The Harry Griffin 2,000 footers Walk 16 -Crinkles to Bowfell

14th June 2015

I guess I knew what I was letting myself in for the evening before the walk as the forecast wasn't good at all, not for spending a day on the high fells anyway. Todays walk will be remembered for many things from the ghostly detail of Bowfell Buttress to the highlight of scrambling The Bad Step, but most of all, this walk will be remembered for the shower like rain that accompanied me along with thick hill fog, not the best of combinations for collecting nine summits.

I am at a period within my campaign were the weather decides where I walk, now, within the month of June that's a safe bet I hear you say, well yes because I echo it too, but after a dry and sunny spell in Lakeland this last week it just so happened that the forecast changed for the worst just in time for the weekend, and as it happens, I've been walking long enough now to know how to cope with a dealt deal, it still hurts though, but I'm not bitter.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that this walk, is presented as one of the easiest left within my campaign, therefore I have little left to chance other than take it.

Crinkles to Bowfell has class written all over it, you can enjoy it in any weather as I demonstrated today because despite my total lack of views the Skylarks still accompanied me my whole journey, as did the rain and the hill fog which for me, justs adds character and drama to a walk, it's just like turning a negative upside down.

Harry's route to gain the nine summits starts at the top of Wrynose Pass before passing Red Tarn from where Crinkle Crags and its five summits are first collected, not before the scramble up the Bad Step first. After collecting the respective Crinkles one by one Shelter Crags is gained before picking up Bowfell via Three Tarns Col, thereafter only two summits remain in Bowfell Buttress and Hanging Knotts, completing the walk by returning an almost identical route back to Wrynose where hopes were dashed of maybe that hill fog might just clear.

Freeman of the Hills
'Crinkles to Bowfell'
It is quite remarkable how easy it is to go astray through over confidence or carelessness. I do it often. Some guide books will tell you that there is a magnetic rock on Bowfell so that compasses are unreliable, but we couldn't claim this excuse for we hadn't used them.
Harry Griffin

Ascent: 3,100 Feet - 946 Metres
Summits Over 2,000Ft: 9, Crinkle One - Crinkle Two (Long Top/Summit) - Crinkle Three - Crinkle Four - Crinkle Five (Gunson Knott) - Shelter Crags - Bowfell - Bowfell Buttress - Hanging Knotts
Weather: Overcast, light rain and hill fog. Highs of 12°C Lows of 10°C
Parking: Three Shire Stone, Wrynose Pass
Area: Southern
Miles: 8.5
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 5 Hours 50 Minutes
Route: Three Shire Stone, Wrynose Pass - Red Tarn - Crinkle Crags - Shelter Crags - Three Tarns - Bowfell - Bowfell Buttress - Hanging Knotts - Bowfell - Crinkle Crags - Red Tarn - Three Shire Stone

Map and Photo Gallery


The Wrynose Pass from Three Shire Stone 9:10am 10°C

This mornings arrival at the top of Wrynose Pass saw me arrive a little later, an hour to be exact giving extra time for the morning rain to pass, however, judging by the ground underfoot there hadn't been any rain at all or at least nothing to speak of, maybe I'm in luck and that's the last I'll see of it.

Despite my later than usual arrival I was still able to park next to the Three Shire Stone, a spot that's starting to feel mine as of late. The morning air was warm - muggy even as I laced up at the road side, only adding my jacket after a discussion with myself safe in the knowledge that I'm going to need it sooner or later if the forecast is correct.

With my pack shouldered and the car locked I head of via the path situated directly behind the Three Shire Stone still noting that despite the odd puddle, my path was relatively dry.

Views over Wrynose towards Harter Fell.
With maybe a hint of promise.

Great Knott escapes the cloud as I pass Red Tarn.

I hit the path in great stead as I reach Red Tarn in no time at all and no doubt red faced from the pull mixed with the mugginess from the morning air. Three walkers and a dog had already been passed by the time I had taken this photo of a cloud free Great Knott, however oddly, Cold Pike and Pike O'Blisco have cloud lingering about their summits as two more walkers are spotted close to the summit of Cold Pike making a pathless ascent, their voices carry over the basin of the Tarn loud and clear, should I have stopped to listed I'm sure I could have picked up on their conversation, but I'm not like that so I carry on.

