Crinkle Crags via Hell Gill

29th October 2017

I'm not sure how I pulled this walk off within the mist of a house move and with still so much to do I simply couldn't miss out on such a blue sky walk, not when they seem to be more rarer by the day. I cleared it with Paula (ok I begged) and it was agreed that the following week and weekend I'd catch up on the jobs I'd missed.

I'm not sure why I chose to walk the Crinkles, it was one of those spur of the moments thoughts which just pops into your head and then stays there, why Hell Gill? I just thought I'd mix it up a little and besides, I hadn't been back here since December 2013 when on that day I was joined by my walking buddy Tim Oxburgh where we ascended Shelter Crags by a nameless stone rake, good times.

Although the Hell Gill route onto the Crinkles doesn't compare to the likes of Piers Gill on LIngmell what Hell Gill is in name is also in nature, fed by Three Tarns high above and Buscoe Sike the gill itself is a deep narrow ravine found above Whorneyside Force waterfalls and makes for a fantastic alternative ascent for those who have used the The Band route times before.

This was the perfect walk to shed any house move stress into doing what I love.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells

-Crinkle Crags

These undulations, seeming trivial from a distance, are revealed at close range as steep buttresses and gullies above wild declivities,a scene of desolation and rugged grandeur equaled by few others in the district.


Ascent: 2,831 Feet - 863 Metres
Wainwrights: Crinkle Crags
Visiting: Great Knott
Weather: Bright and Sunny, Brisk over the Summits, Highs of 12°C Lows of 9°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Rossett Bridge, Great Langdale
Area: Southern
Miles: 7.5
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 5 Hours
Route: Rossett Bridge - ODG - Stool End Farm - Oxendale - Hell Gill - Buscoe Syke - Three Tarns - Crinkle Crags - Great Knott - Red Tarn - Browney Gill - Oxendale - Stool End Farm - ODG - Rossett Bridge

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA2 29JX
Grid Reference: NY 291 606

A popular place to park your car is Rossett Bridge, Great Langdale found between New Dungeon Ghyll and Old Dungeon Ghyll on the left hand side here you will find roadside parking for up to six cars. My advice is to arrive early due to the popularity of the area. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Crinkle Crags, The Band and Bowfell above Stool End Farm 07:40am 9°C

I had already set the clocks forward before I went to bed the evening before and I just hoped that my mobile phone alarm clock would recognise the extra hour even though I had set my phone to auto daylight hour settings, it worked and once more I got my extra hour in bed and after witnessing a beautiful sunrise during my drive north I arrived in Great Langdale by 07:30am and to my shock it looked like the parking spaces at Rossett Bridge were all taken with the exception of one last space which I eased my car into, even during the summer months I have never failed to park here especially so early in the morning which I could only put down to fellow walkers taking advantage of the great forecast. On the other side of the row of cars two walkers kit up and lock their car before striding out towards New Dungeon Ghyll, then they check their map before turning completely around and pass me with a 'morning' seconds later they both return and start walking towards New Dungeon Ghyll again, I guess as some point, we've all done it.

From Rossett Bridge I can see that the cloud hasn't completely cleared the Crinkles just yet but the potential is there, I reckon by the time I head into Oxendale it would have cleared, I was wrong, it had cleared by the time I passed through Stool End Farm. I left Rossett Bridge with both my poles clasped in my right hand and took the easy tarmac lane towards Stool End feeling the slight bite in the morning air, there's no need for hat nor gloves down in the valley but up there across the tops, I reckon I'm gonna need em later. ODG is soon reached and just as I am about to open the gate from out of nowhere I am shouted at by a chap clutching a map in one hand, how I wished at this precise moment I should of pretended to have not heard him, but it just isn't me "how do I get to here he asked" considering he is standing just yards away from ODG and indeed his car, this chap, it appears has done no research at all into his route, this stirred me slightly but I didn't let it show, with my right hand I pointed out the route through Stool End Farm, told him to miss the path onto The Band before continuing into Oxendale then keep right, the route I explained via Hell Gill is obvious "look out for Whorneyside Force I explained" and with this he set off.

Despite being attired for the a day on the fells, this guy, just by the way he didn't call me over, but shouted, then assumed I should show him the route simply because he couldn't be bothered to research it didn't sit well with me, and once more, unavoidably, I'm going to be sharing the same ascent route, I hope that my gut instinct I have about this chap is wrong, but I fear not.

