Bowfell, Esk Pike, Great End and the Scafells

Outline of Route
Brotherilkeld - Bowfell - Esk Pike - Esk Hause - Great End - Scafell Pike - Scafell - Slightside - Brotherilkeld (Grid ref. NY 212012)
Total Distance 13.1 miles, Total Ascent 5200 feet, Equivalent Distance 23.4 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. Descend from Esk Hause via Great Moss and Lincove Bridge to Brotherilkeld.
  2. Descend from the col between Broad Crag and Scafell Pike via Little Narrowcove and Lincove Bridge.
  3. Descend from Mickledore to Cam Spout, Lincove Bridge and Brotherilkeld.

Details of Route
and a good northern panorama (photo) Walk downhill from the (free) car parking area at the foot of Hardknott pass and turn right towards Brotherilkeld farm. Follow the path through the farmyard and continue through the fields to Lincove Bridge (photo). Do not cross the bridge, but follow the path on the right of Lingcove Beck, past the waterfalls (photo) and on up to Three Tarns. This path is easily lost, but it's just as easily found again further uphill (photo). Bowfell looms up on the left with the steep crags of Bowfell Links to the left of the clearly defined, well-worn path. As one gets level with the top of the Links it's worth taking the path off to the left that runs along the top of the Links to the summit, rather than the main path. Bowfell's is a beautiful conical peak (photograph from High Raise) that has commanding views all around (360° panorama). That of the Scafells is particularly good (photo) and (photo). It is deservedly, and perhaps unfortunately, popular.

The path from Bowfell continues north, then west to Ore Gap, and on to Esk Pike. This is a pretty enough high peak, and would be more significant were it not for the proximity of Bowfell, the Scafells, Great End and Great Gable. The views are notably fine down into Eskdale and across to the Scafells. The path continues north west down the ridge to Esk Hause and on towards Scafell Pike. Shortly before the top of the first rise, turn right along the grassy slope to the summit of Great End. There is a path visible from Esk Hause, over the stony ground, to the top of Great End, which cannot be recommended too weakly. There's plenty to see from up here as the vista's just opened to the west with Red Pike, Pillar, Kirkfell and Great Gable prominent (photo) and a good northern panorama (photo). On clear days, as from Scafell Pike, the Isle of Man is visible from here (photo) beyond Lingmell and Sellafield. There is also the top of the crags of Great End's north west face with the Central Gully to visit (photo) and a good view southeast from the southeastern summit (photo).

Thus far the route, apart from the short section of the Scafell Pike path, will have been quiet. That all changes now as you head back to that path and on to Scafell Pike (photo). It is hard going over Broad Crag, stepping from boulder to boulder and clambering where necessary, but the final push up to the Pike is a welcome relief (photo). There is a wonderful panorama from the summit cairn (photo). If you want some peace and quiet, wander over the boulders to the south peak, and look down into Eskdale and the earlier part of your route (photo). When you are ready, find your way down into Mickledore (photo).

There were three routes to Scafell from here for walkers (photo):-
but recent rockfalls in Lord's Rake have made it extremely dangerous

  1. Foxes Tarn
    This is considered the easiest of the three (and currently the only option), but it's not all that easy. Follow the steep path on the left leading down to Eskdale and bear right under Scafell's east buttress to a steep gully carved through the crags on the right (photo). This gully is full of boulders and chockstones but it provides a safe and enjoyable scramble up to Foxes Tarn, which no more than a large puddle. Up on the right there is a well laid, man-made footpath up to the summit of Scafell. This route involves an extra 150 feet of ascent not included in the overall total.
  2. Lord's Rake - currently too dangerous to use
    Follow the path to the right from Mickledore to the base of the gully known as Lord's Rake (photo). Following the recent rockfalls which have left large boulders likely to plunge down the rake this gully is currently (early 2003) extremely dangerous and should be avoided.
  3. West Wall Traverse - currently not accessible
    Following the rockfalls in 2002 this route is no longer accessible. Once you could follow the previous route up the first section of Lord's Rake. Near the top of this on the left is a path up an exposed grassy slope. Erosion has made getting onto this path slightly awkward - not quite as difficult as the "Bad Step" on Crinkle Crags. A (photo) shows the top of the Rake from the West Wall Traverse itself. Follow this shelf upwards (photo) into the chasm of Deep Gill and scramble up the steep scree slope to the summit (photo). For the walker, nothing else in Lakeland can match the exhilaration of this high level route through magnificent rock scenery. Let us hope Lord's Rake will become safe again - this traverse got five rosettes from me.

It seems appropriate here to introduce a word of caution. I stated in my introductory page that these descriptions were not meant to be a replacement for maps and guidebooks. This area between Scafell Pike and Scafell is dangerous and this document does not provide sufficient information for the inexperienced.

From Scafell follow the path south over Slightside (photo) to Wha House then left along the road to your car. This is a long and demanding walk and should not be undertaken lightly, but the rewards make all the effort worthwhile.

Rev. 02 September 2014

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