Seathwaite Fell and Allen Crags

Walk Date – 6th August 2016

Distance – 9.5 miles

Weather – mostly overcast, sunny spells later, very windy on summits


There will be a touch of deja vu on today’s walk for a while because we were only here 31st July. We’ve returned to go over to the fells we didn’t visit on that walk, which had to be cut short because of my back problem. That’s getting better but I’ve taken a couple of tablets just to be on the safe side.



01 Seathwaite Fell from approach land

So here we are back in Borrowdale and there are so many cars parked along the lane that we are quite a long way back. You can see the buildings around Seathwaite Farm just above the wall so we need to walk back to that point before we can really get started.

02 Base Brown

We joined the throng walking up to the farm and continued on beyond it making our way to Stockley Bridge. I didn’t see anyone turning off at the farm to make their way up to Base Brown over there and I suspected they were all heading for Scafell Pike.

03 Approaching Seathwaite Fell

We’re almost at Stockley Bridge and our first fell of the walk will be the one on the right of the shot, Seathwaite Fell. When we cross the bridge we’ll go through the gate in the wall and follow the path which is going up the hill on the right. There is also another path just through the gate which goes off to the left and if you take a closer look you’ll see a group of walkers already heading off over there, that the Grains Gill path and we’ll be returning on that later on. You may also be able to see a large group of walkers standing just beyond the gate and we guessed why they were standing there. You see two paths once through the gate, and if you’re not familiar with the area then you have a bit of a dilemma as to which one is the one you want. As we neared the bridge we could see the maps being turned this way and that, and hear the differing points of view as a bunch of blokes tried to decide which way they should go. They eventually took the Grains Gill path. Its quite amusing to see lots of machismo suddenly evaporate into indecision and frailty, especially when you’ve heard all the loud chat and bravado ahead of you on the way to the bridge. It probably seemed like a good idea in the pub one night and today’s the day, so I really hope they got there and had a great day out.

05 Downstream from the bridge

The view looking downstream from Stockley Bridge, taken just as the group of men decided on the Grains Gill route and started to move off.

06 Looking back down Borrowdale

We were the only ones who took this path from the gate, everyone else went up Grains Gill. This is looking back along the valley as we start to climb.

07 Greenhow Knott

The path takes us over Greenhow Knott where over to the right two chaps were sitting taking a breather. They must have been here a while as we didn’t see them in front of us as we came up. Just before we reached this point a lone male walker went past us clad in shorts, vest and carrying a two litre bottle of what looked like cherryade. Apart from his shirt, which was tucked into his waistband, he was carrying nothing else, no pack, no food, nothing. I don’t think I could manage very much if I was only sustained by a bottle of fizzy pop.

08 Heading towards Styhead Tarn

We carry on alongside Styhead Gill and, just as on our walk a few days ago, Scafell Pike is obscured by cloud. The cow ahead was part of a small herd, most of whom were out of shot over to the left. This one decided to head for the path we were on and so we came face to face just a little further on. She very obligingly waited for us to pass before joining the path and then continued on her way back down.

09 Styhead Tarn

Safely past the cows we continued on alongside Styhead Tarn. There were lots of people on this route today and quite a number didn’t look particularly well equipped. Although the sun put in an appearance from time to time it was quite cool under any cloud and the surface of the tarn was constantly ruffled by the nippy wind. I hoped that the ones in shorts and sun tops had extra layers if they were going up Scafell Pike, as it would be 5 or 6 degrees Centigrade colder up there than the valley they started out in.

10 Looking back at Styhead Tarn

Once past the tarn we left the main path up to Sty Head and cut across to join the one leading up to Allen Crags. I was lucky enough to take a look back just as a patch of sunlight landed on Great Gable, Green Gable and Base Brown, from left to right respectively.

11 Great Gable and Green Gable

Below Great Gable is the path we have just left, and between Great Gable and Green Gable you can see the Aaron Slack route we came down a few days ago.

12 Broad Crag, Scafell PIke and Lingmell

Scafell Pike is still partly obscured by cloud but the view of Lingmell is a little better than it was last week.

13 Lingmell

A close up of Lingmell with the deep gash of Piers Gill showing up very clearly.

14 Looking back at Great Gable and Green Gable

On the path to Allen Crags with a look back to Great Gable which is just missing out on the patch of sunshine lighting up Green Gable. Lots of people on this path too all heading in the same direction as us, for the time being.

