Walk date – 13th July 2022
Distance – 7 miles
Weather – cloudy start, sunny spells later, slight breeze
The tea leaf readings purporting to be today’s weather forecast contained an assortment of possibilities. Being summer there was no mention of snow, but everything else seemed to have been included in the mix to the extent that anything was just about possible. A peek through the window revealed skies which looked grey and overcast with occasional and postage stamp sized bits of blue dotted around. Neither of us felt like committing to a tramp up the fells today so we opted for a lengthy low level walk and eventually decided on the lovely Langstrath valley. The valley offers some very dramatic scenery and its length and width contribute to its solitude and tranquility. There were a few people out and about today but the size of the valley absorbed them easily and with only a couple of exceptions any contact with others in the valley was minimal. A very peaceful and leisurely ramble through a delightful corner of the lakes awaits walkers in this valley.
Stonethwaite – Stonethwaite camp site – Galleny Force – Langstrath (western footpath) – Black Moss Pot – Tray Dub footbridge – Cumbria Way (eastern footpath) – Smithymire Island footbridge – Stonethwaite Beck footpath – Stonethwaite Bridge – Stonethwaite
A brief history of the beginnings of Stonethwaite village, printed on stone and attached to a barn door opposite the red ‘phone box at the entrance to the village. Human nature doesn’t seem to have changed much despite our apparent ‘sophistication’.
The view into the village from the above-mentioned barn, Just a short distance further along is a pub which, in addition to drinks, offers accommodation and meals, and a small cafe selling light refreshments. Neither were open when we passed although there were signs that they soon would be.
A fine view of Eagle Crag as we leave the village and make our way up to the Langstrath path.
A couple of shots of the falls at Galleny Force …..
….. where the crystal clear waters begin to drop down towards Stonethwaite and eventually join the river Derwent. Between these falls and Stonethwaite village is a large open area containing a camp site alongside Stonethwaite Beck. This open area gives access to numerous pools for paddling and swimming for all, not just campers.
The view along Langstrath, meaning ‘long valley’, as we enter the valley. The sky remains overcast and there is a slight breeze which does nothing more than cause a few bracken fronds to stir gently.
The ruins of what is identified on the OS map as ‘Johnny House’. I haven’t been able to find any history of this building so I simply assume it was once a farm building or even the farm house itself.
A glimmer of sunlight appeared so I took advantage of it for a quick shot of our view ahead. The section of path in the photo is not typical of the entire track, quite a lot of this western path is very rough indeed with lots of rocks and stones just waiting to roll away beneath the feet of unwary walkers and knock them off balance. Such sections obviously slow down the pace but we weren’t in any great hurry so it didn’t really matter. My back was not best pleased on such sections though.
Across the beck Sergeant’s Crag rises steeply above the valley.
A large boulder provided a sturdy abutment for whoever built the wall, was the boulder the reason for the wall beginning just at that point I wonder. The type of flat stone gateposts seen in the shot are still in evidence, and still serving a useful purpose, in many places in the county. Before hinges came into use the gateposts on either side had holes bored into them with wooden poles then inserted to prevent livestock going where they shouldn’t. I didn’t notice at the time whether the ones in the shot had any such original holes though.
A dry water slide, more or less, the water level is not high enough at the moment so what few dribbles of water there are have to sneak around the sides of the rock slabs.
A close up of Blea Rock across the valley. We call it the rock with green hair. We had a perfect example of how this happens just in front of us as one of the many rocks and boulders was just beginning this process. Algae being the starting point, as it grows it provides little nooks and crannies where tiny seeds can find a lodging. The rock in front of us was sporting two or three shoots of a low growing grass variety. These in turn will accumulate and provide more board and lodging for larger seeds until eventually the top of the rock supports a variety of plant life. I think its heather on Blea Rock, but don’t quote me on that as it might be something else entirely.
Eagle Crag looking a bit sombre as I took a look across the beck …..
….. as does Sergeant’s Crag. Now I’ve zoomed out the location of Blea Rock can be identified.
We’ve arrived at Black Moss Pot, a popular swimming area on a sunny day. Quite a few people were already here taking a dip, the bare skin of one or two of them indicating that the water temperature might be a little bit on the chilly side. Even the air temperature at the time wasn’t all that warm. One chap had thought it wise to be cautious and was using a wet suit to protect his birthday suit. Not being tempted in the slightest we moved on, there’s only so much visibly bare human flesh its possible to tolerate, unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool voyeur of course.
Stake Pass comes into view as we walk further into the valley, the two locals were too busy with food to take any notice of us, not a bleat out of either of them.
Looking at the western side of Langstrath now where Bessyboot and Glaramara appear to form a continuous wall despite being two separate fells. Looking up at them from the valley it is difficult to establish where one ends and the other begins. A small piece of blue sky has appeared, maybe things will brighten up soon.
