Salvaging a Wasted Trip on Pike o’ Blisco

29 04 2013

Sat 27 Apr 2013
Of late, one snag I’m starting to find with my climbing ambitions, is that you need a partner to do it. All well and good but, having to rely on others to help you further your ambitions, often leads to being let down and wasted journeys. Part of my plan towards doing this year’s fearsome Cuillin Munros, was to try to attend the climbing wall every week and have one further outdoor climb. Twice in the last two weeks, I’ve been let down at the last minute – after I’ve made the journey! The first time was a 50 mile round trip to the climbing wall where my partner-to-be simply didn’t turn up. This weekend was a much longer trip all the way to Langdale in the Lake District for an outdoor evening climb where, on arrival after a slow 2.5 hour drive, I received a text which had been sent half an hour previously cancelling ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

(All photos taken on previous trips)
I got back into my car and mused briefly… it was an absolutely glorious evening – sunny, warm and calm. I rarely go up the Langdale Valley at all due to the horrendous cost of parking and the fact that the place is always absolutely mowed out with people.

Langdale Valley

It being late in the day, I assumed I must be able to find somewhere to park in the valley without paying out loads of money. I continued up the valley and drove up the steep hairpin pass to the Blea Tarn carpark.

Side Pike&Blea Tarn
Blea Tarn and Side Pike

Now, I expected I might have to pay a couple of quid but, it nearly being the end of the day, didn’t intend to pay more than that. I was horrified to see that, for my intended walk of Pike o’ Blisco, I’d be more than 2 hours so would have to pay nearly ยฃ5 !! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

There was no way I was going to pay that amount and I remembered I’d seen a very small pull-in at the top of the pass which would just accommodate my little Polo so drove back to there and backed into it. The car was a perfect fit… I quickly booted up and set off down the pass towards the track which sets off up the front of the peak.

Now, apart from me being utterly and completely knackered by the time I’d got above the very steep stone-pitched part of the route to where the little scrambly bits started, there wasn’t much to report on this walk and I hadn’t brought a camera as I expected to have had my hands full climbing up a crag. So, apart from saying that, in order to maximise my exposure to the sun, I descended after the peak into Mickleden and walked back up the pass, I’ll tell you a tale about my first trip up Pike o’ Blisco…

Pike O'Blisco
Pike O’ Blisco

Many years ago, probably the 1980s, when I was in my early 30s, I had a thing about Jimmy Page out of Led Zeppelin. I’d given up hill-walking right after I’d got old enough to not accompany my parents on their holidays (mid teens) and was on a motorcycling trip to the Lakes. Just before I’d set out on my trip, I’d seen an interview with Jimmy Page where he’d been filmed recording some acoustic songs with Roy Harper somewhere above Blea Tarn above Langdale. I resolved to drive up to the tarn and have a wander to see if I could see where my hero had been interviewed. Little was I to know, this would be the day I took up hillwalking again!

JP
JP – Gutted to have missed me! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I parked at the top of the pass, dumped my crash helmet on my handlebars, and set off, in my biking gear, under a hot sun straight up from the top of the pass towards Blake Rigg (not that I knew that’s what it was at the time). The ground rose up in grassy humps and sketchy bits of path led me around craggy outcrops. I kept seeing bits which I thought were where my hero had sat but, of course, was never really sure so continued up – I’d have hated to have missed that sacred ground!

Eventually, I came out at the top of the end of Blake Rigg’s ridge and saw a dark-looking summit off to my right with a trickle of people heading towards it pilgrim-style. I was intrigued and resolved to follow them to see what was up there.

I caught up with a group of young lads – well, at least I caught up with the fat lad at the back who was pretty asthmatic (as I was at the time) and we puffed and sporadically chatted out way to the summit. I noticed that it was pretty scrambly (not that I knew that word at the time). Eventually, me and the lad joined his mates on the summit. I remember being very taken with the young blonde lad in their group!

Lads & Summit Sheet, Pike o' Blisco
Lads and ‘Summit Sheep’

Now this was the only time I’ve ever done this but, I had no idea where I was so I asked what peak we were on. I was told, “Pike O’ Blisco”. “Oh, I’ve heard of that”, I said.

