Classic Lake District Walks – The Langdale Pikes
Starting with an ascent to Stickle Tarn, this circular route is a great introduction to the Langdales.
Start and Finish: National Trust Stickle Ghyll car park by the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel
Distance: 12.1 km
Ascent: 777 m
Time: 4 hours
Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Three pubs, a youth hostel and a couple of campsite make Great Langdale a rural metropolis. See the full guide to Great Langdale on Mud and Routes for more details
516 Bus Route between Dungeon Ghyll – Kendal / Ambleside. Six buses daily.
Minor scrambles to reach Pavey Ark. There is an optional scramble to the summit of Pike of Stickle. Small sections of the path across Martcrag Moor can be boggy and hard to follow without good navigation skills.
Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Keeping Safe on the Wales Coast Path, Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.
Classic Lake District Walks – The Langdale Pikes Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
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Classic Lake District Walks – The Langdale Pikes
The Langdale Valley is one of the most popular hiking areas in the Lake District, and quite rightly so. The wide valley, secluded tarns, craggy summits and stunning views across Windermere and many of the central fells makes the Langdales a ‘must do’ for any walker. This is a varied route over the summits of Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Thorn Crag, Loft Crag and Pike of Stickle; collectively known as the Langdale Pikes that starts either from the New Dungeon Ghyll or Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.
This route climbs to Stickle Tarn and on to Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle before reaching the distinctive Pike of Stickle. The final leg joins the Cumbria Way and follows Mickleden Beck along the valley floor.
You could alternatively set off up to bag High Raise from Stickle Tarn, which is the actual highest point in these hills, returning over Thunacar Knott, yet another Wainwright, before picking up this walk from Pavey Ark. You have the added bonus of ascending Sergeant Man on the initial ascent, making this a bumper haul for Wainwright baggers.
An alternative ascent of the Langdale Pikes is to ascend Pavey Ark via Jack’s Rake, which is slightly more challenging than the walk outlined above.
The Langale Pikes Route Details
1. Take the footpath at the far end of the car park, to the left of the toilet block. Go through the wooden gate and follow the path to climb alongside Stickle Ghyll, keeping the river on your right.
2. Turn right to cross the wooden bridge and then turn immediately left to follow the stone pathway uphill.
3. Keep right at the fork and continue to climb. There are a few minor scrambles along the way and a stile, with a dog gate next to it.
4. The path gradually bears left and reaches a river crossing. Use the stepping stones to carefully cross the river. Keep the river to your right and climb to Stickle Tarn, with Pavey Ark directly ahead.
5. Turn right at the edge of the tarn and cross the river. In good weather, the water is low enough to simply walk across, but there are also stepping stones if the water levels are too high.
6. Immediately turn left and follow the gravel footpath around the edge of the tarn.
7. Keep left at the fork and continue across the moorland. Use the stepping stones to cross the river. The footpath bears left up a steep, rocky path. There are a few minor scrambles but the views back across Stickle Tarn are certainly worth the climb.
8. The path gradually bears left and runs alongside cairns to help you find the way. Just below the summit, there’s a low stone wall. Climb the rocks to reach the summit point, with great views back across the valley.
9. From the summit, the faint path continues around the hillside, heading south. There are cairns along the route to mark the way.
10. The path becomes more defined as it approaches Harrison Stickle and then bears right to reach a rocky, flat summit. The highest point is marked with a cairn and offers fantastic views down across Windermere.
11. From the summit, follow the faint path between the rocks to head west. After a metre or so, the path reaches the main footpath. Turn right and follow the stone path downhill.
12. When the path levels out, turn left, following the grassy footpath down across the moorland. On a clear day, Pike of Stickle can be seen directly ahead.
13. Bear right to join the stone path. The path becomes increasingly clear and weaves up towards the distinctive dome of Pike of Stickle.
14. The main path turns right at the base of Pike of Stickle and continues across the moor. If you want to climb Pike of Stickle, ignore the right hand turn and continue straight ahead. Follow the faint rocky footpath, which bears slightly left to scramble to the summit. The views of Thorn Crag and Harrison Stickle are superb. Retrace your steps to the base of Pike of Stickle and turn left to join the main footpath.
15. The grassy path crosses Martcrag Moor. Keep right at the fork and after a particularly boggy patch, the path reaches a junction. Turn sharp left to join the Cumbria Way and continue on the rocky path as it bears left around the hillside.
16. Use the stepping stones to cross the stream and continue downhill. The Cumbria Way gently zig-zags down to reach a wooden footbridge.
17. Turn left to cross the footbridge. Follow the well-defined path alongside Mickleden Beck for approximately 1.7 miles.
18. The path eventually reaches a swing gate behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub. Go through the gate and join the road.
19. After passing the car park, turn left through the wooden gate, marked with a public footpath sign for Stickle Ghyll car park.
20. Follow the grassy track through the farming fields. Ignore the first footbridge and bear left to go over the stile. Turn right across the second footbridge and then turn immediately left to climb the stile. Continue on the farming track for a few metres and then, when the track merges with another path and bears right, continue straight ahead across the grass to return to the car park.
Click here to view the Jack’s Rake variation. Images credited to Dave Chick.