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Far Easedale near Langdale - Look at the photos

I drove up the motorway through thick fog hoping for the best and by the time I got Grasmere at 8:30 the weather was at it's best.

I set off up the Easedale road, past Goody Bridge and all the way to the end of the track where it ends at a gate at the start of the path to Helm Crag. Turn left here for the path to Far Easedale, a quieter alternative to Easedale itself but you are soon amongst the hills. The walking is easy especially in this dry spell and after about a mile on the path you reach the footbridge at Stythwaite Steps. Not only was it sunny, it was warm, already in tee shirt it was warm enough by this time to change into shorts.

I checked my Pictorial Guide at this stage, intending to climb Tarn Crag I want to try the non East Ridge route nearer to Deer Bield Crag. Unfortunately this was too little preparation, I misread fold (ruins) as old ruins, not that it made any difference. I set off uphill when I reached the fold towards a natural looking ascent up a shallow gully, the steep walk up the fellside didn't correspond to AW's description of the walk.

I eventually joined the East Ridge path above Easedale Tarn that for once looked clear and blue, further along the ridge Codale Tarn looked equally pleasant. The summit mound of Tarn Crag lay ahead buttressed on the right hand side by the splendid looking Deer Bield Crag. I later realised that I should have delayed my climb out the the valley until I could see Deer Bield Crag and climbed upwards by the side of it, maybe next time.

The climb to Tarn Crag summit looks as though it will be hard but a zigzag path makes the going easier up to the splendid little summit, the extensive view is a bonus.

AW claims that a cairned path leads towards Sergeant Man but I didn't see any, there is a faint path that can be followed and in any case on a day like today you can see exactly where you are going. When the ground steepens there is a natural way up what looks like a small gully but last time I was here it was a fast flowing stream. On reaching more level ground you should keep left in order to avoid the very wet ground around Codale Head, as long as you don't lose height keep to the left. The summit of Sergeant Man appeared unexpectedly as a prominent mound just as I was beginning to wonder if I was going in the right direction and I joined the main path from Blea Rigg for the short climb to the summit.

The summit of Sergeant Man is a splendid little place, the panorama of Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Esk Pike, Scafell Pike, Lingmell and Great Gable is exceptional but the views of the Helvellyn range and Windermere are unusually clear.

From Sergeant Man I contoured around the head of Bright Beck, there is a path marked on the map but I didn't see any signs of it and the going got quite wet just before the climb up to the col between Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle. I had expected to arrive at Pavey Ark but had managed to bypass it so I continued on to the summit of Harrison Stickle. How many times can you get away with describing the view as fantastic?

Had a change of plan at this stage, Pike o' Stickle looked so good that I had to go and visit it, and having made the steep descent from Harrison Stickle it was clear that Loft Crag couldn't be ignored either. The climb of Loft Crag and its descent were straightforward enough, the climb of Pike o' Stickle needs a little bit of local knowledge to make the most of it.

There are many ways up to the small summit of Pike o' Stickle but the most enjoyable is to follow the obvious path until it ends at a steep drop. Just before the drop is a good rock step on the left, climb onto the rock and bear slightly to the left where you will find a small rocky gully. It looks dark and there is moss on some of the rocks but it is quite easy and safe as a way up to a point just below the summit and it is by far the easiest and safest way down again.

The summit of Pike o' Stickle is a place to linger on a sunny day.

Having got down from Pike o' Stickle the next target was Thunacar Knott, a pathless trek through ankle deep grass, calf muscles were really complaining by the time I reached the summit. Hard work finished, there followed an easy walk over to High Raise, easy enough to enjoy the extensive view without stopping, the cool breeze was the only reminder that this was March and not June.

At High Raise summit the view of Skiddaw and Keswick completed an impressive collection for the day. The walk down to Greenup Edge and then to the head of Far Easedale was very pleasant in the dry conditions, the first time I've managed to keep my feet dry in this wettest of wet places.

Finally the long walk back down Far Easedale, one of the more pleasant finishes to a day on the fells.

Andy Wallace 29th March 2003

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