Walking in the Langdales

First published in What's On by

Stake Pass, Angle Tarn, Rossett Gill, Great Langdale

Choose a good day for this fairly challenging walk, one that takes you from the upper part of the Langdale valley into the fells but not quite to the tops of the really high fells. It climbs the pitched stairway up Stake Pass, on the Cumbria Way, once an old pony route into Borrowdale. The route then turns left and traverses a high-level peaty valley to arrive at a lonely mountain pool, Angle Tarn, where you will want to dally. Finally it descends Rossett Gill.

Park in the fee-paying car park beside Great Langdale’s Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, grid ref 287061. The parking area soon becomes full, so best get there early.

1 Wind round behind the hotel and continue, left, to a kissing gate. Beyond, go ahead on a broad track, keeping beside the wall on the left. Pass through several more gates as you progress into wide Mickleden, the northerly branch of upper Langdale, with the formidable side of Pike of Stickle rearing up to your right. After nearly two miles with Rossett Pike in front of you, notice on the left a fine stone sheepfold. Just beyond, cross the beck on a footbridge and head right to climb the well contoured and signed Stake Pass (Cumbria Way), overlooked by Rossett Crag, then Black Crags and finally, Mansey Pike. The pleasing way then climbs, easily, into Langdale Combe where you can still keep your feet dry on the pitched way.

2 At the saddle of the Pass, stand awhile to look down the slopes into the Langstrath Valley, then turn left and continue on a path that climbs a little before winding left (back on yourself - south-west) through the valley below the ridge of Rossett Pike. The way can be wet after rain and you will need to circumvent the odd peat hag. Keep well to the left of the valley making use of any higher ground. Towards, the end of the valley, some walkers may be tempted to divert left, again, following a rough way to the cairn on Rossett Pike.

3 After what can be a rather wet traverse, descend the better path down to Angle Tarn. Bear right beside the mountain pool, then cross its outlet stream by huge stepping stones. Just to your left is a tiny stony beach where you might want to pause for a break. Return across the stepping-stones and head straight up (south-east) on the path through Rossett Gill. It very quickly becomes pitched and climbs to a more level area. Here look back down into the austere hollow for a last view of the tarn. Soon the way begins to descend and becomes pitched again as swings right and descends under the shadowing rocky slopes of Bowfell. It keeps well away from the old path that once carried us all up Rossett Gill until it became so eroded it was almost too difficult to ascend. The way is well contoured, making use of rock ledges, convenient natural boulders and creating huge zigzags around and below crags.

4 Eventually a long pitched path takes you more gently across the lower part of Rossett Gill to the footbridge at the outset of your ascent of Stake Gill. Go over the bridge and turn right to make your lengthy return through Mickleden to arrive at the parking area with perhaps a visit to the hotel to follow.

Information

Distance: 6 miles

Time: 3-4 hours

Terrain: All pitched paths are hard on your knees so take your time ascending Stake Pass and descending Rossett Gill. After a wet summer the peaty route along the side of Rossett Pike will hold much water.

Map: OS Explorer OL 6

NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.

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