Anyway, to get back up to date, on Saturday, I descended down the back to Red Tarn – a very pretty spot…

Red Tarn & Great Knott

I then followed the steep and stone-pitched path which turns right at the crossroads and descends to Mickleden and the Langdale Valley. I’d been going to turn left and descend to the 3-Shire Stone, walk down the Wrynose Pass and follow a lovely path back round to Blea Tarn but realised most of my route would be in the shade. As we’re only getting around one sunny day per month, I thought that would be a waste. The route I chose is much more scenic anyway as it looks across to the stunning gills under Bowfell…

Bowfell gills from Browneycove Gill

Bowfell Gills from Browney gill route(green)

Richard looking over Langdale
Richard on a previous walk just before the steep drop back down to Langdale

I passed another late walker down the very steep stone-pitching of the final slope into the valley and continued to the bridge over the river. I was amused to see that it seemed to have blown over and was laying on its side but unfortunately didn’t have a camera to take a photo of it. I clambered across its base quite happily but noted it quite perplexed the following walker and he took a while to study it before crossing!

I then set off on the steep walk back up to the pass, rescued my car and set off to find some accommodation for the night. I knew the weather was forecast to go off but, as I’d booked a whole weekend off work, I decided to stay in the Lakes and have some kind of walk the next day – even if just to attempt to get a bit fitter before my imminent Skye trip.

The weather forecast was quite correct and I had an extremely wet and windly slosh around the horseshoe walk from Helm Crag to Steel Fell.

Helm Crag Round from Alcock Tarn with forest

Last time I did this walk it was in winter with Richard and far nicer!

Snowy Helvellyn fm icy Steel Fell

Oh well, at least I didn’t waste my weekend!

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24 responses

30 04 2013
Dan Hudson (aka icemandan)

Maybe ‘Buying a stairway to heaven’ is about paying for parking for Pike o’ Blisco.

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30 04 2013
mountaincoward

LOL – maybe! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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30 04 2013
chrissiedixie

At least you made the most of it.
Car parking charges in the Lakes – one of the reasons we hardly ever go there any more.
Hordes of people in the Lakes – the other reason we hardly ever go there any more.

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30 04 2013
mountaincoward

I don’t really mind hordes of walkers – I do mind hordes of cars on narrow roads though. And I refuse to pay over ยฃ3 – 4 to park anywhere! It already cost me ยฃ64 for my accommodation as, it being a weekend, all the Youth Hostels were booked up so I had to get a hotel. The petrol of course isn’t cheap either.

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29 04 2013
McEff

I saw Roy Harper in the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, circa 1990, and that was an easy walk with no scrambling. Would much rather have seen Led Zep though.
Cheers, Alen

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30 04 2013
mountaincoward

Never saw Roy Harper – but then I’m not really a fan of acoustic. But I did see what was probably Led Zep’s last concert at Knebworth in 1980. I was so far back though that I only recognised the group members by either hair colour (Rob Plant) or what they were playing/doing! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve seen Jimmy Page since though…

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1 06 2013
Scotlands Mountains

I was at Knebworth twice.Headliners were the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.Lynyrd Skynyrd were one of the support acts for the Stones..brilliant weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ Must have been in the late 70`s. Seem to remember an inflatable Spitfire or pig at the Floyd gig though consumption of various chemicals in those days perhaps diminishes my powers of recall somewhat ๐Ÿ™‚

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2 06 2013
mountaincoward

I remember there were plenty of ‘chemicals’ being offered round during the Led Zep Knebworth. The preceding acts were all cr*p and it was hot and sunny so I was trying to kip all afternoon in the field until the main event – the pushers kept waking me up which didn’t go down too well!

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29 04 2013
Paul Shorrock

Another great post Carol – looking forward to tales of the Cuillins ๐Ÿ™‚

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30 04 2013
mountaincoward

I know – you go, do them, and write nice things about them! I’m dreading it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I know I went last year but at least the weather played ball – this year it really isn’t!

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29 04 2013
bob

Good photographs Carol. Its always a problem if you have a strong ambition to do set targets and others have their own ideas what they want to do. What you need is the mountaineering equivalent of a toy-boy who will go where he’s told and carry all the gear :0)
On a serious note I’ve just looked at very recent photos taken on the Skye ridge and its still getting hit with hail, snow showers and high winds up until this Friday. More snow showers are forecast so it might be tough going underfoot for first May weekend up there..Don’t think we are getting a spring this year at all :0(

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30 04 2013
mountaincoward

๐Ÿ˜ฆ That’s what I was afraid of weather-wise. I would have liked the week after but the guide I wanted to book couldn’t make it that week so we’re going a week early…

My last toyboy was fat and American and didn’t go up hills!

