ESK PIKE, PIKE DE BIELD & BROAD CRAG (SCAFELL)
from SEATHWAITE, BORROWDALE

 


Summary

Date - 31st August 2011 Distance - 11 miles
Ascent -
3300ft
Map - OL4/OL6 Start point - Seathwaite (NY 2356 1234)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Esk Pike 2903 885 NY 2365 0750
Pike De Bield 2657 810 NY 2359 0683
Broad Crag (Scafell) 3054 931 NY 2186 0755

 

Preface

Allen was tapping away on the laptop, with Grizzly looking on, while Tetley was thumbing through the Birkett Almanac.

"We are down to seven outstanding tops now, so the walk options are getting rather limited", commented Grizzly, peering with Allen at the listing.

"The two toughest left, are the tops above Ennerdale, and those near Esk Pike & Scafell Pike", said Tetley, who by now was perusing the list too.

It was just then that Shaun and Little Eric trotted in.

"It's tea time", piped up Little Eric, "so we have brought the flasks. Yorkshire tea too, so that will suit you Tetley".

"Aye Lad", he replied, going off to get the mugs.

"I'm gasping" said Allen, temporarily abandoning the laptop to get the tuck tin, and pass round the biscuits.

"You really do take after Dad, for your tea", said Shaun, laughing heartily.

Then once we were all settled happily with our mugs of tea, he went on, "I was talking to Dad, and he is thinking of walking on Wednesday, and asked if we could come up with some ideas."

"We were just looking at which tops we have left, when you came in", replied Allen.

"Although it will be hard on Dad, it seems to be a good idea to get one of the tougher ones out of the way", mused Grizzly. "We had two in mind, but it is not that long ago that we went to Ennerdale, and I guess that Dad, would not want to go back so soon. So, that leaves the climb up to the Scafells, to get Broad Crag out of the way, and over Esk Pike to do Pike De Bield."

"Oh heck, that sounds a long long way", cried Little Eric. "You will need to be at your persuasive best, when you put the suggestion to Dad, Allen."

"Why is it always me?", replied Allen.

"Because you are the best at doing it, and anyway we all know you like to go and ask Dad", said Shaun, laughingly.

So draining his mug, Allen trotted off to find Dad.

"Better pour him another mug for when he gets back", said Tetley, holding out his mug too for a refill.

"OK pal", said Shaun.

Just a few minutes later, Allen returned. "You were right Grizzly, he does not want to do the other Ennerdale walk just now, but agrees that getting Broad Crag etc done will be a big step forward. It will too, be a rough and rocky walk."

"Great" cried Tetley, passing Allen his second mug of tea.

"Thanks pal."

The Walk

Setting off early, we were once again heading north, up the ever so familiar M6 and then west along the A66 to Keswick.

"I bet you'll be glad not to have to make these long journeys north, Dad", said Shaun.

"I certainly will, Lad", Dad replied. "Just two more trips now. One up to Whinlatter to do Hobcarton End, and once more to Ennerdale.

In Keswick we then took the rather narrow winding road along Borrowdale. On the first part Derwentwater was to the right, and we could see Catbells and Skelgill Bank rising above. Soon we were passing through the jaws between Castle Crag and King's How.

If I remember right, we climbed Skelgill Bank, Catbells and King's How on the same day last year", said Little Eric.

"You're right Lad", replied Tetley. "It was in fact in November."

"What a memory you have", said Little Eric.

Beyond the valley opened out and and we passed through the village of Rosthwaite, on the way to taking the left turn along the narrow road to Seathwaite, our start point, where we parked on the verge, just before the farm. We arrived soon after 09.00, and it was already busy with cars, such is the popularity of this as a start point for the Scafells, Great Gable etc. When we returned after the walk, it was obvious that many more cars had arrived afterwards.

Walked through the farmyard, and on along the wide track with the beck to the right, the view ahead dominated by Seathwaite Fell.

