The Langdale Pikes via Jack's Rake

30th June 2018

I last climbed Jack's Rake back in March 2011 and even though I had been walking the Lakeland Fells for a few years I was still a newbie to the climbing scene, For me Jack's Rake is right up there with my ascent on Pillar Rock followed by my subsequent abseil into Jordan Gap. There's nothing else can touch it.

If anyone were to ask what was the most adrenalin fueled moment I've spent In Lakeland I'd probably answer with my first ascent on Jack's Rake for no matter how prepared you are the exposure can come as a knee trembling shock, it happened to me but then the adrenalin had already took over, on reaching the summit of Pavey Ark emotions ran high with a mix of achievement as the adrenalin drained from me leaving me giggling like a school boy, there was no need to climb Jack's Rake again because nothing comes close to your first experience.

I'm probably going back as far as the beginning of the year when Tim suggested we do the climb again, well, I was all up for a second ascent but if you were to ask me to my face, it might have given you a different reaction for Jack's Rake was on the edge of my capabilities, or so I thought.

Come prepared, know what is about to hit you hand on heart, my second attempt on Jack's Rake was nowhere near as daunting.

Wainwright Guide Book Three
The Central Fells
-Jack's Rake

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


Ascent: 2,807 Feet - 856 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Pavey Ark - Harrison Stickle - Pike O'Stickle - Loft Crag
Visting: Pike Howe
Weather: Hot and Sunny. Highs of 29°C Lows of 14°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Rossett Bridge, Great Langdale
Area: Central
Miles: 5.5
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 5 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Rossett Bridge - Stickle Barn - Stickle Ghyll - Stickle Tarn - Jack's Rake - Pavey Ark - Harrison Combe - Pike O'Stickle - Loft Crag - Pike Howe - New Dungeon Ghyll - Rossett Bridge

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA2 29JX
Grid Reference: NY 291 606
Notes: A popular place to park your car is Rossett Bridge, Great Langdale found between New Dungeon Ghyll and Old Dungeon Ghyll on the left hand side here you will find roadside parking for up to six cars. My advice is to arrive early due to the popularity of the area. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


While on route to Great Langdale I stopped to take this photo of the Langdale Pikes from Elterwater.
That's Pavey Ark over on the right, those of you with a keen eye might be able to spot Jack's Rake bottom centre to top left.

Crinkle Crags, The Band and Bowfell from Rossett Bridge, Great Langdale.
I arrived at Rossett Bridge half an hour early so I killed some time having a wander about.

Raven Crag and Gimmer Crag from the same spot
A climbers paradise.

Tarn Crag, Swine Crag and Whitegill Crag from Rossett Bridge.
I've just missed a call from Tim presumably to tell me he was running a few minutes late even though it's still not 08:00am yet.

Ascending the path alongside Stickle Ghyll.

Tim arrived close to 08:00am and we greet with a proper man hug! It's been over thirteen months since we last walked together and although we regularly keep in touch via text and email there's nowt like seeing an old mate in the flesh. Gear today is kept to a minimum with only the essentials packed most of the weight being taken up by hydration of which I'm carrying 2.5ltrs topped off with four satsumas which I stuff into my packs side pockets. With Tim ready we make our way back to the rear of Stickle Barn from where we pick up the path alongside Stickle Ghyll, it isn't 8.30am yet and the temperature is rising towards the early twenties already, it's going to be another hot one.

Just in case you were wondering that's the summit of Harrison Stickle peeping out with Tarn Crag over towards the right.

Looking down Stickle Ghyll towards Lingmoor Fell and Side Pike.

Conversation never broke as we rose steadily alongside Stickle Ghyll, normally the ascent would be accompanied by the sound of the water cascading downwards towards the valley but today, barley a trickle. I by now am pumping in sweat so much so it's pouring down my face, I glance over at Tim whose face doesn't show a bead.

Tim, your not working hard enough mate!

Pavey Ark from Stickle Tarn.

We crossed Stickle Ghyll at the familiar point soon after passing three guys making their own ascent, we didn't know it yet but one of the chaps was a guide who smiled as I passed "alright" he asked hot, hot, hot I replied. Having chosen to ascend to the left of Stickle Ghyll by the time we reached Stickle Tarn we tracked back across the dam wall towards the outflow if only to feast our eyes on Pavey Ark and of course Jack's Rake.

Jack's Rake, Pavey Ark.
Locating the base of Jack's Rake is pretty straight forward, we arrive from the left and use a prominent stone/scree path until the base of the Rake is reached, a second path with possibly the best view of the Rake can be found if approached from the right.

Stickle Tarn reflections.
There wasn't a ripple in the Tarn despite three wild campers taking a dip at the opposite end, it was here, and quite rightly so did the butterflies in the pit of my stomach appear. We spent a good five minutes just soaking up the atmosphere mainly by taking photos and absorbing the silence by which time the three walkers we had passed earlier appeared at the Tarn outflow, we nod again then trace back across the dam where I had left my pack and walking poles, we hydrate then make our way around the Tarn using the narrow path below Pavey Ark's Little Gully and Great Gully.

