Crinkle Crags to Cold Pike

7th October 2011

It feels like forever since I was last on the Fells, over the past two weeks I have barely seen daylight with a heavy workload & plenty of overtime. Coming home from work after 11 hour days left me shattered, strained & even dare I say it, Lakeland, sadly didn’t get a look in.

I promised myself my next available weekend would be a four day affair, get work out of my hair & get boot onto fell. Weather watching as always comes with its perks, choose wisely Paul, with only eight Wainwright’s left to summit, I have at least got my last four in the order I want them, & If I have to wait for some half decent weather then so be it.

Today however, I was kind of lucky, from midweek on in, amidst the Indian Summer,the rainfall & gust, I had my weather window, Friday looked the best out of the weekend & so I chose to stick to my plan of Crinkle Crags to Cold Pike, It would (and was) so tempting to venture away from claiming only one new Wainwright in today’s walk (Cold Pike) I could of easily walked away with two, possibly three new Wainwright’s but that is not what Fell Walking is about for me, Fell Walking is about putting a stamp on a Mountain whether you have been there or not-you claim it, & this is just exactly what I did with Crinkle Crags as my last ascent on the Mountain was purchased in what can only be described as god awful weather.

I was younger & inexperienced back then, maybe even a little scared (weren’t we Tim!) So here I am today to walk the ridge in between Crinkle Crags & Cold Pike, Cold Pike being the one that got away, as also my last ascent on Pike O’ Blisco together with Cold Pike was also a meteorically disaster I thought to oneself, make them count Paul,

They owe you.



Wainwright Guidebook xxx

The Southern Fells

-Crinkle Crags And Cold Pike:

Some mountains are obviously named by reference to their physical characteristics. Crinkle Crags is one of these, and it was probably first so called by the dalesfolk to the east and around the head of Windermere, whence its lofty & serrated ridge, a succession of knobs and depressions, as aptly described by the name. These undulations seeming trivial from a distance are reviled at close range as steep buttresses and gullies above wild declivities, a scene of rugged grandeur, equalled by few others in the district. 

Although not of great significance, Cold Pike is prominent when seen from the north and east, and it has lovely views in those directions. All around, nearby, and higher fells, and maybe studied profitably from the triple peaks of this lowly one in there midst. Cold Pike is a Crinkle Crags in miniature.


Ascent: 3,620 Feet, 1,103 Meters
Wainwrights: 2, Crinkle Crags & Cold Pike
Weather: Overcast To Start With, Turning Bright & Sunny,Some Showers, High Gust Of 40mph Plus, Highs Of 16° Lows Of 12°
Parking: Old Dungeon Ghyl Hotel, Great Langdale, £6.50 All Day
Area: Southern
Miles: 7.6
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken:  
Route: Old Dungeon Ghyl, Stool End Farm The Band Three Tarns Crinkle Crags Long Top Cold Pike Red Tarn Oxendale Old Dungeon Ghyl

Map and Photo Gallery



8.10 am, The Band (C) Crinkle Crags (L) Bow Fell (R)

Its a cool overcast 12° as I enter the grounds of Stool End Farm, I kit up at the Old Dungeon Ghly Hotel with slight shivers after leaving the warmth of the car, I decide with my Jacket & Beanie to start (the jacket came of first) The threat of the high gust right about here were laying low, but I know this wasn’t going to be the case as I gained more height, so enjoy this relative calm for now Sharkey.


Views towards the Mickleden Valley, with Rosset Pike ahead & the vast prominence of Pike O’ Stickle & Loft Crag to the right, this is just one of my favourite valleys in Lakeland.


Stool End Farm.

Not quite as peaceful as it looks this morning but I guess this is a working farm.


Starting my ascent on The Band with its excellent pitch paths, it was here the Jacket came off & stayed off for the duration of the walk, my beanie however stayed on, keeping my ears toasty & the wind out.


Crinkle Crags.

It wasn’t before long that I got my first full view of the Crinkles from the path, my route today would take me in a southerly direction from the Col at Three Tarns. It almost looks like from the path that its an easy traverse over each Crinkle to the summit, but looks can be deceiving from here, the summit is strewn with bolder fields & lots of false summits. Wainwright recommended not to try & summit Crinkle Crags if the cloud was down & I for one totally agree & that is why I am here again today to take its summit in better conditions than when I was last here.


A close up of Pike O’ Stickle & Loft Crag from my ascent.


Impressive views down towards Great Langdale & Lingmoor Fell from The Band.

It really is starting to brighten up a little, its fair to say that we have seen the best of summer now, even with our gifted Indian Summer as of late. By now it was starting to warm up slightly, so much so I had a sweat on & was taking in quite a bit of hydration due to the fact that today I had forgotten my beloved Satsuma’s so I’m just hoping that the half dozen Jaffa Cakes I had on the drive in will give me that extra burst of energy I need.


Looking over to my descent route with the southern flanks of Pike O’ Blisco (L) Browney Gill & Great Knott (R) the Fell in the centre is my last Fell of the day Cold Pike.


With Three Tarns just ahead & the Col separating Bow Fell with Crinkle Crags I now arrive at the small cairn seen in the foreground indicating the path (R) for Bow Fell’s Climbers Traverse, I didn’t really have to think twice about an ascent on Bow Fell via the Climbers Traverse because right about here true to the previous evening’s weather report I was taking a full hit with 40mph gust, However this maybe, oddly it was still warm & I never once thought about reaching for the jacket.


The landmark that is; Three Tarns, Crinkle Crags.