Footnote: I wasn't even sure whether I should include the meeting of this guy I certainly didn't want it to cloud this report but it being a true experience of the day I had no choice not to. I'd like to think that I'm a nice guy, kind, caring and very helpful, it's just my nature to help others without judgement, but this guy almost brought out the bad in me. I'm cool and collective yet during the ascent of Hell Gill and Three Tarns it was going through my head that this chap in one way or another will have to be told that I don't approve of his conduct, nor his ignorance of my wish that I wanted to walk alone.

Great Knott, Crinkle Crags and The Band as I approach Stool End Farm.

The morning was turning out just perfect with even a hint of sunshine over the Crinkles it was looking exactly how the forecasted had predicted. Not seen in this image is the rows and rows of parked cars behind me who's owners are all taking part in OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) 50th Anniversary Fell Race here in Great Langdale this weekend, this I thought might disrupt my route but on the contrary, most of the competitors that I saw were 'off path' which in some cases looked darn right brutal but more on that later.

Just in case you were wondering, I gave some space between myself and the chap I had met back at ODG that isn't to say that inbetween the countless selfies he took he then stopped everyone he passed asking for more directions, and there's alot of folk around Great Langdale this morning.

Here's a view you don't see everyday.
And lets hope so eh, here more cars are parked on the Mickleden side of Stool End Farm which just goes to show how popular the 50th Anniversary Fell Race is. The start and finish line is close to the white tents with Rossett Pike in the distance and Pike O'Stickle over on the right.

Passing through Stool End Farm with Rossett Pike on the left and Pike O'Stickle above the barn on the right.

Considering how busy Great Langdale is this morning Stool End Farm was relatively peaceful with the start and finish line being in the field behind this barn, I reckon by later it's going to get quite busy here.

Crinkle Crags and Shelter Crags from Oxendale.

Thats Crinkle Gill over on the left while Hell Gill is still not in sight but those of you with a keen eye might be able to make out Whorneyside Force in the middle right of the photo, that's where I'm heading next.

It's too early for the sunlight to breach the valley just yet, the rapid temperature drop was enough to cause my nose to run.

That's more like it, Great Cove, Mickle Door, Crinkle Crags, High Bleaberry Knott, Gunson Knott and Shelter Crags.

With the grassy path left behind the path underfoot now gets a lot more rugged, directly up ahead is the grassy ascent towards Whorneyside Force flanked by dead bracken on either side thereafter the ravine of Hell Gill is located after a steep grassy ascent.

My fellow walker can be seen up ahead on the path mid-right, he keeps turning around and slowing down, suerly he's not waiting for me?

Views into Great Gove and Mickle Door with Crinkle Gill falling below.

Looking back into the heart of Great Langdale towards Blea Rigg, Silver How, Side Pike, Lingmoor Fell and Wrynose Fell.
I am amazed by the sudden change in scenery from the gentle grassy plateau to rugged the rock scenery in particuar the knott of rock seen in the foreground at the foot of Oxendale Beck. to the right dramtic views into Browney Gill but the light is so dark I am unable to capture them with my camera. It is here as I arrived at the footbridge below Whorneyside Force where I found the chap waiting for me...

Whorneyside Force.

"Which way" he shouted, again it was more than a statement rather than a question so I left him waiting until I had crossed the footbridge "you walk fast" he says, really? I thought I was walking slow I answered, again he asked "which way" I would have thought that was obvious with a wide grassy path right in front of you but I kept it under my breath, I still don't answer I just pass and start the steep ascent towards Whorneyside Force.

He begins to follow me.

I have at least twenty years on the chap, who is fit and nubile, I tend to walk fast when walking alone, even in ascent but it's going to be tough to create a gap from now, I question myself, am I being too harsh?

The chap starts a conversation but he is behind me and to join in I would have to stop walking, this I don't like to do especially when I'm trying to get into the rhythm of my ascent so I carry on but he tails me much of the way mainly repeating "what's that called" and "how high is it" I'm getting increasingly annoyed.

I arrive first at Whorneyside Force Waterfalls and look back, the chap is nowhere to be seen so I de-shoulder and take off my jacket, I had to I was over heating, by the time I had re-shouldred the chap appears looking puzzled, from here the path appears to stop but this isn't so, it is simply picked up on the other side of the falls where the steep ascent alongside Hell Gill begins. He takes off his pack and just as I'm about to leave he asked would I take his photo from a GoPro device "like this, like this" he explains.

He climbs the perched boulder, I take the photo, hand him back his GoPro before crossing the pool of water at its narrowest, at first the route is clear and relatively dry underfoot before becoming increasingly swollen by flowing water not helped by yesterdays rainfall, I slip more times than I care to mention and with Hell Gill appearing on my right flank, I have no choice other than to give it a wide berth, my safety had to come first.

