Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Grassington to Langdale – 30 April

One of the classic Rucksack Club walks that starts in Yorkshire, crosses the Howgill fells overnight and ends in Cumbria at the mouth of Great Langdale. Around 80 miles long with, perhaps, 15,000 or 16,000 feet of climbing it makes its way through some of the best landscapes of north west England. Bright sunshine and cloudless skies were forecast for the duration but high winds were also forecast. We met in Saturday morning sunshine for a prompt 08:30 start from the centre of Grassington.

Grassington-Langdale 003The almost complete group pose somewhat nervously before the start

Grassington-Langdale 075View from Great Whernside summit

Grassington-Langdale 076Buckden Pike beyond the support point on the road in the middle distance

Grassington-Langdale 005Joe, Tom and Mark (Meet Leader)

Grassington-Langdale 006The previously missing Gerrard

Grassington-Langdale 007Self

Grassington-Langdale 012Inken & Sara

Grassington-Langdale 030JR (in red jacket) helping with support between Great Whernside & Buckden Pike

Grassington-Langdale 048Can’t have pork pies without mustard! (Self, JR and Rae)

Grassington-Langdale 055Joe, Gerrard (in van), Rae, Mike (helping with support), JR and Mark

Grassington-Langdale 058Heading to Buckden Pike

Grassington-Langdale 084Nearing the summit of Buckden Pike

Grassington-Langdale 086Buckden Pike summit

Grassington-Langdale 087Descending to the road out of Cray

Grassington-Langdale 091Gerrard contemplates while Mark patches his feet and Tom seems to be in shock


Grassington-Langdale 092Mark, Tom and Gerrard striding out for Great Knoutberry Hill

Grassington-Langdale 097Ingleborough - one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks

Grassington-Langdale 101Seemingly endless moorland before Great Knoutberry Hill

Grassington-Langdale 107Mark, Inken, Gerrard and Tom on Great Knoutberry Hill


Paying little heed to the sensible schedule we pushed on picking up time throughout the day. The strong wind was either crossing or following us but whatever the direction, it was cold. More or less reversing “The Fellsman” route we crossed Great Whernside and Buckden Pike to cross, an exceptionally dry, Fleet Moss before going round Dodd Fell Hill to head for Great Knoutberry Hill and Garsdale Head. This marked the end of the first section which meant a number of things (1) a good meal, (2) more kit and head torches are needed for the next section and Rae retired as planned and Helen joined us. Joe had already decided you can have too much of a good thing and retired while he was still enjoying himself. Tom, it should be mentioned, is a rookie – not a member of the Club and hasn’t previously walked more than 40 miles in a day.

Grassington-Langdale 060More clothes and a change of shoes for the night section

Grassington-Langdale 113Pauline, Sara, Rae & Helen and Tom

Grassington-Langdale 065Mark, Gerrard, Inken, Helen, self and Tom – almost ready to leave the Yorkshire Dales for the Howgill Fells

Grassington-Langdale 114Heading for the Howgills

Grassington-Langdale 121Sunset approaches

Grassington-Langdale 122Farm buildings

Grassington-Langdale 125Into the sunset with the Howgills on the skyline

In a sheltered valley for the last miles before darkness we had a welcome break from the cold troublesome wind. Climbing into the Howgills, heading for The Calf (highest summit in the Howgills) the wind returned stronger and more threatening than at any time during the day. Just over the summit the wind was fierce, gusting to about 60 mph, and we were forced to crawl along the ridge to get some shelter to pull more clothes on. Several times gusts were so strong we could do nothing more than lie in the darkness and wait for a respite. A clear cloudless night, free from light pollution, provided a wonderful starry sky which more than compensated for the inconvenience.


Grassington-Langdale 001Breakfast after the Howgills have been left behind

Although the wind dropped at dawn as it had done at dusk we were confident it would build again during the morning which meant the high fells in the Lake District would be too dangerous which meant working out a low level route and changing support points for the rest of the day.

Grassington-Langdale 003Spectacular clouds above the Lakeland fells

Grassington-Langdale 004Gerrard and more clouds on the horizon

Grassington-Langdale 009The high fells we should have traversed

Grassington-Langdale 012A much more relaxed Mark with the difficulties of the night behind us

Grassington-Langdale 019Ambleside from Wansfell

Grassington-Langdale 023Coniston Fells on the skyline

Grassington-Langdale 025Loughrigg Tarn with the Langdale Pikes in the distance

We reached Langdale just before 13:00 on Sunday, about 28.5 hours, 75 miles and 14500 feet from Grassington. Special thanks are due to JR and Mike who provided support throughout with help from Sara because without well organised, reliable support this type of walk would not be possible. Thanks are due too to both Mark and Inken for taking care of the navigation and route finding. Another splendid Rucksack Club “day” out.


  1. Looks a fantastic day (and a bit!) Ian

  2. blimin' fantastic! i'm strangely jealous of your tales of belly crawling on the calf. what was the original route?

  3. Kate

    Route: Grassington, Gt Whernside, Buckden Pike, Fleet Moss, Gt Knoutberry, Garsdale Head, Cautley, The Calf, Carlin Gill, Low Borrowbridge, Borrowdale. Should then have been Harrock Pike, Harter Fell, Thornthwaite Crag, Kirksone Pass, Red Scress, Fairfield, Grasmere, Langdale but weather forced us lower so from Borrowdale, Longsleddale, Troutbeck, Wansfell, Ambleside to Langdale