Great and Little Langdale

(See also Chapel Stile , Little Langdale)

The valley rings with mirth and joy; Among the hills the echoes play A never never ending song, To welcome in the May...
from The Idle Shepherd by Wordsworth

Langdale Pikes by Ann BowkerThere are two Langdale valleys: Great and Little. Both Langdales-the name means ‘the long valley’-offer spectacular mountain scenery. Tarns, gills, and waterfalls add to the rugged beauty. Grassy pastures contrast with bare rock and bracken.

Great Langdale Valley by Tony RichardsGreat Langdale is one of the busiest valleys in the Lake District, claiming a big share of walkers and rock climbers. Rising suddenly and steeply from the surrounding landscape, the Langdale Pikes, which include Pike O'Stickle and Harrison Stickle, poke their rocky peaks above the valley's northwestern end, their spires easily seen from the northern shores of Windermere.

Stickle Tarn from Pavey Ark by Ann BowkerRaven Crag and Gimmer Crag, along with Pavey Ark challenge rock climbers. Bowfell, at 2960 feet, sends watercourses down into Great Langdale. Langdale also lays claim to the summits of Crinkle Crags and Pike o'Blisco. At the top, Great Langdale divides into two other dales, Mickleden and Oxendale. In the east, Great Langdale and Little Langdale converge at the village of Elterwater. Stickle Tarn, sitting 1500 feet high, graces a popular footpath.

Dungeon Ghyll by Tony RichardsDungeon Ghyll, a deep ravine with its 60-foot waterfall, was a must on every Victorian's itinerary. Although not having a large volume of water, there is great force and noise behind it. Nearby Mill Gill runs down the fellside into a large pool.

5000 years ago, Neolithic man made stone axes from the hard volcanic rock of the valley and traded them throughout Britain. In the 1800's smugglers used the valley routes to bring their alcoholic goods-from the Isle of Man where taxes didn't exist-via packhorses from the coast.Mill Gill Cumbria by Charles Winpenny

The National Trust cares for much of the head of the valley and its farms. It owns the Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, a walkers' gathering spot. Great Langdale's one settlement is the village of Chapel Stile. Gunpowder, used in mining and quarrying the area's green-gray slate, was manufactured near here.

Langdale Pikes from Bull Close by Tony RichardsLittle Langdale, separated by the Lingmoor Fells from Great Langdale, is reached by a narrow, twisting road that passes by Blea Tarn. Less accessible than Great Langdale, the little valley heads to Wrynose pass, following the ancient Roman road, the 10th iter. Sheep dot the hillsides. The Brathay River courses down the middle of the valley.

Blea Tarn by Charles WinpennyOf the same name as its valley is Little Langdale village-a scattering of stone houses and a pub. The Three Shires Inn gets its name from its location. On Wrynose Pass, about two miles away, the boundaries of the old counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire met.

Little Langdale Tarn by Tony RichardsOff the road is Little Langdale tarn where an old farmhouse served as a smugglers' haven. Greenbank Farm was home to the infamous Irish moonshiner, Lanty Slee. On a minor road is the old stone Slater Bridge.

Wordsworth was so taken with Little Langdale and Blea Tarn that he wrote about them in his poem, Excursion: Book Second: The Solitary:

“Beneath our feet, a little lowly vale, A lowly vale, and yet uplifted high Among the mountains.... A quiet treeless nook, with two green fields, A liquid pool that glittered in the sun,. . . Ah! what a sweet Recess, thought I, is here!”

Little Langdale Village and Lingmoor Fell by Tony RichardsGreat Langdale is on the B5343.

Little Langdale is reached either by the minor road approach through Great Langdale or from the A593 in the east or via Wrynose Pass in the west.

Photos courtesy of Tony Richards , Ann Bowker and Charles Winpenny

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