Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bowfell, Esk Pike, Rossett Pike and infamy!

Paternity leave.  My new daughter is being very good.  She sleeps for about 18 hours a day.  Once Hannah, my other daughter, is at school there's not much to do apart from hang around the house annoying my wife.  So it was a fairly easy negotiation that was made enabling me to enjoy another day on the fells.  After dropping Hannah at school, I met up with David and we headed to Great Langdale.

David kindly allowed me to use some of his photos for the blog post.  To see more, visit his Wainwright Fellwalker page.

We were both excited about the prospects for cloud inversions.  The conditions were perfect for it.

three Wainwrights - two new ones for me

3d photo map

The Band on the right, leading up to Bowfell.

The plan was to head up The Band to the Three Tarns area inbetween Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.  Then we would back track onto the Climbers' Traverse before heading up either the Great Slab or, if it was too wet or icy, the area to the side that Wainwright called the River of Stones.  We would then go up to Bowfell summit and then on to Esk Pike and Rossett Pike, descending the Rossett Gill path and walking along the valley floor back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll where we had parked.

There is a good path up The Band.  I know that Fix the Fells have done a lot of work here.  It took me a bit to warm up as I was a bit stiff from a fell run the day before but we made steady progress.  The emerging scenery provided both motivation to keep going and an excuse to stop and take pictures.  Before long we were above the low valley cloud.

Langdale Pikes from The Band

wider view

Making good progress up The Band, as we got above the cloud into the sun, it got warmer and warmer.  Nice to have t-shirt weather in January:

David finds a good spot for a photo

Langdale Pikes took centre stage on the climb

Towards the top of The Band the path splits.  The right hand fork goes off to The Climbers' Traverse while the other fork continues to The Three Tarns.  We would be taking the path to The Climbers' Traverse but wanted to go up to Three Tarns first to get some pictures of the Scafells over the tarns.

At Three Tarns.  Bowfell on the right with the Scafells centre

close up on the Scafells

We had raced up to Three Tarns, being excited about the possible views of the Scafells and the various valleys that lead up towards Bowfell.  The main climb of the day was complete now and we spent about twenty minutes here taking photos and walking around.  As you can see, the Scafells were clear of cloud (although this was to change over the course of the afternoon).

dedication to his art

From the Three Tarns area we cut across to the Climbers' Traverse path.  This was a first for me, a famous area, named for the area it leads to rather than any necessity to do any rock climbing.  

Wainwright said that, "The best way off the traverse to the summit lies up the fringe of a 'river' of boulders along the south side of Cambridge Crag, or more tediously, the wide scree gully between Cambridge Crag and Bowfell Buttress may be ascended."

It turns out that we meant to take the best way, but ended up going the tedious way.  I enjoyed the climb up this so called "Easy Gully" it's not so easy when there is snow and ice on it but it never felt unsafe, just hard work, "tedious" is a bit harsh though.  About half way up, we looked over to The Great Slab and David confirmed that we should have gone that way.  Nevermind.

en route to the Climbers' Traverse - cloud rolling over from Three Tarns

not a bad view looking back

Climbers' Traverse

great views

David on the Climbers' Traverse
There are a few different areas of interest along the Climbers' Traverse.  Flat Crags are huge lumps of rock laid on top of each other at the same angle as the Great Slab.  They are laying as huge steps and it's very tempting to try to hop up them and wander around.  At the base of Cambridge Crag is a waterspout mentioned by Wainwright, "nothing better ever came out of a barrel or a bottle."

The Great Slab is exactly as it sounds, a great big slab of rock that lays at an angle.  When it is dry, it's possible to walk up here but in wet conditions, it's not a good idea.

on the Climbers' Traverse - Easy Gulley goes up along the snow line behind me, in front of the cliff

Flat Crags

waterspout on Cambridge Crag

climbing Easy Gully

David tops out of Easy Gully
After the tough climb of Easy Gully, we crossed the rocky top to the summit of Bowfell.  

Here for the first time we could see into Eskdale, where the cloud cover seemed to be at its thickest.

We sat on top, having a drink and taking photos.  

Wainwright ranks Bowfell as among the best half dozen and I am in total agreement with him on this one.

It was a beautiful day and we both said that we could have hung around for ages if it wasn't for the fact that it would be dark at 5pm.  As we had missed The Great Slab, we headed over to it to get some pictures.  Eventually, we said farewell to Bowfell and moved on towards Ore Gap and Esk Pike.  

refreshments on Bowfell summit

amazing views from the summit.  Black Combe near Millom, is just visible in the centre at the back.  Harter Fell is the pointy fell middle left with Hard Knott in front.
at the Great Slab - bit frosty to play on today

looking back to Bowfell on the way across to Esk Pike

cloud rolling onto the Scafells

Eskdale way

in the other direction Castle Crag, the lowest Wainwright, peeps out from the cloud in Borrowdale

over on Esk Pike, we again had to steal ourselves away from the magnificent scenery

Esk Pike summit outcrop

"I think that one's Slight Side"

 a Hercules about to get a close up of the Langdale Pikes

Angle Tarn with Rossett Pike behind
From Esk Pike we headed back to Ore Gap and up to Rossett Pike.

After posing for photos on the top, we continued on to the cairn further towards the edge which provided a fantastic point to take photos as well as other interesting things.

The cloud was deep over the Mickleden valley now and the light was wonderful.

Eventually, we decided that we needed to head down.  Rossett Gill path was the chosen descent route.  This is a very well made path but it's a long descent and it wore both of us out.  On the way down we passed a couple planning to camp on Rossett Pike for the night.  I could think of worse places but shuddered at the thought of the heavy packs they had carried up.

After, eventually descending into the cloud, the path back along the valley floor seemed to take forever.  We made plans for a pint in the Old Dungeon Ghyll so we had something to look forward to.  At the end of the walk we had covered about 11.5 miles.  

A really good walk, brilliant cloud inversions, good company, classic fells and a well earned pint at the end.

Hanging Knotts on Bowfell over Angle Tarn on our way up to Rossett Pike

Rossett Pike summit cairn

it's worth going the extra distance to the far end of Rossett Pike.
Great views into the Mickleden Valley among other things of interest...

heading down, looking back to Bowfell

here we go, into the mire

Post Script.

Sometime after this walk, I innocently posted the link to the blog on Trail Magazine's Facebook Page.  A few emails later, the promise of a pint or two for David (who took the photo) and suddenly I'm famous (kind of).  I bought two copies of Trail Magazine but wanted to keep it for posterity some how so here you go:


  1. Replies
    1. thanks, it was brilliant. I've sent you an email.

  2. Great post, walk, route, fells... Well done to both you for getting in Trail magazine too, looks great lads.

  3. Absolutely brilliant photographs. You are so lucky having all this paternity leave, I'm a bit jealous, but way too old for the baby that goes with it.