Tag Archives: Langdale

Lighting up the Pikes as rescue team reaches 50

6th January 2020


The most famous outline of all the Lakeland fells will be lit up spectacularly to celebrate a rescue anniversary this spring.


The Langdale Pikes – Harrison Stickle, Pike o’ Stickle and Loft Crag – will be lit over the mountain summits by hundreds of torches to mark 50 years of the Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team.


The illumination, on the evening of Friday April 3, will be part of a series of events throughout the year to mark the efforts of the volunteers who have saved hundreds of lives on the hills, and rescued injured walkers and climbers. Last year they were called out 101 times.


It is the first mountain light-up in the southern Lake District and will be hosted by Lakeland Mountain Guides, who have organised something similar on Catbells in the north.


“It promises to be an exceptional sight,” said LAMRT leader Nick Owen. “The Langdale Pikes can be seen from many miles away on the approaches to the Lakes. It’s an outline which is familiar to everyone who has been to the Lake District, but they will never have seen anything like this before.”


Nick, who by day is the manager of the Elterwater Independent Hostel, leads a team of around 40 volunteers from all walks of life, including doctors, paramedics , an insurance expert… and an architectural and sculptural metal worker.


The event is being co-ordinated by deputy team leader Sarah Anderson – one of six women in the team – who said that anyone could take part if they were competent in the hill environment after dark. “The route will be marshalled but we do expect people to be able to look after themselves,” she said.

Hundreds of torches

So far nearly 200 people have indicated that they will take part, with more than 1000 expressing interest on the team’s Facebook page.


The LAMRT was formed in 1970 from the amalgamation of two separate teams, who would use the now familiar base on Lake Road in Ambleside.


The team has some notable ‘firsts’ to its credit, including the invention of the now universally used Bell stretcher by team member Peter Bell, an engineer who also developed the Reviva, an early device to give first aid treatment to hypothermia victims. Due to its location in the centre of the Lake District, the team has also become one of the busiest in the UK.


Climbing legends


Previously, rescue from the fells was done on an ad hoc basis by local climbers, notably Sid Cross of the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Langdale. The 1950s had seen a huge increase in the numbers of people who took up rock-climbing as a sport. And with post-war increase in affluence and personal mobility, many youngsters from the northern cities began to make weekend tracks to the Lakes, camping rough or in farmers’ barns, especially in Langdale, many of them later to become climbing legends.


“Inevitably this led to an increase in the number of people getting lost, or having mishaps and accidents,” says Nick Owen.  “Volunteers came from among the local climbing fraternity but this relied on enough climbers being in the right place when an incident occurred.”


Lost on the hills


Call-outs were not as frequent then, but often were very lengthy affairs and the heavy and cumbersome equipment available, such as old Thomas stretchers, took its toll on rescuers and victims alike.


In the 1960s as more and more people wanted to experience ‘the great outdoors’, the Lake District saw the beginning of a huge boom in tourism. For mountain rescue, it meant that the client changed dramatically. Instead of climbers, it was the new breed of fellwalkers who were coming to grief on the hills, getting lost, breaking limbs and falling victim to hypothermia and heart attacks.


Rescue teams in Langdale and Ambleside were merged, and the LAMRT has
proudly defended its position as a self-funding organisation, with a dedicated membership of unpaid volunteers.




Thanks to its good relationships with local people and to many small contributors and fund-raising helpers, together with larger individual donations, the LAMRT has managed to bring itself to the present day with huge experience and expertise in its field, a formidable range of rescue and para-medical equipment, a high degree of communications technology and a training programme second to none. It has won the respect of and developed excellent working relationships with the Police, the County Ambulance Service and the coastguard whose Search and Rescue Helicopter Service often assists local teams with emergency evacuations.


Be prepared


Today their role includes education, putting across the message that those heading onto the hills should be well equipped and well prepared, and able to use a map and compass, not just rely on a mobile phone.


The team has been at the forefront of the Be Adventure Smart campaign. Says Nick Owen: “The mountains of the Lake District are not high by international standards, and severe snow and ice conditions are rare, but they should not be underestimated as they can be unforgiving for even the most experienced and well-prepared walkers.


“Severe weather conditions can set in within minutes and navigation can be difficult at the best of times due to a scarcity of obvious paths and tracks. We encourage hill goers to be adventure smart, asking, do I have the right gear, do I know what the weather will be like, am I confident I have the knowledge and skills for the day?”

Nick Owen introduces hostel visitors to the Rescue Team


Twenty three before tea: can it be done?

