Bow Fell from Cockley Beck

25th March 2012

I wasn’t supposed to be on the fells this weekend as I had family commitments. Ok, when I say ‘family commitments’ maybe I’m not being entirely honest with you, for you see I had planned a few pints with my Dad at our local Labour club. There was absolutely nothing going to stop this except one thing… The weather, & just how beautiful, warm & sunny this last week had been, maybe, just maybe, I could juggle the two together? Its going to be a tough one in that: the clocks go forward this weekend too, thus taking away a vital hours sleep.

My Dad doesn’t drink much these days, my Dad is a mixer, a friendly bloke who thinks the best of everyone (even the ones who have no best in them) “How do Bert” I’m belting thanks, all the better for seein thee” they are my Dads sentiments, it works… I told you he was friendly…

This however doesn’t bloody work though when he’s at one end of the Club chatting about the new Bowling season of which my Dad & most of the Wigan Borough see him & his Wood’s as the crème de la Maradona in the Bowling world.

Si this Paul’ I’ll put such a spin on this wood It’ll end up back at mi feyt.

That’s all fair & well Dad, but while you’ve been chatting Bowls for the last half hour, I’ve supped up & its your round.

I got away around 11:30pm to th’artist belting out an incredible rendition of the Walker Brothers track “Breaking up is so hard to do” I love that song & I could of sat there all night with my Dad, but I’d had my three pint quota & it was time to leave.

Back to the walk…

Well, that was last night & this morning I woke around 5:00am after only four hours sleep, not muggy I might add which even surprised me. I just needed another hour which is exactly what I got. I set off for Lakeland around 6:20am, my cars windscreen wipers wiping away the morning due in this dawn setting which by now, I could see today was going to be another fine day.

I packed duly, only taking the essentials as hydration was going to be taking up most weight, gone are the days of only filling my 2Ltr Camelbak only three quarter’s full & then bleeding it for air, today it was full of the usual Robinsons orange juice, with spring in the air & winter well & truly out of the air, I pack six Satsuma’s, you’ve never lived until you’ve popped a full juicy Satsuma in your mouth while at 900 metres, its a close to heaven as your going to get.

This walk was planned around Little Stand, a fell I had to grace, yet I had felt its pull for a very long time, there was no question about it, Bow Fell from Little Stand had my name all over it, I just needed the time, the weather & the right conditions to pull it off.

Today was that day.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Southern Fells

As much as any other mountain, the noble Bowfell may be regarded as affording an entirely typical Lakeland climb, with easy walking over grass giving place to rough scrambling on scree, and a summit deserving of detailed exploration and rewarding visitors with very beautiful views.

Rank Bowfell among the best half-dozen!

Bowfell is a mountain of noble aspect and rare distinction, there is both grace and strength in the upper reaches, it is a challenge that cannot be denied.


Ascent: 1,378 Metres, 4,520 Feet
Wainwrights: 2, Crinkle Crags & Bow Fell
Weather: Very Warm, Blue Skies & Very Hazy, No Wind, Highs Of 23° Lows Of 9°
Parking: Cockley Beck, FOC.
Area: Southern
Miles: 7.9
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken:  
Route: Cockley Beck – Ulpha Fell – Little Stand – The Bad Step – Crinkle Crags – Three Tarns – Climbers Traverse – Bow Fell – Three Tarns – Lingcove Beck – Moasdale – Moasdale Beck – Cockley Bridge

Map and Photo Gallery



Ulpha Fell/Little Stand from Cockley Beck.

It 8:18am and at 9° things are already starting to heat up, this owing to the fact that I have just squeezed in the last available parking space at the bottom of the Hardknott Pass, normally I guess you’d get four/five well parked cars here on any given day, but today; it is not any given day, today I had to negotiate two badly parked camper vans.

I kit up in the morning sunshine already regretting my decision not to wear shorts, from one of the camper vans a woman emerges from a side door, wearing only her pyjamas I see it in her stance it is already too late, I have already seen you to make a dash for it,  bed slept hair covers her entire face, we do not pass comment & If we did, I would have to bring up how inconsiderate her camper van is so badly parked, I close my tailgate, lock the car & walk thirty yards. Bugger… I’ve left my Bloc Billy sunglasses on the passenger seat.

Back I go.


The Hardknott Pass.

I’ve quickly come to the conclusion that today, despite the warm temperatures-the haze is like  thick soup, here at the lower reaches views aren’t too badly obscured but the higher I got the worse it became.

