29th June 2009

Both Scafells, two high tarns and Upper Eskdale


Walk Overview
Time 08.45 to 17.25
Duration 8 hr 40 min
Distance 11.5 mile
Ascent 4150 ft
Walking with Andrew Leaney
Wha House Farm - Taw House - Scales Bridge - River Esk - Great Moss - Little Narrowcove - Broad Crag Col - Scafell Pike - Broadcrag Tarn - Mickledore - Foxes Tarn - Scafell - Long Green - Slight Side - Catcove Beck - Wha House Farm
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, Wha House, Eskdale

A small car park found towards the Hardknott Pass end of Eskdale.


Route Map

It was obvious before we even set off that today's walk was going to be hard going, not just by the difficulties we'd face on the route itself, but also the weather. This was one of those summer days we like to call a real scorcher.

Looking back along the lonning to Taw House farm.

Crossing the farmland between Taw House farm and Scales Bridge.

The lovely River Esk has so many photo opportunities you really are spoiled for choice.

And again, this time showing one of the many crystal clear pools found along the section of the river leading towards Lingcove Bridge.

Bracken, bracken everywhere. And while it may still be short enough to allow you to see where you're putting your feet, it's definitely tall enough to harbour a host of biting and stinging insects. I didn't notice the biting too much while I was here, but once I got home, , , , the scratching began.

Never mind taking photographs, I think I'll concentrate on where I'm putting my feet for a while.



Crossing the River Esk to head into the Great Moss area of Upper Eskdale.

Scafell Pike, Pen and Ill Crag, seen from the other side of the river.

And again.
Thank goodness we're having a dry spell at the moment, otherwise I'd have suggested a route along the slightly higher ground you can see on the left hand side of the picture. I've been through here after weeks of heavy rain and it's definitely not the best idea I've ever had.

As Anderw said "long may this spot remain undiscovered"!!!

The view looking up Little Narrowcove.
An rather demanding, but very enjoyable route to say the least.

The bottom section of the route was done along the left side of the beck. It soon became evident however, that the easiest thing was to walk straight up the middle. There wasn't much water flowing and the bigger rocks were bone dry, so it made sense to use them as a stairway (so to speak).

As we reached the "cove" of Little Narrowcove, there was a short and most welcome respite form the steepness for a short time. Until, , , ,

, , , , we reached the final section of scree which would bring us out at Broad Crag Col.

Have I mentioned how hot it was today?

And the view back down.

Broad Crag Col, a sit down for ten minutes and a fine view over Lingmell to the western fells including Kirk Fell, Pillar, Red Pike and Yewbarrow.

From this picture you may think Scafell Pike summit was nice and quiet today. Well, not quite, , ,

Most people will undoubtedly disagree with this, but I have to admit this is not a side of fell walking I like at all. Crowds of people all sitting about congratulating each other upon reaching the top of a fell just doesn't do it for me. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy all the routes to and from Scafell Pike, but the amount of people you generally find at the summit itself makes this a place I tend not to visit very often. It may be the highest, and I can understand why people feel it an achievement to get here, for me personally though, the height of a fell is an irrelevance.

This is more like it. Once we left the summit and headed towards Mickledore Ridge we almost had the place to ourselves again.

A slight de-tour from our intended route took to Broadcrag Tarn, where it was definitely time for something to eat.

The scree slope down to the bottom of Foxes Tarn gully is very steep and loose underfoot. It is manageable enough however, with a good deal of care that is.

Now we needed to start gaining back some of the precious height we'd lost between Mickledore and this point.

Looking back down the gully.

Tiny Foxes Tarn, slowly but surely drying out in the summer heat.

A final steep ascent of the day took us puffing, panting and sweating up to Scafell.

When you look across from Scafell to Scafell Pike (or indeed the other way) you'd be forgiven for thinking the route between the two would be a quick and easy affair. Reality on the other hand, couldn't be further from this perception if it tried. The two obvious routes; Foxes Tarn and Lord's Rake both make for fantastic walking, but if it's a stroll on the fells your after these two fells should be walked on separate dates.

A fine airy view to Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags and Upper Eskdale seen from our route to Slight Side.

Not quite as well known as the wreckage on Great Carrs, and certainly not as easy to find, but a visit to the wreckage found a short walk from Slight Side's summit is well worth the effort.

Rocks, boulders, crags and scree have now given way to the grassy fellside on the walk back down to Eskdale.

Mmmmm, don't get too close or you might never be seen again.

An unusual view of Harter Fell, which doesn't look quite as 'pointed' from this angle as it does from most other directions.

To finish off, a picture of the River Esk route into Upper Eskdale.
The good news or perhaps the bad news, depending on your point of view, is that after only a couple of minutes driving home, the heavens opened and it bucketed down. Perfect timing or what.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks