Blea Tarn and Side Pike

Name of walk Blea Tarn and Side Pike
Date of walk 2014-10-12
Distance walked (miles) 4
Duration of walk 3 hours 0 minutes
Weather mist then blue skies
Peaks on walk Side Pike
Walked with Brendan
Parking NT car park at Blea Tarn

There were blue skies early yesterday morning, but the hills were in cloud as were the valleys. I was bell ringing in the morning so we did not set off until after 11.30am, hoping that the early morning cloud would have burned off by then. Brendan and I were heading for Blea Tarn. We had planned to do a circuit and to include a climb up to Side Pike for the views. I also planned to do a detour up to the slopes of Blake Rigg. For at our last bell ringing practice, Alan Dewar, a fellow Dalton bell ringer, had brought in an oil painting by his wife, Jane’s, late father, to see if I could identify where it was painted. He thought it was probably of Blea Tarn. The painting seemed to show Blea Tarn, with Blea Tarn House and Side Pike squashed together, but the mountains behind what should be Lingmoor, put it somewhere else. So I thought I might as well have a look from Blake Rigg and see.


The mist was down over the surrounding hills. There was no view to the Langdale Pikes, even Side Pike was cloud covered. It was now 1pm and I was hoping that the cloud would start to burn off soon, or I would need to repeat the walk another day.


Blake Rigg in cloud too.


Side Pike is starting to appear through the gloom.


By the time we had got the other side of the tarn Side Pike had appeared. We continued on the track until we reached a point where I could head up Blake Rigg in order to ascertain the approximate elevation from where the painting was painted.


This is the oil painting by Eric Johnson. Apologies for the poor quality photo. I took it in a hurry in St. Mary's ringing room last Tuesday night, on my mobile, bell rope in one hand, phone in another! If the painting is of Blea Tarn he has used lots of artistic license, the view being heavily concertinaed to get the scene in, and he has added a few mountains behind Lingmoor. Jane thought that her father had sketched it first and painted it later. But then maybe it was of Little Langdale Tarn or Loughrigg Tarn, darn difficult to tell with impressionists!


I left Brendan sitting comfortably on a rock and headed up Blake Rigg to a position where I was looking down on to the trees to the right of the tarn, and roughly at eye level to Side Pike. I could not really go any higher as I would be disappearing into the mist.....never a good idea on Blake Rigg! This photo and the next show the sweep of the view. Blea Tarn House appears in both photos in order to show how big an area it is in reality.


Looking across to Lingmoor and down on to the tarn. No one up here but sheep! I am satisfied that the painting could be an artist's impression of Blea Tarn, so I head back down to the path.


On my way down I see Harrison Stickle, one of the Langdale Pikes, appear out through the clouds. I love being on a mountain above a thermal inversion! It makes for some great photos. Alas, not today. But I can see someone standing on the summit able to experience such an occasion!


By the time we reach the top of the path and the view down into Great Langdale and Mickleden, the low clouds had risen further up and were starting to dissipate.


We headed up to Side Pike for the views.


Straight ahead is The Band that leads up to Bowfell . The valley on the right is Mickleden, on the left is Oxendale.


View back to Blea Tarn, the slopes of Blake Rigg on the right. The clouds over Wetherlam are now clearing too.


Looking down on Great Langdale from the climb up to Side Pike.


Crinkle Crags are now in view.


Pike o'Blisco on the far left.


On the summit of Side Pike we meet a guy from Preston who takes our photo. The clouds are all but gone now.


He admires the view from the summit.


We make our way down and then head around the edge of Side Pike towards 'The Squeeze'.


The route is a little precipitous in places.


'The Squeeze' also known as 'Fat Man's Dilemma'. This is the only route through.Thankfully it poses no problems for me, I just have to remove my bum bag ruck sack.


Brendan just needed to remove his coat and breathe in! We did not need to contemplate the terms 'naked' and 'Vaseline' this time!


We met a family from Scotland heading in the other direction, this is dad squeezing through.


We now head down to the road.


Side Pike in the sunshine.


Blea Tarn House was built in the 17th century and is mentioned in Wordsworth's 'The Solitary'. Side Pike on the right.


We return to the tarn, this time there are views to the Langdale Pikes.


Side Pike on the right in sunshine.


Langdale Pikes reflections.


We went to the Wilson Arms In Torver for a meal. This is the first time I have taken a photo of a toilet! The cubicle partitions were made from blocks of!


We stopped on the shore of Coniston Water. A three photo panorama of the east shore. Click on the photo to enlarge, then again to go back.


Some superb autumn colours.




We then head for home.

The walk I did was about 4 miles in total, which took us about three hours. I’m glad the weather turned out nice in the end! Plus we appeared to have solved the painting mystery……unless anyone else knows otherwise?