I wasn't exactly bursting with confidence of finding this place at all, it's needless to say not on the map, but then neither is Copt Howe. All I had to go on was a foggy memory of one of Gladman's views from a mounatin. It was enough, I found the coppice the boulder inhabits, and parked the other side of the cattle grid. Two gates later and we entered the trees, five minutes from car to stone, if that.
Somewhat disappointingly, a rather crusty camper had set up home twenty yards from the stone, it is a good place to camp, but right next to a campsite ?
I wondered if he knew the significance of the stone and why two apparent tourists were paying it so much attention. I turned to look at the camper, and Eric said he's doing a number two, daft lad he's just sitting down, phew.
The big squarish boulder is three to four feet tall, and has at least twenty well defined cup marks on its top most surface. Rock art eh, who can fathom it, it's the best of British mysteries.
The view north to the axe factory mountain is dulled by the close quartered trees, just as well really, I might never have left, or worse still insisted on climbing them.
Easter Monday in the Lakes, eh? Deserted on mine and Mrs. TEs' walk. From Elterwater, over the shoulder of Lingmoor, into the twin valley of Little Langdale and a pastoral idyll. This is what Great Langdale must have been like before the internal (infernal more like) combustion engine.
We continued over the ancient (not prehistoric) Slater Bridge, and along to Fell Foot. In days gone bye, and in the second half of the 20th century, an old chap used to sit by the fell gate, opening and closing the gate to cars for a penny or two.
Sorry to go on, but we continued a couple of hundred yards up Wrynose Pass, before cutting across Blea Moss. According to local writer Bill Birkett, in his book (Great Langdale, A Year in the Life of), it's a site of a neolithic/bronze age burial cairn, not that I've found it. We continued to delectable waterfalls, and on to Blea Tarn. Then we had our sarnies on the shoulder of Lingmoor, with Great Langdale below our boots.
I looked, through the bins, to the Pike of Stickle, and Harrison Stickle stone axe factories. Knowing where they are helps.
We descended soft, grassy, and mossy slopes to the Great Langdale campsite, stopping to admire the cup-marked boulder, amongst the sighing trees.
It does make you wonder what it was all about. Something to do with the axe factories? Why just the one boulder, when half-a-dozen similar ones lay about? Why just cup-marks, so near the axe factories, especially when the Copt Howe boulders are so elaborate?
The beer in the friendly, and familiar, beer garden at the Old Dungeon Ghyll finished off a perfect day.
A wee while ago Kate Sharpe had told me that Gabriel Blamires had discovered a cup marked rock in the woods behind the National Trust Campsite. So with this in mind I decided to take a look.
I had it in my mind that this stone was going to be tucked away somewhere and difficult to find. So myself and the terrier trudged through the swampy wood that borders the southern edge of the campsite. Needless to say we found nowt.
On the afternoon, and after a good lunch at the Old Dungeon Ghyll bar, I decided to have a mooch up to Side Pike and take some snaps of the Langdale Pikes across the valley. I couldn't believe it, I walked into the wood and there beside the path was the cup marked stone with a lovely shadow being cast across it by the afternoon sun.
The stone may not be its original location as the area has been forested, but owing to the size of the stone I suspect it is probably fairly close. The stone also looks as though it has been quarried, perhaps an edge was knocked of it during the forestry operations or perhaps a local waller has used the stone as a convient source of material for the nearby wall.
This is a great stone but its significance, as always, lies in it's location.
The stone sits just above the head of the Great Langdale valley at the junction of a number of, possibly prehistoric, trackways. The footpath beside the stone heads south around Side Pike and connects with east- west trackway via the Wrynose Pass which in turn connects with the HardKnott Pass and the Duddon Valley both of which lead to the coast.
There are views into Mickleden and the route north to Keswick along Langstrath via the Stake Pass or branching off onto the Honister Pass and accessing the coast via Buttermere, Crummock and the River Cocker. Carved stones have also be recently discovered along this route.
All in all this is a beautiful site, if you consider that the Langdale Pikes may have been the prehistoric focus of Cumbria then this stone may enhance that view. The existence of these carvings may also add weight to the prehistoric origins of the carvings at Copt Howe.
Access to the site is very good for those on foot. However for wheeled access there are two gates to negotiate and the ground can be a little boggy.