Bowfell & Crinkle Crags from ODG

21st September 2014

I had healthy ambitions to tackle a host of north western fells today, so much so I even went onto draft the stats & map for the blog which showed my commitment, however whilst sat behind my computer in work a day earlier when really I should have been working I was checking the fells forecast where I could maybe broaden my fell choice.

An ascent on Bowfell struck out from the start owing to its versatility & proximity to Dungeon Ghyll where my options for a Sunday walk were left open should I want to shorten or extend my route given the fact that my usual Sunday walks are normally minimized to keep ascent & mileage to a minimum.

The forecast was just too good not to throw caution to the wind, after all, prolonged sunshine especially during the middle of September is a rare but wonderful thing.

It’s been close to eight weeks since I last had any kind of lie in due to work & fell time commitments which showed the moment my 5 o’Clock alarm went off, normally I would drag myself out of bed & within minutes I would be up & buzzing around getting ready, this morning was different as those minutes were I would usually be getting ready, were spent lying & waiting for the snooze button.

My body felt heavy but I did manage to drag it out of bed & across the landing to the bathroom, the light of which stung at my barely awake eyes, my morning shower feeling like I needed the nerve to parachute myself out of an aeroplane, we’ve all been there right?

Outside it was still dark with the faintest of faint tinges of orange that breached the eastern sky from my landing window, by now I was walking more upright & almost ready to take on the stairs.

My drive north was spent switching through various radio stations & listening to Conference League after match reports, that was until the sun started to rise as I hit Lancaster where I could see that the fields around me were banked in morning mist so much so at times, the trees in the fields looked like they had no trunks at all, the theme continued thereafter & up to the point of reaching Great Langdale which saw me stop the car on more than one occasion to witness the sunrise & the brilliant light it created.

Today’s walk started by foot from Dungeon Ghyll, but by car from Skelwith Bridge where temptation to stop the car, often got the better of me.


Wainwright Guidebook Four

The Southern Fells

--Crinkle Crags:

Crinkle Crags is much too good to be missed. For the mountaineer who prefers his mountains rough, who likes to see steep craggy slopes towering before him into the sky, who enjoys an up-and-down ridge walk full of interesting nooks and corners, who has an appreciating eye for magnificent views, this is a climb deserving of high priority

Ascent: 3,330 Feet – 1015 Meters
Wainwrights: Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags
Weather: Cool To Start Turning Warm & Sunny, Highs Of 19°C, Lows Of 6°C
Parking: Old Dungeon Ghyll
Area:  Southern
Miles: 8
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 5 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: Old Dungeon Ghyll – Stool End Farm – The Band – Bowfell Climbers Traverse – Great Slab – Bowfell – Three Tarns – Crinkle Crags – Long Top – Red Tarn (Langdale) – Browney Gill – Oxendale – Oxendale Beck – Stool End Farm – Old Dungeon Ghyll

Map and Photo Gallery


Langdale Pikes sunrise.
I couldn’t resist stopping the car to take this photo of The Langdale Pikes as the sunlight breached through leaving the fellside in a faint afterglow.

Morning sunburst over Great Langdale.
Once more the sunrise & the light it created got the better of me shortly before arriving at Old Dungeon Ghyll.


Pike O’ Stickle & Rossett Pike at the head of Mickleden 07:30 6°C

After securing my parking spot at Old Dungeon Ghyll I opened the boot & proceeded to kit up. I’m not too sure how many times I’m going to get away with walking in my summer gear but judging from the clear skies above I am pretty certain I wont be needing the waterproofs, besides my shorts I doubled up my Base Layer if only to take off the morning chill which is starting to get the better of me.

With the car locked I leave the grounds of ODG & head right at the Post Box & through the field towards Stool End Farm, it was here I found myself walking with clinched fist if only to keep that morning chill at bay, my fingers & ears I could do nothing about no matter how tempting it was to reach for the hat & gloves on this brisk morning.

