Eskdale, Great End, and the Scafells

Outline of Route
Brotherilkeld - Esk Hause - Great End - Scafell Pike - Scafell - Slightside - Brotherilkeld (Grid ref. NY 212012)
Total Distance 12.5 miles, Total Ascent 4300 feet, Equivalent Distance 21.1 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. Climb to Mickledore from Cam Spout omitting Esk Hause and Great End.
  2. Descend from the col between Broad Crag and Scafell Pike via Little Narrowcove and Lincove Bridge.
  3. Descend from Mickledore to Cam Spout omitting Scafell and Slightside.

Details of Route
Walk downhill from the (free) car parking area at the foot of Hardknott pass and turn right towards Brotherilkeld farm. There are footpaths either side of the river so if you want to follow the west bank cross over the footbridge to Taw House farm, otherwise go straight through the Brotherilkeld farm yard. The going is easy either side for the first two miles (photo): those on the east bank must cross the beck at Lingcove Bridge (photo) unless they want to do Bowfell as well. From here the east bank path is straightforward as it steepens towards Throstlehow Crag. The path on the west bank could be described as "character forming". Below Green Crag the gorge is very precipitate (photo) and the path very narrow: a fall is potentially lethal. I'm no climber and it is certainly enough to get my pulse racing. On my last visit I had the added problem of a sheep, lying on the path, which wouldn't budge (it was recently deceased). Harter Fell is seen looking back from above the falls (photo).

Further upstream on the east bank is Great Moss which is wet and boggy and will make you wish you'd braved Green Crag. The path does take you across the river by How Beck, the source of the Cam Spout waterfalls (photo), and the main route up to Mickledore. On the west bank the going is much easier as you skirt the Scafell massif. Continue from here on the west bank, across Little Narrowcove Beck and climb up through a ravine to Esk Hause. Turn left along the path to Scafell Pike and, 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 Ill and Broad Crags, 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. There is little to say about this stage of the walk. After the highlights of the previous few miles all I've ever managed to do was to relive the earlier part of the day in my mind, and return with a feeling of achievement, peace of mind, and total contentment.

Rev. 02 September 2014

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