Find remote wild swimming locations, energetic hikes and waterfall canyoning in one of the most rugged and picturesque corners of the Lake District. Get out and about in the Langdale Pikes.

The majestic, craggy profile of the Langdale Pikes are some of the most recognisable peaks in the Lake District. While not boasting any records, their distinctive rugged slopes and rocky summits dominate the north side of Great Langdale; one of the most dramatic valleys in the area.

The Langdales are made up of five peaks, Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle and Loft Crag. Together they oversee a playground of remote and rugged landscapes; ideal terrain for explorers looking for interesting outdoor experiences in the high fells.    

Ascend the summits on a great hike or take a nerve-testing scramble up steep rocky facades. Swim in a lake under towering peaks or slide down rocky waterfalls sunk in deep ravines. Soak up the views with a pint in a traditional hiker’s pub or take sunrise photos overlooking one of the most beautiful tarns in the Lake District.

Here’s our pick of the best things to do in the Langdales with information on where to stay and how to get around.

THINGS TO DO IN THE LANGDALES


HIKE / explore the craggy rock faces on 2 energetic hikes

SCRAMBLE / take the adventurous route up Pavey Ark via Jack’s Rake

CANYONING / slide down waterfalls cut into deep ravines

SWIM / cool off in the picturesque high-fell lake, Stickle Tarn

CLIMB / take an easy hike up to one of the best views in the Lake District

CAPTURE / photograph the Langdales in the reflection of Blea Tarn

DRINK / have a traditional ale at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel

1 / WALK UP THE LANGDALE PIKES

A setting this dramatic needs to be conquered on foot. With steep drops on the southern faces of the Langdale Pikes, there are various routes that navigate the crags with varying degrees of difficulty. These two walking routes are some of our favourite hikes in the Lake District, and achievable for anyone with a decent level of fitness.

LANGDALE PIKES WALK FROM NEW DUNGEON GHYLL

The most popular and best Langdale Pikes walking route is from New Dungeon Ghyll. The path rises steeply for an hour up to Stickle Tarn, a beautifully positioned lake sitting under the towering craggy face of Pavey Ark. The trail then winds its way around the steepest section of rock to arrive at the summit.

The walk continues over the other four summits, which despite their rugged look from below, seem little more than tiny hillocks from the top. It is then another steep descent back to the New Dungeon Ghyll.

Although steep, with a total of 875 meters of ascent, the Langdale Pike trail from New Dungeon Ghyll is short and not technically difficult. It has the benefit of getting up close to the towering face of Pavey Ark, but without the tricky scramble up Jack’s Rake (see below).

This walk will take around 3 hours, 15 minutes to complete the 5.5 mile circuit. All the details are here.  

LANGDALE PIKES WALK FROM GRASMERE

A longer, but extremely beautiful ascent of the Langdale Pikes can be made from Grasmere. You’ll need to devote a whole day to the excursion but what an adventure it is. Ten iconic summits are collected (all 5 of the Langdales, plus 5 others) and two excellent ridge walks.

From Grasmere, the trail heads up over Silver How, a humble fell taking up a commanding position between Langdale and Easedale; and then onto the moss-covered Blea Crag. Next, it summits all of the Langdale peaks before the trail starts the return via High Raise and Helm Crag, another Lake District gem.

It’s a magnificent day out in the mountains with diverse and rewarding views. But it does require some energy. The hike will take around 8 hours to complete the 12 mile walk. With 1150 metres of ascent and descent, you’ll need good walking shoes and a thirst for adventure.

All the details are here.

2 / SCRAMBLE UP GRADE 1 JACK’S RAKE

For something a bit more invigorating than a steep walk, the grade 1 scramble up Pavey Ark via Jack’s Rake is a great way to get the heart pumping and one of our favourite adventurous activities in the Lake District.

Jack’s Rake is a narrow groove that cuts diagonally across the towering craggy face of Pavey Ark. It’s a nerve-testing scramble that requires handholds and awkward contortions to squeeze through small gaps in the rock.

There is a narrow unprotected ledge near the top which can be intimidating if you don’t like heights. After the ledge, a series of blocks and grooves linked by ledges allow you to ascend to the summit.

Clambering up Jack’s Rake is an adventurous way to experience the ruggedness of the Langdale Pikes. Fortunately the edges of the groove on either side of you mean most of the climb is relatively unexposed. Something rare for a grade 1 scramble. Some people wear a helmet for extra safety, but ropes and other equipment is not required. Although previous experience of scrambling is recommended.

More information is in our guide to the best scrambles in the Lake District.

3 / SCRAMBLE AND CANYON DOWN WATERFALLS IN STICKLE GHYLL

Stickle Ghyll is a dramatic ravine cut deep into the Langdale Pikes. Walls of vertical rock rise either side of a river containing deep pools and cascading waterfalls. It provides one of the best places in the Lake District to try a ghyll scramble.

Ghyll scrambling involves leaping into pools, sliding over waterfalls and climbing the vertical walls up the river. It requires a sense of adventure and a decent level of fitness, but no prior experience is necessary.

We highly recommend the team at Crag’s Adventures who had us leaping off waterfalls we never knew possible. The guides will provide all the equipment you need including a heavy duty wetsuit and helmet.  Just wear shoes with a good grip that you are happy to get wet, as you’ll be climbing over polished rocks in the water.

4 / WILD SWIM IN STICKLE TARN

Perched 400 metres up the side of the Langdales, Stickle Tarn is a place of rugged beauty. With the massive cliff face of Pavey Ark on one side and unparalleled views of Great Langdale on the other, there are few better places to take a dip in the Lake District.

