The Langdale Fells via Jack’s Rake

19th March 2011

Jack’s Rake Or Jake’s Rake as it is most commonly miss spelt( me being the latter!)  has been a nail biter for as long as I can remember, since the first time I climbed Pavey Ark via the North Rake and then onto Harrison Stickle way back in February 09. Back then In my youthful days of a novice fell walker this grade one listed climb was well beyond my reach. The time spent on Pavey Ark’s summit that morning I was met by two lads in actual fact from the same town as I ( Wigan) who had just scaled Jack’s Rake, one who looked as white as a ghost shaking slightly bumming cigarettes of fellow walkers. I asked his fellow mate ‘where have you come from?’ Oh we’ve just come up from Stickle  Tarn via the Rake, I looked over at his mate now puffing like a steam train on the bummed cigarette ‘what was it like’ I asked? well, put it this way I stopped smoking two years ago  & now I cant stop shaking. I put this down to sheer adrenalin & not fear.
Jealous? … Yes I was.

Me & Tim had a date planned yet no walk, this time it was Tim’s fell choice & with me blinkered into walking my Wainwrights over the years or so I had completely forgotten about Jack’s Rake, after throwing text at one another Tim gave me three choices, Broad Crag ( I have been wanting to do Broad Crag together with the Scafell’s for some time) Jack’s Rake & I forget the other one, well as soon as I got the text there was no choice.

Jack’s Rake & a host of Langdales it was.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Central Fells

Jack’s Rake is classified as a ROCK CLIMB. Its grading is easy – it is the easiest of the recognised climbs in the Langdale area.

Nonetheless, as a WALK it is both difficult & awkward: in fact, for much of the way the body is propelled forwards by a series of convulsions unrelated to normal walking,the knees & elbows contributing as much to progress as hands and feet. Walkers who can still put there toes in there mouths and bring their knees up to there chins may embark on the ascent confidently; others unable to perform these tests, will find the route arduous.

Jack’s Rake’s is just about the limit that the ordinary common garden or fell walker reasonably may be expected to attempt.


Ascent: 2,480 Feet, 756 Meters
Wainwrights: 5, Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, Harrison Stickle, Loft Crag & Pike Of Stickle
Weather: Bright & Hazy, Dry Turning Cloudier PM, Highs Of 12° Lows Of 4°
Parking: New Dungeon Ghyl Hotel, Great Langdale
Area: Central
Miles: 7.9
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Crossing Stickle Ghyll, the day had started some what hazy & views towards  Tarn Crag were obscured by low lying cloud.


Looking back down the path towards Lingmoor & Side Pike.


Stickle Tarn enjoying a brief cloud inversion.



Silhouettes on Stickle Tarn.


And the main reason for being here today ‘Jack’s Rake’ although we had just been blessed with the stillness of Stickle Tarn & having the place to ourselves for a brief moment, it was while looking a the Rake from the Tarn that the nerves really started to kick in.


Looking back at Stickle Dam as we round the Tarn.



Checking out Jack’s Rake : A little daunted as I look up, prospects of the climb ahead gave me the choice to layer down, my jacket was tucked into the lid of my pack & my camera bag was fastened to the lid strap from about half way up. In all preparation for today I had chosen to use my Berghaus 22 Ltr pack only to find the reason why I don’t use it anymore was because the stern strap had somehow been lost, so I had no choice but to use my Berghaus Arete 45 Ltr pack with only the essentials packed, notice how tight the side straps are fastened with only my hydration pack gaining most weight, this was the best way to get around not having a lighter pack.


Tim doing some last minute preps & a bite to eat before we head up, I hardly eat at the best of times while out walking, was no exception, adrenalin was kicking in & all thoughts of food was long gone.


The first twenty/ thirty metres or so you are met with pleasant, yet steep like steeps.


One of many ‘chimneys’ situated along the Rake, how the hell I got my 14 stone bulk up & through a two foot wide gap is beyond me.  A group had caught up with us & waited patently for me to gain the top, only one of the group followed me, the rest went around as Tim did, here I let them pass as I held firm, two hands gripped to the top of the chimney & two calf’s shaking perched precariuosly  with my boots on not more than an inch of rock each side, I waited for the group to pass & as Wainwright wrote, used my knees, my back my arse to get to the top, Tim smiled & noted ‘Paul your f-in calf’s were burning, I could see them shaking & popping out! This two/ three minute moment took a huge amount out of my reserves.