15 Part of Sprinkling Tarn

When we reach Sprinkling Tarn we have to take a slight diversion to walk over to the summit of Seathwaite Fell. Allen Crags is in the centre of the shot and we’ll be going over there a little later. That huge black cloud was covering most of the fell tops over to the right and the wind was much stronger and colder up here. There were about half a dozen tents pitched at various points around the tarn so I hoped they were all pegged down securely, especially as the wind was predicted to increase to gale force tonight and tomorrow.

16 Un-named tarn on the way to Seathwaite Fell summit

There’s a little bit of threading your way through the rocky outcrops and round the various tarns to do before the summit is reached, but most of the uphill work is behind us at this point with only a few humps and bumps left to negotiate.

17 Same tarn, different angle, Esk Pike and Great End on skyline

This is the same tarn as in the previous shot, its just taken from the other end. I thought it looked quite good with Great End as a backdrop but the wind was ruffling the surface too much to get a reflection in it.

19 Glaramara again

Not too far from the summit now and across another tarn is this view of Glaramara.

20 Un-named tarn below summit of Seathwaite Fell

Seathwaite Fell has a large number of small tarns and here’s another one we have to skirt round in order to reach the summit cairn, which is just below, and to the left of, the v shaped notch towards the centre of the skyline. As you can see the wind is still blowing strongly.

21 Looking to Wasdale Head and Yewbarrow through the gap

From the summit we get a tiny glimpse of Wasdale, which is the sunlit green patch in the middle, with Yewbarrow and some of the other western fells behind it. We haven’t been over there for quite some time so perhaps its time to think about paying another visit.

23 Great and Green Gables from Seathwaite Fell summit

Great Gable and Green Gable from the cold and windy summit on Allen Crags.

25 Great Gable right, and Yewbarrow through the gap

Just below the slopes of Great Gable you can see the junction of paths at Sty Head. The path we left earlier just beyond the tarn is the one going down to the right.

26 Glaramara from the summit

Turning round and the view behind me is of Glaramara.

27 Great End

As it was so cold and windy on the summit we didn’t linger, so we retraced our steps around the tarn with a clear view of Great End. The cloud was moving across so quickly that the fell tops would be in cloud one minute and cloud free the next.

28 Looking across Seathwaite Fell to Derwentwater

The view down to Derwentwater as we made our way back. I mentioned that Seathwaite Fell has lots of tarns and in this shot you can see a few more. We’ll have to go along there one of these days, we’ve never explored across there because from this point we’re usually going somewhere else, just like today, so its another of those things that you’re always going to do and then forget about because there’s so much else to do.

29 Part of Sprinkling Tarn

We’re back on the path to Allen Crags now after our diversion to the summit of Seathwaite Fell which is the one in the sunny patch just beyond Sprinkling Tarn. Over to the left the Gables are cloud covered again, as we are.

30 Approaching Ruddy Gill on the way to Allen Crags

Looking ahead and the path going across the middle is the Grains Gill one which I mentioned earlier on and which we’ll use on the descent. Right now we go straight ahead following the path alongside the gash, which is Ruddy Gill, at the bottom of the slopes of Great End. The people coming towards us on the path turned out to be the support volunteers for the Borrowdale Fell Race which was taking place today. They were making their way over to Sty Head in readiness for the runners who would arrive there after coming down from Scafell Pike and who would no doubt be ready for a handout of drinks and snacks before tackling the next part of the race, Great Gable. More about the race later.

31 Ruddy Gill with Allen Crags behind

A look along Ruddy Gill from the path above it.

32 Great End from Esk Hause

We’ve reached the cairn below Great End at Esk Hause where we will turn off up to Allen Crags.

