Rossett Pike, Esk Pike and Bowfell

Walk Date – 5th June 2016

Distance – 10.75 miles

Weather – hot, humid, hazy


After a lovely sunny start it turned into a disappointing day as far as long distance views were concerned. The haze which has been around for a while now is still with us and by late morning the grey and thundery looking clouds were building, a combination which, by lunchtime, had resulted in some very dark and dismal views indeed. On a better day the views from these fells would have been spectacular and worthy of photographs but, as it was, much of the time we were presented with views of smoky grey and largely featureless fells. There were a few sunnier spells during the afternoon but they were few and far between and the air was heavy with humidity. No amount of photo editing can deal effectively with haze and poor light and many of the photos are not as good as they should have been, but they show the varying conditions during the walk so I’ve included them all, good, bad and indifferent.


We had an early start from home this morning for the ninety minute drive over to Great Langdale where we had no choice but to park in the pay and display by the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. All the free parking spaces around Rossett Bridge had been taken by the time we arrived at 8.30 am. The walk we are doing begins on the path through this gate which is located behind the hotel. Its a beautiful morning and spirits are high as we take to the path heading for Mickleden.

Heading towards Mickleden with Pike O’Blisco on the left, Crinkle Crags on the centre skyline, and The Band on the right. The Band is the eastern ridge of Bowfell with Oxendale to the left of it and Mickleden to the right.

The Band, in the centre, leading up to Bowfell on the right with Crinkle Crags to the left. The fells and valleys have shed their brown winter coats and are showing their fresh summer greenery.

We eventually turn into Mickleden and pass below the soaring crags of the Langdale Pikes, with Pike O’Stickle, on the left, and Gimmer Crag to the right. Apparently you can still find Neolithic axe heads up in that long scree run just in front of it as there seems to have been some sort of a ‘factory’  in a cave up there. They were fashioned from a narrow vein of greenstone volcanic tuff found there, and axe heads from here have been found by archaeologists in many parts of the country, fifteen of them have even been found in the River Thames.

Still pondering on the why’s and wherefore’s of the axe factory we continue along Mickleden with Rossett Pike straight ahead of us and Bowfell over on the left. There’s no-one else here but us at the moment and the peace and quiet is marvellous.

Its not exactly easy to get to is it? So how come some ancient human thought, “I’ll have a walk up there and see if I can find something to make an axe head with, I might even get a little business going. You never know, it could be a nice little earner.” On the other hand perhaps it was just serendipity, we’ll never know, or will we?

Time to stop wittering on about axe factories and concentrate on the matter in hand as we are now well into Mickleden and a whole lot closer to Rossett Pike.

The crags below Rossett Pike which we will be walking along in a little while.

The sheepfold and the Stakes Gill crossing are good indicators that the path is about to split into two routes because just across the bridge is …..

…. this cairn with its very helpful navigational aid which is self-explanatory so I needn’t elaborate further, except to say that from here, the only way is up.

A look down from part way up the Stake Pass path. Its a good pitched path with relatively short lengths of hairpin bends so its not too ‘in your face’. What made it hard work was the humidity and the blazing sun on our backs.

Pike O’Stickle and the view down into Mickleden from higher up the path, at this point we were glad of that bit of cloud cover.

At the top of the path, where it enters Langdale Combe and crosses over the beck to Martcrag Moor, we kept to this side of the gill and began to seek out the path which would take us across below Black Crags. There isn’t a very well established path as this route isn’t often climbed,  but there was enough of one for us to get started, even if it did disappear from time to time. It didn’t really matter anyway Rossett Pike was always directly ahead of us so we only had to keep walking towards it .     

From one of the many grassy shelves along the way a look across Martcrag Moor towards High Raise on the far left, and the little pimple on the centre skyline which is Sergeant Man. Its a bit more than a pimple when you get to it though.

Passing by a small tarn below Buck Pike on yet another grassy shelf as we make our way across the crags.

A jaw dropping view of the Langdale Pikes from the route below Rossett Crags.

The view along Mickleden with Lingmoor Fell across the valley from the Pikes,  taken from the east cairn on Rossett Pike. There was a group of people already having lunch on the actual summit so not wanting to barge in on them we had our lunch on a little knoll just a few yards behind me.   