The sun which was just managing to hover about the treeline was now breaching the valleys & with it came a little warmth.

Time to stop billowing warm air into cupped hands.

Oxendale, The Band & Crinkle Crags.

Despite changing my plans on where I would be walking today I had now the decision to make on which route I would ascend Bowfell by as initially my plans were to tackle Crinkle Crags via Browney Gill then onto Bowfell with a descent via The Climbers Traverse & The Band seen here in the right of the photo.

No matter how inviting Oxendale looked this morning the thought of an ascent on Bowfell first won me over due to a number of key features which I will get to further into the report.

Passing through Stool End Farm.

Dew as far as the eye could see cloaked the valleys leaving a cold air un-surprisingly enough at knee level. As I pass through Stool End Farm I spot the farmer making roll up cigarettes on a bench outside his front door, I give the farmer a nod & get one in return.

After passing through a metal gate which held a sign that said any dog caught worrying sheep would be shot which was underlined in red paint. I started to make my first ascent of the day towards where the path splits for The Band or the valley of Oxendale.

A time where I had to second guess my route once more, but was sure I made the right choice.

Morning has broken over Great Langdale.
With my back to the sunrise I started to make my ascent on The Band over a weaving stony track that gave way through retreating bracken. The early morning was heating up rapidly as I rolled up the sleeves on my Base Layer at the same time moping my forehead with the back of my hand.

Pike O’ Stickle from my ascent on The Band.

I hadn’t really noticed just how quiet the fells looked this morning until I stopped to gather some strength back while at the same time trying to spot more walkers making their own ascents from the valleys onto the fells. Every now & again I expected to see a faint figure maybe trailing me from Stool End or even an early morning walker just like myself top out on Pike O’ Stickle from which I had the clearest of views from but all to no avail, it seemed for now not only did I have The Band to myself but the whole of Great Langdale which felt strange given the conditions & maybe even a little lonely.

Kind of like one of those zombie movies where mankind has been destroyed & your the only human one left.

Here, looking over towards Pike O’ Blisco, Browney Gill, Brown Howe, Cold Pike & Great Knott.

Taking photos was becoming more & more difficult despite adapting my camera lens with a filter the strong sunlight was still causing havoc with any picture taking which when I think about it, isn’t a complaint really, just a comment.

Here’s Pike O’ Blisco in the left of the photo with Brown Howe & Browney Gill in the foreground (my descent route sometime later) In the centre we have a distant Cold Pike with Great Knott towards the right of the picture.

Maybe I did make the right decision looking at just how chilly upper Oxendale looks this morning.

The Climbers Traverse path can be seen heading away towards the right.

After a moderately steep climb via The Band a grassy plateau is reached from where you get the first real view of Bowfell & the col at Three Tarns seen in the left of the photo.

Ahead the path continues direct towards Three Tarns while The Climbers Traverse path can be seen faintly heading off towards the right of the fell side. The point at which to leave the path for the Climbers Traverse can be missed easily especially in bad weather marked only by a stone cairn to the right of the path, however all is not lost as the path is well worn & shouldn’t be too difficult to find & keep to & looks much steeper than it actually is.

Selfie from The Band.

The Langdale Pikes & Great Langdale seen from The Band.
I still cant see anyone, must be the zombies then.

Shelter Crags & Three Tarns Col from the start of The Climbers Traverse.
I shall be passing Three Tarns col soon, but first I have a rather exhilarating heart thumping traverse to cross…

The Climbers Traverse.
After gaining the top of the highest point of the crags The Climbers Traverse is officially reached, from here my path ahead is clear as I prepare to take in one of the best traverses that Lakeland has to offer and today I have the pleasure of doing it all in such fantastic conditions.

The Climbers Traverse.
Sadly there was nothing I could do about the shadows as the sun by now was directly behind me no matter how much I tried to tuck myself into the fellside.