This was hugely disappointing but I drew a line under it, stopped sulking and picked up the path alongside Hell Gill a little further up.

Shelter Crags on the right now appears to dwarf the Crinkles.
In this photo you might be able to spot the stone 'shelf like' rake that Tim and I ascended Shelter Crags by back in 2013

Commanding views over The Band towards the Langdale Pikes and Lingmoor Fell.

I emerged into the glorious sunshine even stopping to add my sunglasses, a feeling of bliss started to dawn over me just like it had on Dove Crag when there too I was lucky enough to be blessed in bright sunlight, a feeling I never tire of especially after walking in grey low cloud for the best part of the Summer. I spot two separate walkers heading for Three Tarns one of whom breaks away at the cairn for the Climbers Traverse. I slow down to an almost stop wondering where had the chap gone from earlier, I hoped he was safe, then I spotted him much closer which shocked me, just how did he get there? he was wide of Hell Gill, so much so he must have continued into Green Hole below Shelter Crags, then I realised he must have followed me as I diverted away from Hell Gill but didn't spot me as I found my way back onto the path, no matter his route he made good ground finding me on the path now just below Three Tarns, he shouts and the human in me decides to wait.

He catches up with me starting the convestaion again with "you walk fast" I again reply "no, the wet ground is holding me back" and while I pant behind my breath this guy hasn't lost a bead of sweat. He then asked which way? I am flummoxed, I don't know what to say and while I try to hold back he must have known from the note in my tone that I had just about had enough "you go left at Three Tarns, that's south check your map when you reach Three Tarns and more importantly check your route over Crinkle Crags, even on a day like today they appear deceiving, ok I go left, then he asked, see the lake as he points to Red Tarn, which way do I go down? I put my hands over my face and dropped them slowly, I'm reaching deep down to help this guy but his ignorance is trying my patience "remember the walker you left at the footbridge earlier, did you see the way he/she climbed towards the lake, yes I actually said lake only so I didn't want to confuse matters anymore, that's the way you descend back to Old Dungeon Ghyll, ahh right he smiled.

Up until then I felt slightly bad for him who because of me wondered off the path but in the same breath he should have researched his route, his surroundings and the lay of the land, when you choose to walk alone on a route such as this you cannot rely on others to guide you around, it's that simple.

Conversation returns and is kept brief and I think he took the hint that I prefer 'at times' to walk alone, expecially on the back of a house move and endless 12 hour work days. While I take a few photos the guy passes me on the path and continues the last two hundred metres or so towards Three Tarns and it seems all is about to return to normal. I de-shoulder once more and take in my view which is suddenly disturbed by the sound of this guy having what appears to be an argument on his mobile phone just a few yards away from me.

The conversation lasted around five to ten minutes, who he was arguing with I'm not sure and I didn't care, he walked a little further then took his GoPro out again, this time recording selfies and him talking to himself disturbing all of creation so loudly I reckoned anyone on Helvellyn could of heard him.

He then disappears over the ridge and that was the last I saw of him.

The Scafells seen over the Yeastyrigg Crags Ridge from a glourious Three Tarns.
Three Tarns was as busy as I had expected and the views over towards the Scafells were as clear as I'd ever seen them, the wind nipped at the end of my fingers and the tips of my ears and before long I knew I'd have to put my jacket back on and even add my hat and gloves. I spot walkers shoulder from the Lingcove Beck side of Three Tarns most of whom are wearing shorts but otherwise layered wisely.

Slight Side, The Scafells, Broad Crag and III Crag from Three Tarns.

Bowfell and Bowfell Links seen over Three Tarns.
Time to add those layers now Sharkey.

A close up of Sca Fell, Broad Stand, Mickledore, Scafell Pike, Rough Crag and Pen seen over Pike de Bield.

In this photo Cam Spout Crag can also be seen over on the left.

Looking back over Three Tarns towards Bowfell for one last time.
The area around Three Tarns looks deserted but in actual fact it's starting to get very busy down there now.

The Scafell Ridge from Shelter Crags.
I really had my exploring head on today exploring the pools as I traversed along the top of Shelter Crags. This image shows the Scafell Ridge from Esk Hause over on the right all the way to Slight Side over on the left, it's so unbelievably clear which is one of the reasons why I love walking at this time of year.

Enjoying the view from Shelter Crags.
A small pool provides the foreground to a grand view over towards the Langdale Pikes with the Helvellyn range clearly beyond.