After Red Tarn is passed I pick up the wide path that for some time now, has been under construction. Lower down towards Red Tarn the path is in great order but higher up once Great Knott is flanked the path is still under repair which continues all the way to Crinkle Crags, already, I have noticed two paths break through the grass on both sides while the path is still under construction, evidence of which shows its popularity.

Once I pick up the path two more walkers emerge from Oxendale over the top of Browney Gill, they are wearing T-shirts and have a small dog with them who comes over to me for a nosey, I start to bend down to say hi to the dog but he/she is called back by its owner who greets me with a 'morning'

They both follow close behind and once again I find myself ear wigging on their conversation as I start to break away which I do quickly forming a large gap between us both which gets larger until I couldnt hear their voices any longer.

I press on.

Little Stand, not so lucky.

I soon find myself alone once again, with a quick check behind me the two walkers are now no-where to be seen, it is here I stop to admire my surroundings while at the same time, catch my breath back. In the distance the sound of Lapwings drift too and throw as I look ahead to a thick wall of hill fog- just waiting for me to break through. Sheep sleep on the path as if they knew there wouldn't be much traffic, not today anyway.

Little Stand and Stonesty Pike are both flanked to my left, it seems my timing has just caught both hills before the slow moving cloud moves in which mask their summits, it could be worse I mutter, it could be windy, for which I am thankful.

Behind me Great Knott has already succumbed to the hill fog, I just didn't see it dissapear the way I had witnessed Little Stand.

Advancing on the first Crinkle.
After what seemed like no time at all I soon found myself gaining ground on the first of the Crinkles, a path lined with marker cairns has lined my route since leaving Red Tarn and it is no different once the first of the Crinkles is reached, almost all of the summits in todays walk could be seen from Crinkle Crags summit, however, on a day like today much care is needed to negotiate the many paths that cross the summit area, some of which flank the actual summits themselves, my intention is of course to summit all five Crinkles today and I don't mind admitting I may need a map if I'm to be successful.

Crinkle One summit cairn.

The summit of the first Crinkle is easily reached as you would expect, gaining my first summit was somewhat of an eerie experience as I pass over the top of Great Cove looking down its gullies made more menacing as they descend into a slow swirling mist. The path narrows and twist before the actual summit is reached, passing a marker cairn on-route which to could have easily been mistaken for the summit itself, despite having been here many times before, having a good eye for higher ground in these conditions can only be a good advantage, even it means those 'I'm sure it's a little bit further moments'

I guess we've all been there.

Descending the first Crinkle for the second Crinkle (Long Top and Crinkle Crags Summit) towards The Bad Step.

After the solitary photograph of my first summit I descend the first Crinkle for Long Top, the highest of the Crinkles and where, The Bad Step is found.

I hadn't given The Bad Step much thought, I guess I had put it to the back of my mind and buried it there. It all depends on who you are and how you regard what a scramble is, for some The Bad Step is nothing more than a scurry over rock, for others it's a scramble which requires pause for thought which is just where I fit in.

I carefully eye up my route.

A calmness had descended in the hollow beneath the chock stone that hangs precariously above The Bad Step as the sound of my own heavy breathing is all that is heard, this could be due to my adrenalin build up or maybe my pace, I however I put it down to pre-match nerves.

With my walking poles fastened back onto my pack and my camera swung around my back I put my left and weakest foot forward if not only to give my right, and strongest the best purchase once into the climb, which I always feels, works best.

Next I again place my left foot on the outer edge of the wall while at the same time propelling my body upwards, my eyes are already fixed on where my hand is going to grip the rock - this coordinates with another powerful boost from my right leg, and that was it, in three steps I had made another successful ascent on The Bad Step.

The excitement of which, still after many years, still causes my heart to thump out of my chest.

Looking down from the top of The Bad Step.

From the top of The Bad Step Crinkle Crags summit is only minutes away, however there's still a little scrambling to be had as the path stops at the base of a short craggy scramble, only to be picked up afterwards once over the crags.

Before leaving The Bad Step voices are heard, it is true that when the air is still with only a minimum of breeze voices can carry for hundreds of feet if not more, I hang around as the voices appear to coming from the first Crinkle, moments later I still hear the voices but no-one appears.

I head for the summit.