Stood at the base of Jack's Rake.
In almost the same spot as I had back in March 2011

Views from the base of Jack's Rake over StickleTarn towards the Dam Wall, Tarn Crag and Lingmoor Fell.

We begin the ascent.

Having spotted the three walkers round the Tarn from the right we knew we'd have company, the good news was we had a good ten minutes on them, the bad news, bang went our composure time before the ascent started. I de-shouldered and packed my walking poles away, took another gulp of water shortly followed by "shall we go for it"

This image shows Tim scrambling the rock from the base as we head towards the first Rowan Tree (seen at the top of the previous two images) You can see the three walkers below at the base of the Rake, they have just arrived and also de-shoulder. Seeing the walkers take their packs off really took the pressure off our ascent, and, still unbeknown to us we are unaware that one of them is a climbing guide, this I thought showed great leadership.

Climbing towards the first Rowan Tree.
The general rule of thumb is to always climb within the grooves and chimneys thus avoiding total exposure by using the rock and grass ledges over on the left where a slip or "give way" would prove fatal.

Tim looking very pleased at the first Rowan Tree.
Having reached the first Rowan Tree we were able to look down the first chimney and spot the two walkers and one guide who by now were getting ready for their own ascent, we still had a good ten minutes on them which was good enough for us.

First Rowan Tree, Jack's Rake.

Exposed ledge, Second Rowan Tree.

Tim uttered the words "thats the worst of it behind us" and technically he was right, but in terms of exposure this ledge screamed of it. Back in March 2011 I had a genuine leg wobble here.

Beyond the ledge a short, but total exposed scramble awaits, whatever you do here keep right and do not be tempted to drift left.

Fabulous views over Stickle Tarn from the exposed Ledge.
That's about as wide as the ledge goes along this section.

Tim climbs the chimney, Second Ash Tree.
Tim suggests he goes first so he can capture a few photos of my ascent. At the head of the chimney an awkward spot requires hands, knees and backside manoeuvres.

"So I just wiggle my way out do I Tim!"
The point of trying to look cool for the photos had long gone.

Looking down on the exposed ledge, Second Rowan Tree.
That's the most exposed part of the ascent over and the one that stayed with me the most after my first ascent, it's only human to feel nervous because it's those nerves that kick the adrenalin in. I'm pleased to report there was no leg wobble today although by now my body is starting to feel like it's getting a dam good work out.

Exposed ledge looking towards the Chock Stone.
Again it is essential to keep right and climb into the gully where at its head, another awkward manoeuver is required in order to negotiate around the chock stone.

Above the second Rowan Tree.
This young lady was accompanied by a second climber who we couldn't see but could hear, on reaching the ledge directly below we asked were we ok to pass, "yeah yeah just go for it" she replied.

The view back along the second exposed ledge.
Taken from the gully, below the chock stone. We must have spent too long admiring the views because the guide and his students are back on our tails, behind them (unbeknown to us) is a single climber followed by a second trio.

The Chock Stone.
The chock stone is found at the head of steep chimney and manoeuvering around it can be tricky because of how tight the head of the chimney is, gaining a good footing with my weakest leg (left) followed by a good purchase with my strongest (right) which puts me in good stead for the manoeuver, now all I have to do now is lose a couple of inch around the waist.

Waiting for Tim to manoeuver the Chock Stone.

Looking down on one of the final ledges from The Platform.
Tim emerges after manoeuvering around the Chock Stone shortly followed by a traverse of the ledge seen below, one final climb via a narrow rock groove emerged us out at The Platform below Gwynnes Chimney, we could see the trio were close but we also knew we still a had a good ten minutes on them so we de-shouldered and picked a safe spot to take in the fantastic views followed by long gulps of hydration.

Harrison Stickle from Jack's Rake.

With the Coniston Fells in the distance.

Looking back on The Platform, Jack's Rake.

With the trio back in earshot we re-shouldered and just as we were about to leave the guide closely followed by his two students emerged onto The Platform "well done guys stay right close to those rocks" those words for me gave him away as their guide. We spoke briefly on how well the climb had gone for us before setting off on the final leg which comprises of a grassy terrace which negotiates around the head of Great Gully before the final scramble onto the summit plateau.

On shouldering the summit the first thing we saw was the summit stone wall. From here we head right over boulder towards Pavey Ark summit.

Pavey Ark summit.
We traced over rock soon feeling a summit cross wind which felt like luxury to exposed sticky skin, with the summit reached I shake Tim's hand followed by a "well done" Tim echoes my words as I de-shoulder once more to take out my walking poles by which time Tim has left the summit and is already making his way towards todays second summit, Thunacar Knott.

