A 9 Mile Circular Hike Up Bowfell in The Snow Via Rossett Pike and Esk Pike.

November 29, 2016  •  3 Comments

Hi everyone,
I am a little behind on my blogs of late due to such inconveniences as work and other such mundane tasks getting in the way, but fear not, we have been out in the mountains and grabbing some images as and when we can - They just need writing up into stories!

So, this one is actually the last hike we did. Sunday the 27th November. Steve, Steph and I wanted to get up into the snowline while we still had one as it was evidently melting fast. Steve was raring to go as always... Steph had treated herself to some new crampons and was keen to try them out... and me, well... I just needed to get out!


Today we visited 3 Wainwright Summits:

  • Rossett Pike. (2'136 ft)
  • Esk Pike. (2'904 ft)
  • Bowfell. (2'959 ft)


Parking Location:

  • The Old Dungeon Ghyll National Trust Car Park. (LA22 9JX)


Time & Distance Info

  • Distance walked: = 9.5 miles
  • Time Taken: = 10 hrs
  • Total Ascent: = 3'300 ft


Please Note:
All image description text is "above" the image that it is referring to on my blogs.
Some find that odd... But that is the way I like to do it.


This route, when viewed in Opentopo map looks like this: (North / South Orientation correct)
(Walking Anti-clockwise from the far right)


And the view of the route as seen on Google Earth. (Walking Anti-clockwise from the bottom)


Here is the elevation profile: (Height on the left axis, and mileage along the bottom)


We left Blackpool about 7am and were entering the new Cafe Ambio at Ings for about 8:15am to fuel up for the long day ahead. Suitably refreshed, we jumped back in the car and drove to the Langdale Valleys and were parked up at the Old Dungeon Ghyll National Trust car park for about 9:30am.


We got our gear on at a leisurely pace. We are carrying full winter kit now such as Ice Axe, Crampons and shelters, plus stoves for emergency hot food. No more travelling light until summer shows its face mid next year now. My back groans at the weight of it all as I drag it out of the car!

The path onwards from the car park starts behind the pub and is illustrated with a rather clear sign...


Its a couple of miles walk in for this one. Ideal for getting used to the big winter packs again and warming up the aching bones and muscles for the task ahead. That brown snow free tongue ahead is our descent path. We will come down there long after sunset tonight.

Our path upwards is up that distinct gulley right at the head of the valley where Rossett Gill comes down Rosset Pike ahead of Bowfell.


To our right... The Langdale Pikes look rather ghostly this morning, shrouded in a misty looking cloud. I've seen this effect before. It looks like a trick of the camera, but I promise you, it looked exactly the same in the flesh. Its a strange visual that seems to be brought on by very cold and wet cloud. Almost like a double vision.


Steph evaluating the task ahead. Our 1st summit is almost dead centre. Rossett Pike at around 2'100ft. The 2nd (Esk Pike) isnt viewable from here at all, but the 3rd summit, is the one in cloud on the very left. The almost 3'000ft Bowfell.


All the little Gills round here collect into one large outlet called Mickleden Beck. Gorgeous!


What a view!


If you wanted a mile or so longer walk, with a shallower ascent, you could bear right here and head up Stake Pass. You can follow that up and then turn left, which will bring you back to Rossett Pike and onto our path again. But today... its Esk Hause path for us.


Rossett Pike and its very own Gill.


Looking back to Pike Of Stickle. Its a gorgeous view, but for me...


The view ahead dominates. Look at this! The weather looks moody and rather uninviting to be honest but thats kind of what makes it so gorgeous to me!


I love the way all these little gills are running down the front of Bowfell like veins. The snow must be melting heavily up there. The cloud and light is causing the weird ghostly effect again too.


The sheer volume of water spilling out of the ground is pretty incredible.


Moving onwards. This is the first time I have seen the front of Bowfell reasonably clear of cloud today.


The path winds its way up the front, taking a distinct right turn at around 1'500ft, now heading towards Rossett Pike.


The view back down the Langdale valley as we gain height.


And the view ahead as we breach 1'700 ft. This seems a popular stopping point as the path turns to primarily snow.


Our destination... Rossett Pike was to our right.


What a view from 1'800 ft. Its great to see people up here enjoying the fells. We spoke to the group in this image. I remember them particularly as they had a young lad (maybe 8 or 9yrs old) with them and they were doing the same route as us, but adding Scafell Pike on. That seemed a bit ambitious to me with this current snowy terrain but hey, they arent as fat and slow as me. I hope they had an awesome day!


The path was steep in places from here.


My first view of Angle Tarn. Gorgeous.


But we need to turn right and head up to the summit of Rossett Pike before we can enjoy Angle Tarn.
We noticed we were the only people to be heading up Rossett Pike today... Everyone else was heading towards Esk Hause without pausing to enjoy Rossetts views.


Steve near the summit cairn of Rossett Pike.


What a view from here. Images dont do it justice. Its a surprise to have it to ourselves on a Sunday to be fair.


The view north - Ultimately right up to Skiddaw.       


Looking back towards our next destination - Steve had apparently got bored of Steph and I exploring up here, as he is back down at Angle Tarn now! Esk Pike makes for a dramatic backdrop to that tarn from this elevated vantage point. Steve looks small in front of the tarn there.


We head down there to join him.


And have some lunch! What a spot for it!


And for Steph to try her new crampons. Now Steve and I have Grivels, but Steph had been trawling the web and came across these for under a quarter of the price with good reviews. She figured they were worth a punt and, being off Amazon, if they were no good they could go right back for a full refund with no quibble. What has she to lose? And yes - She chose that colour from a choice of options! Ha Ha.

