Bow Fell & Esk Pike from Old Dungeon Ghyll

5th March 2022

The mixed weather continues and the good news is signs of Spring are already here with Daffodils and Snowdrops starting to bloom and even the nights are getting notably lighter but the same can't be said about the Lakeland fells which are in Winter condition whose temperatures are markerbly different to the Spring like valleys below.

The warmer temperatures in the valleys can easily fool the novice just like we witnessed today folk ascending the higher fells wearing shorts and T-shirts who were about to get one hell of a shock with summit snow, icy winds and even spin drift across the summits.

Today we came prepared for with intentions of summiting Esk Pike, a summit for no particular reason that David hasn't visited for 9 years! Once the forecast was confirmed emails starting flying between the three of us when Rod suggested this classic ascent. Bow Fell and Esk Pike from Old Dungeon Ghyll with the added twist of ascending Bow Fell via the Climbers Traverse.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells
The Traverse is a series of up’s and down’s but generally keeps to a horizontal course

Ascent: 3,355 Feet - 1,023 Metres
Wainwrights: 2, Bow Fell - Esk Pike
Visiting: 2, The Band - Tongue Head
Weather: Sunshine Throughout With Gusts Across The Summits. Highs of 11°C Lows of 1°C Feels Like -2°C
Parking: Car Park, Old Dungeon Ghyll
Area: Southern
Miles: 8.7
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 6 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: ODG - Stool End Farm - The Band - Climbers Traverse - Bow Fell - Ore Gap - Esk Pike - Esk Hause - Tongue Head - Angle Tarn - Rossett Gill - Mickleden - ODG

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA22 9JY
Grid Reference: NY 285 206
Notes: New Dungeon Ghyll car park is situated next to the B5343 which is the only road into the valley. It is close to the Cumbria Way and an ideal place to ascend to Stickle tarn and the Langdale Pikes. Toilet Facilities can be found around 250 yards away from the car park. Parking Charges apply


Map and Photo Gallery


The Langdale Pikes and Dow Bank from Elterwater 08:10am 1°C
We thought we'd try our luck parking at Rossett Bridge in Great Langdale and to increase our chances Rod met David at the parking spaces at Legburthwaite, transferred to David's car then drove to Elterwater.

While I waited for David and Rod to arrive I thought I'd try out the camera on my new Galaxy S22 Ultra mobile phone, I have to say I was mega impressed with the picture quality so much so I starting toying with the idea of using the camera for todays walk.

The Langdale Pikes from Elterwater.
It looks like the Pikes have received a new dusting of snow overnight. That's Pavey Ark over on the right.

Lingmoor Fell from Elterwater.
David and Rod soon arrived and after cramming their gear into my car we set off for Great Langdale, shame that the topic of conversation wasn't the glorious weather but all the sadness surrounding Ukraine at the moment, a topic that we just couldn't shake throughout the day.

Great Knott, Crinkle Crags, The Band and Bow Fell.
Within ten minutes we arrived at the car park at ODG and although there was only half a dozen cars parked up I parked as close to the entrance as I could knowing how busy this car park will be by the time we get back later. We chipped in for parking and started to kit up as a few more cars started to arrive. Despite the sunshine there's a nip to the morning air and we all added gloves and a hat. I'd made the decision to use my new phone as my main camera trouble was its finger print protected which meant each time I would need to take a photo I'm going to have to remove a glove, sounds like hassle but I went with it anyway.

We left the car park under brilliant blue skies and were soon stopped by this magnificent view of Great Knott, Crinkle Crags, The Band and Bow Fell (far right) But first we need to pass through Stool End Farm which can just be made out in the centre of the photo.

Views into the Mickleden valley with Rossett Pike seen left and Pike O'Stickle seen right.
The good thing about todays route is we get to walk through the Mickleden valley at the end of the walk.

Passing through Stool End Farm.
We chatted and took in the views and soon we were passed by two lads who easily got a lead on us as conversation continued to flow.