Thunacar Knott from Pavey Ark.
We each have our own way of drifting back into reality, Tim, who by now is a seasoned fell runner runs the slight gradient while I, loop my hands into my walking pole straps and leave the summit of Pavey Ark at my own pace.

Thunacar Knott summit.
Tim was sitting down absorbing the views by the time I reached Thunacar Knott by which time I had a steady stream of fell runners who had gained Pavey Ark via the North Rake most of whom were holding maps darting about here and there.

Views over Harrison Combe towards Crinkle Crags, Three Tarns, Bowfell and Pike O'Stickle.

We hadn't been at the summit of Thunacar Knott long when three more fell runners arrived from the direction of High Raise, after a quick Hi they were off and didn't appear to be part of the same masses who by now were about to swarm Harrison Combe.

We descend via a grassy path skirting the Combe finding it still a little marshy around edges.

Pike O'Stickle Summit.
With Harrison Combe behind us we scrambled our way onto Pike O'Stickle summit arriving at the same time a chap who was about to leave. With plenty of time on our hands we down packs again, replenish our thirst and take in the magnificent views.

Big views from Pike O'Stickle summit.
Finding a rock from which to sit on I basked in the summit breeze as it cooled me down while taking in this view of the head of Mickleden Valley capped off by Bowfell and Rossett Pike with views extending all the way towards Esk Pike, Esk Hause, Great End and III Crag, we could have stopped here all day, in fact it felt like we did.


Loft Crag and Harrsion Stickle from the descent of Pike O'Stickle.

Loft Crag, shortly followed by Harrison Stickle will complete todays round not before crossing the head of the South Gully which divides Pike O'Stickle from Loft Crag, this steep scree gully is the site of a cave from which many a "rejected" stone axes had been found from the early inhabitants of Lakeland.

Our original plan was to descend the south scree gully up until I started to have the problem with my foot which I don't really want to make any worse by the arduous descent, but that's not to say I won't return one day.

Looking back on Stickle Breast over the South Gully.

Crinkle Crags, The Band, Three Tarns and Bowfell from the approach to Loft Crag.

Harrison Stickle seen over Harrison Combe.
Harrison Stickle will conclude todays walk from which we will descend from the top of Dungeon Ghyll seen lower right, the path we will be using can be seen just above the Ghyll and descends all the way down the fabulous Pike Howe ridge, what a great alternative descent.

Cloudless skies from Loft Crag summit.

For reasons unknown we spent less time on Loft Crag than we had at any other previous summit, I think it had something to do with the words lunch, followed by Harrison Stickle may of had something to do with it.

We descend by passing the cairn and follow a stone path back into Harrison Combe.

Pavey Ark, Stickle Tarn, Blea Crag and the eastern ridge from Harrison Stickle summit.

Having descended into Harrison Combe we made a pathless traverse to the large stone cairn at the other side of the Combe, going was a little wet underfoot in places but predominantly dry which was very unusual for this area even through the Summer months. It was a take your time kind of ascent on Harrison Stickle hitting hot spots of air which just seemed to stop us in our tracks yet on reaching the shoulder we were greeted by a cooling summit wind which spurned us onto the summit cairn.

It's time to break out lunch as we feast over our view of Pavey Ark and Jack's Rake which by now is looking considerably busier.

Looking over the head of Dungeon Ghyll towards Thorn Crag, Loft Crag and Pike O'Stickle.
The path on this side of Dungeon Ghyll is loose and quite narrow in places, there is no feeling of real exposure but care must be exercised at all times with sudden drops appearing into the Ghyll below.

Views back towards Thorn Crag and Harrison Stickle from Pike Howe.
With Dungeon Ghyll middle ravine seen left.

Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark from Pike Howe.
During our descent to Pike Howe we passed a number of walkers in ascent and we were quietly thankful it wasn't us heading up as the midday day heat approaches 30°C.

Dungeon Ghyll middle ravine with Thorn Crag and Harrison Stickle above.
The views into Dungeon Ghyll were the main reason I chose to end the walk by descending the Pike Howe ridge, the views certainly didn't disappoint.

The view over Great Langdale taken below Pike Howe.
We had agreed to have a celebratory pint at either Dungeon Ghyll Hotel or Stickle Barn, both seen below beyond the wooded area, that pint can't come quick enough, phew wee what a scorcher.

A pint of refreshing Wainwright Ale each, New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

Having descended back into Great Langdale we reached the area behind the hotel and without thinking headed for the beer garden which was around half full of people eating and drinking and generally enjoying the hot weather. I went over to a table and deliberately sat with my back against the wall if only to spare anyone my T-shirt which by now is wet through in my own sweat. My pack and poles are placed on the wall and soon Tim emerges from the bar with two pints of chilled Wainwright ale.

I reckon we could have necked the whole lot in one go but instead we savour the moment whilst sharing our thoughts on a walk that seven years ago I said I'd never attempt again.


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