Blea Tarn and Side Pike

Name of walk Blea Tarn and Side Pike
Date of walk 2021-05-14

On Friday I left home at 6.10am to drive to the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park and climb up Pike o’Blisco. In all my years of walking in the mountains I have never felt vulnerable or uncomfortable in the presence of another walker, nor felt the need to alter my route. That changed today. I arrived about 7.15am. A few cars were already here. I parked opposite the Pay and Display machine, next to a big 4×4. (In car parks with non designated spaces I don’t like to randomly park, as you are often left with big spaces that no one can park in.) I got out to open up my boot and a car that was already parked on the far side of the car park since before I arrived, moved and parked the other side of the 4×4. I went to get my ticket with my NT card. Soon realising someone was stood directly behind me. I turned and he said ‘hello’. I just nodded. Normally I’d be happy to engage, but something just felt off, and I returned to my car, got my boots on etc. and left. The man, who was dressed entirely in black, with a black rucksack, hung around. He did nothing wrong, but it set my alarm bells ringing. I just hoped he was going on one of the other multiple routes that go from this car park.


Bluebells in the woods above Elterwater on the drive towards Great Langdale.



I cross the bridge from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.


View to Pike o' Blisco shrouded in cloud.


Mountain goats settling for stone walls.



It is about a mile of road walking to reach the start of the path up to Pike o' Blisco, seen here from the road. I looked back and could see that the man in black from the car park was heading in my direction. Bugger!


I head up towards the beck crossing.


View back towards Side Pike on the right.


I had stopped to take a couple of photos that included the guy coming up fast behind me, and he had stopped and turned away. He was also filming himself on a 4ft selfie stick. So when I reached the gill crossing I climbed up left, well away from the path, sat down and got out my coffee. There was now no phone signal, so I could not forward a 'just in case' photo to my husband. So I decided that If he just carried on up at similar speed I would follow on after 20 minutes or so, but if he loitered or went up slowly and kept turning around I would change my walk, as I had no wish to disappear into the mist with someone that made me feel uncomfortable, even if his behaviour was totally innocent. I can do Pike o' Blisco another day.


Once on the other side of the gill he turned, waved and shouted hello and then proceeded to do all the things that meant I'd be going in the other direction, so I headed up the slopes of Blake Rigg. A photo looking back to the path I would have taken. I headed for Blea Tarn.


Side Pike.


I cross the slopes of Blake Rigg. Blea Tarn below.


I do a spot of sheep herding en route!


Blea Tarn looking very calm at 8.40am.


I head around the tarn.




A very brave man! It's none too warm! In the opening credits of the BBC's 'Countryfile' programme someone is wild swimming here, so it gets a lot of visitors doing the same.




The swimmer is from Crewe, he swims in open water to improve his mental health. His next stop is Windermere and he asks for directions and distance. I am perfectly happy to be alone chatting to a half naked man on the side of a tarn before 9am, like it's the most normal thing in the world. My internal alarm bells are totally quiet.....odd that!


Blea Tarn House is referenced in Wordsworth's 'The Solitary'. Side Pike, on the right the only hill out of the mist.


I head up at the fenceline.


'The Squeeze' or 'Fat Man's Dilemma'......


The route up Side Pike is through here. Ruck sack off and in sideways!


Followed by a narrow and precipitous path, what fun!


I take a moment to enjoy the views back to Blea Tarn.


Looking across to the slopes of Pike o' Blisco still in cloud. I turn right and head up to Side Pike's summit.


Summit view.


Looking across to Lingmoor. I did think of taking the route up from Blea Tarn car park, but the summit is still just in cloud, so there would not have been much to see.


Close up view down to the New Dungeon Ghyll car park and Stickle Barn.


Close up view down to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and car park.


Oxendale and Mickleden.


Pike o' Blisco left. I climb down to the road.


Cute lamb! I could take the footpath down to the campsite, but decide on the road as I will get to see the goats again!


Three goats inside the cattle feeder.


Looking back up to Side Pike.




I head back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park in the trees.

The walk was five miles and took me 3 hours and 15 minutes. Always a good little walk to do. I have no regrets changing my route. Even though the man was probably just out for a walk, and each action was probably totally innocent, but cumulatively his behaviour didn’t sit right with me. I think I did the only sensible thing. It is just annoying that as a lone woman I had to do this.

Be safe,