the hillside and get a good view of the crags at the same time. I particularly wanted a good look at Gimmer, which I’ve never been close to before.
Starting from the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel I went up towards the classic climbing route of Middlefell Buttress, surprised to see only one team of climbers on it. The weather was perfect and I thought there would be crowds. I sat round and watched for a while, though climbing is a terrible spectator sport.
Climbers at the top of the first pitch of the classic route of Middlefell Buttress, with Langdale behind.
The gully and crags to the left were attractive, though bracken becomes a problem this late in the summer. The map shows a path (presumably a climbers’ path) going up here and towards Gimmer so I wandered upwards. I tried scrambling for about ten metres on a short buttress that started as good rock but then turned into a 45 degree slope of chest high bracken, which wasn’t so much fun but that only lasted another ten metres before I could see a very faint steep winding path. I stopped to watch the climbers again, who had made a little progress.
Carrying on up the now-disappeared path, just to the left of the gully that bounds Middlefell Buttress, I wasn’t sure where it would end up but it seemed a good line. It was just steep walking but with great views of the crags to my right. Eventually it joined the main Mark Gate path and I went left towards the base of Thorn Crag.
There’s plenty of scope for other scrambling lines round here, the route I took was mostly steep and rough walking but it was nice to go a little off-piste.
I traversed over towards the now-prominent Gimmer Crag, leaving the path to stay at the same height. I could now see the climbers’ path just below me so I joined that and carried on. I sat for refreshments on a comfy rock with a great view of the south-east face of Gimmer. I could see several climbing parties looking tiny on the huge crag. This rock is covered in famous routes and it was good to get a close look. I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to climb here one day.
Gimmer Crag. South East gully is the huge black gash. Climbers can be seen in various places but you’ll need to look closely.
Another view of climbers on the south east face of Gimmer.
I wanted to see the other side so I dropped down a little towards the bottom of the nose of the crag until I could walk over a grassy way which then dropped me into the gully that bounds the left side of the crag. I could now see plenty of climbers. I still didn’t have a plan but thought I’d go up to where they’d started from to get a better look. The gully was very tempting and looked like it would lead higher. I could always turn back if there was a blockage. It turned out to be fairly easy walking and scrambling with some rocky steps and among great rock scenery. I kept stopping to look at the climbers and eye up the various routes, trying to memorise the crag layout for the future.
The gully on the west side of Gimmer. My ascent went to the right of the very large block in the centre of the picture and then straight up the gully.
Climber on Gimmer
Climbers on Gimmer
At a fork in the gully the right hand fork looked like it led into steep terrain but the left fork looked good so I took that. There was one awkward step but otherwise it was straightforward and eventually topped out on the path between Loft Crag and Pike of Stickle summits. I went right to sit on the top of Loft Crag for sandwiches and look at the tremendous view down onto the rocks of Gimmer, over to Harrison Stickle, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, etc.
Looking east from Loft Crag summit.
Pike of Stickle summit from Loft Crag. Tiny people can be seen on top.
Loft Crag and Gimmer from Pike of Stickle.
Now up to the very tempting Pike of Stickle summit, taking in some easy scrambling on the way up. From here I thought I’d return via Jack’s Rake but the light was better to the north and I wanted to take some photos looking down Langstrath. I could see in particular the clear line of Cam Crag Ridge, a classic scramble up to Glaramara.
I wandered over northwards to Stake Pass to look down Langstrath, taking lots of pictures, then descending down the Cumbria Way and the long easy return along Mickleden.
Skiddaw from Pike of Stickle
Great Gable in the distance.
The classic scramble of Cam Crag ridge leading up to Glaramara
Down Langstrathdale to Borrowdale and Skiddaw
Langstrathdale and Cam Crag Ridge
From the return path I could clearly see the ascent routes. The fork in the gully I mentioned earlier could be clearly seen. The right fork did indeed look difficult but I’d love to go there again, it looks like you could take it then escape leftwards up steep scrambling rocks.
Gimmer. My ascent was immediately to it’s left. My route ended up at the notch on the skyline at the left side of the picture. You can see that the right-hand fork (mentioned above) leads to much steep ground.
The line of ascent at the start of the day. Middlefell Buttress is on the right, my ascent started just to its left in the shadowy gully but took a faint steep path to get above the crags in the picture centre (in shade) and then steep walking through the bracken above.