Rossett Pike

Published 4 April 2021

Rossett Pike’s top in the cloud

It’s September 2020 and after a year full of lockdowns, cancelled holidays and just general chaos, I unexpectedly found myself in the Lake District for a week. Day one was spent near Borrowdale, the second in the wonderful Newlands. That was followed by a splendid day around Grasmoor, a soggy visit to Tarn Crags, and an exploration of the fells round Crinkle Crags. My final day in the Lakes though would see a major milestone reached, and a missed fell finally reached.

It was a bittersweet departure from my tent at the National Trust’s Langdale campsite. I was on my way to bag my final fell in Langdale. Yay for another day walking in this beautiful area. Boo for the fact that my fell bagging wouldn’t bring me back here for a while.

Rossett Pike was to be that final fell. A bit of a minnow when all said and done. Not that small. Hey, it comes in at 651m high. But it stands in the shadow of neighbours like Bow Fell (902m), Esk Pike (885m) and Great End (910m).

It’s a fell that’s easy to forget about. One that you’d miss quite easily if you’re not looking. It’s not on the major paths. And it’s smaller size means it is often overlooked.

The bus stop at the Old Dungeon Ghyll. The inevitable start to a walk when you are in Langdale.

This may well explain why it had taken me until now to reach it. Indeed, it had never been my plan for it to be the last of all the Langdale Fells. According to my original plans, that honour was supposed to fall on Crinkle Crags. In fact I’d considered making Crinkle Crags my very final fell of the Southern Fells. Perhaps of the whole endeavour. Completed and then followed by a fine pint of real ale in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. But then that had been before a global pandemic arrived. Before I’d ended up arranging a very last minute trip to the Lakes at a time when half of the National Park’s accommodation providers appeared to be shut.

So Rossett Pike had become my final Langdale fell pretty much by accident. Still, at least I was going to be doing it on a fine day. Oh, hang on. I wasn’t. Yes, once more cloud was hugging Langdale’s fell tops. But my route at least would be easy to follow. Get to the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub – trivial from my base at the nearby campsite. Then a simple walk along the Cumbria Way until I reached the point where Rossett Gill, Stake Gill and Little Gill met to become Mickleden Beck.

Straight on for the Stake Pass. But those seeking Rossett Pike should turn left.

The Cumbria Way carried straight on, heading up to the Stake Pass. But I now headed on the path to the left that followed Rossett Gill and took me up hill.

This was a path that was – pretty much – heading up Bow Fell. The path itself doesn’t go all the way to that fell. However, divert off at the right place and head to the left of a buttress of rock known as the Bowfell Buttress, and those adept at scrambling can get up.

Where that turn off was, I can’t tell you. I’m afraid I wasn’t paying much attention. Besides, with the cloud cover being on the high side, I certainly wasn’t planning on leaving a sensible path to do a bit of rock climbing. Especially given the climb would take me to the wrong fell.

A bit of a gloomy looking view of Langdale

As I’d climbed there was some hope that the cloud was going to lift. From the ascent path it had parted enough to show the summit more than once, even as I was getting quite close. But it was not to be. No sooner had I left the main path for the half kilometre walk to the summit, and the cloud seemed to get thicker than ever.

The map had shown a path that led directly to Rossett Pike. In the cloud I may have missed it. If it even existed. The number of times I’ve been in the Lakes looking for a track the normally reliable Ordnance Survey says is there, but turns out not to be. Well let’s say if I had a pound for every time that had happened, I would have about three quid. Still, there was a more obvious path that set off from Angle Tarn and I followed that, keeping my eye out for a sensible point to turn off the path and stride over the wet grass towards Rossett Pike’s highest point.

The summit area of Rossett Pike in the cloud

This, it turned out, was in a rocky plateau. Quite wide, and long, with an edge that looked steeply down onto the path I’d followed up. Apparently. I couldn’t see much due to the cloud. The weather certainly wasn’t going to compromise even if it was my last fell in the Langdale area. Still I meandered over to the cairn, and did a quiet celebratory pint.

With not very much to see, there was little to do but move on, and head back down to the valley. Even if I hadn’t done the lot, there wasn’t really anywhere else to go. Rossett Pike really does stand quite alone. The top of Bow Fell isn’t that far away, but there’s no direct path. Allen Crags could be reached at a push, but the weather forecast for the afternoon had predicted rain. A more sedate afternoon was quite probably in order.

The summit of Rossett Pike

I made my way back to where I thought the path along the top of the Pike ran. And couldn’t find it. It was around somewhere, but the cloud made it impossible to find. Never mind though. I knew I was pretty safe if I headed north west. Doing so would take me on towards the Stake Pass, where I could rejoin the Cumbria Way and head back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

The further away I got from the Pike’s summit, the more the cloud thinned. Eventually everything looked pretty calm and clear. And soon enough I was striding into Mickleden, and arriving back at my tent, wondering just what I was going to do for the rest of the day.

A sheltered spot on Rossett Pike for a spot of lunch?

Langdale was done. Rain was coming. High level walks perhaps not the best idea. Pub? Or drive out of the valley and do “something” maybe?

Or perhaps there was just one more fell I could knock off whilst I was not that far away. One I’d failed to do eight years earlier.

I looked at my map. It wasn’t massively convenient given where I was. But going there was always going to require me to head out of my way. It would be short. It would be straightforward. It would require a drive. But it could be done.

On the Stake Pass and heading back to Langdale

I nodded myself, and on arrival back at the campsite, dumped my stuff in the car and went for a drive.

It was time to finally do Hard Knott.

Next time: something completely different at Hard Knott.

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