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Bowfell and Esk Pike

Bowfell and Esk Pike

Postby nigheandonn » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:33 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Bowfell, Esk Pike, Rosset Pike

Hewitts included on this walk: Bowfell, Esk Pike, Rossett Pike

Date walked: 25/06/2016

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By Saturday morning I was quite definitely coming down with a cold, which was presumably why I'd felt so wobbly the night before - there wasn't much I could do about it, though, and I knew it would be easier to breathe in the open air than if I was stuck inside.

The first task was getting into Great Langdale - along the path by the river to the shop at Chapel Stile, and then along the road for longer than I expected before I met up with the track which cuts off the bend of the road, and along the field path between the two hotels.

Dungeon Ghyll

I'd been up the Band when I climbed Crinkle Crags, but this time I was heading up Rossett Gill to climb Rossett Pike first, starting with the long walk up Mickleden.


It was a busy valley, but I suspected (rightly) that most people were heading for Stake Pass and the Cumbria Way or the Langdale Pikes.

It was a beautiful morning, and there were people in the pools of the beck - I didn't go that far, but stopping to stick my feet in when I reached the crossing was irresistible.

On the other side there was a stone signpost, and I left most of the crowds behind.


I had thought about trying to find the old route, but really I didn't have energy for anything more than following the clear path. And it was fine - a long haul uphill, but nothing more. (I never did find the packwoman's grave, though, despite keeping an eye on the skyline behind - there were stones everywhere that might have been it!)

Rossett Gill

Of course, now as I climbed the first clouds began to creep over Bowfell, although the hills had been clear until then.

Clouds over Bowfell

When I was doing the Central Fells, I was convinced that Rossett Pike was really one of them - Stake Pass may be the lowest point of the ridge, but that's only an accident of wearing away, because Mickleden and Langstrath meet at Angle Tarn. I never became complete unconvinced, either, although it does look more like part of Bowfell from some angles than others.

Rossett Pike

From the top of the pass the summit of Rossett Pike is just a short walk away, with all the worst of the work done.

Rossett Pike summit

All the way up the way had been marked occasionally with bits of striped tape, and at the top of the pass a man was standing eating an apple beside a huge red flag that flapped in the wind. I was curious, so I went and asked if it was his red flag and what he was doing with it, and he told me that it was part of some kind of iron man event - they had already cycled some unimaginable number of miles and swum up Windermere and now they were running a marathon over Scafell Pike, and the leader would pass me soon - which all sounded a bit pointlessly exhausting to me!

This Angle Tarn was not nearly as interesting looking as the one I know better, but I always like seeing water on a walk.

Angle Tarn

The path passed it, and then a smaller path turned off beside it to head up towards Ore Gap, which lived up to its name by being noticeably red.

Ore Gap

From here I had to cross a stony wasteland towards the summit of Bowfell - it was cairned, but it wasn't always easy to pick out the cairns from all the other meaningless stones, and it seemed a long way to the final climb to the summit, which I reached in thick cloud.

Bowfell summit

Fortunately it began to clear as I rested at the summit, so that I got my view in installments - Esk Pike, the hills to the east, the Scafells and the valley to the south, then the Langdale Pikes looking surprisingly small, and the Great Slab.

Through the clouds

Langdale Pikes from above

I took a less rocky shortcut back down to the gap, losing the tiny path somewhere along the way, and only then realising that two men who had been on the summit were following me in the apparent belief that I knew where I was going!

Towards Esk Pike

Esk Pike was a stony climb and a flat place and another climb to a rocky summit, but it didn't feel quite as much of a trek as to Bowfell, although it's not much lower.

Esk Pike summit

Down the other side I was heading for Esk Hause for the first time - I had read Wainwright's essay on the two Esk Hauses, but I don't think I really understood it until I saw them both laid out in front of me. I was aiming for the true one, not for the shelter.

Esk Hause(s)

I was heading for Great End, but as I came down the slope the knee that I had hurt on Scafell a month earlier gave a bad twinge, although it had been fine ever since - and I thought about the trouble it had given me then, and I thought about the fact that I had to cross Sty Head the next day to get home, and I looked at Great End towering above, and I sadly turned downhill, past the top of Ruddy Gill, and the crags of Great End, and Sprinkling Tarn, down to Sty Head.

Great End crags

I was going to take a picture of the stretcher box at Sty Head, but there was a man lying on it - and I was going to take a picture of the man lying on it, but he sat up at exactly the wrong time, so I decided to leave it for the next day. It was quite a busy place, with people heading in all directions.

Sty Head

My intention was to head down by the valley route, but I somehow got onto the main path before I knew what had happened - I could see people walking down the valley well below me, but I had no idea how they'd got there, and there was definitely no way down now. There was nothing wrong with this path, though, apart from having to dodge several men with bikes on their heads, and it was reasonably gentle on my knee - I even found some water to refill my bottle.

Descending to Wasdale

By the time I was down at valley level it had started to rain - not hard, but very persistent drizzle. The route to the inn took me weaving between walls and over an unreasonable number of small bridges - the path really couldn't decide which side of the burn it wanted to be - than finally past a very pretty tiny old bridge, but it was too wet to take a photo.

Wasdale Head

The inn was bigger than I expected - more of a tourist place than a village one - and busier, possibly helped by the Euro 2016 football. I managed to get a seat in the roofed outdoor bit at the back, though, just after the match ended - one good thing about dropping out early was that it had got me down for a reasonable dinner time at least.

The inn

From Wasdale Head I still had quite a way to walk to the youth hostel, and it's such a famous name that I really hadn't realised how empty the valley was, with a narrow unenclosed road running the length of the lake, and no houses along it. I got my first view of the famous screes, though, and of the famous view to the top of the lake, although the tops of the hills were still in the cloud.

Wastwater screes

Iconic hills

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Last edited by nigheandonn on Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bowfell and Esk Pike

Postby trailmasher » Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:59 pm

Nice report and walk on which you had fair weather :clap: The original Rossett Gill path is a bit hard to spot and when you find it it's a bit rough going :roll: but it does pass close by the pack woman's grave 8)
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Re: Bowfell and Esk Pike

Postby dav2930 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:00 pm

Enjoyed that - great report. This looks an excellent A to B walk up Langdale and down Wasdale and over some fine fells in between. :clap:

Esk Hause is a confusing place and catches a lot of people out in bad weather, maybe because they confuse the unnamed col where the shelter is with Esk Hause itself :? There's only one Esk Hause and it's so named because it lies at the head of Eskdale. The other col lies between the sources of two tributaries of the Derwent, so has no connection with the Esk. It's a useful shelter though! :)
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Re: Bowfell and Esk Pike

Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:37 pm

That would be enough for me on a good day never mind when I had a cold...great effort N&D :clap: :clap: I think your brain may have tricked you into an early descent :wink:

Some lovely shots along the way, the one where you were about to take a pic and the guy sat up made me laugh at the awkwardness of it :lol:
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