11th September 2019

Twenty three before tea? Well, we were certainly fortified by a hostel breakfast before we set off on this challenge, inspired by Paul Tierney’s record-breaking run around all the Wainwrights.

Place Elterwater at the middle of the map, take a photo, and there are 23 Wainwright tops in the rectangle. And when some fellrunners on social media wondered if they could be linked to form a challenge route, we decided to give it a go.

However, when a friend and I tried it recently, a combined bad ankle and a lack of proper training scuppered us right from the first peak.  So although we had near perfect conditions, we only managed 14 peaks (42km). We could probably have done more – but not the full 23, and it would have taken longer and it’s highly unlikely that we would have made it back in time for tea!

The real challenge is the amount of up and down. To do the 23 (even with the adjustments we made) requires doing valley-floor to top-of-Wainwright at least four times. We did three of these (not counting Wrynose pass between Great Carrs and Cold Pike) and still covered over 3000m of climbing.  Looking at Paul Tierney’s route, he covered these on very different sections of the run and maximised staying high in a way we couldn’t on this run.

We certainly weren’t at full fitness, but I do think it’s a big stretch to do those 23 in a day. More doable, perhaps, would be to allow people to pick their own 23 – I’ve eyed up a route that goes further including Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, for example, and wouldn’t necessitate the drop-downs and back-ups into Great Langdale, or the Grasmere valley.

So it’s over to someone else to find a good list of 23 that can feasibly be linked together in a day. Or a 23-mile route (or 23k) that doesn’t necessarily include lots of summits?

Meanwhile it might also be good to have something that “mortals” can achieve, or have a good crack at. Maybe “how many can you do in 12 hours from the gate”, or “Nine Before You Dine”? For less extreme walkers, there are wonderful potential challenges from here. A waterfalls walk, perhaps..

Let us know when you come to stay…we can have a leaderboard here on the wall, as well as a record on our Instagram pages.

Five best pubs around Langdale

4th September 2019

A pint or two after a long day in the hills: what could be more satisfying. There are some great pubs in the Lake District and we’ve chosen our favourite five “locals” to share with you.

OUR nearest is the Britannia, virtually stumbling distance away from our front gate. A traditional Lakeland inn, it’s at the heart of the village overlooking the green where visitors sit outside – when the actual beer garden overflows. A fire in winter, good pub food. Range of speciality beers including the locally brewed Langdale Blonde and Langdale Pale, and they have a beer festival in late autumn.

The Britannia at Elterwater

UP at the head of Langdale you’ll find two of our favourites, that are also loved by walkers and climbers. The more modern Sticklebarn is actually owned and run by the National Trust. It lies at the foot of Stickle Gill (which tumbles down from the Langdale Pikes, via Stickle Tarn) and here they recognise that just about every visitor will arrive foot-weary and often muddy after an exhilarating hike. So there’s a clothes dryer over the fireplace, towels for wet dogs, books for you to curl up with on the sofa. Some nights they show films in the upstairs bar. Oh, and there’s food and drink all day and all evening, of course.

ANOTHER half mile along the road is the legendary Old Dungeon Ghyll, that’s been welcoming visitors for more than 300 years. The Hikers’ Bar has seen the great and the gritty of the climbing world gather after epic adventures, and was the “local” for the notorious Wall End barn gang, which included the likes of Don Whillans and Joe Brown. It’s soaked in atmosphere and the dubbin of ancient hiking boots.

ODG, the Hikers' Bar

Of course, you might not want to move from our cosy sitting room before or after dinner, and you’ll be pleased to know that we sell a range of locally brewed beers including Coniston Bluebird and Jennings’ Cockerhoop. What are your favourite pubs – and beers?

Walkers who carry the Wainwright bible

13th September 2018

There’s a bible that many of our visitors carry with them on the fells, and that will be one of the Wainwright guides.

It’s a good analogy because the guidebooks have sold in biblical proportions, more than two million of them since the first of the seven-book Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells series was published in 1955.

Wainwright map

Map of the Wainwright summits

Visiting all 214 Wainwrights is a common form of peak bagging. They are one man’s personal choice of mountains over 1000ft in height, and while there are other lists – our neighbour Bill Birkett has 541 of them, which ultra-devotees set out to tick off – doing the Wainwrights has become part of our language here.


So it was with great pleasure that we recently welcomed Mark Richards to stay here at Elterwater Hostel. Mark was a great friend of Wainwright and is author of his own Fellranger guides. One of our staff team, Pete Savin, was walking a route with him for his guidebook update.

