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Ill Crag & Glaramara / 1½ days / 9 miles (15km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 26 Sep 2007
Start / Finish: Seathwaite in Borrowdale. Good roadside parking.
Maps: Explorer OL4 & OL6: English Lakes North West & South West.

Day 1Great End, Ill crag & Allen Crags6.2 miles / 3010 feet (10.0km / 917m)
Day 2Glaramara2.6 miles / 530 feet (4.2km / 161m)

Another short variation of a circuit from Seathwaite, this time approaching via Taylorgill Force and returning via the Hind Gill path. It was a good tent pitch at High House Tarn but we were quite taken aback by the bitingly cold wind for this time of year, a northerly airstream that had its compensation in dramatic skies and light contrasts, at least on the first day.

On a previous visit to the area we had noticed a faint trace of a path approaching the northern cliffs of Great End, and we vaguely remember hearing of an approach from that side. The main objective of the first day was to investigate that line and make a direct ascent up the northern crags.

Day 1 - Great End, Ill crag & Allen Crags

This was our annual return to the central Lake District after our summer season of less popular jaunts, and the culture change is always a bit of a shock to the system: the main holidays were over but there were cars arriving at Seathwaite all the time as we were getting kitted up. Many ascent routes start from here but there were several people following our line and many more on the others.

It was about a decade ago that we last ascended by Taylorgill Force, an easy clamber up the rocks with a good view of the falls. Waterfalls never seem to be in spate when we visit them despite a few attempts to catch them at their best after a spell of heavy rain, perhaps we need to visit during the deluge!.

Taylorgill Force
Taylorgill Force (26 Sep 2007__09:36:59)

The cold wind made its presence felt on the walk by the river up to Styhead Tarn but the crisp view to the mountains ahead was a warming sight, first Lingmell and later Broad Crag and Great End.

Styhead Gill & Lingmell
Styhead Gill & Lingmell (26 Sep 2007__10:48:02)

Sunshine mixed with dark clouds was the order of the day from Styhead Tarn, which would later give some beautiful light contrasts and fine skies. At the stretcher box we took the path to Sprinkling Tarn, a fine sight despite reflecting the grey sky.

Sprinkling Tarn
Sprinkling Tarn (26 Sep 2007__11:46:39)

A short walk past the tip of the tarn and crossing a tiny inflow, we left the main highway and climbed towards the bouldery foot of the first slanting shelf that ascends rightwards below the cliffs of Great End. At first there is only a vague trace of a path, but it becomes a bit clearer higher up and the ground levels out at the shoulder with an aerial view of Sprinkling Tarn.

Sprinkling Tarn from Great End northern face
Sprinkling Tarn from Great End northern face (26 Sep 2007__11:59:04)

A brief detour around a small knoll gives a good view of Lingmell and Piers Gill with Wasdale far below, and just below this point the top of the cleft of Skew Gill can be seen.

Lingmell (26 Sep 2007__12:18:49)

From the shoulder there is a clear path towards the foot of the steep towering crags, but we could see no clear line beyond this and we wondered if we had followed a rock climbers path that would lead to difficulty later on. Since this path was well away from the sheer cliffs, we decided to pursue it and it turned out to be a highly enjoyable and quite well defined route through the crags of the northern face, involving just a little mild scrambling and giving great views over Seathwaite Fell to the northern fells beyond.

Sprinkling Tarn from Great End northern face
Sprinkling Tarn from Great End northern face (26 Sep 2007__12:55:17)

The cold wind was gusting around this bleak north face which lies in permanent shadow, but the hard work was more than enough to keep us warm today. The angle finally eases at a short boulder field and just beyond is the summit with superb views, and the windshelter was very welcome for a sheltered rest.

Esk Pike & Bow Fell
Esk Pike & Bow Fell (26 Sep 2007__14:00:32)
Great Gable & Kirk Fell
Great Gable & Kirk Fell (26 Sep 2007__14:11:24)

We descended to join the pedestrian superhighway that leads to Scafell Pike, but left it for a short ascent of the little visited rocky summit of Ill Crag. The foreground sunshine and dark clouds and shadows to the north made a finely contrasting scene.

Broad Crag
Broad Crag (26 Sep 2007__14:30:06)
Light contrasts on Great End & Allen Crags ridge
Light contrasts on Great End & Allen Crags ridge (26 Sep 2007__14:30:25)

Joining the steady stream of people for the last time, we walked down via Esk Hause to the cross windshelter to climb in solitude again to Allen Crags and follow the ridge. After collecting water we made for one of our favourite tarns below the little rocky cliffs of High House Tarn Top, a magical place where we found a good tent pitch on the south side. The evening skies were glorious, but the wind felt very cold by now and we were glad of our down jackets while taking the photos.

Glaramara from Allen Crags
Glaramara from Allen Crags (26 Sep 2007__15:30:19)
High House Tarn & Bow Fell
High House Tarn & Bow Fell (26 Sep 2007__16:22:07)
Pitch at High House Tarn
Pitch at High House Tarn (26 Sep 2007__17:02:17)
Evening sky & light on High House Tarn from the pitch
Evening sky & light on High House Tarn from the pitch (26 Sep 2007__18:22:16)
Evening sky & Bow Fell from pitch
Evening sky & Bow Fell from pitch (26 Sep 2007__18:27:10)
Evening sky & light on Langdale Pikes from pitch
Evening sky & light on Langdale Pikes from pitch (26 Sep 2007__18:29:55)

Day 2 - Glaramara

The temperature was not as low as we expected from the forecast, dank mist was prevalent at dawn and the wind was as cold as ever. On reaching Glaramara it seemed to be getting worse and we descended directly to Seathwaite via the Hind Gill path - no photos at all today.