The Langdale Pikes of Pavey Ark, Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle and Harrison Stickle provide some of the most impressive scenery of the Southern Lake District. Surrounding the Langdale Valley, the Pikes offer fabulous walking experiences, with immense views and satisfying challenges. You don't have to do the full range, either, and can opt out at somewhere such as Stickle Tarn - you'll still get a fantastic walk in without the more difficult hiking up to the very peaks.
The first part of this route is deceptively easy, but don’t be fooled, I promise it does get colder higher up. Proper boots, warm & waterproof clothing, food, torch (just in case) and a map and compass are a must.
Because this is such an easy route, especially the first part, it’s also very popular. There’s a lovely big car park at Sticklebarn, which is free for National Trust Members. You can display your badge in the windscreen, but if you scan your card, a bit of money will go to the car park, which will help with its upkeep.
The route heads out from the top of the car park (near the loos) and, basically, you just need to keep going up. A few years ago, there was once a short, rocky scramble on this route, but nowadays it's mostly all steps. The path was updated a few years ago so you can just continue going until you reach Stickle Tarn at the top. If, when you arrive here, you don't fancy the high pikes, then there’s a clear-cut path (marked on the map) leading out under Thorn Crag. This route provides a shortcut to the path back down the fell.
To get up onto the very tops of the Pikes themselves, bear left around the tarn for a short way, then fork left to follow a well defined path winding up the flanks of Harrison Stickle. Don't forget to pause regularly to catch your breath and admire the views!
This route leads up and over a ridge here, and a ‘quick’ trip to the left will have you on top of Harrison Stickle. You can then drop down to Harrison Combe, a curious, high-level plateau with obvious paths up to Pike of Stickle and Gimmer Crag – good on you if you manage all three! But these are probably best tackled if you're an experienced hill walker.
You’ll see from the map that there are a couple of routes down, but I’m quite fond of taking the one to the left of Dungeon Ghyll because you can pause on Pike Howe for superb views back to Stickle Ghyll and Tarn. It's this path you'll join if you took the shortcut from the tarn earlier on.
Know that when you are up here in the heavens, you are walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. There was a Neolithic axe ‘factory’ here, where our distant relations created ornate axe heads from an interesting stone that's found only in this location. Because they are so unique, historians have been able to track their trading routes, and the axes have turned up right across the UK! Farmers used to pop them into animal water troughs in the belief that they had protective properties.
Right, history lesson over! Time to scamper back down the hill to the fabulous Sticklebarn where hot drinks and huge plates of food await you. Dogs are welcome, and there's also a big pile of board games to keep you entertained into the evening. Perfect!