Stone Age Way…

Stone Age Way…

Langdale Pikes

People have been walking in the Lake District Fells since time immemorial.  Certainly since the Stone Age: some of the ways of our ancient ancestors are still mountain paths we can walk today.  Along the way they left behind stone circles, burial mounds, megaliths and, most excitingly, stone axe heads.  They were very picky about the finding the most suitable stone- it was hand extracted from just a few high and quite remote fell tops- places where a rare green tinged volcanic rock was extruded over 450 million years ago.  How did they find it- we don’t know- but these guys knew their rocks and this particular tuft was so prized the axe heads have been found all over the UK and even Ireland.  They are wonderful objects: big, heavy, powerful tools which were polished smooth and lustrous.

The Langdale Pikes were the centre of production.  For over a thousand years, right up at the highest summits, the rock was burnt, hewn and cleft from the crags.  Today’s popular mountain tracks which go up from the back of the Stickle Ghyll car park would have been the route taken by our Stone Age ancestors.  Ascending the ridge up to Thorn Crag there are still signs of waste chippings dropping down the ravine to the head of the Ghyll.  Then on up to Pike of Stickle this is where most of the activity took place;  hidden below the face of the Pike is a steep scree slope, overlooking the valley far below- a very atmospheric place in the wind and mist. 

Neolithic Cave

The intrepid can descend to see a small cave- hewn by hand by nothing more than antler picks.  It is thought that the best stones were gathered and shaped into rough-outs before being taken elsewhere for polishing.  Over the back is an expanse of peaty moor where mounds of chippings have been found- exposed by the infamous Cumbrian wind and rain.  The rough-outs would then be transported down via Stakes Pass to valleys to the north, or back down to Langdale, or even west via Angle Tarn and Windy Gap between Great and Green Gable down to Ennerdale and the coast.

A great day’s hike is completed by following their footsteps- up to Pikes, finding the cave and then heading back via Stakes Pass and, if time permits, diverting over Rosset Crag at the head of the Langdale Valley to dip our toes into the famous Angle Tarn before descending via Rossett Gill to the valley.

Past a reputed megalith…

Upper Langdale Megalith