Walk The Langdale Pikes via Jack’s Rake
By Dave Chick
on October 18, 2018 5/5 (2)
Walk The Langdale Pikes via Jack’s Rake
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Enjoy a day exploring the Langdale Pikes with this route from Great Langdale. For those with a head for heights, Jack’s Rake can add a memorable start to the day.
Route Start Location: Great Langdale (Stickle Gill)
|7.52 km||657 m||3.5 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Hard Walk, Scrambling, Scrambling Grade 1
Summits and Places on this Route
Three pubs, a youth hostel and a couple of campsite make Great Langdale a rural metropolis. See our full guide to Great Langdale for more details. The Sticklebarn and the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel are both located at the start of the walk.
Jack’s Rake is a Grade 1 scramble and should only be attempted by those who are experienced and have a head for heights. It should be avoided in poor weather and becomes a mountaineering route in the winter.
Parking : LA22 9JU
National Trust Car Park – Stickle Gill
Lake District National Park Car Park – Stickle Gill
The 516 bus stops at the turning circle at the end of Great Langdale providing a service from Kendal, Windermere and Ambleside
Walk The Langdale Pikes via Jack’s Rake Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
Download file for GPS
Walk The Langdale Pikes via Jack’s Rake
The Langdale Pikes are the best known feature of Great Langdale and, while not the highest fells in the Lake District, they are certainly among the most dramatic. Their distinct profile grace many a professional photographer’s portfolio.
The are characterised by rugged, craggy slopes that rise abruptly from the valley below, seemingly insurmountable for the inexperienced fell-walker. However, the rocky ramparts are breached by a few tumbling streams allowing walkers access to the fells beyond. Of these, Stickle Gill is the the largest and most widely used and forms the beginning of this walk. While the overall distance of the route is short, the ascents and descents are steep which some may find a challenge.
Hidden on the face of Pavey Ark is the legendary Jack’s Rake – a Grade 1 scramble that Wainwright described as ‘difficult and awkward’ and ‘more of a rock climb than a walk’. While this is true, seasoned scramblers will enjoy the challenge of the rake as it carves a route across the crags. For the less-adventurous, the east ridge (Wainwright’s so-called ‘North Rake’) provides a steep but easy alternative. Both routes are described here.
The Langdale Pikes via Jack’s Rake Route Description
1 – Parking at the Stickle Gill car park is free for National Trust members, otherwise a fee between £6-£8 is required for the day. The car park is large so you should not have trouble finding a space. Make your way to the far end of the car park (away from the road), passing by some information boards. Pass through a couple of gates to reach the bottom of the Stickle Ghyll path and begin your climb up the stone-pitched path.
2 – Shortly after crossing the intake wall (the wall which divides farmland from the Access Land), you will reach a footbridge, crossing from the west bank to the east. Once across, keep following the path at it follows the stream. You may find yourself crossing over to the west side of the stream once again but paths do run up both sides.
3 – Eventually you will reach Stickle Tarn where the previously hidden Pavey Ark now shows its true character, with Harrison Stickle around to the left. If necessary, cross the outflow from the tarn, following a path around the eastern shore. After a boggy section you will need to decide if you want to tackle Jack’s Rake or take the easier North Rake route. For the North Rake, continue reading. For Jack’s Rake, skip to paragraph 4a.
4 – After crossing the boggy ground, stick to the main footpath as it follows the east side of Bright Beck. Cross the beck on a path climbing to the bottom of Pavey Ark’s east ridge (the North Rake). While the path is steep there are no difficulties. After a short, flat section, make your way up the gully ahead where a profusion of cairns marks the way. Bear left at the top to find Pavey Ark’s summit.
4a – To reach the base of Jack’s Rake, keep following the shore of Stickle Tarn as it approaches the base of the Pavey Ark cliff face. You will find a faint path winding up through the scree and boulders to the base of both Jack’s Rake (to your left) and Easy Gully (directly ahead or the right hand of the two). Easy Gully is a viable route with a tricky scramble at the top but Jack’s Rake is described below.
4b – Jack’s Rake can generally be described as a steep trough interspersed with a couple of tricky scrambling moves and some short, exposed ledges. Generally the rake is fairly damp and can be slimy, more so in the wet (when it tends carry water like a stream) so you should take care to make sure your hand and footholds are secure before committing to any moves.
The first steep section ends at a substantial ledge located at the bottom of Gwynnes Chimney, a popular rock climb around these parts. Beyond the ledge is what may be considered the crux of the rake, a steep, rocky chimney which, once conquered, leads to more easy scrambling beyond.
Upon reaching Great Gully, a slightly exposed descent will be required before you make the final scramble up a groove with good holds. The groove leads to a series of large slabs which ultimately peter out as you approach the summit of Pavey Ark.
5 – From Pavey Ark’s summit, Thunacar Knott is the next obvious objective for the Wainwright bagger though it is little more than a broad, rocky mound. It can be bypassed without losing any of the days enjoyment. To reach it from rom Pavey Ark, follow an intermittent path west across boggy ground to find Thunacar Knott’s summit cairn. In poor weather you will need to take a compass bearing.
6 – Summits come thick and fast now, the first being Harrison Stickle – the highest of Langdale Pikes group. From Thunacar Knott, follow a path as it crosses a depression, snaking through jumbled outcrops of rock and makes a short, steepening climb to the summit of Harrison Stickle. The fell has a commanding view over Great Langdale.
7 – Three down, two to go. To maintain the vaguely circular nature of this walk, head next to Pike of Stickle; the enigmatic dome that has probably captured your attention already. A path heads west from Harrison Stickle, descending down some easy scrambling to reach the Dungeon Gill stream. A pitched path heads westwards towards the dome. Take this path as it climbs to the head of a large gully at the base of Pike of Stickle (this is the so-called ‘Stickle Stone Shoot’). Keep following the path as it contours across the base of the dome to reach a gully which offers an easy scramble to the summit. Here you can admire the vertiginous views down into Mickleden while the full height of Bowfell can be seen across the valley.
8 – A couple of paths snake off the summit, allowing you to retrace your route the head of the large gully. Here, at a small cairn, bear right to make a short climb onto a low ridge. This ridge leads to the final peak of the day, Loft Crag.
9 – Now begins a long descent back to the car park. The beginning of the return path isn’t clear to begin with, it can be found in the depression between Loft Crag and the subsidiary summit of Thorn Crag which can be seen from Loft Crag’s summit. A low cairn marks the top of the path. Follow the path to the right and it quickly becomes much more substantial.
10 – The path makes a fairly casual descent, interrupted by the odd rocky section. Views across the valley to Lingmoor and Blea Tarn are superb. The path eventually reaches Dungeon Ghyll, which you will have to cross via the large stones. Head through a gate and follow the path as it guides you back to the car park.