Pike o’ Blisco on a rather overcast day


Unusually today there’s only Pal and I as Mila is alway on a school trip to the Bay of Naples in Italy! It feels strange being in the Lake District without her.

WAINWRIGHT BOOK: The Southern Fells Book 4

DIFFICULTY:   2      WALK LENGTH: c.2hrs

DATE and START TIME: Monday 11th April, 2016 c.9.30am start.

PARKING: Roadside at the Three Shires Stone, Wryness, Cumbria (NY 277 027)

ROUTE WALKED: Three Shires Stone, Black Crag, PIKE O’BLISCO, Red Tarn and back to Three Shires Stone. 

WALK DETAILS: c.2-3 miles, a very leisurely 8hrs 20mins. including lunch and coffee breaks.

HIGHEST POINT: Pike O’ Blisco (2,313ft / 705m)

WALKED WITH: Pal (Mila was away on a school trip to the Bay of Naples).

WEATHER: Overcast, cool and quite windy, but at least it didn’t rain!




We parked up on the roadside at the Three Shires Stone and took the path directly behind the car.  I was surprised to find that there were no other cars parked, and quite relieved as there’s not that much space.  The Three Shires Stone was erected in 1816 and repaired and re-erected in 1998.  There were originally three stones, it marked the boundary of three shires of counties of the past . . . Lancashire, West Moreland and Cumberland.




As you can see, the start of the path is very clear being a popular approach for Crinkle Crags – but very wet in places.  The fell ahead is Cold Pike but that is not the way we’re heading today.  We soon veered off to the right long before Red Tarn (the route for Crinkle Crags) to climb up Pike o’ Blisco via Black Crag.

The views were hazy, lost in cloud and mist – hopefully they’ll improve as we gain height.

A photo taken by Pal . . . the clear route we’re following behind me.

If you look very carefully you can see our car far below and the Wryness Pass along the Duddon Valley.  As we climb up Wetherlam on the left of the distant fells and Black Sails on the right, appears over Wet Side Edge behind us.

Higher and higher – looking back  you can see left to right: Wet Side Edge; Wryness Pass and the Duddon Valley and in the distance Harter Fell.

      Pal enjoying the view – it would be interesting to come again when the views are clearer!  

Left to right: hidden behind cloud is Swirl How; with Great Carrs in front.  The ridge leads to Grey Friar beyond.                                                        

Not the clearest of views but anyway!  Here is a view looking south to west . . .  There’s Wetherlam; Black Sails the dip is Swirl Hause with Prison Band being the only path linking Swirl Hause to Wetherlam; then Swirl How and Great Carrs with Wet Side Edge in front. 

It’s pretty boggy up here and you can see the ripples made from the wind on the surface of the unnamed tarn – there’s clearly been a lot of rain recently!  Black Crag ahead and the southern top of Pike o’ Blisco.

There’s Black Crag ahead. 

A perfect natural seat!  Time for a breather and a brew . . . It’s a shame it’s so overcast, but there’s still a lot to see.

Not far to the summit now.

If you look very carefully on the right you can just about see Lake Windermere veiled by mist with Black Fell in front of it.

On the left of Pal is Black Sails and on the right is Swirl How and Great Carrs with Wet Side Edge in front and on the far right is Grey Friar.

Pretty much the same view as above . . . this time without Pal! – Though now you can also see Prison Band – the path linking Swirl How to Wetherlam down to Swirl Hause, the dip between the far fells and Wetherlam on the far left.

You can just about see the path ahead.

The grassy path gives way to stones and boulders as we get close to the summit.

The visibility even seems to be improving – or is that just wishful thinking?

As we head for the boulders the view behind becomes slightly clearer – great views of Swirl How and a clear view of how Wet Side Edge rises to the summit of Great Carrs.

Looking back the way we had come.

A panorama of the view . . . along the valley of Great Langdale and the Langdale Pikes (above the hidden Mickleden Valley) straight ahead with Martcrag Moor then Pike o’ Stickle with its distinctive rounded peaked summit and the white south scree visible to the right of Pike o’ Stickle.  This ‘narrow vein of a very hard stone in the volcanic rocks . . . provided the material from which the historic natives of the district fashioned their axes.’ (The Central Fells – Pike o’ Stickle 3 – A. Wainwright).  Further to the right is Loft Crag with the popular climbing area of Gimmer Crag below.  Then comes Harrison Stickle and if you look very carefully you can just see Stickle Tarn.  The Helvellyn range is beyond – but not visible here because of the low cloud.  In the valley the white buildings are the Great Langdale Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.  Finally on the right are the slopes of Lingmoor Fell.