Crinkle Crags summit cairn (Second Crinkle/Long Top)

Soon after I find myself at the summit of Crinkle Crags claiming my second summit of the morning, again I am set upon by an eerie calm. Through the warm and muggy air, droplets of water begin to land on my jacket, I disregard this as 'a spot of summit drizzle' and don't even bother to place my camera in its respective waterproof case, instead I down pack and treat myself to a Twix.

Shortly afterwards I am joined by a couple who also have a dog with them, a black Labrador who appears to have just come from the direction of The Bad Step, we share a 'morning' but nothing more as the couple were in deep conversation before they had spotted me, perhaps these are the walkers I could hear from my time spent at The Bad Step.

The woman is wearing just a T-shirt and the fellow has his base layer sleeves rolled up noting even on the summit at this height and in these condtions, it was still very warm and muggy. Before I re-shoulder I notice the rain is getting a little heavier making highlights all over my jacket, this time however, it does not feel as sporadic as the last.

Before I re-shoulder I decide to take my camera case out of my bag, despite my lackless views and almost total lack of visibility, I'm still going to need those summit photos, it'll do me good to keep an eye on the path, instead of what to photograph...

The third Crinkle summit cairn.

After descending Crinkle Two (Long Top) Crinkle Three is soon reached after not much gain. Below me I can hear more voices which don't appear to be the same ones I left back at the summit of Long Top, it appears these walkers are flanking the summit via the path below. Without noticing my senses have switched to just sound, its an amazing occurrence which generally only ever happens when the cloud is down, my ears, are now my eyes and my eyes are...oh wait a minute...

I need those to see where I'm going.

The fourth Crinkle summit cairn.

After leaving the summit of the fourth Crinkle (depending on your direction of travel) I re-join the path below and continue to head north for my next two summits of the fifth and final Crinkle. By now the rain is falling at a steady continuous pace completely horizontal, I pay it no attention forgetting to add my waterproofs or even bother to put my hood up causing the rain to drip from my forehead into my eyes.

My jacket is going on for six years old now and has stood me well, however in steady downpours such as this I soon start to feel the bottom of my sleeves soak through first, a sure sign that it's time to get a new one, but I'm still far too attached to the old one.

The fith Crinkle (Gunson Knott) summit cairn.
There is no let up from the rain at all, in-fact it appears to be getting heavier. Sadly my camera is only allowed out to photograph and record the briefest of summit times. With all Crinkles collected I head down for the col perched above High Bleaberry Knott from where I would make gain on the last summit along the Crinkles ridge in Shelter Crags.

Shelter Crags summit cairn.
Shelter Crags was soon reached inbetween a steady fall and sudden burst of heavy rain. I pass two walkers close on the path below and pass on my good morning followed by 'fine day for it' they laugh, even though I'm not deeply feeling it, it bodes well to keep ones morale up.

Passing Three Tarns.

Three Tarns was duly reached having the best of six two thousand plus summits behind me which surely put me in great stead for the haul onto Bowfell from Three Tarns col.

Despite my rain soaked attire and my general dip in and out of morale I find my second wind as I pass over Three Tarns col, on any other day from here eyes are filled with views over the Scafells, Bowfell Links and Great Langdale, while all I have is the constant drop of rain leaving my forehead into my eyes, buggering hell eh.

Joking aside I am in good form for the climb ahead which I ascend only stopping once to get a view over Three Tarns, seeing as this was to no avail I persevere passing walkers heading down from Bowfell dressed head to toe in Waterproofs I had to wonder did they think had I come unprepared, or simply too motivated to stop to add more layers.

I go with the latter.

Following the cairns towards Bowfell summit.

Eerie Bowfell summit.
After breaching out on top of Bowfell shoulder I trace my way towards the summit which appears in conical detail through the hill fog. By now the rain has let up slightly leaving the rock underfoot incredibly slippy, after numerous slides and epic recoveries I soon find myself standing alone on top of Bowfell summit.

Bowfell summit cairn.

With Bowfell summit reached and with not a sound nor soul around me time spent at a rather eerie Bowfell summit was just a few wet moments sat perched upon an awkward wet rock. My view was practically non existent only the summit rock around me which faded into the mist just a yards away.

It was almost lunch time but I wasn't hungry, Bowfell, despite its lack of views would have made for some fitting down time, however I am feeling strong which at times like these, is best to use to ones advantage. With a solitary pat from my hand on the cairn I leave the bleakness of Bowfell summit just the way I had found it.

