The Eskdale Round Walking

Upper Eskdale is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Lake District, but is thankfully left relatively remote and serene. Though Scafell Pike is crowded, most people ascending to the roof of England will do so from Wasdale or Borrowdale, thus not appreciating the magnificent valley to the south-east. Taking in the major fells that ring the head of Eskdale, this round includes many of the highest, most interesting and most popular peaks in England, allowing the walker to fully enjoy this wonderful corner of the Lake District. It makes a lovely two-dayer, but could also be done in one relatively long day.

Looking down over Upper Eskdale from our wild campsite © Rosie Robson  © Rosie Robson
Looking down over Upper Eskdale from our wild campsite © Rosie Robson

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NY2121201094 From the small car park at Brotherilkeld, head northwards on the track past a farm before crossing a bridge over the River Esk. Follow the path uphill to Taw House, then take the path which traverses the hillside before climbing relatively steeply uphill.

NY2074102783 At the intersection with another path, continue northwards before ascending Slight Side, with a steep pull up to the top.

NY2099304982 From Slight Side, continue up the ridge onto Scafell, which is a fantastic summit, upon which you are far more likely to find solitude than its larger neighbour.

NY2069406446 It is well worth taking a slight detour to Symonds Knott for the commanding position it has over Mickledore. The safest way down to Mickledore, especially with a heavy pack, is via Foxes Tarn. Retrace your steps from Symonds Knot and pick up the path that heads south-east to a small tarn. From here the path curves round the base of the crags and reascends up to the gap. Take care on the descent to Foxes Tarn especially, as there is a lot of loose rock. From Mickledore, follow the path up to the summit of Scafell Pike.

NY2152407188 The broad ridge from Scafell Pike to Great End is a good one, with the tops of Broad Crag and Ill Crag, which are worth a visit, lying slightly off the path. The terrain is pretty bouldery, so be careful when straying off the path. An ascent of Great End is also worth doing, particularly as it lies off the main path. Take the left fork at NY225080 and continue to the top. Another path leads down to Esk Hause.

NY2301808098 If splitting the trip into two days, Esk Hause is a good place to camp. It can get windy though, so choose a spot either side of the main col, depending on the conditions. Camping just to the south, by the Tongue gives a great view of Upper Eskdale and there are a couple of small streams.From Esk Hause, follow the ridge to the summit of Esk Pike and continue down the other side to Ore Gap. For a bad weather escape route, a path leads from here down to Eskdale.

NY2394907136 The next peak is Bowfell, which has a particularly entertaining summit which can be accessed by following the main ridge. Continue over this and down to Three Tarns, which provides another escape route.

NY2483806030 Crinkle Crags provides a great kilometre-and-a-half of ridge walking and easy scrambling. There is one slightly tricky descent, but it's easily avoidable and isn't too exposed in any case.

NY2493804560 From the final Crinkle, retrace your steps slightly to find a small path heading into the valley on a bearing of 240 past Adam-a-Cove. Upon reaching a small col, head down to Lingcove Beck and take up the path following the river to the confluence with the Esk, and then down back to Brotherilkeld.

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Further Routes

by Rosie Robson

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