With my clear route ahead I have a wander about this so promiscuous Landmark, its blowing a hooley as I take it all in my surroundings so I take cover behind some rocks & soak in this dramatic wind swept landscape.


Can it get any better than this?

The Scafell range from Three Tarns.


Bow Fell, Bowfell Links with a glimpse of Three Tarns from my ascent on the Crinkles.


Wind in motion.

Sporadic gust howling over the tops of Crinkle One, I fight like a mad man to hold the camera in a upright position, it is like I am possessed  by the wind as I fight against it, the only way I can describe how strong the gusts were here is this little experiment, take hold of an object, a remote control for example, hold it with two hands in front of you & move it in a circular motion & then stop. That circular motion I had no control of what so ever, my camera, my hands, my feet, pitched like a stricken sail boat, it probably seems like an exaggeration but I can truly say that moment was bloody frightening.


A close up of The Langdale Pikes & the Eastern Fells, which include (L) to (R) Nethermost Pike, Dollywagon Pike, St Sunday Crag & Fairfield.


Great Langdale from Crinkle Crags.

Despite the high gust the views are exceptional over toward Pike O’ Blisco (L) & Lingmoor Fell.


With views really starting to open up towards the Scafells & Slight Side.


Crinkle Crags summit cairn with a Scafell range backdrop.


Looking towards Crinkle five (Long Top) from Crinkle four.

It was here a decision was to be made, ahead here would lead me towards the ‘Bad Step’ a 10ft vertical drop into a hollow shelter supported by two heaving chock stones, the chock stones weren’t my problem & neither was the the near vertical drop, today my knees were my problem, or maybe not right now, but after negotiating the climb down would they be?

West of the summit lies a cairn marking ‘The Alternative Route’ I make for it with the butterflies in my belly still thinking I’m going to negotiate the Bad Step.


The Alternative Route around The Bad Step.


The Bad Step.

This is the sort of place that everybody would get down in a flash if a £5 note was waiting to be picked up below, but, without such an inducement there is much wavering on the brink. Chicken-hearted walkers, muttering something about discretion being the better part of valour, will sneak away and circumvent the difficulty by following the authors footsteps around the left flank of the buttress  forming the retaining wall of the gully to be reached without trouble; here they may sit and watch, with ill-concealed grins, the discomfiture of other tourist who may come along.

Well, I guess that’s me told!


After leaving Crinkle Crags behind I now make my way over to Cold Pike (R) leaving the well worn path at this small cairn for a grassy boggy path that will lead me all the way to the summit crags, to the left of the path in the foreground we have Great Knott, a fell worthy of a Wainwright but a Birkett none the less, & to the left in the background is Pike O’ Blisco.


All paths lead to Cold Pike…


Cold Pike summit cairn looking towards Crinkle Crags & Bow Fell.

As you can see I have company on the summit which kind of left me not knowing what to do, I needed a quiet chat with that cairn, an apology, a pat & a smile at the cairn to the amusement of a chap saw me walk away muttering, I have claimed you now & I apologise for mistaking you as Long Top when the cloud was bearing down on me over fifteen months ago.


Pike O’ Blisco from Cold Pike’s summit, it was time to make my way down to Red Tarn & eat some lunch.


Lunch on the fell side.

It was dead on midday, I wasn’t that hungry, I could of waited until I got back to the car, but I just couldn’t help to stop here at this solitary bolder, lie back in the windswept grass & eat a couple of my ham & cheese sandwiches …bliss


Pike O’ Blisco & Red Tarn.

I made my way over to the path that flanks the right side of Red Tarn, It was here in clearer conditions I realised my mistake from that cloud induced day of 10th July 10, I simply couldn’t see this path I am now on, given the fact in great conditions such as today it is still difficult to spot, my advice is; if you are making an ascent on Cold Pike from Red Tarn, if you have reached the Tarn, then you have gone too far, backup about 30 yards until you see a gathering of large boulders to the left of the path & head in a westerly direction.


Great Knott, Crinkle Crags & Bow Fell seen from Red Tarn.


And a little closer.


Heading down the steep path into Oxendale with domineering views of the Langdale Pikes.

It was here I have just had a chat with a man & his wife about the weather conditions, he then asked me was this the only way down from Pike O’ Blisco back to Wall End Farm I explained no; you can go down the back of the fell which will lead you over the top of Wrynose Fell & eventually the Wrynose Pass but I wouldn’t recommend it I explained, I’m not too sure how visible the path is. With this he went on up the steep path & Red Tarn bound.

It really is nice to be asked for advice, I remember when that was me some years ago…

I’m not happy, it has started to rain & the path here is steep & the rock underfoot, slippery, I mumble, I groan to myself, I’m going to bloody slip, with every step I take I trust my footings first, its a slow descent & for anyone who has walked up the valley from Oxendale-Red Tarn bound they will know exactly what I mean.

I’m a grumpy bugger when I want to be, then this happens…



Then there were two.

I’ve see Rainbows while on my travels, more often than not without a camera in hand or they’ve come & gone within the time it took me to reach out for my camera, this Rainbow lasted for about three minutes, fading & getting stronger with each second that went by, almost like it was posing for me.

I took an incredible 36 shots, & while they all looked the same each one had there differences, these two shots were my favourite’s.


Looking back up at Crinkle Crags from Oxendale Beck after a recent rain shower.

It was time for the short walk back to a packed out Old Dungeon Ghyl Hotel car park, & although this had been a relatively shortened walk with only two summits gained, or for me one new summit, this route either in a SN direction or a NS as I did comes very highly recommended.


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