Once down I consult my map as my next summit would command the most respect of them all in Bowfell Buttress.

Bowfell Buttress.
By following a succession of cairns north after leaving the summit Bowfell Buttress appears through the mist, by now the rain has started to fall again and the hill fog seems to be as thick as I've encountered so far. With a heavy heart I tramp on up to the summit safe in the knowledge on what views I should be seeing.

Bowfell Buttress summit cairn.

Not everyone who visits Bowfell makes the short trek to summit Bowfell Buttress. My time spent on the summit of Bowfell Buttress was spent looking through the thick fog into an empty void of grey emptiness all the while picturing what I know should be there, but simply could not see.

After another pat from my hand at the summit cairn I start the short descent back towards the path below, which is where I tested gravity after slipping on wet rock, it seemed I was all out of luck in the recovery department as for a spilt second (you know the one, when you know your going down) I tried my best to fall as controlled as possible which saw me land on my right side using my right forearm as a shield between myself and the boulders, for that split second I thought 'this is an arm breaker for sure' after landing hard I picked myself up while taking a look at a bruised and grazed forearm, I expected my jacket to have torn but it hadn't, after a wipe down and a few adustments I was soon on my way, however...

During the fall I must of landed on my camera bag too.

Damaged lens hood after my fall.

Luckily it was just the Lens Hood that was damaged which is cheap to replace, after checking the barrel and taking numerous test photos it appears my camera lived up to its name as being one of the most robust on the market.

I press on towards Hanging Knotts.

Hanging Knotts summit cairn.
Hanging Knotts felt exactly the same as Bowfell Buttress did, in that I should be viewing so much more than just this thick hill fog which just seems to be getting thicker and thicker with no let up. I have visited the Crinkles and indeed Bowfell on many occasion but these two far out rarely seen summits left a gulp in my throat not being able to see a single thing from their summits.

Passing Bowfell Buttress once again.

After leaving Hanging Knotts which was my last summit of the walk I retrace my steps by following the odd marker cairns which I must admit, on a day like today helped in heaps. Two fell runners pass me as we share a few words mostly British sarcasm on how well the views were today.

Peering down over the jagged rocks of Bowfell Buttress I again get that gulp in my throat followed by the kind of sulk only a five year old can produce. Heading down from Bowfell the two walkers that I had seen back on Crinkle Crags with the black Labrador were making their own way down towards the Buttress, they again are in full conversation as we pass with smiles.

Making my way back to Three Tarns as I flank Bowfell summit.

Still in thick hill fog I find my way back onto the summit plateau as I start to flank Bowfell as voices carry from the summit, I am less than fifty feet away which just goes to show how down visibility was while at the summit.

It is true that despite the terrible visibility there was always the sound of distant voices either ascending or descending from the summit, but, this wasn't the case as I made my own descent back to Three Tarns where I wouldn't pass another walker until I would reach Red Tarn close to the end of the walk.

The Great Slab.

Three Tarns.

Using the traverse path 'around the back' of CrinkeTwo (Long Top)

After leaving Hanging Knotts I retrace my steps back using an almost identical route just avoiding the Crinkles summits, instead, using the path below their flanks. My pace had dropped slightly by the time I had reached Crinkle Crags summit (Long Top) where the cloud was still as thick as I had left it a couple of hours earlier. From the summit I took a sharp right turn in the direction of Eskdale all the while following two large marker cairns which would lead me down Long Top by using the path on the Eskdale side of the summit thus avoiding an awkward and wet scramble via The Bad Step.

This path is a great alternative and comes highly recommended if your not the scrambly type, more so, when the cloud isn't down views over the Scafells and Great Moss from here is second to none, with exceptions of today of course.

Red Tarn.

After descending Long Top I was soon back on even ground, feeling much more tired than I should be due to the fact that I was carrying a laided load of wet gear and heavy wet leather boots. The wind had picked up slightly as I make my flank on Great Knott which then started to dry my trousers and thereafter, my jacket. Two walkers are passed and smiles are exchanged, although I did wonder did they now know what they were letting themselves in for after passing the likes of me looking like a drown't rat.

It starts to spit again as Red Tarn is left behind, ahead an old transit van struggles loudly up the pass bringing my spiritual walk to an end.

Change gear yer daft bugger.


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