The walk of Sunday the 4th of June, 2017
Since vowing to myself to climb the top ten summits of England in 2013…I have done just over half, no less than four continue to elude me:
- Great End
- Bow Fell
- Nethermost Pike
On Friday night, I received a text from my walking friend Karl informing me that it was his intention to travel to the Langdale area on Sunday for a walk that would take it the mighty Bow Fell. I practically jumped at the chance to tick another of the top ten summits off my list and Sunday couldn’t get here quickly enough. Come the day, I was at Karl’s house by seven thirty all ready and eager to go for an 8:00 start. In time we were joined by Sue and Lynn and we duly arrived at the National Trust car park by the Old Dungeon Ghyl at 9:40 and set off ten minutes later. On route we happened to meet up with a lovely family group who were very obviously enjoying their day in the lakes. they asked if we could take their photo and either Karl, Sue or Lynn duly obliged, so I took one of them as well for prosperity, after all I’d already missed the chance to take a photo of a very large Dutch man whom had asked us for directions to the Cumbria Way – even though he had a map of the said same Cumbria Way in his coat pocket.
We headed north-west in the general direction of Esk Hause. On our right hand side soon appeared the one of the lake district’s principal attention seekers, Harrison Stickle, which would then stay with us for more or less all of the remainder of the walk. I did spy a gully which upon closer (not much closer) inspection, appeared to be one of the steepest-looking paths that I have ever seen. I find the steeper the path, the more intense my interest, although thus far I have not yet scaled more than one (the path from Carlside straight up the side of Skiddaw) of the truly iconic steep paths of the area. On top of the itinerary, paramount in fact, was to visit the Pack Woman’s grave. The story goes that in the Eighteenth century a woman died of exposure here and was not found until the snows had melted. A cross, roughly six feet along by around three feet wide, commemorates the spot where her remains were found. Our visit to the world’s smallest graveyard over, we rejoined our route but then within a few moments it was proposed that we stop for lunch. Ordinarily, we don’t tend to stop until we are much nearer the summit of our first peek…I checked my altimeter which revealed that we were at 447 metres above sea level, Bow Fell is 902 and Rossett Pike is 650 or metres so I was not sure at the time we would be conquering first. All the same, the views were fantastic down into Mickleden so it was nice to get sat down and recover. The path thus far had not been overly steep, but it had been rather on-going.
Our lunch break over we rejoined the path once more and set off up towards Rossett Pike, so now it was obvious which mountain we were going to summit first. After a while Karl and I reached the crest of the hill, the shoulder as it were and had a seat whilst waiting for Lynn and then Sue to catch up. I was glad of that seat, the southern lakes fells are somewhat relentless in their ascent. It was at this point when Sue resolutely announced that she would only be completing Rossett Pike before heading back down to the car. Inwardly I was gutted, although to be honest, we were not even halfway up Bow Fell. I knew that Karl would not be in favour of splitting the group up and I would not have wanted this either so I consolidated myself with the fact that at least now, most of the climbing was over and done with. Upon reflection, we would have had to climb the last fifty metres to the summit, drop back down again, climb up towards Esk Hause and then slog it up to the summit of Bow Fell, which to be honest, looked a damn long way off. Essentially, good call Sue. After this turning point we made swift progress over the shoulder of the mountain with somewhat renewed vigour! Within five minutes we were in heaven, as the views, even the terrain at the top of the mountain were really quite spectacular.
So for now, Bow Fell eludes me, but I’m not bitter…much. I don’t know when we’ll be in these parts again, soon I hope, as this valley was gorgeous, bringing with it all of the bounty of the Southern Lakes but without being overwhelmed by the neighbouring giants of the Sca fells, Gables and Pillar, even the summit of Bow Fell remained far enough away to not be too imposing.