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Crinkle Crags in the Lake District is a superb day on the fells with magnificent views from the very first step.

Photo: JPHutchinson_iStock

Crinkle Crags – Why Go?

It’s easy to see why the traverse of Crinkle Crags is regarded as one of the Lakes’ classic mountain walks – not too long, not too short, spectacular views and the feeling that for much of the route you’re on the roof of Lakeland. 

Crinkle Crags is a Wainwright and one of his favourite 6 at that. The crags feature in one of his seven stunning guides to the Lake District. At the summit of Crinkle Crags, called Long Top, you can see anything from the idyllic valleys of Great Langdale to the towering Scafells. Enjoy marvelling at the beauty of Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain, and perhaps challenge yourself to climb the Bad Step that looms straight ahead when hiking to the top of the second crinkle (or take the left-hand path for an easier climb!) Once you've experienced the hike for yourself, you'll see why Wainwright thought it was one of the best Lake District walks

The ‘Crinkles’ consist of five craggy peaks rising impressively above Great Langdale and Oxendale, and so named because of their ‘crinkly’ appearance from lower elevations; there are various enjoyable options for traversing their summits, but our walking route starts from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, where you can park in the nearby National Trust car park. 

Crinkle Crags – What to Expect

When hiking, consider Crinkle Crags as five mini summits rather than one large one. You’ll enjoy an up-and-down walk along the ridges of the crags, with each one offering a different view and climbing experience. 

The ascent of Crinkle Crags is not incredibly challenging, but it might offer some exposed scrambling and uneven ground. A pair of comfortable lightweight walking boots is a must if you decide to climb this fell. A waterproof jacket, plenty of water, and some food or snacks are recommended items to carry with you even if the weather looks fine or you’re only planning a short walk – it’s definitely better to be over-prepared when walking the Lakeland hills. 

Crinkle Crags – The Route, Part 1

8.5km / 4 hours

This route starts from Great Langdale, with an easy amble along the valley floor past Stool End farm into the huge bowl of Oxendale, more Nordic than English in both name and appearance.

After crossing a footbridge over the stream to the left bank of the valley the work begins in earnest as you head very steeply uphill towards Red Tarn, but in recompense, the views down Oxendale and Great Langdale, across The Band and Langdale Pikes and to the further hills of the Lakes open up with almost every step.

Crinkle Crags – The Route, Part 2

Take a breather at the Red Tarn, then head right and continue upwards past Great Knott on an obvious path to the first of the five ‘Crinkles’. By now the views have really opened up, encompassing everything from the Irish Sea coast to all of the higher Lakeland fells, and these glorious panoramas remain with you for the rest of the traverse. Take your time along the way, having worked hard to gain the altitude this is a walk with views to be savoured.

The traverse route along Crinkle Crags is straightforward, but the visibility can be poor, so you'll need to have good navigation skills. Crossing the summit of the Crinkles will eventually see you descend to Three Tarns. If you're feeling particularly energetic here, you have the option to take a short detour to the summit of Bowfell. 

Otherwise, Three Tarns is another place to enjoy a break and enjoy the fine views of the Scafell Massif, England's second-highest mountain after Scafell Pike. After a rest, you descend via The Band down to Stool End Farm, from where you retrace your path to the car park at Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

Want more? Take a look at our full rundown of the best walks in the Lake District for even more great routes. 

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