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A challenging ascent of one of the most iconic peaks in Cumbria, enjoy views of waterfalls, Stickle Tarn, and a classic scramble on Pavey Ark.

harrison-tarn-harrison-stickle-lake-district-uk
Photo: John Paul Walsh on Unsplash

Harrison Stickle – Why Go?

The most iconic fells of the Lake District simply beg you to climb them, and Harrison Stickle – one of the Langdale Pikes in Great Langdale – is the stunning backdrop to some of the most admired and most photographed scenes in the Lake District.

From Windermere and Ambleside and everywhere on the approach to Langdale, Harrison Stickle dominates the view with its bulging craggy forehead that sits regally above dozens of lesser fells. Why wouldn’t you want to hike it?! 

Near to Harrison Stickle sits Pike of Stickle and Loft Crag, the trio that makes up the famous Langdale Pikes. The three fells have made it onto the full list of Wainwright's Lakeland Fells, making each a rewarding hike. We don't want to play favourites – there are so many amazing Lake District walks – but with its stunning rocky parapet, slightly intimidating height, and stunning views over Scafell Pike, Harrison Stickle claims the title of our favourite Lakeland walk. 

Harrison Stickle – What to Expect

Hiking to the summit of Harrison Stickle is sure to offer some wonderfully dramatic views across the Lake District. Climbing Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark can be a bit of a struggle for less-experienced hikers, but it is classed as a grade 1 scramble. This means it is quite a straightforward and enjoyable climb, but the rock can be dangerous in high winds or wet conditions. 

The scramble up Jack’s Rake to the summit will require a good pair of walking boots, and a waterproof jacket wouldn’t go amiss on this hike either – if you're climbing these beautiful English hills, you should definitely be prepared for a spot of rain. 

Harrison Stickle – The Route, Part 1

6.5km / 3 - 4.5 hours

Starting at New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale, simply follow the ghyll up to Stickle Tarn; much of the ascent of Harrison Stickle is taken up with this section. The often-dramatic waterfall is a welcome distraction from this steep climb. 

Stickle Tarn itself is a great place for lunch with its beautiful views over the Lakes (although if you started your walk earlier in the day, maybe just stop for elevenses!) 

When you're ready to continue your hike, the path to the summit of Harrison Stickle skirts around the east of Stickle Tarn and behind the dominating face of Pavey Ark. There is an alternative path to the west that is more direct, and while this path is not marked on some maps, it is, in reality, is well-trodden. However, it would be a great shame to miss the opportunity to scale that fearsome wall behind the Sickle Tarn. 

Pavey Ark may look like the province of experienced climbers, but careful inspection will reveal a shelf running diagonally from the bottom right-hand corner: Jack’s Rake. The scramble is exposed, but not technically difficult – anyone with a decent level of fitness and a good head for heights should be able to attempt it, but it's best avoided when walking with younger children. If in doubt, always consult a local guide.

Harrison Stickle – The Route, Part 2

From Stickle Tarn and Jack's Rake, the summit is fairly obvious for the rest of the walk, and you can begin to drink in the distant views down Langdale to Windermere, the wilderness north of Pavey Ark, and the countless peaks in the distance to the west. If you’re eager for more climbing there are plenty of craggy outcrops to play on en route, but be careful not to take on anything beyond your capability – there are some serious climbers’ crags in the vicinity.

Once at the summit, you can continue down the west side in the direction of Bowfell across the valley and eventually swing round towards your starting point in the valley.

Over a pint at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, you can feel suitably satisfied that you conquered the king of Langdale's central fells. 

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