Bowscale Fell

Walk Date – 25th March 2017

Distance – 5.4 miles

Weather – sunny, warm and not a breath of wind


The forecasters have been telling us for days now that the weekend will bring dry and sunny weather so we planned to go over Mungrisdale for a dual purpose walk which we could both enjoy. The first section of the walk up Bullfell Gill and then back down again will be just about enough for a recuperating leg, while the second section will enable me to carry on up to the head of the valley and on towards Bowscale Fell summit.


Mungrisdale – Bullfell Beck – Bowscale Fell – Tarn Crags – Raven Crags – Mungrisdale


01a The path going up to Raven Crags

The path begins behind the houses in Mungrisdale and just a few yard further along we pass below Raven Crags. The path in the shot marks the beginning of the east ridge route to Bowscale Fell. Obviously we can’t go that route today but I will be using it for my return journey so in a few hours time this is where I will be ending my walk.

02 We take the valley path alongside Bullfell Beck

The path is grassy and very gently graded all the way up to an old water works building so it shouldn’t put too much strain on the recuperating leg. Over the wall the large hill in the centre is known as The Tongue and to the left of it are Bannerdale Crags.

03 Looking across to Bannerdale Crags

A closer look at Bannerdale Crags since the snow is conveniently pointing out the steep route up the east ridge.

04 Looking back to Mungrisdale from the path

A look back at the little hamlet of Mungrisdale as we stop to give the bad leg a rest.

05 The Tongue

Without really being aware of it we’ve gained a little more height and begin to see the River Glenderamackin flowing through the valley bottom below The Tongue.

06 Souther Fell

On the other side of the river is Souther Fell and a very squelchy area between it and us. We saw two walkers starting to head across it to come over here but after a few minutes they stopped and retraced their steps back to the path alongside the river, so it must have been too much to deal with. Its not fun in sinking ankle deep, or deeper, in marshy ground.

07 Heading up to the waterworks building

We continue on alongside Bullfell Beck and the old water works building eventually comes into view. Its very warm now and we’re beginning to feel the effects of the sun beating down on us.

08 A look back, Bullfell Beck running alongside the path

Despite appearances the path is gradually rising but its so gentle that very little effort is needed, but we have to keep to a slow pace for the sake of the injured leg. There’s no urgency anyway so we take our time and just enjoy the lovely weather.

09 The waterworks building

We reach the very unlovely water works building. I appreciate that its merely a functional structure but surely ‘they’ could have put a bit more thought into the look of thing.

12 Mars Bar time in the hot sunshine

It doesn’t get any better on the other side either. This was as far as the injured leg was going today so, after a short break, it was taken back down again. You can make out the path along the fell side below and to the right of the hut.

13 Heading up to the head of the valley

Providing there’s a signal when I get there I promise to phone and let ‘base camp’ back in Mungrisdale know when I’ve reached the ridge up there and then I set off for the steep climb ahead. The path becomes much narrower further up but its still discernible for now.

14 Derelict sheepfold beside the beck

I’m a good distance beyond the water works hut now as I pass by this old sheepfold and the steeper part of the climb is about to begin.

15 Climbing higher up the valley

Beginning the climb out of the valley and I’m still following the narrow path …..

16 Higher still and into the snowline

…. but it eventually disappeared, as they often do over this type of terrain, so now it was ‘make it up as you go along’ time. As can be seen from the route map it makes little difference which way you choose to go because everywhere on this last section is very steep. As heather is a bit of trial to get through anyway, even without the steepness, I slowly picked my way across from one grassy section to another, and the far eastern fells eventually began to appear above the snowy slopes of The Tongue as I gradually gained height.

17 Even higher and Souther Fell begins to show behind The Tongue

Still climbing and now Souther Fell comes into view between The Tongue and the far eastern fells.

18 The top of Bannerdale Crags begins to show

Over on the right the top of Bannerdale Crags comes into view so there isn’t a great deal more climbing to do.

19 Almost at the top and the first glimpse of Blencathra on the extreme right of the skyline

At last, I’m almost on the ridge and I get my first glimpse of Blencathra on the extreme right of the skyline. As I pause to get my breath back I can feel something tickling on the back of my neck which turned out to be sweat pouring down it, and not a flying beastie as I had thought it was to begin with.

20 Another look back now that the gradient is easier

Finally the gradient eases off and the view back down indicates the steepness of the climb, that was hard work in this heat. As I stood here it all felt rather odd because I have sweat rolling down my forehead and neck, I’m down to t-shirt level with my trouser legs rolled up to let the heat out, the sun is blazing down on me, there isn’t a hint of a breeze, I’m standing in snow and its still only March.

21 A look back to where I joined the ridge path

A look back at the path coming over from the east ridge route and, over on the right, the valley I’ve just climbed out of. Having made the promised phone call to assure ‘base camp’ that things are OK all I have to do now is turn round and follow the path over to Bowscale summit.