I remember well the day we climbed that", remarked Allen. "We did Base Brown, Green Gable and Great Gable too. It was Remembrance Day in 2005, and by the time we had descended from here, it was dark, so it was a rather interesting walk back to Seathwaite. Good job Uncle Bob had his headlight."

The path undulated on its way to Stockley Bridge, immediately below the slopes of Seathwaite Fell.

Over the bridge and through the gate in the wall in the right of the picture, the path divides. Ahead it climbs to Styhead Tarn, but our route was left alongside the wall, up Grains Gill.

"We came this way in 2007", said Tetley. "That day we went on to climb to Allen Crags, then along the ridge to Glaramara, ticking off a few Birkett tops in between."

"That was the second time we climbed Allen Crags, after which I am named ", added Allen.

So best foot forwards, Dad sent off along the path, on the long steady climb, where after a while the scene ahead was dominated by the massive bulk of Great End.

The path has been extensively repaired and graded, which while it made for an easier ascent, it was hard on Dad's poor knees when we were coming down later. Although not too clear in the photograph, the path wound its way up the grassy bank to the left of the deep ravine to, once the gill was crossed, join the path from Styhead.

"Is this Esk Hause?", asked Little Eric hopefully, who was the only one of our group not to have been here before.

"Sadly not", replied Shaun. "We take the path left, and there is about another 400ft of ascent to the Hause.

Dad climbed on towards Esk Hause, and after a while Little Eric asked, "what are those mountains behind?"

Great Gable with Green Gable to the right". replied Tetley.

Dad said, "I recall, when we were descending the path on Great Gable, we met the well known Lakeland personality and author Bob Orrell, who lived in Ennerdale".

"Oh yes", said Grizzly. "What made me smile was his referring to the graded and repaired path up Great Gable, as the National Trust's stairway to heaven!"

Reaching Esk Hause, the large cairn marks the cross road of paths. Left towards Allen Crags, while looping back right is the wide path, with a steady stream of people, heading for Scafell Pike. Ours however was straight on to Esk Pike, now dominating ahead.

As we surveyed the scene, two fell runners passed by having descended from Esk Pike, to then take the path towards Scafell Pike.

"Phew", said Dad. "I wish I had their energy."

"Well Dad, its not the speed but the getting there and back that is most important", said Shaun. "You are our hero!"

From Esk Hause, the summit of Esk Pike cannot be seen. We set off along the path, that climbed right through the rocky sections to emerge on to a level and grassy plateau. Here the extensive summit rocks were finally revealed, in two sections split by a gap. Approaching we could see that there was a large cairn on the left section, and a smaller cairn on the right section.

"The one on the right marks the highest point", said Shaun who had consulted the chapter in Wainwright's Book 4 - Southern Fells.

Dad had decided to leave the taking of our summit picture etc here, until we had been to Pike De Bield, but did later, for the sake of completeness, take us at both the cairns.

As he was standing at the summit, a gentleman who was walking with a young lad, asked "is this Esk Hause?"

"No", Dad replied, "this is the summit of Esk Pike."

They had come up from the Hause, and Dad did not know how they had missed the junction and the wide path to Scafell Pike, where they were bound. Dad showed him on the map, the current position, and then pointed out the rather distant path they needed to take.

"I'll not be popular", he replied, heading off having thanked Dad for the guidance. We were in fact to meet them later on as we were heading for Broad Crag. They had made it successfully to Scafell Pike, which they said was extremely busy today.

Before continuing, we paused to look around. Much rock abounds here, as can be seen in this shot of Bowfell.

Descending through the rocks to easy ground, Dad strolled across the grass, towards an outcrop with a large cairn.

"Is that Pike De Bield?", enquired Little Eric.

Shaun studied the map and replied, "no, we have not come far enough." Then looking up he went on, "it is that next top, with the easy slope leading to the summit.

The top can be clearly seen, with the upright stone pointing skyward like a needle. After an easy clamber up the rocky step, the cairn was reached and that was another Birkett summit ticked off. The cairn is neat with the standing stone in the centre, and wishing to show it off, we include the picture without us, but never fear we did settle at it afterwards to record reaching the summit. The cairn is recently done too, as we have compared it with the picture on the Striding Edge website, where in July, it was just a small untidy heap. The stunning backdrop, is of England's two highest mountains, left to right Scafell (3162ft) and Scafell Pike (3210ft).