Here looking towards England’s highest & steepest (course of) Roman road before it drops down into the Duddon Valley, the Romans named this route the Tenth Highway & I’m wishing the name kind of stuck as I much prefer the Tenth Highway than Hardknott Pass.


Harter Fell (Eskdale)

I notice I am not on any path of sort, is my experience of walking pathless since I was in Wet Sleddale only last weekend – am I now starting to adopt nomad & bush tucker skills? … no Paul, you simply missed the path, Dufus.


Slight Side & Sca Fell from the steep ascent.

I find myself back on the path, I do say path when I mean ‘course of’ because it seems like many other Lakeland fells Ulpha Fell incorporates many “side” paths, its up to you which one you choose, they are all well within eye sight of one another at times & all lead to the same destination.



Approaching Red How.

By now I have worked myself into a good sweat, stopping many times & reaching for the bite valve so early into a walk lays the gender for the rest of the day ahead. Its small sips & even though I think I have enough hydration, the way my body is absorbing it keeps me a little keen on. I know what the bad end of dehydration feels like, so precaution was key.

I fight open a Satsuma, easy peel my @rse!


Red How from the approach to Little Stand.

As I crested the summit plateau seeing a sight as flat as this was a real surprise & gave the calf’s a little respite before I reached the summit of Little Stand just behind the crags ahead. This un-expected grassy ascent was one of the highlights of the day for me & gave geographical thought of to where close by have I ever seen anything like this?

Give up?

Hard Knott’s Roman parade ground of course


The path directs you through the middle of the crags seen ahead, still adjusting to the heat it was ahead when the sun just beat down on me, it was just walk, & look at your boots kinda moment.


Little Stand’s south summit cairn.

It was such a shame by now the haze was really starting to obstruct long distant views. There’s a few fells along this route that I thought, why didn’t Alfred Wainwright claim these as one of his own? Little Stand was one of them.

A fabulous summit within the bowels of Lakeland with views in every direction, its just a pity I lacked them on a day like today.


From the south ridge of Little Stand we have Great Knott, Cold Pike & Pike O’ Blisco, remember earlier how I spoke about numerous fells that Wainwright hadn’t claimed? on a personal note, Great Knott to the left  forms the very southern edge of the Crinkles, this is a summit surely worthy of a chapter in Wainwrights guides?


A southern aspect of Crinkle Crags as I flank Stonesty Pike on my left, my route would take me towards the right & up between the two sets of crags you see in the picture.


Slight Side, Sca Fell, Mickledore & Scafell Pike through the haze.


It wasn’t long before I reached the main path linking Cold Pike & indeed much of the Langdale fells with Crinkle Crags, it was nice to have track underfoot after leaving behind the steep grassy ascents of Ulpha Fell & Little Stand, with the heat under control I press on towards the Crinkles & thoughts of a little scramble maybe…


Approaching the Bad Step, Crinkle two & the summit.

Only once have I used the Bad Step as a route of the summit of Crinkle two (the summit) & that was a descent in terrible weather back in 2010, A bad experience due to a frightening wind, low visibility and even lack of experience left a bad taste, on my last lone visit back to the Crinkles in October 2011 I skirted the Bad Step via the path you see over on the left of the picture.

Today however today, I had absolutely no reason not to give an ascent a go.


Perfect conditions greeted me in the shadow of the Bad Step, I eye up my route, which was even easier than first thought up along the right wall seen in the photo.


Feeling pretty chuffed with myself as I took this photo looking down over the Bad Step.


Crinkle Crags summit cairn with Bow Fell in the background.

It was while at the summit do I meet my first walker of the day, a fellow much the same age as me with a local accent, we comment on the obvious weather conditions & share our route plans. I by now had changed my ascent on Bow Fell & was seriously considering an ascent via The Climbers Traverse, this meant losing approximately 100 metres in descent only to make it back up again in ascent on the final summit, my fellow walker was planning to summit Bow Fell then descend via The Climbers Traverse thus somewhere along The Traverse we should meet up again

We didn’t cross paths again as I stuck to my route, all I can think was my fellow walker had a change of plan somewhere along the way.


Bow Fell & Three almost dried up Tarns as I prepare to descend Shelter Crags.

It was here I was to leave the path you see at Three Tarns just over to the right, I felt in great fettle as I was managing the heat really well. The haze however continued to lack morale & I guess that this factor contributed to me taking on The Climbers Traverse.

