The Lake District Guide

Lake District Mountain and Fell Walks 18


Blea Tarn, Side Pike and Lingmoor


Start/finish: The National Trust car park by Blea Tarn, grid ref 296044. Access this from Great Langdale or Little Langdale. If a member of the Trust, remember to take your membership card for free parking.
Distance: 4 miles / 6.5km
Time: 3 hours
Height Gain: 1110 ft / 340 m
Terrain: Easy walking from Blea Tarn. Much more challenging when exploring Side Pike and Lingmoor Fell
Refreshments: Elterwater or Skelwith Bridge
Toilets: None on walk
Map: OS Explorer OL6
Public transport: For information phone Traveline 0871 200 2233

Many Lakeland walks start from a valley but this route lets the car take the sting out of the early climb so the hard work begins well up the slopes of the two summits visited.

The Walk

1 From the parking area opposite Blea Tarn, cross the road that links Little Langdale and Great Langdale. Go through the gate to overlook the lovely pool. It lies in a shallow hollow that was gouged out of the bedrock by glacial ice, overflowing from one dale into the other. Pause by the shore of the tarn to enjoy the superb view of the Pikes. Tall pine and larch line the western bank of the pool and are pleasingly reflected in the silvery water. Cross the footbridge over Bleamoss Beck and turn right to stroll the recently restored track through the sweet smelling copse. Perhaps pause here on one of the wooden seats to enjoy this glorious corner.

2 Follow the stony path as it emerges from the trees on to the open fell, below the eastern flank of Rakerigg. Immediately ahead is shapely Side Pike, one of the aims of this walk, and, beyond, more spectacular views of the Langdale Pikes. Go through the gate at the end of the long winding track and turn right to come to the side of the pass between the two Langdales. The views from here are stunning. Look for Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Pike of Bliscoe, and also of the Langdale Pikes - Pike o’ Stickle, Loft Crag, Thorn Crag, Harrison and Pavey Ark. Also spend a little time looking down into the lovely valley far below, with its seemingly tiny walled fields.

3 Cross the road, go over the ladderstile opposite and continue ahead up the worn path. Keep with it as it winds right and carries on to a lovely grassy area. Follow the tiny cairn directing you through the outcrops, still on the path, to walk on beside, on your left, a derelict wall. Eventually the distinct path goes through a gap in the wall and continues on to Side Pike’s summit. The views in all directions are magnificent, including that of Blea Tarn shimmering in the distance. Ahead the crags drop sheer. Do not attempt to descend from the summit in any direction other than that taken to get there.

4.Return through the gap in the wall and continue on the path as it slants diagonally down the slopes between crags. On meeting a path coming in on your right, turn left and follow the ledge-like way round below the cliff face on your left. When your way appears blocked, take off your rucksack and squeeze through the restricted gap, passing behind the boulder and under the overhang of the cliff – perhaps regretting that extra cream bun. Carry on downhill, with a wall to your left to reach a fence with a stile. Cross and continue in the same direction, climbing steadily uphill, with the wall to your left. Where it turns sharp left take the stile over a fence. Three paths go off from here. Do not take the left one. The one to your right requires a very steep scramble up by the wall; the middle one is easiest. It makes a big zigzag across the steep hill, then rejoins the path beside the wall.

5 Follow the wall up, scrambling in one of two places. Eventually it is replaced with a fence. Carry on beside it along the knobbly ridge until you reach a high rocky outcrop with a cairn. You have reached the summit of Lingmoor, 1530ft/469m. Almost immediately, after leaving the top, cross a stile over the fence. Another fence goes off at right angles to the main one here. Follow this downhill, right, on a clear cairned path, zigzagging down a scree area, until scattered larches appear beyond the wall, on your right, which has now replaced the fence, the path descending into a boggy hollow.

6 Cross the wall at a bit of fence that was probably once a stile. Go on the clear path up the far side of the hollow and then turn along its edge, winding in and out of rocky outcrops and descending steadily. Where the slope is steep the path has been pitched. It returns you to the edge of a wooded gill, and then goes through a gate gap in a wall. Continue down the stony way and then a grassy swathe through bracken to reach the road near Blea Tarn House. Turn left to return to the car park.