Here, looking back along The Climbers Traverse towards The Band.
Despite The Climbers Traverse being very narrow in places there really isn’t any feeling of exposure along the route which leaves the walker able to concentrate on the fantastic views into Mickleden below.

Mickleden & The Langdale Pikes from The Climbers Traverse.

Rossett Pike & Glaramara seen over the Langstrath valley.


Bowfell Buttress comes into view close to the end of The Climbers Traverse.

Towards the end of The Climbers Traverse Bowfell Buttress comes into view as it towers above the head of Mickleden valley, here the path lends its way left keeping to the steep vertical slabs of rock that forms the base of Flat Crags.

The path at the bottom of Great Slab is located in the bottom left of the photo.

Once around the left bend in the traverse a short ascent over boulder is needed to reach the path that will lead its way besides The Great Slab.

But first…

‘Nothing better ever came out of a barrel or bottle’ A.W
I couldn’t help but to cup my hands at the natural spring found at the bottom of Cambridge Crags.

Heading up the steep boulder path at the base of Great Slab.

The whole experience of gaining Great Slab starts at the bottom of Cambridge Crag by means of a steep & loose boulder-some scramble, in places it’s always best to pick & trust your footings first if only to avoid those one step up, two slide down situations.

After a short burst the path lends its way right keeping to the steep sided walls of Cambridge Crag, it’s at this point options are open to join the Great Slab up front & personal…

But only ever on a dry day like today.

The Great Slab.
I’ve just left the boulder path behind where I had to negotiate more static & larger boulders to confront Great Slab itself, once more, I  trust my footings firstly across here.

Great conditions to take on The Great Slab.
The Great Slab is exactly how it sounds, a huge slab of tilted rock which dominates aspects of Bowfell when seen from the central fells is a truly inspiring sight. The rock itself offers good traction & at times is porous in places, however care must be taken as the ascent is very steep & can feel exposed due to the ‘not many things to grab hold to’ god forbid you ever needed too. Ascents of The Great Slab can be enjoyed on a day like today, but I wouldn’t think of making an ascent during or after wet conditions.

The summit of Bowfell comes into view from the top of The Great Slab.

After a steep hike the top of The Great Slab is soon reached where views of Bowfell summit is just a short plod away.

I still find it so hard to believe that I’m still the only person around on such a beautiful day.

Here, looking back on Great Slab before making my Bowfell summit.

Extensive views over the Langstrath valley from the summit of Bowfell.

The Scafells & Great Moss over Pike de Bield.

After a short scramble to reach the distinctive conical shaped summit of Bowfell I de-shouldered pack to eat possibly the earliest lunch ever as it had only just reached 10am.

In all my summits of Bowfell this had to be the first on which I had not just the summit to myself but views in every direction too.

Every now & again a cool wind would blow chilling the sweat across my back as I gazed up towards the skies looking at the contrails left behind by the jets high above.

Not a sound, just pure bliss.

Here looking over Ore Gap towards Esk Pike, Great End & Pillar.

A close up of the Scafells from the summit of Bowfell.
I’m almost certain there had to be someone or even somebody in this photo but I just couldn’t spot movement at all, not even at the summit cairns, just the shimmer from the sun as it bounced off the Stretcher Box on the Mickledore Ridge

Crinkle Crags & Three Tarns from my Bowfell descent.
I figured I’d had my time on Bowfell summit as I didn’t take advantage too much before I re-shouldered pack & made my way for Three Tarns, it was only here did I start to pass walkers making their own ascents on Bowfell that morning, I passed many walkers all heading up as I thanked my lucky stars for my time spent there feeling like it was just me and Bowfell against the rest of the world.

The Scafells form Three Tarns.
With no real signs of the dry spell coming to an end I really didn’t expect to see Three Tarns living up to their names as well as today, more so as the clear skies turned the water a wonderful deep blue.

Bowfell & The Scafells from Three Tarns.

