Walking the Birketts, Bowscale Fell by Bowscale Tarn

17th March 2019

It's been a miserable few weeks with storm after storm passing through leaving flooding and gales for as far back as the beginning of March. Eager to put boot back onto fell today I'm joined by David who like me, just wants Spring to arrive so we can show off our knees. Having sat Saturday out due to Storm Hannah Sunday looked much more promising with a weather window from dawn through to gone midday. Having such a small window I asked David did he fancy joining me on a tour of Bowscale Fell from Bowscale Hamlet, the walk of course suited both our needs and if the weather played ball we might even throw in a scout out to Eycott Hill afterwards.

As always we'll be following Birketts original route which starts at the parking spaces just outside Bowscale. We leave Bowscale and head westerly while rising gently above the Mosedale valley towards one of Lakeland most famous corrie's home to Bowscale Tarn. A steep pull is required to gain the ridge via Tarn Crags while views open out over Mosedale towards Carrock Fell a mile to the north. Once the ridge is gained a easy stroll is all that is required to reach Bowscale Fell where today we were treated to a wonderful light show. From the summit we abruptly head east and take in the downward stroll towards The Tongue, a summit first for yours truly where we were met by a passing hail shower then a rainbow. A steep and careful descent is then required to gain the Glenderamackin some nine hundred feet below. Once the path is reached alongside the banks of the Glenderamackin we head back towards Mungrisdale before the mile and a quarter walk back to Bowscale while being treated to some welcome sunshine on our backs.

The Complete Lakeland Fells
By Bill Birkett

-Bowscale Tarn

In days gone by Bowscale Tarn was a considerable mountain attraction. It is set high on the mountain's side and trapped by moraine in its ice-carved basin.


Ascent: 1,666 Feet - 508 Metres
Birketts: 2, Bowscale Fell - The Tongue
Weather: A Wintery Mix Of Rain Hail, Snow, Sunshine, Strong Winds And Severe Windchill Over The Summits. Highs of 12°C Lows of 3°C Feels Like -3°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Bowscale Hamlet
Area - Group: Northern - N/BLE
Miles: 5.5
Walking With: David Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 3 Hours
Route: Bowscale - Mosedale - Bowscale Tarn - Bowscale Fell - The Tongue - Bullfell Beck - River Glenderamackin - Mungrisdale - Bowscale

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA1 10XH
Grid Reference: NY 359 031
Notes: A small car park can be found on the right before entering Bowscale Hamlet, there is room for around eight well parked cars with the car park gives easy access to Bowscale Tarn, Bowscale Fell and Carrock Fell.


Map and Photo Gallery


Bowscale Hamlet 08.20am 3°C

It's fair to say I had a pretty eventful drive north after passing three or four car accidents one of which I was narrowly involved in after the car in front of me bounced off the hard shoulder barrier then back into the lane right in front of me, I came to a stop just in time to see the whites of the drivers eyes through his side window. I have no doubt he'd ignored the 40mph displayed on the matrix signs after three more cars had done similar after a dense hail shower had just passed which left the road surface feeling like I was driving on ball barings, up ahead Highways England vehicles were already tending to the other motorist and no doubt would get to the driver who I narrowly missed in good time. I continued north and thankfully never encountered any more hail which helped the heart back to its normal pace.

On the eastern horizon snow showers passed in great waves but I left them on the Lancashire border only to find it had started to snow again by the time I reached Bowscale. David was already there and after the briefest of hello's we kitted up in the comfort of the cars until the snow shower had passed. It was blowing a gale and the wind chill was instantly felt, the good news however was between the hail and snow showers it was bright leaving some really nice clarity about.

Now heading towards Bowscale Tarn.
With the Mosedale valley seen over on the right.

The view up towards Coomb Height and Grainsgill Beck.
We have some pretty amazing views considering just ten minutes ago it was snowing but the windchill didn't let us forget just how cold it was despite the fantastic views.

Looking down on Bowscale Tarn from the ascent of Tarn Crags.
The wind continued to howl through the Mosedale valley and we both hoped that the natural corrie would provide us with a little respite. The sun by now was hidden by thick cloud and I wondered was that the last we'd see of it. By the time we reached Bowscale Tarn we were proved right and indeed the corrie did provide us with a few moments free from the wind chill which my running eyes and nose were thankful for.

Into the snow line as we take in the view over Mosedale towards a cloud free Carrock Fell.

Snow cornice, Tarn Crags.
The wind eased again during the ascent of Tarn Crags and we were able to ascend in full conversation before navigating over the stable cornice which had formed over the head of the corrie, so stable in fact we were able to kick fresh footings and trust them as we gained the ridge.

Bowscale Fell is up ahead.
Well, the null from the wind didn't last long but we did get treated to some fantastic light and cloud shows as we approached Bowscale Fell summit.

Sandwiched between fell side and cloud.
As we take in the view towards Coomb Height.

Here, we look back on Carrock Fell.
Who by now is about to be covered in cloud.

Frozen Bowscale Fell summit shelter.
Despite there being fresh snow underfoot our ascent towards the summit felt like a fight with mother nature and I'd be right if I said it felt like David and I came away with a thick lip each such the intensity of the wind accompanied by the severe wind chill. Needless to say summit time was kept to an absolute minimum adding that we knew just by dropping by just a few feet we'd be out of the worst of it.

Views of Bannerdale Crags, Bannerdale Crags East Ridge, Foule Crag and Blencathra.

Classic Lakeland fell walking in Winter.
Not just the landscape but the dramatics of the cloud too.

Bannerdale Crags and Bannerdale Crags East Ridge.
The more we descended the more into the head of Bannerdale we could see along the razor like cliffs that make up Bannerdale Crags.

Continuing to descend towards The Tongue summit.
A popular path does descend to the south (Bannerdale side) of The Tongue but today we are paying a visit to the summit seen here just up ahead, it's pretty rough underfoot mind with bogs and wet tussocky grass to negotiate.

Then the sun came back out.
Revealing Bannerdale Crags East ridge and Bannerdale Crags summit in all their glory.

Bannerdale Crags.
That's Foule Crag in the distance, it looks like the cloud is once again closing in.

Shadow and light.

Looking back at Bowscale Fell from The Tongue.
We had been treated to a null from the wind once more which didn't last long but long enough to appreciate conversation again. Just yards away from The Tongue summit our waterproofs were being treated to the tell tale pitter-patter of another advancing hail and rain shower, there's now't we could do about it but embrace it by putting the hoods up!

There it goes.
The Tongue summit cairn.

Descending The Tongue via the East nose with views of the River Glenderamackin nearly a thousand below.
The descent is very steep and care must be taken.

Looking back on The Tongue, Bannerdale Crags East Ridge and Bannerdale Crags as we head for Mungrisdale.
We hadn't seen anyone up until the descent of The Tongue where we spotted two groups of three heading towards Bannerdale, by now we were already talking about todays walk number two, Eycott Hill which will require a short drive back through Mungrisdale towards its starting point, but more on that later.

Bowscale Fell and The Tongue as we leave Mungrisdale for Bowscale Hamlet.
Well it looks like we may have a sunny walk back to the cars.

Carrock Fell as we head back towards Bowscale Hamlet.
With The Tongue descended the sun came back out and whilst sheltered from the summit winds we took in the mile back to Bowscale with a bright sun on our backs. We strode back to Bowscale and agreed that before we drove back to todays second walk starting point we'd have a re-fuel first back at the cars. The sun was still shining and although the road was busier than we'd like to have seen we were appreciative of the midday warmth which accompanied us back to Bowscale whilst not quite believing that right about now, it should be raining.


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