Allen Crags and Esk Pike

Walk date – 31st May 2024

Distance – 9.1 miles

Weather – dry, occasional sun, cool north easterly breeze, poor visibility


We decided on a longish walk today especially as the forecast seemed to suggest that there would be the chance of sunshine and not too much by way of low cloud and wind. We haven’t been over to Allen Crags and Esk Pike since 2019 so today seemed to be as good a day as any to take a walk up to them. Had it not been for the thick haze we would have included our usual third fell, Great End, on today’s walk but there seemed little point when the views were so poor, so Great End will have to wait until things improve in the clarity department.


Seathwaite farm – Stockley Bridge – Greenhow Knott – Styhead Gill – Styhead Tarn – Sprinkling Tarn – Allen Crags – Esk Hause – Esk Pike – Esk Hause – Ruddy Gill – Grains Gill – Stockley Bridge – Seathwaite Farm

As we left the farm area we became aware of the voices of a family of four just behind us, Mum, Dad, with their son and daughter. Son was walking with Mum, daughter walking with Dad. Both children were somewhere between eight and twelve with the boy being slightly older than the girl, It became obvious from the girl’s constant whingeing that she wasn’t too happy about something. Not wishing to have to listen to any of it we stopped to take the above photo until they disappeared from view. Dad left the gate open for us. When we thought they would be far enough ahead we started along the path again.

As we walked along the family came into view again with the girl now throwing a wobbly, pulling her cap from her head, chucking it down on the ground and constantly arguing with Dad. We put a spurt on, managed to get past it all and continued making our way over to Stockley Bridge noting the amount of cloud in the distance despite the splash of sunlight on the lower slopes of Seathwaite Fell.

A couple of walkers just ahead of us finally moved off the bridge as we approached it so I took a quick shot from the approach path before ‘the family’ caught up with us.

The view back down to the Seathwaite valley as we reached the gate. The family of four we had passed earlier were also heading up the same path so we lingered by the gate until they passed by and disappeared around one of the bends in the path. The girl was still whingeing about something or other but at least the cap was now back on her head. Mum and son, who didn’t utter a word all the time they were in our view, were soon well ahead of them and opened up quite a gap between Dad and daughter, almost as if they too didn’t want to be involved in any of it. Dad must possess the patience of a saint to put up with that all malarkey.

By the time we reached Greenhow Knott we could see Dad and daughter just disappearing over the top of this hill, where I stood to take this shot looking back at the copse of trees at Greenhow Knott and the Seathwaite valley beyond. That was the last we saw of them, thank goodness, I don’t think I would have been able to put up with all that for much longer.

Peace and quiet return as we continue along the path passing this waterslide in Styhead Gill on the way.

We reached the bridge, crossed over to the opposite side of the gill and made our way over to Styhead Tarn. The heavy cloud is still hanging around and the cool breeze is keeping the temperature pegged back so our windproofs stay on for the time being.

A short break at the tarn as we each chomp on a chocolate bar and exchange greetings with the various passers by. Hints of sunshine appear here and there but none of them are very long lasting.

It was a bit chilly to linger at the tarn so we were soon on our way again. The surrounding fells were very much on the indistinct side today as can be seen in this shot of Lingmell. The new stretcher box at Sty Head showed up nicely though!

A view of Base Brown and the ridge between it and Green Gable beyond Styhead Tarn as we take to the path from Sty Head which leads up to Sprinkling Tarn and beyond. The path seems to have had some work done on it since we last walked over it in 2016. We had memories of just a grit path under our feet at that time but it was eight years ago so maybe we are mistaken. Anyway, it is now stone pitched which prevents erosion but it does make it feel as though you are walking up a never ending treadmill. Whenever we stopped to take photos or remove/put on a layer we noticed other walkers obviously experiencing the same feeling as they trudged wearily and with heavy legs up the never ending stairway.

Sprinkling Tarn and its peaceful surroundings.

Still on the treadmill/pitched path with a zoomed look back at Great Gable and Windy Gap …..

….. and the zoomed out view to include Green Gable where we were on our last walk.

Approaching the path junction at Ruddy Gill. The path coming in from the left of the shot is the Grains Gill route coming up from Stockley Bridge. A zoom in will reveal quite a crowd of walkers making their way along.

Blue sky and a sunny spell as we pass below the crags of Great End.