22 From the cairn a look across to Carrock Fell, on the right, and High Pike, to the left of centre

From the summit the view to the east of me is of Carrock Fell, on the right, with High Pike to the left of it.

25 Looking back to what will be my descent route down the east ridge from the cairn on Bowscale Fell

From the cairn a look back to the east ridge, my return route back down to Mungrisdale.

26 Looking towards the far eastern fells from the cairn

The far eastern fells and the top of Bannerdale Crags from the cairn.

27 Bannerdale Crags and Blencathra from the shelter

The view before me as I sat with my back to the summit shelter and had something to eat. No need for shelter today since the air is absolutely still, so I just sit back and enjoy the hot sun and the view. I’m the only person here, something which I really appreciated and enjoyed as I watched the crowds swarming up and across Blencathra on the right of the shot. Sitting here and enjoying the peace and quiet on such a fabulous day was just lovely, and it was definitely a moment to be savoured and remembered.

28 Looking across Mungrisdale. Common to the Skiddaw fells

From the shelter the view to my right is across Mungrisdale Common beyond which are the Skiddaw fells.

29 The far eastern fells beyond Bannerdale Crags

To my left a view of the east ridge of Bannerdale Crags with the eastern and far eastern fells beyond it.

30 The Skiddaw fells from the shelter

The Skiddaw fells beyond the summit shelter where I sat and watched the world go by for a while.

31 Blencathra in close up

A closer look at the magnificent and mighty Blencathra.

33 Lonscale Fell with some of the north western fells behind it

One final shot before I start the walk back down, this time looking towards Lonscale Fell, the dark mass in the middle foreground, with some of the north western fells beyond it.

35 Starting the homeward journey

I can’t believe I’ve spent almost an hour up here doing nothing very much, so I turn eastwards to begin the return journey and follow the trail of footprints, some of which were surprisingly deep, leading over to the east ridge. The snow was still firm and icy where it hadn’t been trodden so it was much easier to step in and out of the existing prints.

36 Still plenty of snow on Bowscale's north facing slopes

I left the trail briefly in the hope that there might be a view of Bowscale Tarn which I walked up to a couple of weeks ago …..

37 A glimpse of Bowscale Tarn as I walk across

….. but the view from this point was only partial and I wasn’t about to venture any closer to get a better one given the extremely steep slope beyond this point and the very smooth and icy snow covering it.

39 A look back to Bowscale Fell summit

Back on the path across the ridge and a look back at Bowscale summit as I make my way along the east ridge. A build up of thin milky cloud dimmed the sunlight for a few moments.

40 A look ahead at the homeward route

Looking ahead at my route across the east ridge where the walking is easy at the moment.

41 Some of the eastern and far eastern fell beyond The Tongue and Souther Fell

Further down the east ridge begins to swing away from The Tongue …..

42 Looking back along the route

….. and I take a look back to the marker cairn and the partial view of the summit area to the left of it.

43 A closer look at some of the eastern fells

The snow covered eastern fells over on my right were looking very impressive so I thought they merited a closer look.

45 High Street on the centre skyline

The far eastern fells look equally impressive, especially High Street in the centre which looks to have a very good covering of snow.

46 High Raise, Rampsgill Head and High Street from left to right on the skyline

Moving the camera a little to the left and now HIgh Street is on the extreme right, in the centre is Rampsgill Head, and to the left of that is High Raise, all of them glowing in the afternoon sun. In comparison lowly Souther Fell, in the foreground, looks positively dowdy.

47 High Raise on the far right

I moved the camera a little more to the left with High Raise, now on the right, and the long ridge descending from it along to Wether Hill, Loadpot Hill and eventually Bonscale Pike and Arthur’s Pike.

48 Mungrisdale begins to appear

The snow is a long way behind me now and the gradient becomes more pronounced as the path leads me down towards Raven Crags and Mungrisdale.

49 Souther Fell with the river Glenderramackin flowing alongside it

Over on my right is Souther Fell with the River Glenderamackin flowing alongside it.

50 Negotiating the steepest part of the descent down Raven Crags and back to Mungrisdale

Now I have to negotiate the steepest part of the descent down Raven Crags. The path is very narrow, is covered in loose gravel and small stones, and it twists and turns sharply and steeply through thick and overhanging clumps of very prickly gorse bushes. For the first time today I got out the walking poles, not only to provide some stability but also to move the gorse out of my way, and reached the bottom without a slip or a scratch. On the way down I think I was more concerned about being scratched to pieces by the gorse than I was about succumbing to an unplanned sit down.

51 Through the gate, round the house, back on to the road and journey's end

All that remains to do now is cross the field, go through the gate, walk around the end house and I’m back on the road where the car is parked. Apart from the unpleasant section of prickly gorse I’ve had a very enjoyable walk in fabulous weather, and, apparently, its going to be another fine day tomorrow so we can go out again.