Introducing Lakeland's Best Ridge-Mile
Trail UK|April 2017

The Lake District is full of gems, but could this crinkly wonderland be the perfect introduction to winter walking?

Jenna Maryniak

The great British weather had played its usual trick. When the weatherman predicted an unexpected dump of snow and freezing conditions in Wales, our plans quickly changed from Snowdonia’s knife-edge Crib Goch (slight relief) to the friendlier Lake District fells. Sitting in the cosy Black Bull pub in Coniston, nearly 200 miles away from our original Welsh location, with 50mph winds and sleet lashing the windows, we hatched a new plan.

The Mountain Weather Information Service forecast clear skies and a gentle breeze. After 48 hours of battering wind and rain, it didn’t seem likely, but we were hopeful. Nothing beats bright blue skies, snow and a Lake District vista; so a quiet excitement brewed as we pored over route books and an outstretched map of the Southern Fells.

“Introducing Lakeland’s best ridge mile,” proclaimed Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guide to the Southern Fells. “Crinkle Crags is much too good to be missed. For the mountaineer who prefers his mountains rough... who enjoys an up-and-down ridge walk full of interesting nooks and corners, who has an appreciative eye for magnificent views.” Grand praise from the guidebook guru. We were sold! If the forecast was right, Crinkle Crags would be perfect – commanding views of the Cumbrian greats and proper mountain terrain; but nothing too tricky in snowy conditions.

A new day dawned and the glow of the early morning winter sun illuminated the snow-clad mountain tops… it was going to be a good one. We eagerly set out to make the most of the limited daylight. From Great Langdale, in the shadows of the surrounding mountains, the approach follows The Band. This is the engaging eastern shoulder of Bowfell, which sits to the north of Crinkle Crags. Our route took us to Three Tarns at a col between the two hills, then south onto the Crinkles.

Bursting into the sunlight as we climbed, the view unfolded and soon we felt as if we had been transported to the Alps. This did not feel like the English Lake District.

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