The northern (main) summit cairn in the distance.  The cairn is at the north-western end of the summit ridge which is 100 yards long.  There is another cairn at the south-eastern end – the cairn we came to first!  Mark Richards (Lakeland Fellrangers – Mid Western Fells page 178) describes the summit as being “reminiscent of a battleship with cannon station cairns at the north prow and southern aft, set on an irregular bare rock deck . . . ) – The northern cairn marks the summit proper.

Left to right you can see the Crinkle Crags then the snow covered summit of Ill Crag with the Three Tarns in front and the distinctive pointed summit of Bowfell.  Then Allen Crags; Grasmoor and Glaramara with Rossett Pike in front.

Pal heading for the northern summit cairn on Pike o’ Blisco.  With the view west to north – in this photograph you can see Great Knott on the left then Crinkle Crags; Gunson Knott; Shelter Crags; Ill Crag (with Three Tarns in front) and Bowfell.

Another view along to the main summit cairn.

The cairn with the beautiful view of Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.

On the far left is Cold Pike then Little Stand and the start of Crinkle Crags.  If you look very carefully you can see the path coming up from Red Tarn (out of sight) the more worn path branching to the right leads to Crinkle Crags whereas the path barely visible branching to the left leads to Cold Pike.

Red Tarn with Cold Pike above.

A panoramic view of the photographs above.

Much clearer views now though the clouds still make the views hazy.

Pal enjoying a warming cuppa on a perfectly placed ‘seat’ at the south-east cairn – the smaller cairn we came to first.

Looking north, having walked along to the main summit – you can see how it has been dismantled to make a ring of stones, a far cry from the impressive ‘shapely edifice’ that Wainwright describes (Book 4 – Pike o’ Blisco 9).  In the distance you can see The Band leading up to Bowfell with its ridge leading to Rossett Pike with Allen Crags behind and Glaramara to the right with Rosthwaite Cam directly to the left of the cairn.

Looking back along the ridge summit this time towards the south-eastern cairn in the distance.

Back to the north-western cairn – or what’s left of it!  The ring is more a heart shape of stones – a shame they’ve dismantled the beautiful cairn that I’ve seen in the guide books to make it!

Looking across to the Langdale Pikes.  Left to right: the distinctive rounded pillar summit of Pike o’ Stickle; with the clear white lines running down to the right being the South Scree Neolithic stone axe factory (as Mark Richards ‘The Mid-Western Fells’ p 180) describes it; in the distance High Raise and Thunacar Knott; Loft Crag; Great Dodd; Stybarrow Dodd and if you look very carefully you can just about see Stickle Tarn.  Lost behind cloud would be the Helvellyn range and the Fairfield Horseshoe.  

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell with Ill Crag beyond and Allen Crags on the far right.

Cold Pike ahead with the clear path to Crinkle Crags visible.


Above is Pike o’ Blisco’s main cairn on the north-western end of the ridge – looking back towards the south-eastern cairn.  The main summit cairn looks rather sorry for itself in comparison to how it looked when Wainwright first went up (Pike o’ Blisco 9) where he describes it as ‘a shapely edifice’.

Looking East there’s Side Pike and Lingmoor Fell, Silver How is lost in cloud beyond.

A close up of the path to Crinkle Crags . . . I would really love to do that route . . . fingers crossed!

Cold Pike

Heading down towards Red Tarn – at which point we could easily have continued to Cold Pike to easily return to our starting point but . . . this time we decided just to head back to the car.

Walkers ahead – they’re obviously on their way up to Cold Pike or the more adventurous Crinkle Crags ahead.  The Red Tarn is just out of view on the left.

We headed down towards the Red Tarn and crossed it at the southern (far left) side – across marshy ground, then down the side of Cold Pike on very intermittent paths and down to a stile and then across Rough Crags Gill.  Over the other stile, heading back for the road and back to the car on the path we started out on earlier at the start of our walk.


Looking south, there’s Wetherlam (the highest fell) and Black Sails in the distance with Wetside in front and at its base is the road we’re heading for, back to the car.

A quick look back at the way we’ve just walked down.

There’s the Wrynose Pass below . . .

Faint paths . . .  a few more cars have joined our’s now.

Across this stile . . .

Heading across and down . . . not far to the car now.

We’ll go over the stream and over the next stile.

Luckily there were quite a few rocks making the crossing pretty straight forward.

Back to the car . . . and a few more cars have joined us.  A lovely short walk and one that I’d like to do again but with Mila next time and definitely include Cold Pike or better still, Crinkle Crags.