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by Derek Cockell - member 13
Crinkle Crags - the very name stirs the imagination. AW says of this fell, ‘For the mountaineer who prefers his mountains rough …this is a climb deserving of high priority.’ And this is a walk to savour.
At 2816 feet, this is one of the more challenging fells and includes the Bad Step, a rocky scramble, in the route described here. The walk also takes in Pike o’ Blisco, a fine mountain in its own right, the views of Crinkle Crags from the summit make the ascent worthwhile.
Crinkle Crags is popularly climbed from Old Dungeon Ghyll, (NY 286061), but arrive at the car park by the Hotel early! My own preference is not to struggle up Redacre Gill, but instead ascend the flanks of Side Pike via a newly engineered path and then on a narrow trod, which contours the fell side before joining the more popular path up from Wall End. A well-made pitched path rises steeply to a plateau before the final rocky climb up to the summit of Pike o’ Blisco. The cairn (opposite) is not in the condition that AW found it in 1959, but it is an airy perch from which to appraise the rest of the walk, and the Crinkles are seen in all their glory. What a view!
Crinkle Crags seen from Pike o' Blisco
Hard won height must be lost here if the objective is to be reached. An easy path drops down to Red Tarn where a wide track leads to the first Crinkle. A study of Wainwright’s ridge plan on Crinkle Crags p11 is recommended. Wainwright identifies five Crinkles, the second being the highest and therefore the summit.
The way up on to the second Crinkle is either by the Bad Step, a tricky ten-foot rock scramble, or by way of an easier gully to the left - see pic on left.
AW admits the Bad Step is not an option for him, but the short climb gives an extra sense of achievement.
On a clear day the views from Long Top are magnificent, all the effort of the climb well rewarded. From this point the path crosses the summit plateau, but you will need to leave it to climb up on to the remaining Crinkles, where there are
stunning views down into Oxendale and across to the Langdale Pikes.
After crossing the minor tops of Shelter Crags, the path drops down over rocks to Three Tarns where a choice has to be made. The obvious route descends The Band to Stool End Farm, but an interesting and lesser-used route descends into Oxendale via Buscoe Sike and Hell Gill. In places the path is not clear, but you can follow the stream down as far as Hell Gill - opposite.
In late summer the rowan trees are a picture.
The descent continues into Oxendale and then back to the starting point. Here is a welcome Walkers Bar where one can enjoy a drink whilst reflecting on a marvellous day on the fells.
This route is 8 miles in length and involves 3400 feet of ascent. Details of Pike o’ Blisco and Crinkle Crags can be found in Book 4 The Southern Fells.
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