Friday, 9 April 2010

Crinkle Crags via Red Tarn

The weekends plan was to head over to Liverpool in my car, pick up a few people from Liverpool and head up to the Lakes. This went down the pan however when I got a puncture at 4:30pm on the Saturday. As you can imagine mechanics who have been working all day and are finishing at 5pm aren't exactly wanting to stay behind and fix a puncture, can't blame them, I'd probably have the same attitude myself. After finally getting it confirmed that it wasn't a puncture repair but a tyre replacement I was relieved as this would mean a quicker swap so they may do it, however all three tyre places did not have my size tyre in anything other than the £140 Bridgestones, which would be wasted on my car and I don't have £140 to 'skid' as it were. So my car was out of the question and the whole trip gone, until I got a phone call late evening from Jo from work to say she still wanted to go and could drive, so I got the Metrolink early in the morning up to Bury and we set off from there.

Jo looking out from Great Knott summit cairn

Heading up the M6 we decided that as we had set off maybe a little later than we normally would that we would do something that wouldn't take up too many hours. We still wanted to do something good and get up high so I suggested a walk from Three Shire Stone.  Three Shire Stone sits at the top of the infamous Wrynose Pass road at 393m above sea level with several decent parking spots, some think starting at 393m  above sea level is cheating , I just think its clever! I have done Cold Pike and Pike of Blisco heading north from Three Shire Stone and also the Coniston Fells on its south side.  One thing I have never done is Crinkle Crags so we decided on that as the plan. The drive up was pleasant enough with no major road works. The weather was fantastic all the way up through Greater Manchester and Lancashire, as we approached the Lake District it started to cloud over but did stay dry. From Ambleside we headed towards Skelwith Bridge and then took the quiet route through Little Langdale via and the Three Shire Inn where we stopped off to use their loo.  Once up on the Wrynose Pass we found no one at all was parked at Three Shire Stone so got a space. As I opened my door to get my rucksack out of the back of the car I pushed the door to find it slam back at me rather violently. It was very windy as predicted and freezing cold too so first thing we did was get our hats and gloves on and extra clothing. We set off along the easy path to Red Tarn.

Pike of Blisco

Once we reached Red Tarn we decided as it was gone midday, it was time for lunch. Sitting on a boulder just above Browney Gill was the perfect lunch spot though it was windy as it is virtually a wide col. Jo found out just how windy it was when she decided to put a packet of Hula Hoops on the rock only to find they were pickd up by the wind and the packet ended up on the other side of Browney Gill. The ensuing clean up operation was ratrher impressive and saw Jo sprint and jump the stream to grab the crisp packet before it littered the countryside. I think my conversation in the car of my hatred for litter bugs may have had some influence, though I wouldn't have held that against anyone as the wind just took it, impressive recovery though! We ate all the energy we had and set off up the obvious path towards Crinkle Crags. At Great Knott we took a detour to its summit, unsure as to its status as a Wainwright or not but later found out it isn't, which is a shame for anyone who ignores it for that reason as it is a great view point down into the Langdale Valley. As we stood taking pictures of the clear valley in front, the clouds were forming over the cold mountain ridge behind us. A sudden shout from Jo and pointing arm into the valley indicated a lovely rainbow had appeared to complete the already fantastic view. Back on the main path we headed towards the first of Crinkle Crags five summits. Looking along from our vantage point above Great Cove all you could see was big dark brooding gullies and cliffs dropping into the valley below, it was a daunting but also thrilling sight. On a day like this you couldn't see the individual summits and having never done the mountain before I could only go off the OS map to decide our exact position.

Rainbow in the Langdale Valley

The weather started taking a turn for the worse as we got on to Crinkle Crags proper and what started as fine rain was now turning into a horrible face splitting combination of very fine snow and hail. Buffs on our faces we battled on, encouraged by the number of very young folk on the path who seemed not to care one bit and were just happy to be out in the hills. We spoke about how funny it is that some kids just laugh when put in these situations and othr cry and fall to the ground!  My Rab Power Stretch gloves have developed holes over the last few months and after leaving my mitts in Scotland these were all I had to keep my wussy hands from the cold and they didn't do a great job unfortunately. We skipped across a few remnants of this winters heavy snow falls, some of these remaining snow fields have been there since before Christmas over three months ago! As we got to what we eventually realised was the first summit but not the highest known as Long Top on the map, we realised that finding the actual highest summit Long Top was going to be very tricky. The top of the first one though was good fun and had a few scrambling sections.

Myself and Jo on Crinkle Crags summit cairn

We dropped down into a slight col and there was a fantastic view towards Langdale with a gorge below. Looking at the map we could make out precisely where we were because of a strange shaped walled field below. We were stood on the col at the top of Mickle Door above Crinkle Gill. This showed on the map that the true highest summit was only about seventy metres in front. However when we looked in its direction all we could see was a huge wall of rock. Several people seemed to be heading up a chimney in the steep rock which is well known as 'The Bad Step'. We saw a few people taking the somewhat easier route round the west side of the rock face and up a simple scree path. From here it was now just about obvious which one was the highest, though we also knew we were at the highest point as we could hardly stand in the wind. As we approached the summit cairn for a photo opportunity the wind even took Jo off her feet! Photo session didn't take long as the wind was blowing a gale and still throwing hail and snow at us so we made for a quick retreat back the way we came for yet more great view on the descent to Red Tarn. We finished off the day with a Hot Chocolate and Tea Cakes in Ambleside. Great day out and exhilarating in the weather at times. I certainly want to go back up Crinkle Crags on a good day so I can actually see each of the  summits!

I have uploaded the photos from the day here.

Route Map...

1 comment:

  1. The other great thing you get from Crinkle crags on a good day is a fantastic view of Bowfell and all the way around to the Scafells. The ridge along to Bowfell is well worth the trip back.