The first of two March MDB walks has lead me back to The Lake District and in particular the stunning Stickle Tarn in Great Langdale. Currently there is great interest in this tarn as The Lake District National Park has made the decision to sell it, I presume to generate some income. The news of the sale has caused a lot of debate, even in Parliament, and created a lot of traffic on social media sites. On one of these sites, the I Love the Lake District Facebook group, a member made a suggestion that we could all club in to buy it and run it as kind of co-operative. This idea was initially very popular and a huge number of people were interested and registered their support, me included. Owning a tiny part of the Lake District I thought was a very attractive idea and to help to keep it in the public realm was very important, Dad would have approved of that! The idea of a mass buy out soon faded as people started to look into the complicated Land Legislation and Health and Safety issues involved and a new fight began, that of saving it from being sold in the first instance. A new Facebook group page was then born, 'Save Stickle Tarn – and our beautiful Lake District'. The purchase of Stickle Tarn, by tender, is not without barriers as there are guidelines as to what can and can’t be done with the site once bought, and by all accounts the tarn's dam wall is in need of costly repairs so this would also need to be taken into consideration by any purchaser. Having read a number of articles and spoken to a number of people I am convinced that the main concern isn’t what would happen to the site initially after the new owner takes over but the worry for many is based in its future; the long term continuity of maintenance and access of the site and the principle of selling parcels of land that the public are free to use and are encouraged to access. The 'land for sale' issue is not just a Stickle Tarn based one but is cropping up over a number of sites owned by National Parks around the country. I hasten to add that this MDB blog has no political leaning, but as a massive outdoors enthusiast I feel the need to highlight the right of everyone to access the countryside and to feel the magical freedom to roam that came about thanks to the Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout in the 1930's, and latterly the CRoW Act in 2000.
The fabulous founder of the 'Save Stickle Tarn' Facebook group, Pauline thought a protest walk to the tarn might be the best way to start to publicise the feelings of the group. So in the firm belief that my Dad would have been keen to save this beautiful and valuable asset from private ownership, I thought it would make a great MDB's walk, so I grabbed my OL 6 map and off I went. I also thought, while I'm there I am close to two Wainwrights and I might be in luck and bag one of them so I packed a borrowed AW book three too.
I'm not used to walking in a group, I normally walk alone, so I was a little apprehensive to the whole experience but soon discovered a number of lovely and interesting people to converse with along the way. We met at The National Trust's only pub, The Sticklebarn and the walk led off from there.
The route up to Stickle Tarn runs the whole way along a very rocky path parallel to Stickle Ghyll.
Stickle Ghyll was running at full spate as it was full of snowmelt water that was teeming off the higher fells.
The sound of the water was almost deafening.
The power of the water was unmistakably strong.
As I looked behind Lingmoor Fell and Side Pike were the dominant features.
Then as I tracked around the ghyll ravine the backdrop was filled with views of Side Pike, Miller Crag and Pike Howe to my right, Tarn Crag to the left, and Wetherlam in the far distance.
Nearing the top, I could see the 'Save Stickle Tarn' group had gathered at the Dam Wall.
The dominating feature of Pavey Ark overlooked the tarn. A great place to rest MDB, brew up, discuss the matter at hand with a fellow group member and consider the awesome technical scramble that is Jack's Rake, the diagonal route directly up the front face to the summit of Pavey Ark.
The second of the two Stickle Tarn Wainwright's, Harrison Stickle.
After a little while showing my support to the 'Save Stickle Tarn' group I peeled off to start the second part of the day, a lone ascent of Pavey Ark, not by Jack's Rake but the North Rake side route which required me to cross the fast flowing Stickle Ghyll again.
I had to ford a number of becks, streams and boggy areas that surround the tarn. The tarn path was good to start then petered out.
Bright Beck was a new and fascinating watery barrier. I chose to walk a little further up stream to find a good place to cross.
Once I was over Bright Beck the steep rocky, scramble up Pavey Ark started in earnest.
Useful cairns mark the way.
I look behind, Blea Rigg.
The route was beset with 'blobs' of residual snow so I had to work my way around them the best I could.
The largest 'blob' was at the top. An interesting end to my ascent, a thigh high snow drift!
The cairn above the 'blob'.
The Summit Tarn.
The summit of Pavey Ark, at 700m (2,296ft), made a great viewpoint to take in the Lingmoor, a distant Windermere and Stickle Tarn just below. My 10th Wainwright!
One of the fragments of drystone walling, constructed to prevent a native woolly Herdwick finding a quick route down or becoming cragfast.
Neighbouring Harrison Stickle.... As time was against me I thought that would be a Wainwright for another time.
I opted to descend between Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle. The view of the tarn was brilliant.
Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn.
I rejoined the Tarn bank pathway, and on to the Dam.....
By then the 'Save the Stickle Tarn' group had left and I had the place to myself for a short spell before I descended back down the same Stickle Ghyll path.
Towards the end of the ghyll pathway you pass over a newly constructed bridge, part of the hydro-power project.... Which got me thinking, dangerous I know, if the Parks Authority is in need of finance, instead of selling valuable assets perhaps they should be engineering ways to produce low impact, sustainable, renewable power and selling it back to the grid, local homeowners and businesses..... Just a thought!
When I made it back to The Sticklebarn, I rejoined the refreshed group and had chance to speak to the lovely Pauline before I left. I feel the world is a better place for people like Pauline, people who give a fig enough to do something to help protect very special places like Stickle Tarn. Well done Pauline! I know it would have pleased Dad knowing I had spent the day with a Pauline, as that is Mum's name.
Till next time.... Tight laces. MDB x
Phil, as always, thank you so much.... MDB, GO! :0)