Lingmoor Fell and ‘Encounters of the best kind’. The best place to view The Langdale Pikes! But that is my opinion, go see for yourself.
This circular walk is a photographers delight, we leave the hanging valley between Great Langdale and Little Langdale following a route into Little Langdale encountering traditional farm cottages at Bridge End, High and Low Hall Garth. Further, we encounter Little Langdale Tarn, watched over by high craggy mountains, the dark curving spine of Wet Side Edge stretches to gently touch, to caress this glistening jewel. Slate and spoil from old quarry workings join our route as we encounter Slater Bridge. Did Wainwright get its name wrong? He refers to it as Slaters Bridge, as does the chiseled slate sign by High Birk Howe Farm, but the OS map and other sources use the singular, Slater Bridge, so will I.
Climbing the bracken covered lower slopes of Lingmoor Fell, we can survey our earlier journey through the valley. As we climb to reach the ridge of heather clothed Lingmoor Fell, we enjoy first glimpses of The Langdale Pikes as our view extends in every direction, ‘tis breathtaking. At the summit, we encounter some of the best views, up close and personal with The Langdale Pikes, almost every crag within reach, Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle dominate, Pike O’stickle, Thorn Crag and Loft Crag complete the set. Loft Crag is the summit above Gimmer Crag (is it grim on Gimmer), a famous rock climbers crag, there’s a route on Gimmer called Kipling Groove, its first ascent by a Yorkshire climber Arthur Rhodes Dolphin, when asked why he named it Kipling Groove, he answered “… cos it’s ruddy ‘ard.”
But it’s even better than that! A simple gentle sweep with our eyes, we behold The Coniston Fells to the west, to Pike O’Blisco, to the five bumps of Crinkle Crags, across the col of the Three Tarns to Bowfell, to Rossett Pike, to the Langdales, to the Helvellyn range, to Fairfield and much, much more! Yes, this is an extraordinary view, a priceless encounter.
Our circular returns to Blea Tarn, probably the most photographed tarn in Westmorland, maybe Cumbria. Like many photographers, I’ve been here at first light to capture the special atmosphere, familiar rocks fill the foreground and there is no better backdrop than Pike O’Stickle, Harrison Stickle and the abrupt profile of Side Pike.
Crossing the footbridge at the outlet of Blea Tarn, I noticed a woman sat, on a rock enjoying the moment, sun-rays found a way through the trees to warm her spot, she looked relaxed, no doubt enjoying a wonderful view across the tarn. As I got nearer she greeted me with a long confident smile, asking if I had walked around the tarn. Complete strangers in conversation “I’m ninety next birthday” she proclaimed “… and I have enjoyed the landscape all my life. I’ve been lucky?” I couldn’t agree more. As I left, I wished her Happy Next Birthday.
Then I reflected, it was a brief encounter, her compelling charm, her happy demeanour, her goodwill toward others, she appeared content, at peace with all around. I'd left her ‘on the best seat in the valley’. I thought for a moment, she had shared with me the symbolism of scattering her beloved husbands ashes over the water. I felt privileged, I was moved by her humanity.
I made a brief visit to the water’s edge remembering an earlier encounter during my ascent of Lingmoor Fell. I came across a 'Dad explaining to his young daughter' about warm blooded and cold blooded creatures, the biology lesson held her interest as she sauntered along. Like I did all those years ago, he was making sure his children experienced the landscape, “… it’s not a question of energy, it’s more about keeping them interested!”
It’s a funny thing this walking lark! On this day I saw young and old embrace the beauty of the landscape. Walking? It’s not just about the physical effort, it’s about the experience, the memories, the feelings and the moment.