Turns out she was right to give them a go. They seem great and are fixed very firmly to her Scarpa Manta's and I cant see any perceivable movement while she walks. This was just the weather to test them in as the snow is too soft to really need them for safety, but the snow and ice around made for great practice conditions. As far as I am concerned, for 99% of Lake District conditions, these crampons are just as good as my Grivels and over £100 less! Well done Steph!


I spent some time taking pics of Angle Tarn while I ate my lunch.


And Steph spent some time looking for ice to walk on in her new crampons. :)


We must have spent about an hour here. What a great place. I would like to see its contrast in summer for a picnic.


Its time to go now though. We are planning to be on Bowfell for sunset and are starting to push for time. The next 30mins was really hard work. Absolutely strength sapping deep snow in many places.


The views were amazing though.


This is perhaps my favourite image of the day. I remember we were both pretty tired here as the last section of snow was thigh deep in places where we lost the path, but we could still have a laugh about it and we knew no matter what, we were equipped to deal with it and could just take 2hrs off if we needed to rest and eat. We have all the gear to stay up here in the dark for a while. But then... carrying it all is probably why we are so tired to start with. 


Moving onwards we crossed streams...


We hiked downhill....

We hiked back uphill...


And from time to time we went off path and broke trail. That was a killer!


But it got us to the viewpoint we wanted to be at. I figured from the map that being at the foot of Allen Crags, but a little north east of Esk Hause we would get a nice view of two great mountains. It turned out that I got more than I bargained for...


I was looking forward to seeing Green Gable and Great Gable from this side. And just look how incredible they dressed up for my visit. Full winter clothes and a nice cloudy hat to boot! Perfect!


After spending at least 20 mins there taking pics... we needed to move as we were getting cold.
Our path now takes us onwards towards Esk Hause  which is up to the right, and then we bear left and up onto Esk Pike pictured here. I bet this shelter is a relief up here in bad weather.


The view to Great End, Great Gable and Green Gable from just after Esk Hause on our way up to Esk Pike.


You can in fact, see right back to Skiddaw and Derwentwater from here!


Now the keen eyed amongst you might be thinking... "We havent seen much of Steve lately"
Well that will be because he decided to just quickly add on Great End while he was here... I chose not to because:

A) It would kill me.
B) That is my proposed end to the 214 Wainwrights. A 3 summit hike taking in Glaramara, Allen Crags and Great End to finish.


Steve is near the top in this image below, and hes going to catch us up on Esk Pike.

Esk Pike ahead.


Its getting quite dark now.


We were only on Esk Pike about ten minutes before Steve appeared with an extra 3000 footer under his belt.

The sky is looking nice behind the Scafells as we leave Esk Pike summit behind.


Bowfell ahead of us now... The final summit of the day. 


The Scafells to our right look as imposing as ever in this moody lighting.


And the fading light is going to outrun us to the final summit.

So near....


Yet so far. As I have learned so many times over the years... Sunset waits for no man.


After enjoying the view and grabbing a few images, we scramble up to the top of Bowfell at a tad under 3'000 ft to grab an image of the Scafells in the last light of day.


We were going to eat up here, but it was really cold and windy so we have a quick discussion and decide to get 500 ft of descent under our belt and eat in warmer conditions. On a warmer note - the car is down there somewhere...

Down we go... Our destination is "3 Tarns" between Bowfell and Crinkle Crags. We will turn left there and follow "The Band" back down into the valley. 


Steve leads the way... Ahead of him you can just make out Windermere in the distance.


Its going dark fast now. Blue hour doesnt last an hour tonight. Too much cloud around.


Heading towards the Crinkle Crags by Moonlight and head-torch.


The last reasonable image I have of the hills tonight before it became too dark to waste time taking pictures.


But head-torch pictures are ok. We stopped in total darkness for some food at 2'500ft.


And I had to boil up some fresh snow as I had run out of water for brews.

All in, the descent from the 3'000 ft Bowfell summit took us 3hrs. As always, that was three amazing hours in complete darkness and silence. The sky even cleared for our last hour so we could turn our torches off and enjoy the stars.

The night ended at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hikers bar for some food. Perfect!
Thanks for reading folks. I hope you enjoyed taking a little trip with us and that it inspired you to try the route.


Remember, take your time... never rush.
fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured, remember the golden rules.

"Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".


Also a new quote I read in a book that I am reading at the moment is worth remembering.

"Getting to the top is optional - Getting back down is mandatory"

Ed Viesturs - No shortcuts to the top


Here is some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch. 
Calories etc are pretty accurate as I use the Suunto Smart heart monitor on all my hikes. GPS data is updated every 1 second so it records every single footstep, thus mileage often looks a little different to most navigation apps as they are usually set to update far less frequently and so miss a few turns here and there. All that wandering around looking at views adds up.    


Here is my Viewranger data.
VR members can sign in and view it on OS maps too. Feel free to scroll around, the map is active.

Finally, here is a 3D representation of the route created by Suunto Movescount.


Camera Details:
All images in this blog that don't state they were taken on my phone, were taken with my little pocket-sized Canon G7X point and shoot. Its not a patch on my Canon 5D MK3 of course but I no longer lug all that around with me hiking as its just too cumbersome. When I find a scene worthy of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.



Route Completed on November 27th 2016 with Steph and Steve.

New Wainwrights: 3. New total: 158 of 214.
New Birketts: 3. New total 216 of 541.


Stewart Sanderson Photography
Thanks for the kind words Mick and Annette, Glad your still enjoying my waffling.
Ive a few left to write up yet - I never seen to have the time lately!
Mick Rawcliffe(non-registered)
As usual, Stewart, a well informed, easily read blog with some stunning photographs. Inspiring and entertaining.Every credit to all of you.
Did Bow Fell via Crinkle Crags a couple of years ago.... Mighty mountains
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