Scafell Pike, Great End, and Bowfell from Langdale

Outline of Route
Old Dungeon Ghyll - Rossett Gill - Esk Hause - Scafell Pike - Great End - Esk Pike - Bowfell - Three Tarns - Old Dungeon Ghyll (Grid ref. NY 286060)
Total Distance 11.2 miles, Total Ascent 4600 feet, Equivalent Distance 20.4 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. Omit Great End.
  2. Return from Esk Hause via Rossett Gill, the way you came, omitting Esk Pike and Bowfell.

Details of Route
Starting from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Car Park - the charge for a car is currently £2.60 for 12 hours - exit round the back of the hotel and head westwards past Middle Fell Farm along a track between two walls. The open fell is soon reached and the track continues along to the right of Mickleden Beck with Gimmer Crag and the face of Pike o'Stickle towering above on your right. After reaching and crossing a footbridge over the beck ignore the path to the right which heads over Stake Pass and take the one to the left beside Rossett Gill. Pike o'Stickle looks fine from here (photo). After almost half a mile this well-trodden path crosses the gill and zig-zags up the steep fellside to the beck's source just below Rossett Pike. Walkers seeking to try the Old Pony Route should look for a crossing over Rossett Gill about 500 yards from the footbridge. This leads to a path up an earth ridge which runs alongside, then diverges from, the Gill (photo). Head for Bowfell Buttress (photo) until a well-hidden, well-maintained sheepfold is found. A few yards further up a path may be found going right towards the upper angle of the Rossett Gill path, which is your destination. Even if the path isn't found the way is clear. This is an enjoyable detour from the usual path, but it is time-consuming. Once over the crest Angle Tarn comes into sight and the path descends and passes it on your left. A short detour to the right to Tongue Head provides a fine view of Langstrath (photo). Continue up the slope from here until you reach the crest of this path, which leads down to Sprinkling Tarn (photograph of the Gables) and (from Allen Crags in winter). Turn left at this crest and ascend to Esk Hause where the upper reaches of Eskdale come into view with the rocky slopes of Ill Crag to the right.

Turn right along the busy path to Scafell Pike (photograph from Great End). It is easy going to start with but this changes over Ill and Broad Crags, where, stepping from boulder to boulder and clambering where necessary, you will find progress slows. The final steep push up to the Pike is a welcome relief (photo). Here, in snow, you should have your ice-axe at the ready, particularly if you're not wearing crampons. From the summit, views of the Lakeland horizon cannot be bettered (360° panorama), this is after all the highest point in England. From here, on a clear day, the Isle of Man can be seen on the western horizon, jutting high out of the Irish Sea. It's as well to remember that its highest point, Snaefell, is over 2000 feet high. Scafell Pike is invariably busy and if you want some peace and quiet, wander over the boulders to the south peak, and contemplate the relative peace of Eskdale, way down below (photo) and contemplate the routes to Scafell (photo) for another day.

Return the way you came until Esk Hause is once again in sight. To the left a path goes off over a grassy slope towards Great End. Climb to the summit - the screes and crags of Great Gable are a fine sight, as is Wasdale Head and its surrounding peaks (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). Return to the Scafell path where you left it and walk down to Esk Hause. The path to Esk Pike, roughly southeast, is clear (retrospective photo) but bypasses the summit by a few yards. There is a shelter just below the top, enclosed on all sides, which would do credit to many a more frequented summit. The view is fine (360° panorama) especially down into Eskdale and across to the Scafells.

Continue south east from the summit and rejoin the track you left earlier, heading down to Ore Gap (photo) and on to Bowfell. This beautiful conical peak (photograph from High Raise) has commanding views all around (360° panorama). That of the Scafells is particularly good (photo). It is deservedly, and perhaps unfortunately, popular. You will have made a slight detour from the main path to get to the summit so return to it and continue along it to the right to descend to Three Tarns. From here, to the east, The Band, with a fine view of Crinkle Crags (photo), and another of Pike o'Stickle and Loft Crag (photo), provides a well-worn and gradual crest-of-the-ridge descent to Stool End farm from whence the farm road and main road return you to the New Dungeon Ghyll. This is a fine walk which makes good use of the distance walked and height gained on the outward journey. Compared with returning the way you came, taking in three other summits on the way back adds just one mile of distance and 1200 feet of ascent. If you are returning south after your day's walk you may get a glimpse of the Langdale skyline like this.

Rev. 02 September 2014

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