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One Minute Mountain: Langdale Pikes

With that classic toothy profile, the Langdale Pikes have kept painters and postcard shops busy for centuries. Though far over-topped by bigger neighbouring fells, this cluster of rocky peaks has to be one of the most attention-grabbing small mountains in Britain.


Langdale Pikes  © johnhenderson
Langdale Pikes
© johnhenderson, Aug 2014

Height: Maxing out at only 736m on [crag"Harrison Stickle")], the Pikes are unashamedly pint-sized. Pike of Stickle makes it to 709m while Pavey Ark is a mere 700m, and Loft Crag can only manage 684m. Good things come in small packages, they say, and in this case it's very much what you do with it that counts.

Personality: Impressive and irresistible, this intriguing mountain draws the eye and practically begs to be explored. Sunny, south-facing and inviting, you really couldn't ask for a friendlier fell.

What's in a name? Pikes are sharp and pointy - no great mystery here.

Gimmer Crag from Pike o Stickle  © Seymore Butt
Gimmer Crag from Pike o Stickle
© Seymore Butt, Dec 2014

Key features: While the northern flank slopes off into nondescript moorland, you'd never know that from the Pikes' better side. Looming precipitously over Langdale, the southern and eastern ramparts bristle with rock. Its peaks feel like proper summits, especially the conical mass of Pike of Stickle, while amongst the steep hillsides below you'll find some of Lakeland's finest crags. Jewel in the crown is the immaculate Gimmer Crag, with honourable mention too to White Gill, Raven Crag and the huge rambling face of Pavey Ark.

Getting hands-on: With so much rock on show - among it some of the best in Lakeland - it should come as no surprise that this is a mecca for climbers and scramblers. If you like your hill days spiked with adrenaline then there's arguably no better place in England, with a wealth of quality routes across the grade range concentrated in one small area. Classics include the improbable grade 1 adventure that is Jack's Rake, the immaculate rock of Harrison Stickle's Southwest Face (grade 2), and the airy exposure of Pike of Stickle's West Ridge (grade 3). Keen scramblers could spend all day here linking up the many ghylls and buttresses.

Topping out on Pavey Ark, February  © cat22
Topping out on Pavey Ark, February
© cat22, Feb 2008

Pub quiz trivia: From about 4000BC the Langdale Pikes were the site of a thriving axe making industry, which exported its wares around Britain, and evidence of its extent can still be seen if you know where to look. The neolithic axe makers apparently favoured the epidotised greenstone found on the flanks of Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle.

Best quickie?

If you've a head for heights, and dry conditions, you can't beat Jack's Rake. Check it out here:

Best long route?

Hard to argue with a full circuit of Langdale. Let Alex Roddie be your guide:

Raise a toast

At the foot of the Pikes you'll find not just one, but three classic hillwalkers' pubs. The Hiker's Bar of the famous Old Dungeon Ghyll (ODG) has been a favoured hangout of walkers and climbers since the pastimes were invented. The nearby New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel is almost as venerable, while next door, Sticklebarn is a good place to head for post-hill grub and pints.

Accommodation Advertise here

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Instructor/Guides Advertise here

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Outdoor Shops Advertise here

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