33 Esk Pike from Esk Hause

From the cairn a view of Esk Pike and alongside the path is a cross shelter which looks like a + sign so no matter which way the wind is blowing at least one part of it will protect you from it if you need some shelter. Of course it has no roof so it will be of no use at all in driving rain, hail or snow. Beside the shelter, which is a checkpoint for today’s fell race, is a group of race marshalls who will note each runner’s number as they pass by. The race is 16.8 miles long with a total ascent of 6562′. It started at 11.00 am at the Scafell Hotel in Rosthwaite from where they have to run up to the first checkpoint on Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot). From there they have to make their way to this checkpoint before running up to the next one on Scafell Pike. Down from there to the next checkpoint at Sty Head and then up to the next one on Great Gable. From there its on to Honister Hause, then up to Dale Head and finally back to the hotel in Rosthwaite. I was interested to see the results as I know someone who was running it and who wanted to do it in under three hours, so I checked once we were back home. He didn’t make his target but his time was just 16 minutes over the three hours, the fastest runner did the race in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 21 seconds, and the last one home was in the over 65 category with a time of 6 hours, 8 minutes and 14 seconds. There were 691 entrants and 30 runners retired before finishing. Phew, I’m worn out just typing it never mind running it!

34 Allen Crags from Esk Hause

Now, where was I before I went off at a tangent and wittered on about a fell race? Oh yes, we’re going up to Allen Crags so all I have to do is turn around and right behind me is the path. Its not very far and its not very steep but the path is a bit loose and gravelly so I need to make sure I don’t give my back another wrench on the way up and down.

35 Bowfell and Esk Pike from Allen Crags

Cloud just clipping the tops of Bowfell and Esk Pike as we look across from Allen Crags.

36 Looking towards Rossett Pike from Allen Crags

The view eastwards, the Langdale Pikes on the left, Rossett Pike below us in the centre, and part of Bowfell over on the right.

37 Sprinkling Tarn from Allen Crags

The view down to Sprinkling Tarn from Allen Crags. Great Gable is once again covered in cloud so its to be hoped that the fell runners and the marshalls can see each other at the checkpoint.

38 Ill Crag and Great End from Allen Crags

Meanwhile, just across the road so to speak, Great End is as clear as a bell.

39 Looking along the ridge to Glaramara

The long, long ridge between Allen Crags and Glaramara. We last walked across here on a boiling hot day in 2013, its the first walk in the pre-2014 walks if you want a reminder of what things are like along there.

41 Great End from Allen Crags

Great End from the summit cairn on Allen Crags.

42 Ill Crag and Great End from Allen Crags

Ill Crag and Great End from the summit.

43 Still cold and windy up here

No idea why I’m smiling because I’m half frozen and being blown to pieces. The half frozen parts are the pinkish bits just above the boots and socks, so its another wrong trousers day.

44 Esk Pike from Allen Crags

Esk Pike from the summit. I’ve hidden Bowfell behind the cairn, but you’re not missing anything because its top was covered in cloud anyway.

45 Going back down to Esk Hause

Having had enough of being knocked about by the wind we went down to the relative shelter of Esk Hause where the race marshalls are still on duty at the checkpoint.

46 Ruddy Gill and Grains Gill path

We returned to Ruddy Gill and crossed over to join the Grains Gill path on the opposite bank. We have some shelter from the wind here so things are a bit warmer.

47 The crags of Gret End

As we start down the Grains Gill path I take a look at the soaring, shattered crags of Great End.

51 Same route, better light

The view down the valley as we descend alongside Grains Gill over on the left.

52 Grains Gill

A quick peek into Grains Gill.

53 Further down the path

Much further down the path and we’re out of the wind, jumpers and windproofs are back in the packs, and its turning into a lovely afternoon. Same old story, the weather always seems to sort itself out at the end of a walk.

54 Looking back up the valley

Back down at valley level now in blazing sunshine and not very far away from the gate in the wall.

55 Over Stockley Bridge

Through the gate and we’re back at Stockley Bridge one again.

56 Back in the valley

From the bridge its a straightforward walk back to Seathwaite Farm with the beck bubbling alongside keeping us company.

57 Back in Seathwaite

Back in Seathwaite where other walkers are also returning to their cars, whilst others carrying camping gear are just setting out for an overnight camp somewhere. The campsite is pretty full, youngsters are chasing around, Dads and sons are kicking footballs and I can smell a barbecue, the summer holidays are in full swing. I do wish there was still a cafe here, fruit juice and water are all very well but a cup of coffee right now would just round off the day nicely. Nothing for it but to go home and have a cup there. As things turned out I had to wait longer than I expected for that coffee because we got caught up in a long queue of traffic on the Borrowdale road, all of it inching its way very slowly back into Keswick. Never has a cup of coffee tasted better, when I finally got my hands on it.