My view, impossible to ignore as I cross the col towards Crinkle Crags.

Bowfell & Bowfell Links from my Crinkle Crags ascent.
Once I had left Three Tarns behind a succession of ups & downs are needed to reach the main summit of Crinkle Crags, this whole area can be wet & boggy at times which made it quite a joy to walk straight over the dried out bog & mossy areas without so much as a wet toe cap.

Here, looking back on Crinkles Three (R) & Four (L)

Bowfell & Esk Pike seen from Crinkle Crags summit.

The summit of Crinkle Crags was soon reached after chatting to more walkers who having made their own summits were on route towards Bowfell. Before reaching the summit cairn itself I passed two women sat down with their backs to me, as I got closer one of the women turned around & said Hiya in the kind of voice with could only suggest she knew me ‘ I was just about to send a search party out for you’ me feeling a little confused just answered how anyone would by saying ‘Oh was you? then the woman who still had her back to me turned around & said ‘that’s not my husband’

I still shudder to think that were these two woman related or had they just met each other I still haven’t a clue but they certainly looked to be together, oh my god the first woman replied I’m so sorry (I’m still stood there looking like a complete idiot) and further more starting to feel a little flushed at what to say next.

The second woman rescued the situation by light heartedly stating at least I think your not my husband as you look a little younger than he does.

I hadn’t felt so awkward in a long time, well erm Ill err just err get on shall I?

After my encounter with the two women I doubled back across the summit until I reached a stone cairn which dropped to the alternative path which avoids The Bad Step on the second Crinkle (Long Top)

Descending the alternative path around The Bad Step.

The Bad Step, Crinkle Crags.
The Bad Step is a great little scramble as a route up can easily be picked out from the bottom, however a descent from the top is a little more precarious due to the rock steps that over hang each other, a well timed & well executioned descent will work well but personally I think the scramble up is always more fun which is what I would have done if I had of been coming the other way.

Looking Back on Crinkle two, The Bad Step & the alternative route around (L)

Great Knott, Pike O’ Blisco & Cold Pike.
I know the photo doesn’t suggest that the area was busy but by now I had passed around a dozen walkers all heading towards Crinkle Crags, in the foreground of the photo is Great Knott which is a personal favourite summit of mine, especially when seen from Red Tarn & indeed the valley of Oxendale

Cold Pike taken shortly before descending towards Red Tarn.

Wetherlam, Black Sails, Great Carrs & Swirl How seen behind a rather dark looking Red Tarn.
Despite the sun going in it didn’t stop many a man walking shirtless in the now midday heat.

Descending into Oxendale by Browney Gill.

Great Knott, Crinkle Crags & Bowfell from the top of Browney Gill.
You may or may not have heard me mention how much I love this view of Great Knott already.

The Langdale Pikes over Oxendale from Brown Howe.
With Red Tarn behind me I took in the steep descent into Oxendale via Browney Gill & Brown Howe, it was here I would pass many more walkers some of whom were two young girls with a black Labrador who I later found out where from my home town of Wigan, soon after I also passed Facebook friend Julie Rainford & her husband Paul who are also fellow Wiganer’s along the path except sadly we didn’t notice each other until we realised that we had been on the same ascent/descent that afternoon, it was great to see you both even if we didn’t say hello!

Crinkle Crags from a rather dry looking Oxendale Beck.

Crinkle Crags.

It was only a few hours earlier did I spot the wild ponies in the valley of Oxendale whilst on my ascent of The Band who are now grazing in the mid-afternoon sun without a care in the world.

After passing Julie & Paul I crossed Oxendale Beck via the footbridge built not too long ago after the last one was washed away during storms, the evidence of which still litter the river bed. An elderly looking woman is sat against a stone wall reading a book whilst her golden Labrador is basking in the sun, for one split momentary second I understood why she was there.

What more could you want, than to read your favourite book, with your faithful dog at your side with a view such as this.


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