Thursday 20th May
Today was a day of low mileage but high pleasure. The original plan was Haystacks to Burnmoor Tarn, but yesterday’s diversion put paid to that. I toyed with the idea of going over Esk Hause, down Eskdale to Burnmoor Tarn to get back on track but it would have been a long walk and the weather was not good, with more hill fog.
I decided to have an easy day and to take my time walking along Langstrath to Angle Tarn. The weather had been dry and mild overnight, so the tent was dry. After breakfast, Jeff left for Borrowdale and Keswick (and a shower!). It had been fun to walk with someone for a change. Most of my walking recently has been solo. Jeff was good company and possibly a worse gear-nut than me!
Langstrath before Sergeant’s Crag
As I wasn’t going to a lot of miles, I adopted saunter mode. I’m not sure why I’ve not walked up Langstrath before, but today was truly memorable. Langstrath is like a secret valley, remote and unspoilt. Even the entrance to the valley remains hidden until the last moment. It reminded me of Scotland, even the name seems Scottish.
One of the impressive gullies
I followed the path on the eastern side, rather than the more popular and well defined track on the other side of the valley. There is considerable evidence of glaciations with many erratic, a small roche mutonee and moraines. The river is a delight with small waterfalls, water slides and rock gullies. There were also a number of misshapen trees, which made for interesting photos.
A misshapen tree
Near Tray Dubs, there is a delightful waterfall, I stopped for elevenses. I noticed a commotion on the hillside near the path leading up to Stake Pass. A collie was chasing some sheep. I wasn’t sure whether it was a sheep dog, but it soon became clear that it was an out of control pet. It picked on a small black lamb, which was running for its life. The dog and lamb raced down to the river and they jumped in. Fortunately the lamb was a better swimmer than the dog. As the dog hauled itself back on to the bank I managed to catch hold of it. The lamb made it safely to the other side of the river.
Waterfall near Tray Dubs
The dog’s tag indicated that it was called Riley. I saw someone making their way down the hillside with another dog. As he approached I asked whether he was the owner. Indeed he was. I suggested that he keep it on a lead. His excuse was that the other dog usually kept Riley under control. He was lucky I was there to catch the dog before it did some real damage. No wonder farmers get angry with dog owners. If the dog is not trained for recall, then it should be on a lead at all times.
Me at lunchtime
After that brief bit of excitement, I dawdled on. The valley narrowed and just above the junction with Allencrags Gill, I decided to have lunch. I was only about 200 metres below the cloud base and there was the odd spot of rain. There was also a spectacular small rock gully, which made for some good photo studies.
Another gully just before the confluence with Allencrags Gill
I was in two minds as to whether to continue up to Angle Tarn as the cloud seemed quite thick, so I took my time over lunch. Unusually for me I had a brew and made a warming cup of tea (having remembered to bring plenty of tea bags this time!). I had a pleasant nap for about half an hour. When I woke, the cloud had started to lift, so I decided to chance it and make for Angle Tarn.
The path up to Angle Tarn
The climb was quite steep and seemed to go on forever. I started to doubt that there really was an Angle Tarn and wondered if it was a cartographic illusion. Eventually I crested the lip of the ridge to be confronted with the savage beauty of Hanging Knots, the crags at the northern end of Bowfell and Angle Tarn below. The cloud was still low, drifting across the rock face. I didn’t fancy going much further, so I looked around for somewhere to camp.
Angle Tarn and Hanging Knots
There appear to be only two pitches, one either side of the stream outlet. I decided on the eastern side, which is slightly further away from the path. Although there was a breeze, it wasn’t particularly strong and the cloud was coming and going. After I finished pitching, another backpacker appeared, looking for somewhere to camp. I suggested the pitch on the other side of the stream. Several other people wandered along the path, but I was far enough away not to be bothered.
As I “cooked” my evening meal, the cloud base lifted to reveal the crags in all their glory. The wind dropped and the tarn mirrored the rocky outcrops and the spectacular gully. This seemed like too much reward for what had been a comparatively easy day, but I was glad that I had decided to push on. All in all it had been a marvellous day. If you’ve not walked Lagstrath, you are missing something special.
The gully on Hanging Knots