Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to reach Scafell Pike’s summit cairn without encountering a living soul. You aren’t Tom Cruise abseiling in from a helicopter, but you still have a reasonable chance - even when the stony staircases from Wasdale, Langdale and Borrowdale are thick with queues...
Esoteric routes normally involve a trade-off of scenery for quiet, but there’s no sense of compromise here: you’ll be spending time in the presence of the Eskdale flank of the Scafells, one of the most imposing mountain spectacles in England. The grandeur and isolation give this outing a quasi-Scottish feel.
By far the quietest way to reach the Scafell range. I remember some years ago now approaching the Esk Buttress from Cockley Beck as the then FRCC guide suggested IIRC and despite it being a very dry spell we were soon semi-swimming through the bog! Definitely prefer to approach from Brotherikeld farm now, which is at least somewhat drier underfoot until The Great Moss.
That's fair, Mark. I tweaked the start point to Cockley Beck so as to keep the promise of quiet all the way to within a stones-throw of the summit cos the Brotherilkeld approach, while lovely, is thick with wild swimmers these days. I was just saying to editor Dan that I first did this approach as a pre-schooler, fifty years ago this summer. So, a very long-term fave....
Wonderful country - The Great Moss really is the 'Wild Heart' of the Lake District, and with England's highest ground rearing up beyond, possesses a grandeur not seen anywhere else in England. Not so keen on Moasdale though, one giant bogfest when I went up there - but at least it is quiet.
That route up Scafell Pike past Pen is most definitely on my radar, as is a descent (or ascent) of Esk Pike's long south ridge.
I camped at point 2 on the route a few autumn's back. I left the car at about 11 pm walked up in heavy rain and was in my tent about midnight. Absolutely foul night and as black as anything. But waking up the next morning and seeing the Scafells with a sprinkling of fresh snow on the tops was great.
A classic fortune-favours-the-brave tale, Toby. That must have been a real effort of will, setting off in the rainy dark. Oddly, I've never camped inside the upper Eskdale basin, though I've pitched on the surrounding ridge a time or two.
> Go for it, WaW. The Somme-like woes of Moasdale will be forgotten the second your boots touch the hem of Pen's skirts.
I camped on the Great Moss with my youngest son last year - my first visit to this wondrous place. We walked in from Eskdale after catching a train to Ravenglass, and then La'al Ratty to Dalegarth (a great way to start a walk), and followed the east bank of the Esk up past the swimming holes that you mention (busy). But once we started climbing up Throstle Garth, we had the place to ourselves. Scenery on a grand scale, and you can feel the atmosphere of the place - it really is the Wild Heart of the Lake District.
The following morning we exited via Esk Hause, an interesting route in itself, and walked past Angle Tarn down into Langdale to catch a bus home (actually 3 busses). Spotted no less than seven tents scattered around Angle Tarn, even though it must have been late morning by the time that we arrived - why do people feel the need to crowd together, when the fells, even in summer, are largely empty?
Next time I do a 'linear' route that involves walking through the Great Moss, I shall steel myself and climb Pen's skirts - I have had my eye on that line of ascent for a while. It has been a long time since I have walked along the Scafell Range (39 years), and I fancy camping somewhere high - there must be some good hidden corners up there.
Yes, I read that article with interest - Esk Pike's south ridge looks like ideal camping territory. I have camped just below the summit of Esk Pike before - I felt as though I was the King of the Mountain, if only for one night.
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