Crinkle Crags

Date: 18 September 2019                 Weather: 14’C, overcast, light winds

Height gain: 1,965ft                          Distance: 6.75 miles

Time taken: 5 hours 30 minutes    Wainwright count: 97 of 214

Route:  From the Three Shires Stone – out and back the same way

We’d been looking forward to tackling Crinkle Crags from the Three Shires Stone on the Wrynose Pass since realising it was a route up when we did Pike O’Blisco and Cold Pike back in February.  We’re feeling in good shape at the moment and the forecast is for sunny spells and light winds so we decide today is the day.

We take my car as getting through the narrow lanes around Little Langdale can be challenging and the smaller the car the better.  We set off relatively early expecting parking spaces to fill up early at this time of year.  We pick up pasties from the Apple Pie Bakery in Ambleside on the way – a while since we’ve done that – and they have warm, freshly cooked ones available before 10 am – yaay.

There aren’t too many dramas on the journey to the Wrynose Pass and when we arrive we find it practically empty.  I still turn around and head down the road a little to the wider parking area we had to use last time – the car feels safer there and it’ll be easy to get out of when we get back later.

We boot up and set off – a cool wind in our faces as we head up the short stretch of road to the start of the route.  We take the footpath and make quick progress on the good path with its gentle gradient.  A speedy (for us) 1 mile and 500ft of ascent later and we arrive at Red Tarn with the Crinkles and Bowfell ahead of us:


We carry on past the path up Pike O’Blisco and negotiate a short descent to cross Browney Gill before the path takes a slight left and starts to climb at a steeper gradient.  The footpath builders have added good granite steps in the steeper sections and we gain height without any problems.  We pass the turning to Cold Pike and are now in new territory – this is where we left the path in February.

There is a great view across to the Langdales from here:


We reach Great Knott and suddenly the Crinkles are in full view to our left – I thought I’d been looking at them on the way up but apparently not:


We follow the path round to the left and reach the base of number one Crinkle.  It’s now a bit of a scramble up its rocky face.  The path is distinct and there are good cairns to show the route but we seem to be walking forever over a couple of false tops before finally reaching the summit of Crinkle One:


The summit of Crinkle Two, the highest point and summit of Crinkle Crags, can be seen behind it.  We set off down the steep side of number one Crinkle and there’s a good view down to Great Langdale, although the weather isn’t quite living up to expectations and has become cloudy and quite hazy:

5 (C1)

We reach the base of Crinkle One and start the climb towards Crinkle Two and our summit for the day.  We know we’re going to avoid the bad step, but you have to at least take its photo:


We take the alternative path to the left – quite steep and stony but not difficult.  After what seems like a long time we finally make it to the summit of Crinkle Crags:

7 (C2)

It seems to have taken a long time since we left the easy path and started crinkle climbing but it’s only taken us 45 minutes to cover the thee quarters of a mile over the steep and rocky terrain of numbers one and two.  We haven’t seen many people so far today but there are a few here at the top and a steady procession arrives and departs as we find a good spot looking over Great Langdale and settle down to much our pasties.

Crinkles Three and Four are much closer together than one and two are and we decide we’ll pop to both of them before heading down:


The views across the remaining Crinkles to Bowfell look good from here:


As we sit we can see a band of cloud sweeping over the Scafells which progresses over Bowfell then reaches us and a light rain starts to fall.  It’s a shame as the views diminish and look grey, but Scafell and Scafell Pike look quite dramatic in the swirling cloud:


We have put on our waterproofs, warm hats and gloves and are quite comfy lingering over our pasties watching the changing views as the cloud and rain moves across us.  The rain has all but cleared when we set off again and reach Crinkle Three with no trouble at all:

19 (C3)

Everyone else seems to be by-passing three and four and heading straight for Crinkle Five, probably on their way to Bowfell so we have the top to ourselves.

The views of the Langdales are supposed to be very good from here but today they are very grey and misty so I don’t take a photo.  I do look back at Crinkles One and Two behind us, though:

20 (C1 & 2)

We quickly leave Crinkle Three and head up Crinkle Four:


The cloud has now mostly left the Scafells and you can see them more clearly:


We decide not to carry on to Crinkle Five – it’s more distance and a lot of down and up with a false crinkle on the way and S isn’t keen.  So we turn around and start to reverse our route up, knowing we have to go back over the second Crinkle:


It doesn’t take long and we’re soon back on the steep and shaley path that avoids the bad step – it isn’t as bad a descent as I’d feared it might be while climbing up.  We get back to the other side of the base of Crinkle Two and easily pick up the Crinkle One by-pass – a grassy path round the side which means we don’t have to go over the top of it again:


We bound down the grass and re-join the path we came up just the other side of Crinkle One.  We make relatively swift progress down the path, although the stony parts are more wearing going down than they were coming up:


The weather starts to brighten again as we descend and we decide to stop at Red Tarn for afternoon tea:


As we munch our flapjacks a couple stops to ask us if we have a map they could look at.  They tell us they parked “on the street” when they saw a sign saying Cold Pike was 1 mile up the path but they’ve now walked for more than a mile and aren’t sure of where they are going.

We show them our map and point out where they are – Pike O’Blisco is just behind us and Cold Pike is opposite us.  The 1 mile sign must mean the path directly up the front of Cold Pike which we have planned to use before but have never found and they must have missed it too.

I ask where they are from – Germany, near Hanover.  They say they have at least one holiday a year in the UK.  I wonder how Cumbria compares to German mountains and lakes?

They borrow the map and seem to spend an age looking at it, the woman talking away in German and the man saying very little.  They finally hand it back and S, realising it’s just a print out from our software and we don’t need it any longer, asks them if they’d like to keep it – they say yes with enthusiasm.  S takes it out of the map holder and off they head to the Pike O’Blisco path, map firmly in hand.

We make quick work of the last mile and 500ft of descent back to the car.  The parking up here is busier than this morning, but there’s still plenty of spaces available.  I’m surprised – although we saw quite a few people at the top we’ve seen very few on the way up or down – I would have thought this was a very popular spot with all the September walkers but apparently not.

It’s been a fun day, shame about the rain reducing the views at the top, but certainly a much easier way of tackling Crinkle Crags than the route we took from Great Langdale back in 1998.

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