Cold Pike


Start/finish: There are several largish parking spaces close by the Three Shire Stone on Wrynose Pass, and just above it, grid ref 276028.
Distance: 4 miles / 6.5km
Time: 3-4 hours
Height gained: 1000ft / 306m
Terrain: The outward route climbs steadily on a distinct rocky path for a 1000 ft to the summit of Cold Pike. It then descends on narrow grassy paths, slanting downwards towards the ascent route. As you go always look ahead to see where it continues.
Refreshments: Three Shires Inn, Little Langdale
Toilets: None on walk
Map: OS Explorer OL 6
Transport: None

Start this walk from the Three Shire Stone on Wrynose Pass and climb a distinct path to Red Tarn, where some walkers might wish to return the same way. This route continues on and ascends, quite easily, to the summit on Cold Pike. It then descends the slopes using a narrow grassy path, which crosses two little streams racing downhill which soon unite to become the infant River Duddon.

1 Stand beside the Three Shire Stone and follow the signpost to walk an obvious path. It winds round a wet area, where a small stream bubbles along, and then bears right, round a hillock, before twisting again and upward. Very soon you pass a small cairn on your left. This is where your return path, down from Cold Pike, joins the main path. Keep on up the main path to cross a small tributary. Eventually the gradient eases and this is the place to sit on a rock while you enjoy the view of Harter Fell and Wetherlam.

2 Go on up a slightly steeper part of the path, now with Pike o’ Bliscoe to your right and the aim of the walk, Cold Pike, to your left. Carry on up with Crinkle Crags coming into view and with Bowfell, peeping over their tops, beyond. After climbing for a short time, the path levels again and to your left lie two small pools which no doubt feed the River Duddon. A few more steps and you can see the full length of the reed-fringed oval-shaped shallow Red Tarn. The path keeps well above it and there are some well placed boulders here for another pause. As you progress the path becomes quite red and little lumps of haematite (60% iron) weigh heavily when you hold them in your hand.

3 Carry on along the path and follow it as it turns left, beyond the tarn, at a patch of red shale. Step across the outlet from the tarn as it hurries to descend Brown Gill into Great Langdale. Continue up the partly pitched path, with Great Knott towering to your right. Just before a cairn that denotes the point where the path winds right to ascend Crinkle Crags, take an indistinct path, left, just before a little stream. This grassy way soon becomes clear as it climbs gently. Pass two cairns along the easy ridge and then follow the now steeper path as it winds through rocky outcrops, with a few blocks of rock needing a big step up, to reach a flatter area. Curve right, and then left, round the summit of mammoth blocks of rock and then climb left, a little bit more, to reach the fine cairned top of Cold Pike and enjoy the stunning view.

4 Descend the few steps to the flattish area. Ahead and a little right is another, but slightly lower, ‘tower’ of blocks also cairned. Follow the path as it passes left, between the two tops and then winds down right, through a little valley to pick up a more distinct path coming in on your right. Here wind left, keeping parallel for a short way with the ancient boundary fence, on your right. Keep a lookout for the little path as it winds and descends and soon comes beside a small tarn. Where the way becomes boggy, a small cairn marks the best route. You can now spot vehicles parked far below on the Pass, and left, Red Tarn.

5 The descent lessens as the narrow path crosses the valley floor, taking you easily across boggy patches in the direction of your way of ascent. At a small stream, one of the tributaries of the Duddon, step across on boulders and carry on the grassy path as it continues on it way down towards the Pass. Carry on to the next feeder stream, a wider one, which is easily crossed and climb the slope beyond and stroll on. As you near the main path the ground becomes quite wet and the path disappears. Here you will need to pick your way across. Head on along the re-emerged way to join the main path and turn right at the little cairn to retrace your outwards steps to the parking area.

Copyright Mary Welsh, © 2008. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.