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29 04 2013
Mark

I haven’t paid for parking in the Lakes since last September, and i’m a resident there and use car parks almost daily. Join the National Trust for about ยฃ40 and use their car parks as much as you want. They have recently spent ยฃ40,000 renovating the loos in Great Langdale, the National Trust have paid for this, they also maintain the footpaths in the area, costly work too. So a few quid well spent and let’s face it, anyone who can afford to own and drive a car these days can manage a few quid for parking.

Nice photos ๐Ÿ™‚

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29 04 2013
mountaincoward

I probably will join the National Trust one day… but after paying for the fuel costs to visit the Lakes and then money on top of that for accommodation, I can’t really afford ยฃ5 – 7 to park on a regular basis.

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29 04 2013
smackedpentax

Excellent post! I too was a big Zeppelin fan (I never saw them but I did see my hero Jimi Hendrix twice). I totally agree with you about parking charges in the Lakes – they are outrageous…it is just greedy councils! I do most of my walking solo – that way you can go where you want to at your own pace (I stop a lot to take photos), although I do occasionally go with a mate from work. But I prefer solo….you miss so much when you are with someone because you end up talking and miss the good bits. Have a great time in Skye!

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29 04 2013
mountaincoward

I think I’m preferring to walk solo most of the time nowadays – I find that otherwise, you’re having to tailor what you really want to do to match the desires of your companion/s – not the best way to have a walk really. I often plan to go up one hill and then, near the foot of it, completely change my mind and go up another one nearby – or totally change the planned route – doesn’t go down well if you have others with you and often can’t be managed.

But yeah, ยฃ5 to park for a quick evening stroll is ludicrous. The ยฃ7 carparks are even more so. I don’t object to ยฃ2 – 3.50 ish but think anything above that is extortion – no matter what they do with the money. There’s only one place around here which charges vast amounts of money to park and I just don’t go there (Devonshire estates and all that).

Not sure I’m going to have a great time on Skye as I’m having to do even more fierce Cuillin than last time but it looks like this time it will be in gales, ice and snow! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Dreading it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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29 04 2013
smackedpentax

If you are talking about Bolton Abbey, you can park near the A59 roundabout for free if you are early enough (and I mean by 7:30 it can be full)..only about 6 spaces though so be quick…Last time I went to Skye I got drunk and broke my foot…my friend who couldn’t drive was with me and I drove but my left foot was in plaster so he did the clutch with his right foot…that was fun, but somehow we made it back…oh, and the car only had 3 gears too (cost me a tenner)…

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30 04 2013
mountaincoward

I’m never early anywhere – I can sometimes park at Barden Bridge or where you said after everyone has left for an evening walk but I don’t do anything at all in the early mornings (except sleep that is ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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29 04 2013
stravaigerjohn

Parking charges in the Lakes are an outrage – and is having parking machines in almost every layby really compatible with national park purposes?

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29 04 2013
mountaincoward

I was pretty infuriated when they slapped parking machines in the little forest carparks in Whinlatter Forest and double white-lined all the roads round about and bouldered off where the poorer people used to park. If you wanted to pay and park your car in a well-attended place, you had the option of the visitor centre – the rest of us used to rough it in the forest spots.

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29 04 2013
fedupofuserids

Great selection of photos ๐Ÿ™‚ – maybe you should take up bouldering you don’t need somebody at the other end of a rope ๐Ÿ˜‰

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29 04 2013
mountaincoward

I probably should – I don’t seem to get on that well with bouldering though – probably because I only dare do most things on the end of a rope and wouldn’t be happy with just a crash mat below!

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29 04 2013
jackie sowrey

Stunning photographs and very funny commentary Carol. I’m sure it was JP’s loss to have missed you!

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29 04 2013
mountaincoward

Yeah – if only he knew, I’m sure he would have been gutted ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mind you, he might just be proud he started one woman’s life-long hill-walking fervour off!

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