Trip to Dungeon Ghyll and hike to Stickle Tarn en route to the Langdale Pikes

Langdale Travel Blog

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Beginning the hike

Mark this day as one to remember. Seriously! Also mark it as a day of unpreparedness.

Got up early - it was dark and wet and I was thinking "ok the dream's over, 3 days of no rain in England in October is as good as it'll get", and we did know it would rain the previous night anyway. I spoke to the people @ YHA about things we can do, and they all suggested Langdale Pikes. The very helpful YHA staff helped me with a route map as well. Breakfast at the YHA is dull - lots of people so get in the queue early - kind of reminded me of the long queues and long waits I've had at the Holland Park YHA before. It was typical fare - cereal, tasteless yogurt, tasteless cheese and baked beans.

Yep...that's beauty!
Plus, the machine that dispenses water, orange juice, etc wasn't turned on so none of us had anything to drink, LOL!

We finished b'fast and headed to Langdale. It being a weekend, the bus frequency wasn't all that but we caught the bus and the ride was sensational. Sure it was raining but it was reminiscent of our train ride to the Lake District. The whole place was so green, and so wild that it's untouched. Everything that passed by my eyes was like a colourful collage - hills, lots of red, rather dark orange, lots of sheep, lots of green, the same thing keeps repeating as a theme through all the roads. It was very cold, and as the bus was headed towards Langdale, I could see more and more professional hikers getting on board. Prashanth and I looked at each other with a "why haven't we prepared much better".

From now on, any hiking trip in a rainy country, I'll make sure I buy some kind of protection layer for my bag, and some overpants for myself!

We reached the final stop - Langdale and well... you'd hardly call it a bus stop. The little stone fenced road ends, and the bus takes a U-turn and drops you off. Absolutely no bus stop or anything! The "bus stop" was right across a hotel so we walked there hoping to get a map to the area. As Prashanth was busy talking to the hotel reception, I met a Russian couple who were going to hike to Langdale Pikes, and got a look @ the map. It looked daring and I was up for the challenge. Prashanth returned from the reception with our copy of the map, and we headed towards the hike.

As the first 2 photos reveal, the entry into hiking territory was beautiful.

"The Ring 3"!
Just stunning. I saw so many sights when I was in the bus. Through this hike, I knew I'd be walking through the same. The last time I saw heather was the last day of my trip to Ireland back in 2005. I was blown away by it then. I still feel the same way 3 years later. I was happy to begin with, just to be hiking in the English green. Any sight thrown in was just a bonus. We did falter and stumble initially - the path wasn't clearly marked and we kept getting confused if not lost. Besides, when I had hiked earlier in Cornwall this year, there were fences where the sheep and cow would graze, and the public places where the hikers could walk. So Prashanth and I entered this area and we start hiking, and I see a bunch of sheep walking towards me. I was like - this has to be a private area and started making my way back when we met other hikers who said we are on the correct path.
We also met a professional hiker (aka, compass and a waterproof front pouch where he stored his map!), and we hiked with him for a while. The whole hike was difficult, definitely one of the harder ones I've done in my life but it seemed worth it every moment.

If we were to play a "favourite moment of each day", then the one moment that strikes out (even if not my favourite) was when we were entering a compound, and as we started walking up, we saw tons of sheep waiting. By tons, I mean tons. Tons of sheep, just standing there. This was the 1st time I was interacting with sheep @ such close level, the last being in NZ back in '05, and it was a bit eerie in a way. I couldn't help but think of the scene in "The Ring 2", when Naomi Watts is driving through the jungle and suddenly she slames the brakes and she's surrounded by deer, lots of deer, just standing and staring at her.

Until 1 of them comes and starts poking at the car. Phew! It was a very interesting moment walking through so many sheep. The sheep were standing there, and not grazing or anything but looking at us, like papparazzi at the red carpet.

The hike by itself was magnificent, totally magnificent. Rain kept swooshing in and out, the wind got windier and the sky got darker. And then you'd have those few moments of sunshine, few moments of brightness, and again back to the so-called gloom. But I kept thinking, rain is so essential to make England look so beautiful. The only down part about this trip is that I wished I'd worn overpants as the hikes are very messy, and it is essential to get waterproof overpants. My trousers got all muddy, and at times the hike was a bit steep.

But the crownining moment was when we finished 1 stage and reached the to the top of Stickle Tarn. This is totally breathtaking - it's a still lake, as in STILL, on top of a hill. I'd love to rabbit on and on about this, but I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. The idea unfortunately was to continue on to reach Langdale Pikes, but it was already around 2pm and we weren't so sure we'd make it back in time for the final bus back to Ambleside (530pm). So we decided to just walk around, take some pictures and walk back down. The journey back down wasn't that momentous, a lot easier but I must say though that hiking ttrails in the UK are so much harder (in a good nature-ish kind of way) over the ones in the US.

We reached back around 4pm, and had lunch at a nearby pub. It had stopped raining so we ate outside. We then walked back to the "Old Hotel" (where the bus comes and picks us up) and the walk back was quite picturesque. Another thing I noticed here (I don't know if it's an England thing or a Lake District thing) is the various colour of sheep! I've so far seen tons of white sheep in England, a sight that I love. And apparently is a very popular thing with others as well, as its pictures are used in tourist books as well. But I noticed in the Lake District at least, you had black and red coloured sheep. I've never red coloured sheep (unless they're a different animal).

We caught the bus and got back to Ambleside. And we had decided that the first thing we should do when we get back is to buy a new pair of overpants.

Stickle Tarn
Things are expensive in the UK, especially hiking gear in hiking towns, but we had no choice. We stopped off at Ambleside city centre, shopped around for overpants and went back to the hostel.  I did my laundry on my return, just relaxed in the hotel, showered and napped for a while before cooking the same Indian stuff for dinner again. The kitchens in YHA Ambleside are huge, but the cutlery and plates are very limited. The dining area is nice though! Slept that night around 11pm, didn't have too many hopes up for Sunday for 2 reasons - more rain, and limited bus schedules because it's a Sunday.

The only annoyance that night was a bunch of American school kids that got into their swim/beach gear and got into Ambleside Lake by the hostel, yelling and screaming and getting pictures taken. It was not only bad mannered to wake others up at that time of the night, but it just came across as very very ill-bred.

Travel2014 says:
Another enjoyable read...
Posted on: Dec 24, 2013
Travel2014 says:
So, were you a beginner hiker in these days and continued to challenge yourself? I love to hike as well, but the 4 day hike in Peru seems much more challenging than this? - Still enjoying reading all these (between holiday festivities) - I keep sitting back down to my computer to "wander around England".... :)
Posted on: Dec 24, 2013
pyrrho says:
I'll have to check that hike out sometime, maybe when it's not raining!
Posted on: Nov 02, 2008
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Beginning the hike
Beginning the hike
Yep...thats beauty!
Yep...that's beauty!
The Ring 3!
"The Ring 3"!
Stickle Tarn
Stickle Tarn
Another view of Stickle Tarn
Another view of Stickle Tarn
Beginning our descent
Beginning our descent
Probably my favourite picture of t…
Probably my favourite picture of …
Lunch time!
Lunch time!
This is what I said - black sheep.…
This is what I said - black sheep…
...and red?!
...and red?!
View of Langdale before I left bac…
View of Langdale before I left ba…
Dinner at night - potato onion dry…
Dinner at night - potato onion dr…
Langdale
photo by: Vikram