We finally get a look in at the summit cairn on Rossett Pike after the group had departed. Apparently it was someone’s final Wainwright summit so I suppose they stayed longer to mark the occasion. By now the cloud cover had increased and apart from the rather sombre Glaramara ridge behind everything was pretty much greyed out and it was pointless to try for any distance views, so I didn’t.

Leaving Rossett Pike and the path over to the centre right is the Rossett Gill route which had dozens of walkers trudging their way up from Mickleden. We never saw a soul on the grassy Black Crags route we took, so we were in no-one’s way and no-one was in ours, blissful for me because I don’t enjoy being in a crowd.

As we leave Rossett Pike, below us is Angle Tarn with Esk Pike towering above it and Great End just appearing above Esk Hause.

Turning the camera slightly to the right shows the next part of our route, down to  the tarn outlfow and then up, down and up again to Esk Hause.

Climbing up from the tarn and looking back across it to Hanging Knotts at the northern end of Bowfell. Someone’s doing a spot of wild camping down there beside the tarn. Its not something I’ve ever tried because I’m not very good at camping, wild or tame, as some in my family would laughingly testify.

A look back at Rossett Pike as we negotiate the next bit of up. It was really close and muggy now and this bit was proving to be taking quite a bit of effort and will power.

Pausing for brow mopping and a drinks stop now that we’ve reached a flatter section, so I take another look back at Rossett Pike.

Close by was this little tarn over which is a clearer view of Sergeant Man on the centre skyline.

Looking ahead at the next bit of down and up which will take us onto Esk Hause with Allen Crags on the right.

Along the way I take a look back, the Langdale Pikes now greyed out, Rossett Pike in the middle, and more of Bowfell now showing over to the right.

You could say that this is the walking equivalent of Piccadilly Circus as its a major crossing point with paths converging and diverging in all directions. The path across there is leading up to Allen Crags.

Great End has a path below it which eventually leads over to Scafell Pike. I didn’t see anyone taking the opportunity to take the right turn off the path and take the one which offers the chance to walk over to Great End. I suppose Scafell Pike is just too much of a temptation, which is a shame because there are some staggering views down the deep gullies on Great End.

From the Hause and nicely lined up for their photo are Esk Pike and Bowfell, the next summits we will be climbing.

Looking back down at our route from Rossett Pike in the centre, Behind it is Lingmoor Fell with the Pikes on the left and Bowfell on the right. From about this point we began to get a few occasional bursts of sunshine.

Great Gable and Green Gable to the right of Great End as we make our way from the Hause up to Esk Pike.

Turning round the other way and there, waiting patiently, is Esk Pike. Last time we were up there it was chucking it down and the way we are feeling now a quick rain shower would be very welcome, its too darned hot at the moment.

Over to the right of us is Ill Crag which is part of the Scafell group.

As we get higher up Esk Pike we can now see the summit of Allen Crags.

The view back to Great End from the path to Esk Pike. The path sweeping over to the left below Great End is the one leading on to Scafell Pike which I mentioned earlier.

We’re much higher now so the summit of Glaramara comes into view behind Allen Crags.

In front of us there is still more climbing to be dealt with, its a rocky route to Esk Pike.

Sprinkling Tarn with Seathwaite Fell behind from just below the summit of Esk Pike.

Not much further to go before we reach the summit and the path leads us to …..

….. the bottom of this last little scramble which is quite short and quite easy, which is quite a relief.

Bowfell and the route across to it from Esk Pike summit.

Looking due south in the direction of Pike de Bield at the non-existent view over Eskdale.

Looking along Upper Eskdale and Great Moss and trying not to be disappointed by the haze and lack of views.

The River Esk at the bottom left with Scafell Pike at the top right of the skyline.

Esk Pike summit with the Scafells behind.

I’ll stop moaning about the lack of views and just enjoy a sit down for a few minutes.

The jumble of stones, rocks and boulders on the summit area.

From Esk Pike we make our way down to Ore Gap to make the crossing over to Bowfell. The redness of the path is due to the presence of haematite, an iron oxide, in the soil.

We’ve climbed up from Ore Gap and are making our way over to Bowfell. The route across the fellside could be very confusing but there is a continuous line of cairns to follow which makes the journey a whole lot simpler. Here I took a look back to Esk Pike.

Looking ahead to the summit of Bowfell and I think it becomes clearer  why it could be confusing without the cairns to guide you.