"Wow", exclaimed Little Eric, in wonder.

To show more of the view on this side, below, is Scafell Pike (3210ft) and Ill Crag (3040ft) with the steep ravine of Little Narrowcove between. An ascent up part of this would be necessary, to reach Pen, which was to turn out to be our last Birkett top. But that is another story.

So tearing our eyes away from the stupendous views of the rocky mountains, the route was then retraced to Esk Pike, pausing on the way to take this Herdwick lamb. Black when born the fleece on this one is just beginning to turn brown. Their faces are white with black markings that seem to be different on each lamb, like a fingerprint. When about a year old the fleece will be completely brown, then turning finally to the characteristic blue/grey.

Then on to climb back to Esk Pike, where we posed at the summit. Well it is surely about time we put in an appearance.

That done and our picture taken at the other cairn too, we settled in Dad's rucksack and made our way down to Esk Hause. So that just left Broad Crag to get out of the way. So in the footsteps of many walkers today, we headed up Calf Cove, along the broad track. Some of the path has been repaired and graded so making easier going, but it is still hard walking amongst the rock, something a gentleman commented on as we passed him.

Dad said "I'm not as fit as I was".

"Nor me either" he replied.

His much younger companion said the same, to which he replied, "you were never fit!"

The path was always rough, and care was necessary over the 150 yards of large boulders, to reach Ill Crag col. Beyond our final objective, Broad Crag loomed to the right.

A short descent, was followed by a short climb to Broad Crag col. At the top we struck right, to clamber carefully across the jumbled boulder field, and reach the shaped rock with a small cairn marking the summit.

How glad we were that there was no wind as we were able to balance ourselves on the boulder to record the achievement.

"Five to go", cried Allen

Just as we were settling back in the rucksack, two walkers arrived, a gentleman and a younger man. Dad offered to take their picture for them, which they were pleased to accept. Well all that was left now was the long walk down to Seathwaite. First we had to carefully recross the boulder field to the main path and follow it down again to Esk Hause. Along the way the we enjoyed good views of Kirk Fell and Great Gable, with far left Pillar its summit just in cloud.

As we got there, a RAF Typhoon aircraft came screaming over and disappeared between Great End and Great Gable. It just so happened that Dad was ringing Uncle Brian, at the time, so he heard it too. Setting off again we made the descent along the path towards Styhead, then once again crossed the gill and started down Grains Gill. It looks and was a long way too.

On the lower section we met a lady who was going to check on a Duke of Edinburgh Group. They were camping at Angle Tarn, having started today near Grisedale Tarn. To reach Angle Tarn they were having to climb Rossett Gill.

Dad said, "oh I hate Rossett Gill."

She had walked extensively, having not only done the Wainwrights, but the Munros too. Now that is some achievement. In all Dad chatted with her about ten minutes, about various parts of the Lake District and their respective favourite areas. She had two wonderful border collies with her too, for company.

Walking on it was now not too far to Stockley Bridge and so finally on to Seathwaite. At the farm, Dad stopped at Jake's Snack Shack, run by Jake, a lad of about 13. How enterprising. He serves drinks, biscuits, chocolate bars etc. Not surprisingly Dad had a very welcome mug of tea. It must have been because Dad was rather tired by now, that it did not occur to him to take a picture, so you will just have to imagine the stone building with a pitched roof.

With some relief Dad reached the car, and we settled on the front seat while Dad got his boots etc off. Then we headed home, but not before Dad had made a stop at Junction 38 services for some much needed sustenance. He enjoyed a plateful of sausage chips & beans washed down with a pot of tea with extra hot water.

Thanks Dad for all your effort today and for taking us on such a splendid walk.

And finally, we do realise that the majority of the pictures are of mountains, but this is the very essence of the area in which we were walking.

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