Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday, 3 September 2021

10 and 11 October 1981 - The Great Langdale Horseshoe Walk

The Langdale Horseshoe (or 'How the Wind Became')

The Diarist on this trip was Nick


On this trip: Nick, Martin, Dave, Roger and Laurie (RIP) (late).

We were woken around 6:30 by mewing, scratching and general falling around by a small black bogle* in the kitchen. Kept awake by Dave's wonderful electronic alarm - I wonder whether a well-placed brick would shut it up?

Set off 8:00 then had to wait outside Laurie's house while he woke up. He wasn't keen due to all the rain and wind we'd seen on Friday night. Lots of isobars on the weather map and sleet forecast on high ground. We'll see. 

Whizzed up the motorway - sunny clear morning - M61 - 9:10 - red ignition light came on - no fan belt!# 

Tied bootlaces around where the fan belt should have been, then drove slowly to the garage next to the Tickled Trout, where a new belt was duly purchased. Installation was rather tricky and we eventually restarted at 9:55 with a trip to Preston. (Fan belt still not on.) Borrowed a spanner from a garage up the road, and set off again at 10:15. First breakdown for this car.

Arrived in Elterwater 11:40 - a long trip. (See top photo.)

Set off 11:55. Lunch stop 12:30 after route finding difficulty. Path more or less discovered and we got moving again at 13:15, heading for Lingmoor Quarry and Brown How (Lingmoor Fell). At last a summit! (14:30)

Chapel Stile, from the quarry above Elterwater
View NE over Loughrigg towards Kirkstone

View from Lingmoor Fell to Elterwater and Windermere

Big Goose

                                                                     The path ahead, looking west

Blustery, some hail - all wearing full waterproofs. 

The party donns waterproofs near Side Pike

Some more route problems on the way. Rog went quarrying and caving. Side Pike. (15:30) Spot height 735' (now 224 metres) for ascent of Wrynose Fell to Pike of Blisco. 

Again, differing opinions on the route. Laurie got his rucksack caught in a crack in the rocks. He should realise that he's not as thin as Martin. 

Watched a helicopter on manoeuvres (or rescues?) on Bowfell. 

Reached summit of Pike of Blisco 16:50. Dave and Rog nowhere to be seen. Decided to camp in the vicinity of Red Tarn. As we left the top we were struck by a very heavy, blustery hailstorm which we had just noticed coming across from Jack's Rake etc. Cagoules and overtrousers were donned just as there was a flash and a bang of thunder. 

Lots of stinging hail, which stopped just before we pitched camp near the path by Red Tarn (17:45) 1675ft. 

Camp site on the path near Red Tarn at the top of Brown Gill, from Martin's wedge tent


Laurie and Dave: moussaka 'substitute' (L forgot tin opener); apple and custard (as usual took all night to cook).

Roger: virgin (?!) and sweetcorn soup; paella (Vesta) in a new blue packet.

Martin: tea; beef risotto

Nick: paella (Oxo) - good; fruit cake; coffee.

More hailstorms. New tent (Nick's) very well behaved so far (20:00). Glad I got new batteries for torch! Distance covered - a paltry 4½ - 5 miles (ashamed to record it).

Added by Dave: "Hope I'm well pegged down." 

(Back to Nick) Dave has not yet ripped his new black cords. He's very confident that they won't be rationalised (ICL jargon) by tomorrow. 

Dave, Rog and Laurie [sharing Roger's new Vango Mk4 tent] made a dessert of 'coffee broth with hailstones'. It contained mince, onion, mushroom, aubergine, courgette, mixed dried veg, rice, peppers, coffee (not important), but definitely not tinned tomatoes [no tin opener]. Recipe: add the above to one pan with blown hailstones, heat and decant into cups. Serve immediately.


4:25 am, Martin retreated to the Vango. Cries of "help" as he tried to bundle his tent in. Very strong winds. Rather worried. 

The diary includes this sketch from Martin

8:00 Cold hands > 8:30 - fun taking tents down. Roger's poles are a funny shape. Much searching for equipment. [My tent pegs etc.]. 

Off about 8:45. Up and over Crinkle Crags. Still very windy and sometimes hard to stay upright. Sky generally blue, but we've seen sleet/rain/hail come shooting across very quickly. Luckily managed to avoid most of these. 

The view down the Langdale valley from Crinkle Crags

Stopped for food at the Bad Step, then M, D and R went through dragging rucksacks. Nick climbed up the side to take photos, and Laurie nambie-pambied around the other side.

This picture is captioned 'Rog at Bad Step'. Could we in those days crawl through a gap by the chockstone, rather than undertake the 10 ft climb by the side of the cleft?

11:05 Three Tarns, for Bowfell. No-one else around. 

The path to Bowfell from Three Tarns

11:40 Bowfell. Met four others. Good views all round. Down to Ore Gap > Angle Tarn

Angle Tarn and the Langdale Pikes

13:00 - At stream at Angle Tarn. Rog is "medium knackered" so we debate whether or not to go down. Didn't go down. It rained (again).

View across Mickleden to Langdale Fell

Looking back up the valley from near Raw Pike, with Crinkle Crags and Bowfell
Martin adds (September 2021)

Nick's diary entry ends at "It rained again" apart from my summary of the route that confirms our continuation of the classic round described by Tom Price in "The Big Walks", 20 miles with 2000 metres ascent, as pictured at the foot of this entry. 

I've inserted a few observations into the text in blue.

I still have a vivid memory of the wind in the night continuously shifting the poles of my Karrimor wedge tent, making it assume a banana shape. So I tried to re-pitch the tent in a better position for the wind. The next thing I knew was that the pegs all came out and the tent and its contents were blowing in the wind, just like a kite, anchored only by a guy line wrapped around my right hand index finger. I managed to gather most of the stuff into Roger's tent, where the four of us squeezed in for the rest of the night, with Roger hanging on to his bending poles for dear life! 

* This must have been Nell's cat, we presumably spent the night at her house, 232 Oswald Road, Chorlton.

# The Cortina Estate was no longer a new car!

Any additional memories from the participants would be welcome.

1 comment:

Phreerunner said...

Dave says:
Thought it was the lakes where the tent/kite episode occurred.
I remember Martin arriving at the Vango.
Happy days!

Nick says:
Thanks Martin for another fine report.
Don’t remember much of this - apart from the very windy night (naturally) and searching for your stuff over the hill the following morning.
Interesting to see that since the Glencoe trip the previous year I’d invested in a new internal-frame rucsac and a tent. Both of which I still own, not that they’ve seen much active service in recent years.
As for the ‘Bad Step’, I’m pretty sure it was possible to squeeze through underneath the chock-stone without a rucsac, which needed to be pushed/pulled through separately. I think my preferred route was around the side somehow, requiring some scrambling.
Nice memories!