Mark Richards

Mark Richards

“I have very fond memories of AW, his passion for fish and chips, his enthusiasm for new projects, an ‘infection’ we shared. We even started planning a joint guide to the (Welsh) Cambrian Way,” Mark says. But as the older man’s ability to walk was faltering, he concentrated instead on a book of Scottish Mountain Drawings. Mark developed his own series of guides and many other books including Great Mountain Days in the Lake District.

There are registers kept by the Long Distance Walkers Association and the  Wainwright Society of completers, but many more people just do it for the love of the hills and their own sense of satisfaction. Some are more beloved than others; everyone is fond of Catbells and Haystacks, but few will find a kind word to say about boggy Armboth Fell.

The first continuous round of all 214 Wainwrights was completed by Alan Heaton of Clayton le  Moors Harriers, a running club in Lancashire, between 29 June and 8 July 1985 starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall, with a total time of 9 days and 16 hours. Joss Naylor set a new record of 7 days 1 hour between 26 June and 2 July 1986. This was beaten by Steve Birkinshaw between 14 and 20 June 2014, who completed the round in 6 days and 13 hours.

Alfred Wainwright lived and worked in Kendal for most his life but he was born into a working class family in the Lancashire mill town of Blackburn and experienced the difficult times of the 1920s and 30s. Being a bright lad, however, he worked hard at improving his position, taking night school classes and later correspondence courses to qualify as a local government accountant. This eventually enabled him in 1941 to obtain a position in the council office in Kendal, just where he had wanted to be since taking a holiday with a cousin walking in the Lake District .

Langdale Pikes

The Langdale Pikes, favourites of Wainwright-baggers

After his move to Kendal walking in the Lakeland fells occupied as much of his spare time as possible, becoming his obsession. His view of the Lake District is clearly expressed in the opening sentence of his first guide: “Surely there is no other place in this whole wonderful world quite like Lakeland.”

We won’t argue with that.


Book direct for the best deals

3rd September 2018

THERE’S a growing campaign to persuade visitors – to the Lakes and elsewhere – to book direct with their chosen accommodation provider.

Here at Elterwater Hostel  we can understand and appreciate the need for online booking agencies if you’re looking for the cheapest deal on a city break, or a package holiday overseas. Too much choice,  and you might well need help making up your mind.

But here, in the heart of Langdale, to be honest there’s nothing quite like our hostel. We are a genuine example of that overused word, unique.

Great Langdale

Great Langdale and the Langdale Pikes

We’re independent, so we’re not run by any outside organisation. We’re a family business, and our hostel is managed by people who know the area better than the back of their hands. And we’re in a tiny village, named after the nearby tiny lake, where we know that no-one else is offering quite what we offer.

So we are making a direct appeal to you, to book with us direct. From our website you can see at a glance what we have available on the dates that you’re looking for. Maybe you’re a solo traveller looking for a room in a (small) dormitory? Then book direct. Or a family wanting a room together, and one that’s ensuite? Book direct is the answer.

The details are all there for you to see, availability, cost – and the knowledge that you don’t have to pay up front, until you get here.

Book direct at Elterwater Hostel

Our warm welcome…..

Still not found what you’re looking for online? Pick up the phone and give us a call to book direct, especially if your request is an unusual one. Sometimes it’s possible to book sole use of a dorm, for example. And of course if you want to bring a party of schoolchildren, or a group of fellrunners, we can tell you when we have room to keep you all happy.

By booking direct the contract is with us, the price is better, the cancellation terms are more generous – AND we can use the 15% commission we have to pay online booking agents to reinvest in the business to give our guests a better experience all round. There’s no commission, either if you book via the Independent Hostels website

There are many other independent hostels all over the country, and around the world, of course. They are all individual, with their own special characteristics, benefits, and staff who know that these are great places to meet people and make new friends. They’re ideal for visitors from overseas, for those travelling by public transport, and for those who want the best possible value for money.

These can be found on the Independent Hostels website where all the booking buttons link direct to the hostels’ own booking systems, so you can guarantee you are booking direct every time.

Here at Elterwater we have been making improvements season by season and we’re confident that your stay with us will be comfortable. And with Nick and his team in the kitchen, we know that you’re going to have great home cooking, hearty breakfasts, local produce – and some local beers to go with dinner.

Please spread the word among your travelling friends, and stop to think when you’re next planning a trip – book direct with your hostel.