We’re making good progress thanks to the cairns and a good path. This is another look back to Esk Pike with Allen Crags to the right of it.

I am determined not to grumble as I look over the south ridge of Esk Pike to the Scafells. The clarity may not be all that good but at least they are visible and not covered in cloud as they often are. Scafell is to the left, then the gap known as Mickledore followed by Scafell Pike, the highest fell of them all.

On the way to Bowfell summit I spotted this fantastic view of the Langdale Pikes above Mickleden. On the extreme left of the shot you can see a little group of climbers who had just arrived on that top, which I think is probably the Bowfell Buttress, but can’t be sure. They were chatting away whilst busily divesting themselves of ropes, carabiners and other bits of kit as though they had just had a walk through a park. I would have been a quivering jelly, unable even to stand up never mind hold a conversation and put the gear away, that sort of exposure is not something I can deal with.

There are lots of interesting geological features on Bowfell, this slab of striated rock must have been horizontal once upon a time and I thought about the how, when, and why, and what this place looked like when this upheaval took place.

A very welcome sight as we approach the summit of Bowfell. No smooth grassy summit here, its a case of picking your way carefully, and watching where you’re putting your feet.

From the summit of Bowfell the view southwards across Crinkle Crags and the hazy fells beyond.

The view of the Scafells from Bowfell summit.

On Bowfell summit, from here its downhill all the way, no wonder I’m smiling.

The col below is generally known as The Three Tarns although two of them are hidden at the moment. Above the tarn is the beginning of Crinkle Crags which extends quite a distance along  the right of the shot. There are five Crinkles in all. On the distant skyline are the Coniston fells, and left of centre below the skyline is Red Tarn. To the left of Red Tarn is Pike O’Blisco and to its right is Cold Pike.

There’s nothing much to be seen beyond the Langdale Pikes though. Below us is The Great Slab.

Turning round and in the other direction is the north top of Bowfell, the darkish area to the right. The three fells behind are, from left to right, Esk Pike, Allen Crags and Glaramara.

Leaving the summit now and making our way down to The Great Slab.

A look back up at the summit area as we descend.

These splintered rocks lie just below the summit.

Another look back to the summit, you know you have to go down but its always a bit of a wrench to leave, I don’t know why.

Another look at the splintered rocks. They reminded me of a pod of Orcas bobbing up out of the sea looking to see if there are any seals lazing around on an ice floe.

I’ll stop wittering on about Orcas and get on with walking towards the slab.

The Great Slab, and what else could it be called? Its a huge, tilted slab of rock a little way below Bowfell summit.

This huge lump isn’t so much tilted as completely upended. With a variety of colours and striations its a geological history book, you can’t help but think about what was happening at the time each layer was added.

More huge lumps of tilted striated rock, hardly anyone gave them a second glance because …..

….. they were so intent on getting up there.

We’re on the way down to the Three Tarns  now and I was surprised to see that they all contained water given the lack of rain recently. The path down here is a bit of nightmare, steep and very loose underfoot, so we took our time across this section. On a couple of sections I was tempted to utilise my fifth point of contact but I managed to resist.

Safely down with a view of the Scafells beyond the tarn below the Bowfell Links.

From the tarns there’s a good path leading down to The Band and back to Mickleden. The sky is looking very thundery now and we kept feeling the odd spot of rain now and again.

The view doesn’t change much on the way down but eventually this view appears. Pike O’Blisco, on the left, with Cold Pike opposite it across the col. The deep ravine is Browney Gill and the rocky area to the right of it is Great Knott.

Journey’s end comes into sight along Great Langdale as we continue down The Band to Stool End Farm. The distance from the tarns back to where we are parked is probably not much more than a couple or so miles, but on weary legs it felt  like a marathon.

We’re back on firm, flat ground and walking along the lane from Stool End Farm, behind me, to the road at the end of Great Langdale. The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and the car park are behind that line of trees just above the wall so our walk is almost over. Its been a long walk in very hot and humid conditions and, of course, the lack of views was disappointing, but it has been a good day’s walking across three fine fells, and at £6.50 for the day’s parking, its a cheap day out too. On the way home we drove through the mother of all thunderstorms all the way along the length of Thirlmere. The wipers were on maximum speed and still couldn’t deal with it, we were reduced to crawling along, huge sighs of relief when we came out of it at the other end.