Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags

Walk date -17th September 2020

Distance – 7.6 miles

Weather – very warm and sunny, very slight breeze occasionally


The good weather continues so we decided to take a stroll over a couple of fells that we’ve often visited. Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags are natural neighbours so its just a case of walking from one to t’other when either summit is reached. That said, a number of route permutations can be taken to reach either summit and I don’t think we’ve ever taken the same route twice. We started out from the hamlet of Bowscale with a large patch of early morning cloud above us and a nippy little chill in the air, both of which had vanished before we got anywhere near Bowscale Tarn. From then on we were treated to a lovely late summer day. We couldn’t have wished for a better one.


Bowscale – Bowscale Tarn – Bowscale Fell – Bannerdale Crags – The Tongue – Bowscale

Carrock Fell beyond the little hamlet of Bowscale. Arriving just before 9.00 am meant that only two cars were already parked in the small parking area out of shot on the right, so we neatly lined ourselves alongside them and set off straight ahead and onto the track leading up up to Bowscale Tarn.

A slightly shaded Carrock Fell across the valley as we start out up the track. The air was a little chilly but the cloud was already beginning to disperse so we knew it wouldn’t be too long before we got some sunshine.

The view ahead of us as we follow the good track up to Bowscale Tarn.

The track begins to rise up towards the tarn and we get more of a view of the infant River Caldew as it makes its way down the valley.

Lovely late summer colours.

A look back down the valley to see the cloud drifting eastwards and gradually dispersing.

Across the valley Carrock Fell is beginning to emerge from the shadows. The valley is very quiet and there are no other walkers to be seen, either on this track or anywhere else at the moment.

We reach Bowscale Tarn where I climb one of the little knolls around it for this view of the next part of our route. Across the tarn outflow we’ll pick up the path opposite which will lead us up to the ridge line. The tarn is large so I had to wait until we were well up the path before I could take a shot of it …..

….. and here it is. Not the best shot ever but Bowscale Tarn’s size and location conspire against you so its generally difficult to photograph it well, even more so when its back-lit by the sun.

We’re about halfway up at this point so a chance to take a look back at the view as we pause to catch our breath. Its a steep climb but there are no real problems, a couple of rocks further up were awkward for me to negotiate and then only because I don’t have long enough legs to get over them in one go.

Another look back just before the path tipped us out onto the grassy ridge leading over to Bowscale’s summit. I didn’t bother trying for another shot of the tarn as nothing had changed.

A view of the Skiddaw massif and Great Calva is before us as we step out onto the ridge and …..

….. a little further to our right is this view of High Pike.

A look back to High Pike and Carrock Fell as we continue up to the summit. The path from the tarn emerges where there is a slight dip in the ridge, just in front of the patch of brown bracken below us. Alternatively, an ascent or descent can be made using the path seen in the shot, it will just take a little longer.

Higher up the ridge now and Knott comes into view over on the right skyline.

Not quite at the summit but a view of High Pike and Carrock Fell from the cairn, or ‘pile of stones’ as it is named on the OS map, on Bowscale Fell.

The shelter has  been constructed on what seems to be the highest point of Bowscale Fell so here we are at the summit with Blencathra in the distance.

Looking towards Bannerdale Crags and Blencathra with some remnants of cloud still hanging around over the Dodds. There isn’t a sound to be heard and in the distance we can see only one lone walker heading our way. We take a short break for snacks and liquid refreshment and then get on our way again.

Its a quick tramp down from the summit of Bowscale and as I turned around to take this shot I noticed that the lone walker was also taking a break at the shelter. There’s hardly a breath of wind today so the shelter isn’t required for protection but it does provide a handy place to sit down for five minutes to enjoy the weather and the views.

Another look back at Bowscale Fell as we reach the path skirting the crags above Bannerdale. Going off to the right is the path alongside The Tongue which we’ll be using on our return leg.

The Tongue and the path down the side of it.

The view ahead as we follow the path above the crags.

The view down into Bannerdale.

Bannerdale again, flanked on the left by The Tongue, on the right by the east ridge of Bannerdale Crags, with Souther Fell making a kind of full stop beyond it. The smoky blue North Pennines are on the horizon.

Another look back at Bowscale Fell as we walk the narrow path above the crags, those of a nervous disposition may wish to avoid the temptation to peer over the edge. We began meeting a few more walkers as we walked across here.

It was a bit early for a lunch stop but as we’d reached the top of Bannerdale Crags we decided to have one anyway, and here’s the view from it, the east ridge is directly below us with Souther Fell directly opposite. About a dozen walkers were also taking a break up here and no wonder, the sun was beating down, no breeze to raise the goosebumps and lovely views all around.

After our break we strolled the few yards back up to the pile of stones which appears to mark the summit to take a few shots of the views from there. Obviously Blencathra is up close and personal …..

….. and from left to right in the distance we have Broad End, Bakestall, Great Calva and Knott …..

….. then a look back to Bowscale Fell from the meagre pile of stones marking the summit.

Lunch break over we retrace our steps along the path above the crags and make our way over towards The Tongue.

J contemplating the sheer and very craggy chasms below us.

We reach the path junction where we’ll bear over to the right …..

….. and pick up the grassy path down The Tongue and back to Mungrisdale.

Bannerdale Crags and part of Blencathra from the descent.

The view ahead doesn’t change much.

A lone walker in front of us and a few more, a good distance behind us, all descending via this route with two separate pairs making their way up. Plenty of shiny faces along here because it was a proper little sun trap today. Its a longish walk down too so it felt like we were being slowly casseroled.

A look back up towards the rim of the crags as J contemplates the east ridge.

Almost back down now so time for a look back at Bannerdale Crags and its east ridge before the view disappears.

Heading back towards Mungrisdale and the opportunity to assess how well the slab path has fared …..

….. hmmm! This one has sunk and several others are beginning to so not an out and out success then. If the Romans could successfully build paths and roads over boggy and marshy ground why can’t we?

A look back at The Tongue as the slab path comes to an end and we revert to the long-standing one. It used to go down there but it and the river banks were washed away during Storm Desmond.

Looking back at some of the cottages in Mungrisdale as we make our way from the lane to the road ready for the walk back to Bowscale.

Looking back to The Tongue as we leave Mungrisdale behind and walk towards …..

….. St Kentigern’s Church. Not open at present so no looking round, had it been we might have nipped in and offered up a quick plea asking Him to deliver us from all the current lunacy, but even He has been sidelined.

Well, here we are back in Bowscale where a whole heap more cars are parked there now than there were this morning and what a glorious afternoon their occupants have at their disposal, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Finally, and for a bit of light relief …

….. and all the rest of them.