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Snowdonia Peaks

Monday, 18 December 2017

Crinkles & Bowfell, the Snowy Return 16-12-2017

Well what can I say about this day apart from EPIC!. This was a repeat of a walk I did earlier in the year with members of the facebook group, WFP, coupled this time with a few off the Lakeland Meet Ups group. A truly magnificent day that could of quite easily of been mistaken for some far off snowy region on the continent, not in England's green and pleasant land! Drizzle, a snow flurry, cloud inversions, knee deep snow, sun, very little wind and head torches. 9 hours of tough hard going pleasure around the iconic mountains of the Langdale Valley :-)
The day started early with the alarm going off about 4.30am, in time for the two hour drive up to the Lakes at about 6am. Minus 3 and good clear conditions as I left soon disappeared as the cloud and dampness started to take over and by the time I reached the meeting point around 8am, in plenty of time for the 8.30 start, there was a bit of drizzly rain in the air and low clouds covering the summits we were heading for. As with other group meets that I've been on, I know a few and don't know a few so it's always good to put names to faces and a catch up chat before the off. A light drizzle in the air as we set off so waterproof jacket on as we headed up through Stool End Farm and along Oxendale Beck to the now fixed bridge that we need to cross as we follow the path up along Browny Gill as we head up wards to Red Tarn. As we walked through Stool Farm, it was a lot safer to walk on the grass as the driveway was covered in black ice making it like a skating rink!
Our route for the day
On the way through Stool Farm with our objects in a hazy mist
Oxendale Beck
Line up on the bridge
Low cloud slowly moving in as we gain height
As we gained height there was a change in the weather patterns and as we looked back, cloud was forming below us and seemed to be filling the valley while in front was a mixture of blue sky and high cloud above. It was quite a guess as to how the day would pan out, would we be lost in a sea of snow and cloud or would we be treated to clear spells and a bit of winter wonderland scene. The snow was getting a bit deeper and also walking was getting a bit trickier as we followed the path so we decided to put spikes on to help with the grip. We all had some sort of spikes, wether it be the microspikes or crampons but to be fair, the microspikes were efficient as the snow was for the most part, still on the soft side, they just helped with a bit more grip and confidence on the ascents and descents. Just as we got to the path junction near to Red Tarn, the snow came down although it was hardly noticable and lasted no more than ten minutes before the skies cleared again leaving us with the winter wonderland scenario that we had hoped for :-)
Coming out of the mist
Crinkle Crags & Bowfell above the clouds
Short sharp snow flurry
Looking a bit moody above the Langdale Pikes
Just a hint of a rainbow and cloud inversion
We turned off just before Red Tarn and headed up to the right and under Great Knott where a few of us rested while three of the group headed up to bag Cold Pike to add to their Wainwright list. Despite the wintry conditions it wasn't that cold as there was little wind and that can make a big difference. It was very relaxed and very pleasant being out up here and a feeling that this could be a special day indeed.
Taking it easy under Cold Pike
Coming off Cold Pike
Hazy sun now above cold pike
Once we were all back together we headed off up through deepening snow while the valley below filled with cloud as the sun started to appear from behind the high clouds. Any threat of any more snow seemed to have gone and if anything the views were getting better with every step. What was also pleasing,  if a bit mystifying, was the lack of any other walkers enjoying the perfect conditions on this glorious Saturday on the fells. There was a group of four that passed us while we were resting and after that we passed about half a dozen more folk all going in the opposite direction. We saw a few more coming off Bowfell so all in all we must have seen no more than about 20 others in all the 9 hours we were out there.
Blue sky taking over above...........
while clouds take over below
All clear to the Crinkle Crags
Getting in the way of the views
Hard work in the snow
Cloud in the Langdale Valley
The views and conditions couldn't of been any better if we had ordered them from the man in the sky, absolutely perfect and it was probably a bit of a hindrance as time was concerned because of all the wow moments and the photo's we were all taking, not that anyone was complaining. In fact if there was one complaint, it was that the day was going to end sometime so we just soaked every minute of it, you never know when a day like today may come along again and the way up and over the crinkles will be one to savior for years to come. The wind did pick up though as we neared the end of the crinkles and we took a bit of shelter here for a spot of lunch before the pull up to Bowfell
Great winter scene
Two members of our party braved the Bad Step at the start of the Crinkles.................
while the rest of us took the easier option of going around :-)
Cloud trying to roll in
Cloud trying to roll in
Pit stop with a view
Our snowy way forward
Snow monster alert :-)
Snow monster alert :-)
Follow the leader
View back to our ascent
After a brief lunch stop out of the wind, we started the arduous pull up to Bowfell, in snow that in parts was near knee deep. Talk about getting eaten by the bog monsters, I think the snow monsters were well and truly out in force today as we all took turns in getting swallowed alive, but some more than others :-) The snow really took it's toll and I felt a bit of cramp in my thigh on a couple of occasions but managed to shake it off. I think all of us were very relived to have made it in one piece as we took in the views from the summit of BOWFELL @ 902 m (2,959 ft)
On our way up Bowfell
The pull up Bowfell
Cloud topped Langdale Pikes
Final pull up to Bowfell Summit
Bowfell Summit
Summit view of our descent
Summit view towards Mossdale/Eskdale
Summit view back along Crinkle Crags and beyond
Summit views over to the cloud covered Scafel range
It was probably the coldest of the day up here and some low cloud had blown in and out but certainly not enough to spoil any view. After another thousand or so photo's by everyone, it was time to start our descent as we headed off in the direction of Angle Tarn, passing between Esk Pike and Hanging Knotts. Although we had come through plenty of snow of the deep, crisp and even types, the way down to Angle Tarn was most probably the hardest of the lot as it was quite unrelenting in swallowing us up. It certainly wasn't crisp and even and we tried our best to stay in a line following each others steps but as one got swallowed you'd move out of there step only to get swallowed else where. All good fun though and we did come out of it unscathed if a little tired!
Coming off Bowfell, mind the cornice
Sun starting to go down
On the descent path
Sun going down
On the descent path
Angle Tarn coming into view
Snow monster gets another victim :-)
Looking back at our descent from Bowfell
Angle Tarn outflow crossing
Angle Tarn
As the sun was disappearing, we only had a short time before head torches came out and we were quite fortunate to have got far enough down the path, that we were out of the worst of the snow and ice, that we were able to take spikes off and make our way down the path of mainly steps and gravel. Although it was somewhat a relief to be out of the strength sapping snow it was still a lot of hard work coming down the steps and we had at least an hour and half before we got back to the car park. At the end of the steps, there's a good mile walk along a path that for the most part resembles a pebble beach with a lot of water knocking about. Not the best path in the dark but at least we were back down and on level ground.
Langdale in view
Langdale Valley
On the last bit of snow
Looking back up to the Crinkles in the fading light
Langdale Valley in the fading light

Video of the day

We got back to the car park at the Old Dungeon Ghyll after an arduous but a thoroughly enjoyable nine hours and on a personal note, my knees held out and my new boots felt like I was walking in very comfy slippers. Lets hope they stay like that for a few more years :-)

A massive thanks to Sharon, Yana, Sharon, Steve, Micheal, Jay, Max the dog and Tony for organizing this epic day. Till the next time :-)


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