Pike of Blisco from Three Shire Stone

Pike of Blisco

This is another one of those walks ideal for those who want to experience a true mountain and feel that high mountain experience but without too much effort. Starting at a lofty three hundred and ninety three metres above sea level this is a fairly easy to moderate walk taking you to the top of a proper mountain with stunning views over the south of the Lake District. You can make this walk an easy walk too by cutting it short and simply walking out to the tarn if you don't feel like climbing the mountain. The walk starts high on the Wrynose Pass by the Three Shire Stone and takes a straight forward but often boggy path out to Red Tarn where you can then take a fairly obvious and steep path up to the top of Pike of Blisco for those incredible views and then back down returning the same way. Simple yet satisfying walk all year round but do be careful of the steep Wrynose Pass road in the winter as driving conditions can be treacherous. An ideal eye opener for first timers.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the top of the Wrynose pass by the Three Shire Stone at grid ref NY 277 027. The Wrynose Pass is one of the highest and steepest road passes in England topping out at 393m above sea level which makes it an ideal starting point for an easier ascent of several mountains accessible from here. It also makes it pretty treacherous in winter conditions so take care.
  2. To find the pass take the A593 road between Coniston and Ambleside and just a mile south and uphill from Skelwith Bridge head off down the road sign posted for Elterwater and Little Langdale. After reaching the bottom of that valley and crossing the river take the steep road off to the left sign posted for Little Langdale.
  3. You should pass the Three Shire Inn on your right then through the beautiful Little Langdale village and eventually see the picturesque Little Langdale Tarn on your left. After crossing a cattle grid keep to the road on the left sign posted to Wrynose and ignore the road to the right to Langdale. Drive slowly and carefully through the idyllically located Fell Foot Farm, a 17th century Grade II listed National Trust property. The road now ascends the steep gradient and eventually reaches the summit where a dozen or so road side parking places can be found.
  4. The Three Shire Stone is an impressive triangular limestone pillar that marks the position where until 1974 the old counties of Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland once met. The stone is carved with the name Lancashire on one side and W.F. 1816 on the other which is the initials of the Furness roadmaster William Field for whom the stone was made in 1816.
  5. The stone wasn't erected until 1860 and stood the test of time until 1997 when it was damaged by a motor vehicle, it was soon restored by Gordon Greaves of Troutbeck Bridge a year later. There are several other Three Shire Stones in Britain which were used for the same boundary marking purposes.
  6. From Three Shire Stone take the path that heads north to Red Tarn. The path crosses a few boggy patches on the first few hundred metres and never really improves that much but is always an obvious path. On your right as you follow the path the crags of Long Scar on Pike of Blisco's south side dominate the view.
  7. The path crosses a few streams at an area known on the map labelled as the Duddon Grains, these are the source of the well known River Duddon which makes its way through the Duddon Valley and out to the Duddon Estuary.
  8. Looking back now as the path gains height you can see over the Wrynose Pass to the Coniston Fells on the south side of the pass. From left to right you should be able to identify Wetherlam, Swirl How, Great Carrs and Grey Friar. Also visible from this point at the end of the westerly view down the Upper Duddon Valley you may be able to make out the cars struggling up the neighbouring Hardknott Pass and the lonely hill of Harter Fell.
  9. Once the path levels out it will then take an easy descent to the eastern side of the beautiful Red Tarn. High above Red Tarn on the other side of the valley is Cold Pike, Pike of Blisco's relatively less trodden neighbour. The scene here in winter is often a cold one as the valley sees little sunshine on a winters day, it being shadowed for most of the day by these two mountains and by the Coniston Fells.
  10. The views ahead now will open up for you to get your first glimpse of Crinkle Crags and the mighty Bowfell beyond. Walk to the far north eastern end of the tarn and just as the path turns left heading towards the path crossing the stream there is a rough path heading right off the main path that will take you up a rough ascent to Pike of Blisco. Take this path off to the right and head up the side of Pike of Blisco. You may have spotted some of the local Herdwick Sheep by now, local to the Cumbrian Fells and to many the nicest sheep you are likely to see.
  11. The path up Pike of Blisco is quite rough in places but fairly obvious most of the way and its fairly obvious which direction you need as it heads up towards the summit. Once you reach the top you will see that there is actually two summits, the highest of the two summits is the one to the north with a big round stone cairn looking down into the Langdale Valley. A faint path heads up on the left hand side of the summit rocks avoiding the more difficult route on the right. The summit of Pike of Blisco stands at a proud seven hundred and five metres above sea level, just four metres higher than its neighbouring Cold Pike.
  12. The mountains name is often surrounded in controversy as it was originally known as Pike o' Blisco and over the years has been anglicised into Pike of Blisco and now appears as such on OS mapping. Alfred Wainwright certainly knew which was his preferred name and said that "the man has no blood in his veins who does not respond eagerly to its fine-sounding, swashbuckling name". He'd most likely not be happy at the Ordnance Survey or myself for referring to it by its now more commonly used anglicised name.
  13. From the summit of Pike of Blisco you can do a complete panorama starting with the obvious Cold Pike across Red Tarn turning clock wise you will pass the line of bumps known as Crinkle Crags then their mighty neighbour the pointy Bowfell. Turning clockwise again across the Langdale Valley below you will be in direct view of the Langdale Pikes. Continuing round clockwise in the distance you'll see the mighty ridge of the Helvellyn massif which eventually slopes down to the Fairfield Horseshoe and Ambleside at the top of Windermere. Then of course looking to the south you see the Coniston Fells with the bulk of Wetherlam on the left directly to the south of Pike of Blisco.
  14. After experiencing the views from both of Pike of Blisco's two summits descend on a south easterly direction on the same path back down to Red Tarn, this time enjoying the views you couldn't see on your way up. Once back at Red Tarn turn left heading south to south east back down the same path the same way you came, now with Red Tarn on your right. On you return you can now marvel at the Coniston Fells. The path will lead you back to the Three Shire Stone at the Wrynose Pass where care should be taken on your drive back down the steep road.
  15. On your way home make sure you head to the Three Shire Inn in Little Langdale for a friendly welcome, cosy surroundings, local real ales and freshly made food. It is a great place in winter with its real fires and a great place in summer to sit out on the tables in awe of the beautiful Little Langdale valley. Of course if you return via Langdale instead there is the Old Dungeon Ghyll or heading home west there are several options around the Duddon Valley and Eskdale.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL6 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 90 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Lakeland West Map Click to buy Harvey Lake District Mountain Map

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.