We turned left at the next junction on the main path to follow the path over to Allen Crags. This has also been upgraded from a dirt path to a stone pitched one, more treadmill awaits us then. Allen Crags is in view on the left as we look along Ruddy Gill. I remarked at the time that Ruddy Gill was looking rather green around the gills and yes, I do appreciate that its an obvious pun but sometimes one can’t help but say it.

Blue sky overhead so J takes a breather in the sunshine where the path begins to level out. A couple of curious sheep wandered over the slight rise to find out who was invading their pitch.

Our view of Allen Crags from the shelter where we took a break for lunch. While we were there we were approached by what appeared to be a family group of walkers, judging by the mix of ages amongst them, asking us, in strong Liverpool area accents, if what they were pointing at was Scafell Pike. Not being able to see over the high walls of the shelter I walked over to them and turned in the direction they were pointing. That’s not Scafell Pike I told them its Great End whereupon they next pointed to Esk Pike and asked if that was it. No, that’s not it either, that’s Esk Pike I replied. Well, where is it then they enquired. Given that Scafell Pike wasn’t visible from the area of the shelter I could only tell them that it was behind the long ridge (Ill Crag/Broad Crag) that they could see in the distance, that they should follow the path just alongside the shelter and keep going straight ahead and they would eventually come to it. They had arrived from the Angle Tarn direction and they had already covered quite a distance just to get to the shelter from wherever their starting point was so I didn’t like to tell them that they still had more climbing to do and that there was still quite some distance to cover before they set foot on Scafell Pike. I could only hope that there would still be plenty of other walkers around who would give them further directions if needed. I didn’t mention anything at all about crossing the huge boulders on Broad Crag or the final ascent to the summit over the very loose scree path.

After our break we walked over to the Allen Crags path and began the climb during which the weak sunlight managed to land here and there on Bowfell.

Looking along the ridge between Allen Crags and Glaramara from the summit of Allen Crags. A few more summit views …..

….. a very hazy view across Sprinkling Tarn to Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Green Gable. Just visible behind Kirk Fell is Pillar …..

….. a glimmer of light lands on the crags of Great End …..

….. Ill Crag, Broad Crag and a smidge of Scafell Pike …..

….. Bowfell and Esk Pike …..

….. and finally a very hazy view of the Langdale Pikes. From the summit we made our way back down, over to the path beside the shelter and up to Esk Hause. From the Hause we diverted left to begin the climb up …..

….. Esk Pike.

No sign of Scafell Pike from the Hause behind the ridge …..

….. and only a truncated view of Great End.

Nearing the summit of Esk Pike where we had to wait a few minutes for a bunch of walkers to come down through the gully before we could make our way up.

From Esk Pike summit a view of Bowfell with Crinkle Crags behind it.

Pike de Bield from Esk Pike summit. Over on the right it was just possible to see the distinctive shape of Harter Fell over in Eskdale.

Scafell and Scafell Pike from Esk Pike.

Looking down into a very murky Eskdale from Esk Pike.

Allen Crags and Glaramara from Esk Pike.

The distinctive silhouette of the Langdale Pikes was all that could be seen with the naked eye so I tried zooming in to try and get more definition. It was only a partial success though.

As we descended Esk Pike the haze seemed to be getting worse, despite another sunny spell above us, so we decided to give Great End a miss today.

We crossed over Esk Hause and followed the path back down alongside the gill. We kept coming across bags of stones all the way along so either they’ve been forgotten about or its a work in progress. At least we’re now going down the treadmill.

The path from the Ruddy Gill crossing which leads us to …..

….. the long descent back down to Seathwaite farm. Nothing very much by way of views so the only thing I took a shot of was …..

….. this pretty little waterfall dropping into the gill. Officially it is still Ruddy Gill and only becomes Grains Gill after crossing the footbridge a bit lower down.

After a long walk down a seemingly interminable pitched path we’re back again at Stockley Bridge where, amazingly, there wasn’t a soul around …..

….. so I had it all to myself for a change. This is the view looking upstream from it.

An uneventful walk back to the farm from the bridge brings today’s walk to a close. It hasn’t been a great day as far as the weather was concerned, the north easterly breeze had a cool edge to it which wasn’t strong enough to clear away the very dense haze. However we had a few sunny spells and a couple of blue sky moments, neither did it rain. All in all a mixed bag of weather but overall a decent enough day for a longish walk.