Gimmer Crag and Loft Crag with Mickleden and Great Langdale below.
It didn't take long for the morning temperature to rise and soon we were all feeling the affects, while Rod and I sweated it out David started to remove layers.

Pike O'Stickle, Loft Crag and Gimmer Crag from The Band.
I was starting to regret not having my main camera due to having to remove and replace my right glove each time I wanted to take a photo although when I got home later I was amazed at the quality of the images.

Bow Fell appears.
Besides the two lads, and one solo walker behind us we were surprised given how good the forecast how quiet it was.

Bow Fell.
As mentioned we're ascending Bow Fell via the Climbers Traverse so here we leave the main path and branch right at the stone cairn.

Looking back on Shelter Crags and Gunson Knott.
It's quite a steep approach until the Climbers Traverse is reached properly made easier by the frozen ground underfoot. That however, didn't stop Rod snapping one of his carbon Black Diamond walking poles as he went to negotiate a raised grassy shelf.

Looking back on Pike O'Stickle, Loft Crag, The Band, Lingmoor Fell and Great Langdale.
Gaining some height now where the views really started to open up.

Bowfell Buttress and Hanking Knotts from The Climbers Traverse.
We climbed into the snow line during the ascent of the Climbers Traverse and found much of the traverse lying below old compacted snow with a skittering of powdered snow over the top.

Looking back towards The Band from The Climbers Traverse.

Impressive rock scenery above the Traverse.
Highlighted by the morning sunshine.

Looking back along The Climbers Traverse.
Towards the end of the Traverse the path rose towards the base of the Great Slab where we found frozen snow which had drifted up to a foot in depth.

Bowfell Buttress comes into view.
For me Bowfell Buttress is one of the most impressive sights in all of Lakeland. The summit of the buttress itself sits on a second, higher buttress directly behind.

Rod wastes no time ascending the rocky path by the Great Slab.
Demonstrated with his one remaining pole.

The Great Slab.
Seen over on the left.

Rod in acsent by the great slab.

I stop to look back on our ascent...
...and catch David in action.

The Great Slab.
The frozen slab of rock doesn't look very inviting at all.

Onwards and upwards.
Catching our breath while taking in the view looking back down the Great Slab we turned north and started to make our way towards the coned mass of rock that makes up Bow Fell summit, in doing so we are over taken by a chap who does not summit and instead continues towards Ore Gap.

Three Tarns and Crinkle Crags from Bow Fell summit.
From there being no one around within minutes the summit was swarmed upon by fell runners and the solo walker I mentioned earlier who we got chatting too.

As it turns out the lady had travelled up from Blackpool and was just 20 summits short from completing her Wainwrights which she had started back in 2019 That's some good going we told her. She mentioned that she was on route to Esk Pike then Rossett Pike and before saying good luck we told her she'd probably end up seeing us again before the end of the day.

Ore Gap, Esk Pike, Rossett Pike, Great End and Glaramara from Bow Fell.
More fell runners approached one of whom decided during my descent from the summit she didn't want to wait for me and instead pushed past me without so much of an excuse me or an apology for that matter.

Broad Crag, III Crag, Scafell Pike, Mickledore, Sca Fell, Slight Side, Cam Spout Crag and Pen.
With Pike-de-Bield seen in the foreground.

The same view again.

Sca Fell, Broad Crag, Mickledore and Scafell Pike.
Viewed as we made our way towards Ore Gap.

Esk Pike seen beyond Ore Gap.
I reminded David and Rod of the selfie I took which I use as my main website banner which was taken around this point in December 2012

A Golden Morecambe Bay from Ore Gap.
The pointed fell towards the left is Harter Fell, Eskdale.

Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags.
Seen over Ore Gap.

Great End and the Gables seen over upper Esk Hause from Esk Pike summit.
We crossed Ore Gap and began the tiered ascent onto Esk Pike in doing so we passed a few walkers heading back down. By now the wind was back and so too was a biting windchill. The woman we'd been talking to back on Bow Fell had briefly caught us up then veered off path for what we later learned was for a toilet break!