Today, I just needed to take away something more than views.


Leaving the col at Three Tarns I start my descent, here passing half a dozen walkers heading for the summit.

The red outline was the route I took after leaving the main path to join up with The Climbers Traverse.


Almost at the top of path where The Climbers Traverse takes in a horizontal aspect all the way to Bow Fell Buttress & the Great Slab, its a little while off yet & before I get there at the top of these steep steps do I take off the pack for a fuel stop.


Bow Fell Buttress dead ahead from the start of The Climbers Traverse.


Hazy views are all around here depicting Rossett Pike & the Glaramara Ridge in the background.


Even in excellent conditions such as today careful footing & concentration is needed along the traverse, however Wainwright didn’t quite agree!

The climbers traverse is a very enjoyable high-level route leading to excellent rock-scenery. Two recent minor rockfalls have slightly disturbed the path but it is quite distinct and perfectly easy, with a very little very mild scrambling, hardly worth mentioning. The traverse is a series of ups and downs, but generally keeps to a horizontal course. Except at the small col the ground falls away steeply on the valley side of the path.

The best way off the traverse to the summit lies up the fringe of a ‘river’ of boulders along the south side of Cambridge Crag or more tediously, the wide scree gully between Cambridge Crag and Bowfell Buttress may be ascended. (Cambridge Crag is identified, beyond all doubt by the waterspout gushing from the base of the cliff – and nothing better ever came out of a barrel or a bottle) 


The Great Slab.

After ascending the rocky scree gully in between Cambridge Crag & The Great Slab I was urged to head towards this huge slab of tilted rock & try for footings, in which case this ended up a bad idea, a little belly wobble greeted me as I placed just the one boot on the slab.

Best stick to the certainties of a safe rock gully me thinks.



The Great Slab.


The top of the Great Slab or is it? due east is a continuation of what looks two more identical flat slabs of rock of which the main summit path runs through, perhaps The Great Slab is actually bigger and more extended than we thought?


Little of my musings are depicted in this photo crossing the summit path where sadly out of shot more spurs of solid flat rock continue.


Bow Fell summit & I look to have missed something!

I gain the last reaches of the summit over boulder-fields to be met by quite a gathering at the summit, I spot a little rock with my name on it, but I have to pass through the large group in order to gain my resting place ‘I’m not going to say it I mutter, but its too damn hot to be walking in this weather’ I’m greeted by a few chuckles & yer not wrong there lad.

One member of this crowd is walking over to Scafell after leaving the summit, which one I’m not sure as I was taking photos, I didn’t envy him.


Views from the summit.

Here looking towards Esk Pike, Great End, Broad Crag & a wall of haze.


Descending back down to Three Tarns via the path you saw in an earlier photo, its a pretty tricky path & pretty unstable, an ascent via this path would be much preferred.

I try to spot my way off the col at Three Tarns over towards the right of the picture, no matter how hard I try I fail to pick up anything that resembles a decent path so out comes the GPS & I try to locate it this way, its no good, no-matter how good I think I am at path spotting I descend pathless yet keeping within the supposed vicinity on the GPS.

Unless you are over familiar with this area on the Eskdale side of Bow Fell a descent should be avoided especially in bad weather.


Bow Fell from the Three Tarns col.


Heading down towards Lingcove Beck & reflecting on a wonderful day, spot the woman in this photo?


Esk Pike, Ore Gap & Bow Fell from Lingcove Beck.

It was here I leave the Lingcove Beck behind & head for the Moasedale Valley, out of shot sadly to the right of this photo. The path across Lingcove Beck was scarce at times & through time it shows just how few people use this to gain the reaches of both Bow Fell & Crinkle Crags, Wainwright wrote about my exit route as an ‘entry route’ leave before breakfast or you shall be late for supper’ it wasn’t just the mileage involved which was little if anything, it was the fact this is a place to test ones self & this at times can also be arduous.


The Moasdale Valley.

And sadly my exit route, ahead lay views of Grey Friar & the Coniston Fells, behind me the magnificent Scafell range through deep Eskdale.

This was a sad exit, the views almost scream at you to stay just a while longer but sadly Paul cannot do this, I squelch my way through the valley of Moasdale with heavy feet & not to mention- a faint breath of exhaustion, the heat in this midday exit is bearing down on me so much so I drink the contents of my Camelbak for I know at the end of Moasdale, in the boot of my car waits a freezing can of Diet Coke.


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