Routes to get to Sergeant Man
Sergeant Man is a lofty crag on the high ground between the Easedale, Great Langdale and Langstrath valleys. It might be lofty but it is hidden away from view from the valleys below thanks to its neighbouring crags and fells. Even so it can be reached from all three valleys.
When I was last on the fell I spotted a decent patch of flat ground very close to the summit crag that was easily large enough for a tent. A Sergeant Man wild camp was in order. As its quite exposed all I needed was a forecast of a still night and I’d be off – I didn’t want a repeat of my recent wild camp on Wild Boar Fell (although it was enjoyable in a masochistic way).
As for which route to take, the climb out of Great Langdale is the quickest but also the steepest and busiest. Conversely the other two ascents are both longer but much less arduous. I didn’t fancy a steep climb in hot weather so chose the Easedale route.
From Grasmere village up Easedale to Sergeant Man
Having parked in the long lay-by on the A591 outside Grasmere (it’s free) late in the afternoon I began the long climb up Easedale by walking through the village. Fortunately the summer sun was tempered somewhat by some cloud cover but it was still warm. I had set off quite a few hours before sunset so could take my time. Even so I didn’t hang around in the village as it was very busy and I wasn’t here to window shop – I was carrying enough already!
Leaving the village on Easedale Road I passed the Youth Hostel and was soon out in countryside. As soon as my route took me away from the road I stopped for a welcome break.
The main path ahead leads straight up to Easedale Tarn passing picturesque Sour Milk Ghyll falls on its way. Although its only a short walk down to the foot of the falls from the path I gave it a miss. Maybe next time when hopefully there’ll be more water in Sourmilk Gill, the stream flowing down from Easedale Tarn over the falls. Its been very dry here for a few weeks and all water levels are low. Its more of a trickle today: Sour Milk Ghyll Trickle doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
The way ahead lies on the left hand bank of Sourmilk Gill, climbing up past the falls and following the beck’s valley until the top is finally reached and Easedale Tarn pops into view.
The path leading past Easedale Tarn towards Sergeant Man
I had met a few people on the climb up but from this point on there wasn’t a soul in sight. Bliss.
The path carries on past the tarn and up the valley beyond, passing remote Codale Tarn which is hidden off to the right. Eventually the top of the ridge at the head of the valley is reached. Straight in front of me was the unmistakable profile of The Langdale Pikes with the Bright Beck valley below. From here its a short walk along the ridge to the right to the distinctive shapely crag of Sergeant Man. Sadly I was walking westwards into the low sun so a photo would have to wait till the following day. For now I found a lovely little spot behind the summit crag and pitched my tent – easily done as there wasn’t a breath of wind.
My tent in a lovely spot under the summit crag of Sergeant Man
Watching the sun set from High Raise
Tent pitched and kit sorted I was free to go for a wander. The best view from Sergeant Man is southwards, looking down the Bright Beck Valley towards Blea Tarn. However this was already in the shadow of the Langdale Pikes as the sun was getting lower in the sky. I’d revisit there in the morning. Instead I headed north for the short half mile walk up to High White Stones, the small crag that forms the summit of High Raise. Its a gentle climb and in the cool evening temperatures didn’t take long.
There are plenty of fells to be seen from High Raise: from Skiddaw in the north to Helvellyn and Fairfield in the east, the Coniston Fells to the south and the Scafell ridge to the west. But they’re all distant and very spread out. Picking out a good angle for a photo wasn’t easy. Thanks to the angle at which the sun was setting the view towards Scafell Pike was one of the best though.
Once the sun had dipped behind the cloud on the horizon the landscape turned a deep blue colour while the sky maintained an orange tinge for a short while.
View over Rosthwaite Fell towards Honister Pass just after the sun set
Even better was the view north along the length of the Borrowdale Valley.
Now that’s a lot of fells! To me its also reminiscent of Mordor from Lord of the Rings. Thankfully such thoughts didn’t occupy my mind as I returned to my tent and went to bed.
Dawn from Sergeant Man
I was very fortunate that the forecast turned out to be spot on. My tent barely moved in the night as it was dead still. As a result I was woken by my alarm at 4:15am feeling quite refreshed.
Grabbing my camera and breakfast I clambered up to the top of the summit crag and sat down to eat.
The view looking past Pavey Ark towards the Coniston Fells at dawn
Thats better than watching Breakfast TV!
A quick trip back to the tent for more food resulted in another photo.
Before returning to the summit to take this photo of the best view from Sergeant Man: looking past the shoulder of Pavey Ark over Stickle Tarn towards Side Pike, Lingmoor Fell and Little Langdale.
Sergeant Man view over Stickle Tarn and Great Langdale
The rising sun was just catching the tops of what appear to be drumlins at the head of the Bright Beck valley.
The weather was gorgeous so I took my time finishing my food and soaking in the view. Eventually it was time to get myself into gear and get going though. It felt like the morning was midway through but it wasn’t even 7am yet.
Descending down Easedale back to Grasmere village
My route back was the same as the route up. Unless I wanted a very long hike there was no real alternative and, as it was warming up quickly, I didn’t. And so I headed off back down the path towards Easedale.
Just before I dipped below the ridge I turned round and took one last peek at Sergeant Man.
The shapely crag of Sergeant Man
This was the same view of the fell I had the night before. The sun was behind me now though so a photo was possible.
Bye bye Sergeant Man – what a great place to camp!
Anyway onwards and downwards. It was no time to get emotional – I’m a Yorkshireman after all. Soon the well-hidden Codale Tarn popped into view off to the left of the path, the site of a previous wild camp of mine.
Codale Tarn from the main Easedale path
Surprisingly there was a tent pitched next it it too – the white dot just above the tarn. Its not one of the more popular wild camping sites in the Lakes.
Further down the path lead past Easedale Tarn, now bathed in bright sunlight unlike the previous day. And more tents. Obviously plenty of people had walked up from Grasmere after me the previous evening. Thankfully they didn’t get as far as Sergeant Man.
By this point it was getting very warm and I was keen to avoid a suntan so there was no time to pause. That was until I was almost at Sour Milk Ghyll Falls when I couldn’t resist stopping for this photo from the path.
Sourmilk Gill just about Sour Milk Ghyll waterfall
And one last photo stop from the track leading back towards Grasmere village in Easedale.
The footpath on the banks of Easedale Beck
From here it was a short walk back along Easedale Road into Grasmere village and back to the main road to the car.
I do love it when I fulfil an ambition to camp somewhere and it lives up to expectations. And Sergeant Man definitely did that. As an additional benefit there is a new entry into my list of places to wild camp in the Lakes and more additions to my Lake District photo collection.