Sergeant Man

Published 18 June 2014

View of the top of Sergeant Man

The date is 3 April 2014. The place is Langdale. And the plan is to do four of Langdale’s lesser known fells, walking from Silver How and ending at High Raise. After doing the first two (Silver How and Blea Rigg) I was heading to the stern, army-like Sergeant Man.

Sergeant Man seems a gloriously redundant name. After all, in the grand history of the world, the vast majority of people with the rank Sergeant have been men. It’s not that long ago that women weren’t even allowed in the regular army after all, having to make do with being in the Women’s Royal Army Corps instead. Only in 1992 was this situation changed. But that said, what on earth does all this have to do with a fell in the Lake District anyway?

Probably very little. Who knows where Sergeant Man got its name? Most likely it’s one of those cases where an old name has been corrupted over the years to something that fits better into the modern tongue. Take Colchester for example. In the 10th century, it was called Colneceastre. Try saying that after a few pints of Old Peculiar down the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

Maybe we need to go back to the word’s history for the answer. Sergeant is an Anglo-French word ultimately derived from the Latin servient. To serve. Was Sergeant Man named for someone’s male servant?

There is a link there, for Sergeant Man is, in a way, subservient. It’s certainly no master; it isn’t even a standalone fell as it is actually a secondary summit of High Raise. Wainwright however decided that Sergeant Man “is so prominent an object and offers so compelling a challenge” that he gave it its own chapter. So a fell it became in the eyes of all but the purest of purists.

Stickle Tarn, seen between Blea Rigg and Sergeant Man

Challenge might be too strong a word for it. Or I missed something that Wainwright spotted. The mile or so ridge walk from Blea Rigg was hardly taxing. Just a simple stroll, with a fine backdrop of the Langdale Pikes, and a cracking view down on Stickle Tarn; a lovely tarn that I normally only get to see in a blur in a desperate rush to get down to the valley floor in time for the last bus of the day.

Cairn on the top of Sergeant Man

Sergeant Man itself is one of those summits that looks like some giant has simply taken a handful of clay, thrown it down on the ground and scattered some rocks over it as if they were Hundreds and Thousands (and let’s not get distracted on where that name came from!) Not quite as round as Pike O’Stickle, but not far off.

And unlike the O’Stickle, there was no scrambling to get to the top either. Before I knew it, I was stood on its flat, rocky summit, admiring a well built cairn, pondering where to head next.

Next fell: High Raise

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