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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Langdale–Four MIsty Tops and a Lethal Footpath

Me and LTD rushed off over a foggy, wet and windy A66 for another visit to The Bro’s bit of Cumbria – in this case four fairly obscure rocky lumps hanging off  Blea Rigg. We parked freely in the New Dungeon Ghyll car park (due to the Bro having paid for National Trust membership) and wandered down Langdale for a bit.
At Harry Place a steepish path took us up through brackeny. occasionally rocky nobbles into the driving drizzle that is often the way in Langdale (in my damp experience). A long and winding path was followed loosely through a grey/green and misty landscape, occasionally being lost and refound a bit further on. It felt like a long way, but eventually a small knobble or prominence appeared in the gloom and was pronounced, by dint of a GPS location pointer, to be Little Castle Howe.
And a bit further on, a bigger rocky lump was declared as being Great Castle Howe. Great Castle Howe being bigger than Little Castle Howe, obviously.
During these wanderings, we came across a DofE group with a teacher doing a spot of navigation training. Good luck with that, girls, this is just the kind of coutryside and just the kind of driving driech to get anybody utterly lost. They seemed to be doing well, though, and, inh fact, much better than I would have done if armed with just a map and a compass and a small dog intent on hunting mice in the long grass.
We progressed.
The next target involved a long traverse along the 500 metre contour and then a descent to a narrowish ridge with a pimple on the end. This was announced as being Whitegill Crag. I expect that Whitegill Crag probably has fine views of Langdale and Bowfell and Things Like That. There was no evidence at all of this on the day, though.
Various navigational shenanigans transpired just after this and a crucial section of ruined wall was found but a traversing footpath, marked on the map wasn’t. However, a beeline over a few grassy lumps, plus a brief but enlightening break in the mist brought us to Tarn Crag. Tarn Crag appears, on the face of it, to have a summit which is some way from the summit marked on the map. Luckily, and, probably a bit wisely, we visited all likely visible contenders for the highest point before wandring down to Stickle Tarn.
I’ve not had much excuse for a rant recently, so I was gruntled to bits to be able to follow the absolute feckin joke of a path that runs (that should be stumbles, swears and slips) it’s dangerous way from Stickle Tarn under Tarn Crag down by Stickle Gill towards Langdale. This path has been specifically designed to hurt as many people as possible. Each stone is carefully laid so that it tilts away from the descending walker and, being wet, is  randomly lethally slippery. Thus safe progress is painfully slow. Short slides accompanied by Anglo-Saxon expletives are the order of the day. Longer slides and stumbles involve much more in the way of downhill hurtling. Wherever a grass verge is available, it appears that the majority of those attempting a dignified and safe descent have been, with some relief, I shouldn’t wonder, abandoning the death-trap Fix the Feckin Fells/National Trust absolute cockup of a comedy footpath. Somebody will get seriously hurt on this path. Somebody will also, probably, get seriously sued.
We did seven miles and 2000 and a bit feet of ascent.
We also got wet. Fix The Fells failed to break my ankle or re-damage my femoral muscle. If they had, I’d have been round their house and given them a right good kicking. With my other leg, though, obviously.


FellBound said...

I'm sorry but I have to swear. You have the name wrong of the organisation that deals with footpaths in the Lakes. It is called Fuck the Fells not Fix the Fells.

I thought I was a lone voice complaining about their work. It is often dangerous as you found, and also insensitive. They appear entirely unaccountable. They often do unnecessary work on ok paths. Their mission appears to be to urbanise the hills. I have asked questions of them eg who agrees their work programme, how they consult etc. No coherent answer. If you seek answers you just get offers to go spend a day with them rather than, say, an e mail with the information you want. I could say more about the woman in charge but would be very rude which is inappropriate on your blog.

I wish more people would question them and complain though it seems ineffective. Finally, whilst I am against the compensation culture I also predict them being sued eventually when someone slips and has an accident on one of their paths. As you found they often are constructed in a way which makes them far more hazardous, especially in the wet, than what they replace.

Dawn Linney said...

Wow, at least you had some excitement?? Looks a great walk.

Alan Sloman said...

Wilky, Mad'n'Bad, Lord Elpus and I fell down that very path on a PreWalkDaunder in the rain four or five years ago. I do recall one of us taking a pretty major tumble. We all agreed that Fux the Fells should and will be sued one day. They're a bunch of arrogant arseholes who go about the place making things look pretty (in their eyes)

It's an atrocious, dangerous path.

Then of course, there's THIS abomination

Mike Knipe said...

That's what I think, David (Fellbound) - I don't usually publish naughty words, but in this case....
Alan - I think I took part in that daunder and the memory of negotiating that path - five years ago, I meantersay, five years and it's had no attention at all. I can't believe nobody has complained about that path in all that time... There are others like that, too and the Coledale round path is truly a mess and my most recent descent of the thing showed that most people seem to be ignoring the rumbling loose stones if the zig-zags in favour of a safer straight-down strategy.