|OS Route Map →||Route file →|
Date: 13 May 2008
Start / Finish: Rosthwaite NT car park.
Maps: Explorer OL4 & OL6: English Lakes NW & SW.
|Day 1||Great Gable & Scafell Pike||9.5 miles / 5240 feet (15.3km / 1600m)|
|Day 2||Esk Pike, Rosset Pike & Langstrath||8.9 miles / 1060 feet (14.3km / 320m)|
Another 2-day circuit from Rosthwaite, taking the Grey Knotts ridge approach to Great Gable and the corridor route to Scafell Pike, then returning via Esk Pike and the Rosset Pike edge down to Langstrath.
I had two days of warm unbroken sunshine and very light winds for this last minute trip, and the long climbs concentrated in the first day made good training. There were fewer people than expected for such glorious weather in May, but clear signs that the summer rot is beginning to set in.
I took the track out of Rosthwaite to New Bridge and crossed the footbridge to follow the footpath heading up to the old Rigghead quarries as far as the footbridge over Tongue Gill, where I turned L on the good bridleway path that contours around towards Honister. This was the first time I had used this path and it's a good one, with pleasing views over the valley as it curves round and climbs gently, shadowing the pass road to Honister Hause. A steep and hot climb gained the Grey Knotts ridge and a welcome cooling breeze, and from the summit of the fell, which is a short walk W from the path as opposed to another cairn where a few people had clustered at the top of the climb, there was a splendid view towards Buttermere.
An excellent easy walk over Brandreth to the pools at Gillercomb Head and the climbing begins again in earnest on the slopes of Green Gable, with ever improving views such as the Mosedale Horseshoe and the length of Ennerdale.
It is only a very short descent from Green Gable to Windy Gap, which is just as well because the 'path' is a truly horrible eroded line of slithery red scree like walking on ball bearings. As if to atone for this unnerving dithery slide, the ascent of the NE face of Great Gable is an excellent clamber up rock to reach the stony dome and inevitable gathering of people, some clutching their little AW books, though not as many as I anticipated. The views were superb today and it was easy to find a spot for a bite to eat.
The descent of around 1400' to Sty Head is easy and mostly on a pitched path, but very long with the Scafell massif gaining stature with every step and looking increasingly formidable today. The corridor route was mostly sheltered from the cool breeze which made the climb hot work, but this line is always a pleasure to walk in such a grand mountain landscape.
Erosion control work is still in progress on the route which I find strange, it's rocky and firm and doesn't seem in need of it to me - if they are going to build pitched paths anywhere, there are far more deserving places like the lower part of the descent to Broadcrag col.
I joined the path from Lingmell col to Scafell Pike where the last few people were making their way down to the Wasdale side and just two were left at the summit. Surprisingly the route over towards Broad Crag and Ill Crag was deserted, there was plenty of daylight left and I expected quite a few people there, especially as there are normally some late descenders a lot nearer to sunset. I made my pitch on Great End and was nonplussed to find a large rusty spadehead and glass bottle lying there on the summit plateau: I sometimes carry out the litter I find but this really wasn't feasible!.
After a quite chilly night there was a glorious clear sunny morning with hardly a breath of wind, and what a spot to emerge from the tent and appreciate it. In such conditions inertia exerts a strong influence and it would be so easy to relax there for ages taking it in, but I had to be back home fairly early today. An excellent easy stroll down to Esk Hause and the first climb of the day was Esk Pike.
My route now was down to Ore Gap and the path to Angle Tarn, or 'Bow Fell Butlins' as it usually becomes in summer with its almost guaranteed collection of tents and happy (or not) campers. I noticed some 'work in progress' signs erected on the path up from the tarn to Esk Hause and a hut has been constructed near the path to support erosion repair efforts.
From the main highway a thin path heads out to Rossett Pike and continues near the edge above Mickleden, traversing the hummocky ridge well away from the main path below and is a delightful walk with great views over the valley and to the surrounding fells.
The hummocky edge ends at a rocky outcrop where I joined the main Martcrag Moor path to the Stake Pass and turned L to begin the descent into Langstrath. It seemed a pity to be descending so early on such a fine day but the walk along the valley is a very enjoyable one, with good views up to the surrounding rocky mountainsides. At Smithymire Island I crossed the footbridge over Stonethwaite Beck and took the bridleway track to Rosthwaite.