The long ridge forming the skyline to the right of Stake Pass eventually leads over to Rossett Pike. Patches of sunlight begin appearing …..
….. and one eventually falls on Stake Pass and the cascades of Stake Beck and its tributaries alongside it making everything come to life in an instant. Blooming marvellous what a difference a splash of sunlight makes.
A lovely view back along Langstrath, especially now that the overcast sky seems to be breaking up. The Bessyboot/Glaramara barricade is to the left, on the right are Eagle Crag and Sergeant’s Crag, in the distance are the assorted tops of Great Crag.
The Tray Dub footbridge which will be our turn around point today. Just beyond the bridge Stake Beck joins forces with Allencrags Gill, which comes in from the right, to form Langstrath Beck so I suppose this is really the termination point of the Langstrath valley. We walked up to Rossett Pike via Allencrags Gill in July 2013, that was a long walk on a very hot day.
In the extreme top right of the shot it is just possible to see the confluence of Stake Beck and Allencrags Gill so the bridge is crossing an infant Langstrath Beck at this point.
Looking down into Langstrath Beck as we cross the bridge. Below us the water drops, in a series of falls, down to the valley bottom.
Once over the bridge we decided we’d take a slightly longer break than usual and just enjoy the peace and quiet, the views and the sunshine. I think that’s Esk Pike and Allen Crags in the distance but its difficult to be sure from this viewpoint. Here’s two more shots from our sunny spot …..
….. the sunny slopes of Glaramara …..
….. and more sunny slopes stretching all the way along to Bessyboot at the end of the valley.
Below the bridge is a series of sharp falls but it was very difficult to get a good shot of them. No matter what viewpoint I tried that darned tree got in the way so this was the best I could manage.
Eagle Crag and Sergeant’s Crag towering above us as we walk the short distance from the bridge across to the Cumbria Way path. Its turning into a very sunny day now.
One of the many formidable crags on the western side of Langstrath, possibly Cam Crag but I can’t be certain. If it is then that is probably Rosthwaite Cam on the skyline to the left of it. Its difficult to identify just what is what from the valley level.
Equally dominant on the eastern side are Eagle Crag and Sergeant’s Crag.
The breeze blowing towards us brings with it the voices of those who have gathered at Black Moss Pot. It is still some distance away and they are not really identifiable in the shot but from what we could see quite a crowd has gathered there now.
A zoom in on the shot should make the crowd slightly more visible.
There isn’t a large flow of water in the beck but …..
….. it still manages a decent flow into Black Moss Pot. A considerable amount of people, displaying bodies which obviously hadn’t been exposed to sunlight since last summer, had gathered around the jumping off point but it seemed as though nobody was keen to make the jump. As a result I was able to get a shot that didn’t include several bobbing wet heads. We didn’t linger after taking the photo.
Eagle Crag from just below Blea Rock. The path becomes quite narrow here so we had to wait a few minutes as a very weary looking gentleman carrying an enormous pack, followed by two very perspiring people pushing bikes, who in turn were followed by a pair of younger and more sprightly walkers passed through in quick succession.
Just around the corner is the likely reason for the general air of weariness emanating from the first three mentioned above. The path disappears in the face of this sharp incline of rock slabs. Its only very short but carrying a large pack up it or pushing a bike over it obviously took a fair bit of effort. Apart from making sure we watched where we were putting our feet it didn’t pose a problem, but then again, we were walking down it. Blea Rock is on the centre skyline.
When the eastern slopes of Bessyboot begin to taper down towards Stonethwaite Beck we know we’re almost at the end of the Langstrath valley and quite soon afterwards we reached …..
….. Johnny House, and a slightly better view of it than was available when we passed it on the outward leg.
J strikes a pose on the footbridge spanning the confluence of Langstrath Beck and Greenup Gill at Smithymire Island. We returned to Stonethwaite via the Greenup Gill path just to avoid returning on the same path we set out on, and …..
….. there’s a good view of Eagle Crag from the Greenup Gill path too. We noticed several people paddling/bathing in Stonethwaite Beck as we walked back down. I suppose most of them wouldn’t even have realised we were high above them on the path.
A view of High Scawdel with Dale Head just visible behind it on the left, and High Spy and Maiden Moor over to the right as we walked through the field back to Stonethwaite.
Back down to the bridge across the beck and once across we are back in the village. A short walk back to the car will be all that’s left to do and then we can sink into the comfort of the car seats. I’m looking forward to that as my back has taken a bit of a jarring over some of the rougher sections of the paths and its not best pleased at the moment. No matter, we’ve had a leisurely stroll through the lovely Langstrath valley and the weather eventually brightened up so all things considered its been a very pleasant day out.