Esk Pike In The Snow
Time 5 1/2 - 6 1/2 Hours
Distance Approximately 9 miles
After some recent snow we awoke to a magnificent sunny winters day and decided to walk in one of our favourite areas and headed towards the Langdales . We set off towards Esk Pike (often overlooked in preference to Bowfell & Crinkle Crags). We were not disappointed. It is a hard walk taking between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 hours and about 9 miles long. Below is our route:
1. From Riverside B&B take the A593 towards Coniston and at Skelwith Bridge take the B5343 to Elterwater/Chapel Stile/Langdale. The journey should take about 15/20 minutes. The walk starts at the National Trust owned Old Dungeon Ghyll pay and display car park at the end of the Langdale Valley at grid reference NY 286 061.
2. From the car park go round the right hand side of the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to reach the bridleway that goes round the back of the hotel and heads west through a gate in to Mickleden.
3. Continue along the track in a westerly direction for a kilometre then turn right into the wide open Mickleden valley and walk to the head of the valley. Reach the wooden bridge which takes you over the beck. Follow the sign to Esk Hause. Head uphill towards Bowfell, then turn right and ascend Rossett Gill zigzag alternative path. As you reach the top of the zigzag path, Rossett Pike will be in front of you with the gully of Rossett Gill below it.
4. Carry on along the path and it will top out on the col before starting its short descent to Angle Tarn. It may be worth taking a detour to the summit of Rossett Pike for some great views. Descend the path down to Angle Tarn. The path passes the tarn via stepping stones over its outflow.
5. Follow the path up the far side of the tarn and up onto open land. The path passes a small tarn on Tongue Head, then makes its way to Esk Hause on the col between Esk Pike on the left, and Allen Crags on the right.
6. On Esk Hause you will see the cross shaped stone shelter, very similar to the one on Helvellyn’s summit plateau. From the cross shelter head south west up the path for less than two hundred metres until you reach the junction with the Esk Pike path, and head south east along it and on to the northern end of Esk Pike.
7. The Esk Pike path quickly turns from a fairly easy grassy path in to a rocky section before heading round the back of the mountain, following some awkwardly flat and slippery ledges. After the ledges the path heads left and ascends through a wide chimney with loose rock. The actual summit is then reached, which is identified by a cairn of small rocks.
8. From Esk Pike summit, head in a south east direction over the boulders then down an obvious descent path. After half a kilometre you will reach the col of Ore Gap. At Ore Gap head straight up the opposite side on the same trajectory. The path is now really well marked by cairns, turns right, and follows a surprisingly easy ascent up the western flank of Bowfell’s northern ridge.
9. You will eventually reach the col between Bowfell Buttress and Bowfell’s summit pike. From the col, ascend the boulders up on to the pike to reach the summit of Bowfell. To descend from the summit go back the way you came over the boulders and after eighty metres you will see a cairn marked path leading off to the right. Head down this path in a south easterly direction.
10. After descending the path for a hundred and fifty metres you will come across Great Slab. Follow the path round the top of the Great Slab; descending for half a kilometre before eventually flattening out on the Three Tarns col. Turn left at Three Tarns and descend the path heading in an easterly direction to the left side of the Buscoe Sike stream.
11. The path descends steadily, and bends to the left before eventually bending back to the right, starting its two and a half kilometre descent of The Band ridge to Langdale. There are fantastic views to the right all the way down.
12 – The path eventually passes through a gate into Stool End Farm. Follow the right of way signposted through the farm, and out the other end along the track that crosses Oxendale Beck, then makes its way through fields back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll where you can sit in the beer garden and enjoy a pint.