This is a long hard walk but a rewarding one, taking us into the wild upper reaches of Eskdale, and to the summit of Bow Fell, a dramatic pyramid of rock that tops one of the most distinctive of the Lakeland Fells.
Length: 11 miles
Map: The English Lakes - South Western Area (OS Explorer Map Active)
Last Walked: August 2010
We start from the small car park at the western end of Hardknott Pass, just before the road finally reachs the level ground in Eskdale.
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Follow the road up-hill from the car park for a short distance, until reaching the end of the small patch of trees opposite it. At this point turn left onto a footpath. This path runs alongside the wood, crosses a stile and then emerges onto the open fellside at the start of the wild roadless part of Eskdale. Follow this path as it runs up the valley all the way to Lingcove Bridge.
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Cross Lingcove Bridge and follow the path as it climbs up alongside the River Esk, which at this point runs in a deep ravine to the left of the path.
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Eventually this steep climb ends. At this point the Esk swings sharply to the left, then curves around to the right, running below the impressive eastern crags of Scafell and Scafell Pike
. Our path also turns sharply to the right, and continues to follow the river. This brings us to the Great Moss, a large and rather wet area. Luckily there is a dry route across most of this bog, using the
remains of an old stone wall. When this runs out follow the line of the Esk, which eventually begins to climb up towards Esk Hause, with Scafell Pike to the left and Esk Pike
to the right. Once the river reduces in size cross over to the opposite bank, and follow the sometimes vague path that follows the river. This becomes clearer where it runs through an unexpectedly dramatic ravine, and eventually emerges onto flatter ground at Esk Hause.
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This brings us to one of the busiest paths in the Lake District, and a constant stream of walkers can be seen to our left, following the path from Esk Hause to the Scafell Pike ridge. Ignore this busy path and instead turn right and follow the quieter but still clear path that climbs up to the summit of Esk Pike.
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From the summit of Esk Pike continue along the path as it drops down to Ore Gap, then climbs up onto the northern ridge of Bow Fell. The path then turns south and climbs up this path to the summit of Bow Fell, a pyramid of rock apparently stacked on top of the fell,
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There are no real paths on the pyramid at the very top of Bow Fell. On a foggy day retrace your steps to get back onto the main summit plateau, then turn right and head across the plateau until you reach the footpath that runs east from the summit. On a clear day head down the eastern side of the pyramid (heading away from Scafell Pike) to reach the same path. Follow this path, which soon becomes very clear, as it runs past the Great Slab and then drops down a steep rocky staircase to Three Tarns
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At Three Tarns turn right onto a faint path that begins to drop down into Eskdale. This path is reasonably clear under foot, heading generally to the left to cut across the lower slopes of Crinkle Crags. The path then reaches Lingcove Beck - follow the beck as it flows down the valley.
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This path eventually joins a rather clearer path at a T-junction. Turn right and follow the path that runs alongside Lingcove Beck, which now drops down over a series of impressive waterfalls.
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This path brings us back to Lingcove Bridge. This time stay on this side of the bridge and retrace your steps along our original path down Eskdale and back to the car park.