It takes just over an hour to walk up to the tarn. The steepness of the route will have you ready for a swim by the time you get to the top. Floating in the water with the craggy scenery all around is one of our favourite things to do in the Lake District.  

Afterwards, join the wild campers set up on the grassy banks around the tarn and dry off in the sun. While wild camping in the Lake District is illegal, it is generally accepted providing you are discrete and leave no trace. If you decide to wild camp at Stickle Tarn, please do so with the utmost responsibility, paying close attention to all the guidelines here.

5 / CLIMB SIDE PIKE FOR VIEWS OF LANGDALE PIKES

While the Langdale Pikes are blessed with activities designed to bring out your adventurous side, there are also some milder ways to experience this beautiful area.

A short 25-minute stroll up to the relatively unknown summit of Side Pike offers some of the finest sweeping views in the Lake District. Crinkle Crags & Bow Fell rise over the end of Great Langdale while the mighty Langdale Pikes tower across the other side of the valley.

One of the most rewarding short walks in the Lake District, the path to the 326-metre Side Pike summit begins along the road from Great Langdale to Blea Tarn. Park at the cattle grid just as the road reaches the summit of the pass and follow the trail northeast (see map below).

6 / PHOTOGRAPH LANGDALE PIKES FROM BLEA TARN

Blea Tarn is a picturesque lake, dramatically set between the Little and Great Langdale valleys. On a still day the crystal clear waters perfectly reflect the Langdale Pikes. Come armed with your camera at sunrise or sunset and you’ll be in position to capture one of the most mesmerising views of the Langdales.

The other reason to visit Blea Tarn is for an invigorating dip. We have more information about how to do this on our guide to the best wild swimming locations in the Lake District.

While Blea Tarn feels remote, you can reach it by a steep windy road connecting the Great Langdale Valley with the Little Langdale Valley. Parking is at the National Trust car park, a 5-minute walk to the tarn. It is free for National Trust members, but for non-members, the ticket machines only take cash, so bring some change with you.

7 / REST UP WITH A PINT AT OLD DUNGEON GHYLL

After exploring the Langdale Pikes, you’ll be ready for a rest by the end of the day. Although the valley is relatively remote with few facilities, finding a pub is not difficult.

Sticklebarn, a National Trust café, serves environmentally friendly food that aims to minimise its carbon footprint. Choose from vegetarian curries and locally sourced lamb. It also offers a generous selection of beers as does the Walker’s Bar at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel opposite.

But if you want an old traditional pub then join the hardy folk at the Hiker’s Bar in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Order one of their traditional ales and sit inside in the cow stalls or outside on picnic benches. Directly under the pikes, it’s a great place to rest up and enjoy a pint after a walk.  

HOW TO GET TO GREAT LANGDALE

Great Langdale is a remote valley in the Lake District. The easiest way to get around is with your own car. That way you could get the views from Side Pike, the reflections in Blea Tarn and hike or scramble the Langdale Pikes, all in the same day.

The Great Langdale valley is a 25-minute drive from Ambleside, 45 minutes from Kendal, and just over an hour from Penrith.

PARKING AT GREAT LANGDALE

There are three large car parks next to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. One run by the National Trust, one by the hotel and another Pay and Display. Payment is by card, cash or phone. Another car park is a further 400 metres up the road at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

For hiking Side Pike, park in the lay-by near the cattle grid (marked on the map below) and for Blea Tarn park at the Blea Tarn National Trust Car Park. It is free for National Trust members, but for non-members, the ticket machine only takes cash, so bring change with you.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

The 516 bus runs every couple of hours during the day from Windermere & Ambleside (via Skelwith Bridge & Elterwater) to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

There is no public transport up to Side Pike or Blea Tarn.

WHERE TO STAY TO EXPLORE LANGDALE PIKES

Great Langdale is a remote region in the Lake District with limited choice when it comes to accommodation. The Great Langdale Campsite provides pitches, pods, tipis and yurts. But, for more creature comforts, here are some recommendations from us.

BUDGET

OLD DUNGEON GHYLL HOTEL

Location is everything at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Perfectly situated to enjoy some of the most spectacular walks in the Lake District, it’s a relaxed stay in a traditional old country pub. Their hearty breakfast will set you up for the day.


MID-MARKET

NEW DUNGEON GHYLL HOTEL

A little less rustic and a little more functional, the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel enjoys the same spectacular location with 6 acres of gardens to enjoy after a long day on the fells. Enjoy clean spacious rooms and friendly service.


SPLURGE

LANGDALE HOTEL & SPA

Splash out on a little luxury in one of the most picturesque valleys in the lakes. Enjoy award-winning dining, a pampering spa treatment and leisure facilities including a gym and indoor pool.


Another option is to stay a little further afield and travel in. Elterwater (12 minutes) and Ambleside (25 minutes) are only a short bus journey or drive away. Both are great bases – not just for exploring Great Langdale – but also to cover the whole Lake District.

Find our recommendations for the best places to stay in the Lake District.

LANGDALE PIKES MAP

All our things to do in the Langdales our collected on our map. Save it to your device, click on the star next to the title. This will save the map to your Google Maps account. They’re generally found in SAVED – MAPS on the Google Maps App.

MORE READING FOR YOUR LAKE DISTRICT TRIP

The Lake District is blessed with fantastic scenery dotted with remote hiking trails. Here are some more of our guides to help you make the most of the area.

Hike Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route

Conquer sharp edge on the walk up Blencathra

The best walks in the Lake District

Where to stay in the Lake District

The best wild swimming locations in the Lake District


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