The famous Ash Tree over looking Stickle Tarn marking round  about half way point.


A sunlit Stickle Tarn.


Continuing up the Rake.


The most exposed point along the route ‘Great Gully’ the path here is extremely narrow & great care was taken, a fall here would be fatal.


Tim went first, me.. I hesitated & eyed my route up, I Don’t know what Tim was thinking but It was certainly positive, he hit this the most dangerous part of the route with all guns blazing, well done mate.


Looking back along the Rake.


The summit was within reach, just beyond this next gully we separated & gained the summit separately ,Tim went for an excursion over a large group of boulders, I went left & followed a faint path to what can only be described as a mini Bow Fell’s Great Slab, I was tired, we both were, it took all my strength to perch my whole body a mere 4/5 feet  grasping for finger holes, it was here I bruised a rib right under my chest bone.

This was an adrenalin pumped forty minute action episode, Striding Edge, Sharp Edge & Swirral Edge for me this was a combination of them all. As Wainwright quoted this is not anything the usual fell walker is accustomed too, for me I was right on my limit, I was bouncing at 7,000 Revs & only when I met Tim on the summit & sat myself down, drank an eternity of Robinsons juice from my hydration pack did a look round at Tim & said ‘That was F-in awesome’ .

If you are accustomed to walking the Lakeland Fells, fit & somewhat bendy you are 99% ready for this climb. You & your mind set is the last 1%.


Looking towards Blea Rigg & Sergeant Man as we descend Pavey Ark on route to Thunacar Knott.


Harrison Stickle from our ascent to Thunacar Knott.


Loft Crag & Pike Of Stickle from Thunacar Knott summit cairn.


Harrison Stickle as we rejoin the path in between Pavey Ark & Harrison Stickle.


Zooming in on a group of climbers on Jack’s Rake.


Harrison Stickle summit cairn.


Our next two targets, Loft Crag & Pike Of Stickle with Crinkle Crags to the left, The Band centre & Bow Fell’s summit under cloud.


And looking south to my favourite Tarn of them all ‘Blea Tarn Little Langdale’ to the left of the picture is Lingmoor & Side Pike, further south is Wetherlam & Coniston beyond, to the right of Blea Tarn is Wrynose Fell.


Pike Of Stickle from Loft Crag summit cairn.

Stickle Breast from Loft Crag, it was here Tim took a phone call from his 4yr daughter Ruby, after a while she asked ‘could she Speak to Paul’ in the sweetest voice ever Ruby asked me was it raining Paul?’ I of course replied ‘Ruby, no it is beautiful up here today



The kid in me definitly comes out when I see a sight as close as this & hopefully this is as ever close as I’ll get to a RAF Sea King, no zoom here, we felt the down draft & gave the winch man a wave back.


Looking back at Harrison Stickle from Pike Of Stickle summit cairn, it was windy on the summit so we decided to retreat a couple of meters out of the wind & eat lunch.

I don’t quite remember this picture being taken but I wish Tim would have told me to get 99% of my shorts out of my arse cheeks, Cheers mate


Looking at the head of Mickleden, Bow Fell, Esk Pike, Rossett Pike, Great End & Allan Crags.


From Martcrag Moor,L to R Bessyboot then forming the Glaramara Ridge, a distant  Skiddaw & the high peak to the right is Sergeants Crag, we now divert as we get to a un-named Tarn just ahead of the picture & head left down Stake Pass & then on to the Cumbrian Way.


The ice cut valley of Mickleden, with Pike Of Stickle forming the huge mass on the left & Rossett Gill taking centre.


Esk Hause & Bow Fell left & The Langdales Right.

We’d made great time as it was only 13.30 in the afternoon, we discussed stopping at the Old Dungeon Ghyl Hotel for a celebratory pint but in all essence we didn’t need a beer to celebrate a job well done, a long & eagered  triumph in the fact we both had nailed Jack’s Rake well & truly to our walking obiviatory, I still have the scars on my knees, the bruised rib, the sore shins as alike Tim, & when they have healed the memory from today’s walk will be permanently etched like a scar for now I, & we can say we’ve done Jack’s Rake.


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