A couple had just left Esk Pike summit and for a few moments we had the summit to ourselves until another couple we'd seen back on Bow Fell also caught up with us only to be joined by the solo woman, within minutes the summit was getting crowded with people atop, and those waiting below so we made a hasty exit and began our descent to Esk Hause where hopefully we'll stop for lunch.

Views over Esk Hause towards Great End, Great Gable, Base Brown, Seathwaite Fell and Allen Crags.
With care we descended the rock gully directly below the summit before joining the main path back to Esk Hause. Exposed to a biting wind we continued our descent and were forewarned by a walker heading towards the summit to watch for the ice coated rock slabs a little further down. The rock slabs were easily negotiated albeit with caution.

Slight Side, Sca Fell, Scafell Pike and III crag from the descent of Esk Pike.
With Great Moss seen below.

Allen Crags comes into view... we approach lower Esk Hause.

Lunch with a view.
We were extremely lucky and found the cross shelter empty as we arrived so we de-shouldered our packs, removed the foam seating mats from our packs and tucked into a well earned lunch. It was during lunch did it cloud over for a while but by the time we were ready to leave the cloud had passed revealing blue skies again.

Descending Esk Hause towards Angle Tarn.
With views of Tongue Head, Rossett Pike, Pike O'Stickle and a distant Lingmoor Fell.

Looking beyond the Langstrath Valley towards High Raise (Langstrath) Sergeant's Crag and Eagle Crag.
It was during the descent towards Angle Tarn were we passed by dozens and dozens of mainly teenagers assumingly heading towards Scafell Pike, most of whom were equipped for the fell although quite a few were not and soon were gonna be in for a shock.

High Raise and Sergeant Man.
A couple of hundred feet higher and this pool would be completely frozen.

Esk Pike and Great End from Angle Tarn.
We were passed by more teenagers most of whom smiled a hi as they passed especially those holding up the rear which says a lot for morale. After crossing the out flow of Angle Tarn via a series of carefully placed stepping stones we began the last pull of the day towards the top of Rossett Gill.

Rossett Pike comes into view.
The solo woman walker we'd been speaking to back on Bow Fell & Esk Pike had somehow over taken us (possibly back at Esk Hause where we stopped for lunch) It's no wonder she's getting around her Wainwrights so quickly if this is the speed she travels at!

Fantastic views onto the Mickleden Valley and beyond.
Seen as we begin our descent via Rossett Ghyll.


Pike O'Stickle from the point where Stake Gill flows into Rossett Gill.
The footpath descended steeply alongside Rossett Gill and although no one spoke of it, limbs were starting to ache by now, thing is this descent can make or break your day such its twisted steepness. We descended in mostly silence each of us using our own coping mechanisms all of which were similar. If one of us wasn't cracking a joke we were taking in the fabulous scenery while beads of sweat formed across our wind burnt foreheads. David had de-layered again to just a single base layer but Rod and I sweated it out, well, I might have been hot enough to remove my gloves but I kept my beanie on because of my ridiculous hat head which pointed out in all directions.

The familiar sheep pen was reached where a family took in the views in almost silence. The pitch of the footpath levelled giving way for smooth cropped grass which my knarled feet took great comfort from. The heat of the afternoon continued to bear down into the valley which felt like the middle of May or June rather than March. The couple we'd seen back on Bow Fell were closing in behind us and soon they were close enough that we could hear their conversation until they took over us with smiles and the same conversation faded out. Across the valley sunlight glanced off the windows off the cars who inched their way down the steep pass which divides Little Langdale from Great Langdale.

The path left the Mickleden valley and joined Great Langdale below the popular cliffs of Raven Crag where we scoured for climbers but oddly, found no takers. By now we were just minutes away from the hustle of ODG and after passing through patches of Daffodils we dropped down the steps and onto the patio where folk sipping from wine glasses glanced up from their phones to check out three guys one of whom had just repatriated himself with Esk Pike after 9 years away.


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