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Climbing Loughrigg Fell

Introduction to Loughrigg

Loughrigg Fell is the final fell on the ridge that separates the valleys of the River Rothay and River Brathay. To the north it is dwarfed by the outlying fells of Fairfield on the other side of the Rothay Valley. And to the west the fells lining the Great Langdale valley look down upon it. Also Loughrigg isn’t the most shapely of fells, having an expansive grassy summit plateau that is punctuated with crags. All in all climbing Loughrigg Fell doesn’t sound like an appealing prospect.

However for such a small fell Loughrigg really packs a lot in and actually is well worth exploring.

Climbing Loughrigg Fell from Rydal Water

The easiest route up is probably from White Moss near Rydal Water. Its the route I tend to chose if heading up the fell for dawn, mainly as its quicker for me to drive to than it is to get to Langdale.

Having parked at White Moss Car Park (or for free at the end of the lane to How Top) a short walk through Penny Rock Woods leads to a fine footbridge over a weir on the River Rothay.

wooden footbridge over river rothay and colourful autumnal penny rock woods
Footbridge over River Rothay

Having crossed the bridge, the quickest way to the summit is to turn right and walk along the shore of Grasmere for a few yards before taking the path up Loughrigg Fell. After a short climb with a few false summits the trig point on the summit is soon reached.

Visiting Rydal Cave above Rydal Water

Having recommended such a quick route why rush it? If time is not of the essence then having crossed the Rothay turn left to visit the old slate quarry of Rydal Cave. Its located on the slope of Loughrigg overlooking Rydal Water and is just over half a mile away

Its impossible to gauge the size of the cave from the entrance as its much too dark inside.

entrance into Rydal Cave
The entrance into Rydal Cave

The stepping stones are the easiest way into the cave – they’re much easier to negotiate than they look.

It is also possible to enter along the right hand side wall although that is a bit of a pain in my opinion. The following photo shows both routes but from the inside looking out. The stepping stones are to the right, the route by the wall to the left.

Rydal Cave (or Loughrigg Quarry) was a busy quarry some two hundred years ago, supplying high quality slate to for locals’ roofs. It has long since fallen out of use and is now owned by the National Trust.

Since the turn of the Millennium several large chunks of stone have fallen from the cave’s ceiling and people have been advised to keep out. Few seem to take heed, myself included. I mean, what are the chances?!

In past visits sometimes I have had the cave to myself but sometimes its been standing room only! I think it comes down to luck and how heavily its raining outside – it’s a good place to shelter. However turning up at the crack of dawn tends to increase the chances of being lucky.

Climbing Loughrigg Fell from Great Langdale

There are a number of places to climb Loughrigg from the Great Langdale side. I normally chose Elterwater as its free to park there! On one winter dawn climb up Loughrigg I paused at the top of Elterwater Common to admire the view. The sky was turning pink over the snow-capped Langdale Pikes just before the sun rose above the horizon.

Sadly there was no time to hang around and admire the view as I had another stop to make. Approaching the fell from this side allows a visit to Loughrigg Tarn which nestles under the south-western slopes of the fell. Its only a short detour from the path up the fell.

By the time I got there the sun had risen and the mist burned off. I hadn’t been here in years and had forgotten what a great view it was. I must come back again soon.

Continuing on, I passed the road junction at Tarn Foot (and a few more free parking spaces) to head along the footpath at Ellers farm signposted ‘Ambleside’. After a few hundred yards a permissive path to the left leads up the flank of Ivy Crag and on to the summit of Loughrigg.

A detour to the summit of Ivy Crag is recommended as it offer great views of Great Langdale, over Loughrigg Tarn to the giant fells at the head of the valley.

Loughrigg Fell summit views

Whichever route is taken to the trig point on the top of Loughrigg the reward is the great views (weather permitting).

To the north the views take in the fells surrounding Easedale and the Greenburn Valley: Lang How, Silver How, Helm Crag and Steel Fell.

To the west the Great Langdale Valley is lined by Lingmoor, Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell and the Langdale Pikes.

Loughrigg Fell trig point view of snow covered Great Langdale fells
View west to the Langdale Fells from the trig point

It probably goes without saying that the two aforementioned photographs were taken on different days! On both occasions I was fortunate to have clear views and that can’t be taken for granted. This is the Lake District after all.

Other Loughrigg Fell walks

Loughrigg is criss-crossed by many paths and there are numerous ways of getting to the summit. I have only mentioned the two main routes I have taken but hopefully I’ll find more in the future. The fell is also not mentioned in my list of places in the Lakes to wild camp yet. That needs rectifying.

Other photos from this area of the Lakes can be found in my Grasmere and Great Langdale photo galleries.

Climbing Loughrigg Fell was last modified: August 18th, 2018 by Gavin Dronfield Photography

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