Here looking over the top of Crinkle Gill towards Great Knott, Cold Pike, Red Tarn, Pike O'Blisco, Lingmoor Fell, Wetherlam & Dow Crag.

The valley of Oxendale still remains largely in shadow and will do so for a another good hour yet,

Looking back on The Scafells, Broad Crag, III Crag, Great End, Esk Pike and Bowfell.
The Scafells seen with the Yeastrigg Crags Ridge in the foreground from High Gate Crags at its base to Esk Pike at its peak (seen between Bowfell and Great End)

Looking back on the third and fourth Crinkles (from north to south) seen over The Mickle Door Gully.
It was here as I peered down the Mickle Door gully when I spotted two walkers who I thought were about to make an ascent on the gully, I didn't hang around to wait and see if they did but as it turns out they were making their way towards Gladstone Knott instead.

Slight Side, Sca Fell, Scafell Pike, Pen, Rough Crag, Mickledore, Broad Crag and III Crag from Crinkle Crags summit cairn.
I always enjoy scrambling over the rock and todays ascent was no different. There was only one chap at the summit who stood admiring the view with a smile etched across his wind nipped face, he didn't need to speak his smile said it all. 'Mornings' were shared before he set off in the direction of Three Tarns and I wondered would he bump into the chap who I had encountered earlier! I'm soon joined by two walkers and their dog, again Hi's were exchanged before I set off for the path which flanks around the rear of the summit thus avoiding a descent via The Bad Step.

Views of the first Crinkle as I decend the second.
This is the wonderful path which avoids ascent and descent via The Bad Step which I only tend to scramble up rather than down. It was here I met a solo walker and we stopped to chat about how great the conditions were, you've got to admit it must have been on the tip of everyones tongues.

Distant views over Adam-a-Cove towards Hard Knott and Harter Fell (Eskdale) with Black Combe in the distance.

It appears a little hazier further west.

The Bad Step.
I had expected to meet a queuing line of people waiting to ascend and descend the Bad Step but as I mentioned earlier it really wasn't that busy up here today.

Looking back on Crinkle two (summit) with the Bad Step and the alternative path to the summit over on the left.

Clear views over towards Great Knott, Cold Pike, Pike O'Blisco and Wetherlam.

There doesn't appear to be many people in this photo but I can promise you there are a heap of walkers all heading this way. Having queued to descend the final Crinkle I now found myself on the home run but strangley the last place I was thinking about was home, had I the time today I would have visited both Stonesty Pike and made a cheeky out and back to Little Stand, it was just glorious I didn't want the day to end.

My next stop however, is Great Knott seen in the foreground over on the left, both tarn and summit feature highly in my rankings mainly because of the fantastic views.

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell taken from the tarn below Great Knott summit.

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell now seen over Great Cove.
I have to take my hat off to the two guys who I had seen from the top of Crinkle Gill earlier, these two had just ascended Gladstone Knott (seen at the end of the grassy plateau directly below Mickle Door) Funnily enough they didn't head for the Crinkles nor Great Knott, instead they descended back down from more or less where they are stood in this photo.

Crinkle Crag and Bowfell from Great Knott summit.
I wonder how many people bound for the Crinkles would leave the path and include Great Knott, surely this little out and back is worth it for this view alone.

Great Knott, Crinkle Crags and Bowfell seen at the head of the Oxendale Valley.
Having descending the path towards Red Tarn it was here I found myself caught up within the fell runners who were all descending partially via the Browney Gill route before tracing off path as quickly as they could back to Stool End, most of the runners who passed me were running hell for leather but a pocket of them had given up not far from where I had taken this photo and were descending at a walkers pace, it was the only time I would over take a fell runner who was competing in a fell race!

Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and The Band seen from Browney Gill.
The huge ravine of Hell Gill can be seen centre right with Dry Gill (below The Band) further right.

Crinkle Crags from the foot bridge over Oxendale Beck.

As far as walks go this walk despite the best efforts of a stranger ranks highly as one this years best. All great things must come to an end and as I approached Stool End Farm I got that gut feeling in the pit of my stomach that this walk was about to end within the hustle of the finishing line of the OMM 5Oth Anniversary Fell Race. Most of the competitors, too tired to run walk back to the finish line but there were the odd few who left dust in their wake, I could only look on in admiration.

Looking back towards the Crinkles as I began my mile long walk back to Rossett Bridge I wondered of the chap who blighted the early hours of my walk while one part of me hoped he'd made it around safely the other part of me laughed at which unfortunate bugger he'd chosen to spend the rest of his walk with.


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