Dragons Back Circular - Black Mountains
The Dragons Back walk starts in the small village of Pengenffordd within the Brecon Beacons National Park. It boasts fantastic views of the surrounding country side and the beautiful Black Mountains.
5.6 km / 3 miles
#GetOutside Champions adventure
Sticklebarn National Trust car park
Jack’s Rake is a brilliant grade 1 scramble in the stunning Langdale area of the Lake District, with potential for something more for those looking for a bit of a bigger thrill or an extended adventure.
Fantastically accessible and easily visible from the opposite side of Stickle tarn below, as long as the weather is good and there’s a good gap between you and the people in front, Jack’s Rake is a great beginners route.
NY 295 064
The lake district is a UK hub for more technical walking, including some fantastic climbing and scrambling.
One of these gems is Jack’s Rake in Greater Langdale. The beautiful drive through the Langdale area to get to Sticklebarn easily sets you up for the day ahead. With parking either in the National Trust car park or in the overflow car parking field owned by the pub, it’s a gentle start to the first gate at waypoint 1.
NY 2947 0650
Remember the pubs there for later though - it certainly comes in handy for a refueling stop later once back at base! Sticking to the right hand side path through this first field follows Stickle Ghyll uphill, before turning right across the bridge to cross onto the east side of the stream (waypoint 2).
NY 2920 0678
Keeping the ghyll on your left, don’t forget to stop and dip your toes or wash your face in the beautiful waterfalls along the way.
At the last moment, as you round the top of the hill, Stickle Tarn and the imposing Pavey’s Ark will finally dominate your view, and quite a view at that! (waypoint 3.)
NY 2892 0772
Make sure to spot the entrance to the scramble as soon as you reach the tarn however, as the closer you get to it, the more difficult it can be to see.
This can be done by finding the bottom corner of Pavey Ark, next to the obvious Easy Gully.
Rounding the tarn and nearing Pavey Ark, the path turns into a bit of a scree slope - but if you keep your eyes on the trail and stick with it, the scree slope turns more into a rocky ledge, and the scramble begins!
This first section especially can be quite tricky and is often both wet and slippery (even in summer), so special care needs to be taken here. The rock itself is quite loose in areas, so before you weight any holds, make sure to test them first.
The most technical section of Jack’s Rake comes relatively soon at the start of the climb. Passing a prominent rowan tree, some basic climbing skills are required for the short, steep and narrow chimney.
Don’t be tempted to drift out left here - keep to the main gully, avoiding the narrow grassy ledges to the left, and tackle the trickier climbing moves head on to ensure the most protection and safety from any unstable ground.
Once out of the chimney, there is some exposure which some might find unnerving, but taking a sensible approach and choosing good weather days will help with this.
However, the further up the scramble you head, the more the views over Great Langdale become better.
The remainder of the scramble is a series of blocks and grooves, linked by ledges which can be steep. Eventually, topping out on Pavey Ark is thrilling, and it always amazes me to discover how flat the top is (waypoint 4).
NY 2838 0789
Here, follow the path away from Pavey Ark, mimcing following the edge of the tarn below, with the descent beginning at waypoint 5.
NY 2819 0759
Again, sometimes the path becomes difficult to see here, but keep focussed on the route and you will be able to follow it correctly.
This route down should have been obvious to see when you were stood at the edge of the tarn as well, so use that knowledge as an idea of where you need to go in order to to find the path again.
Rounding the other side of the tarn to where you started the scramble, this time stick to the western side of the Ghyll, i.e. the opposite side of the stream to the side you walked up on.
This will take you all the way back down to waypoint 1, and then back out to the car park (with a cheeky stop at the pub first for a well deserved drink!). What a day.
Finish - 5.6 km
NY 295 064
If the scramble wasn’t enough for you and you have more time to spare, there are many options here. Staying in Sticklebarn is easy and very pleasant, with either the hotel, the barn, or even wildcamping around the tarn all viable choices.
Take a morning dip in the tarn before exploring elsewhere, or even further explore the climbing which covers the area, including several great climbs which start on Jack’s Rake, taking a more direct route to the top of Pavey Ark.
The choice is yours!
LIKE THIS STORY
Andy and Gee are two young professionals who are firm believers in saying yes and pushing the boundaries of their comfort zones to GetOutside.
Find out more about them here.