Low Pike

Published 4 November 2011

A cloudy summit of Low Pike

The plan was a grand one. Lots of fells would be walked! But sometimes you just end throwing yours plans away after walking just one. This was that day.

It was absolutely bucketing it down when I woke up. This should not surprise anyone for it is always raining when I visit the Lake District. Frankly if you want to go there and have good weather, don’t do it when I’m around.

Dawdling as much as we could there came a point when we just couldn’t delay any longer. If we were going to do anything well we were going to just have to get wet. There was just no alternative.

Setting out with the knowledge you’re going to get drenched perhaps isn’t the best way to head off up to Low Pike but it was just the way it was going to be.

On a day when it’s not wet and soggy, and when cloud isn’t covering everything, Low Pike stands quite clearly visible around Ambleside; one of a group of fells which dominate the Lakeland village.

It sits in front of a number of larger objectives; High Pike, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Red Screes. The fact that Low Pike sits on a firm path that will take the walker to various (or all) of these objectives in one full swoop means that Low Pike is a fell that gets done in passing rather than being a major destination. And that was our plan. Low Pike first, then head on to some more – keeping a close eye on the weather at the same time, just in case.

There’s pretty much only one way up to the top – if you’re not coming from Ambleside then you probably won’t make it, but never fear. It’s a steep track that will lead you mist of the way, taking in the oddly named Low Sweden Bridge (High Sweden’s nearby too) and gives you fine views down Scandale. Well if the cloud’s not covering everything up. Maybe when I’ve got about 100 of these fells done I’ll count up how many I did in deep cloud; see how many views I got to see. I’m not counting on there being many.

Plastic sign saying 'deep bog'

Anyway the track soon leads on to grass and as a wooden sign nicely proclaims “DEEP BOG” too. It points you off to “safer” pastures on one side, which on our visit just happened to be a deep mud-bath that was probably worse than the bog.

Frankly the bog made a nice change from the other problem, namely that there was so much rain-water around that every bit of path had essentially become a stream and boots were soon soaked through whilst gaiters did little more than act like paper. Ah the Lake District, how I love you.

A small scramble up some slippery rocks led to the summit, covered in dense cloud. Nearby High Pike, a mere two-thirds of a mile away was invisible and no views could be seen from Low Pike’s 508m summit that day.

And as we got there the wind began to whip up; the rain falling harder than before. Suddenly our further objectives of High Pike and Little Hart Crag seemed insane. Back to Ambleside for a cup of tea, now that was far more appealing. Staying out in this, well we’d just get pneumonia.

Cloud on Scandale

So we headed down, crossing to the other side of the valley at the attractive High Sweden Bridge just for a change. Twenty minutes after leaving the top, 1,200 seconds after abandoning our plans, we looked back only to see Scandale free of cloud and that the weather was improving.

We shrugged, put it out of our minds and dreamed of the cake we’d be eating once we got back to Ambleside once more.

Video: The Great Wall of Low Pike

A couple of years later, I was back on Low Pike, and made this video in slightly better conditions.

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