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Lake District Guided walks

Written by Natalie Barker on

On Monday 1st April, Heather & I joined a walk organised by the National Trust. We’d been looking for something to do with our kids Keira (9) Meri (5) and our dog Elsa rather than waste a bank holiday Monday simply lazing about. The previous Saturday had been spent searching the internet for walking routes that would be manageable for our group when I came across a ‘ReTweet’ from @NTCentralFells.

It simply said ‘Free guided walk on Monday with NT Rangers and Mountain Leader. Starts 1000 at Sticklebarn, Langdale. All ages & dogs – just be there’.

Well as a true northerner the word ‘Free’ stuck out like a sore thumb + it gave us the chance to get out and meet a few people while taking in some fantastic scenery. Monday morning arrived and we got ourselves ready to go, complete with packed lunch and hot chocolate to cope with the expected freezing conditions at the head of Langdale. With our late season snow still clinging to the fells (and even some still in the valley bottom) blue skies and clear air  it promised to be great day for walking.

We met up with our guides and the rest of the group at about 9.45am in the bar at The Sticklebarn (the first National Trust owned pub in the Lake District) There were 8 of us & 2 dogs plus our mountain guide Malcolm Wade and National Trust wardens Neil Winder & James Archer. Our route was to take us up the fell-side path to Stickle Tarn then across to our decent on the old path around Tarn Crag before rejoining our original upward route for the final decent back to the pub. Conditions were fantastic with long clear views which took in the full length of  Great Langdale valley, Lingmoor, Side Pike, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags. Rising about us throughout our walk was the magnificent Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark and Sergeant Man, and once we had achieved enough height we could also take in the Tilberthwaite fells in the distance beyond Little Langdale.

Periodically throughout our walk we paused for some input from our guide and wardens about our surroundings and the ongoing work that the NT is involved in to keep our fells and heritage intact. These pauses seemed perfectly timed to give Meri (our youngest group member) time to get some energy back in her little legs. For much of the walk Meri & Keira managed to be at the front of the group and both of them really enjoyed the scramble up the narrowest/steepest part of the path nr Stickle Tarn. Elsa our  Boxer dog was very nimble when it came to the more challenging sections of the path but simply refused to cross the stepping stones over Stickle Ghyll resulting in a rather embarrassing moment as I had to pick her up and carry her over (Tilly the Retriever had no such problem). Arriving at the still frozen Stickle Tarn gave us the chance for a bit of amateur photography and to stop and refuel with sandwiches & hot chocolate before starting our decent to the side of Tarn Crag. Having a group leader takes any pressure off you having to find your own route and enables them to make sure you are putting safety first (Malcolm our group leader checked the strength of some ice over a stream which did hold for a few seconds before giving his right leg a frozen dunking).

The walk down from Tarn Crag was mostly clear of snow being on the southern side of the crag, but as any fell-walker knows down is always more difficult than up (especially when attached to a dog who doesn’t realise that her footing is far more assured than your own). We returned to The Sticklebarn just after 1pm in time for lunch in the bar. All in all a very enjoyable 1/2 day with both the guides and other members of the group, and after a morning of exertion we didn’t feel so bad sitting eating our easter eggs in the afternoon.

or information about future guided walks/activities taking place at The Stckle Barn follow this link www.nationaltrust.org.uk/great-langdale/ or contact Malcolm Wade at www.lakelandmountainexperience.com

If you are Twitter users Malcolm can be followed at @lme14 and the National Trust Rangers can be followed @NTCentralFells

Natalie Barker

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