Scar Lathing and Great Moss from Jubilee Bridge

14th June 2020

There are a handful of places from which you can view England's highest ground but my favourite has to be Great Moss and the reason for that is how isolated the place is. You could leave Eskdale in the early hours and not see another soul until you reach the summit of Scafell Pike. There's no plan to reach the summit of Scafell Pike today, not for a while but the next best thing we can do is view it from the soft, boggy lonely ground that makes up Great Moss.

This report is by no means an invitation to walk amongst England's highest ground but merely a teaser on what we've been missing out on and when things eventually return to normal climbing Scafell Pike, whether it be for the first or tenth time that day will feel that bit more special. Todays walk just proved that you don't need to gain lofty heights to appreciate the Lakeland giants.

If Borrowdale has Castle Crag then Great Moss has Scar Lathing.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells

Ascent: 1,508 Feet - 460 Metres
Wainwrights: N/A
Visiting: Scar Lathing
Weather: High White Cloud, Feeling Very Humid With Slight Breeze At Height, Brightening Up PM. Highs of 26°C Lows of 21°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Jubilee Bridge, Eskdale
Area: Southern
Miles: 8
Walking With: Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 5 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: Jubilee Bridge - River Esk - Lingcove Bridge - Esk Gorge - Scar Lathing - Below Esk Buttress - Sampson's Stones - Esk Gorge - River Esk - Jubilee Bridge

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post code: CA19 1TH
Grid Reference: NY 212 801

There is room for around eight well parked cars at Jubilee Bridge with further off road spaces found between Jubilee Bridge and Whahouse Bridge. The parking spaces are perfectly positioned to get into upper and lower Eskdale whether you aim for a walk up Harter Fell, Bowfell or the Scafells these spaces during summer are at a premium and my advice is to arrive early should you want to secure a parking place. Look out for the cattle grid at the bottom of Hardknott Pass (Jubilee Bridge itself cannot be seen from the road) parking can be found on the left if approaching from the top of the Hardknott Pass or just after the cattle grid on the right if approaching from Eskdale. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


The bottom of Hard Knott Pass from the parking spaces at Jubilee Bridge 8:05pm 21°C

No matter how many times I drive over Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass my heart rate only returns to normal by the time I reach Jubilee Bridge and todays drive was no different. Rod had joined me from Cockly Beck and I drove over Hardnott Pass with his car in my rear view mirror. Our cars were the first to arrive at Jubilee Bridge and we parked with ease side by side and began to kit up under the morning sunshine. Rod had chosen to wear long trousers, as had I up until the evening before but after checking a last minute forecast it appeared we were going to be in for a hot day so I'd take wet socks during the crossing of the Esk if it meant I could have the legs out.

The plan is to follow the River Esk as far as Lingcove Bridge then ascend alongside Esk Gorge onto Great Moss followed by a short burst of ascent up Scar Lathing from which we can take in the views over Slight Side, Esk Buttress, the Scafells, Esk Pike and Bow Fell. Normally we'd gain the River Esk by means of passing Brotherilkeld Farm and although the footpath doesn't pass through the farm it does come awfully close so instead we followed guidelines and walked as far as the corner of the wall seen in the photograph, turned left and picked up the high valley footpath which eventually links up with the lower path along the River Esk after a mile or so.

Once at the corner of the wall... was just a case of passing over the ladder sty ahead whilst trying not to disturb the dozing sheep who had settled underneath.

Views over Slight Side, Brock Crag, Heron Crag, High Scarth Crag, Esk Pike and Bow Fell.
After climbing over the ladder sty this was the view that we were presented with which kinda view sets the benchmark for the rest of the day knowing full well it was only going to get better.

Approaching Lingcove Bridge.
With a warming sun over head we followed the River Esk and for the first mile or so it felt like we were the only people for miles around, that was until we spotted a two man tent on the west side of Esk Gorge followed by a couple a mile or so behind us who were being caught up by a trio of walkers, oh well it was nice while it lasted.

Throstlehow Crag, Throstle Garth, High Gate Crags, Low Gate Crags, Esk Pike and Bow Fell.
Lingcove Bridge remains hidden but its only minutes away now. After crossing Lingcove Bridge we head left and followed the footpath alongside Esk Gorge, you can't see the path from here which starts just below Throstle Garth seen as the craggy outcrop in the centre of the photo.

Lingcove Beck below Lingcove Bridge.
By the time we had reached Lingcove Bridge we stopped to take a few photos before I spotted Lingcove Beck falls which were flowing in good spate "you know what Rod, lets have lunch there later" "Aye good idea Paul" Rod replied.

Views of Green Crag (left) and Throstle How Crag (right)
Those with a keen eye might be able to spot Scafell Pike appearing through the gap in the middle.

Scar Lathing, III Crag, Broad Crag and Scafell Pike from the top of Esk Gorge.
By the time we had reached the top of Esk Gorge it had gone from feeling really warm to feeling tropical with the added mix of high humidity, I secretly told myself that I was pleased I was only climbing Scar Lathing today.

Cam Spout Crag, Sca Fell, Scafell Pike and Scar Lathing from the River Esk.
To head into Great Moss from here you can follow a narrow path that follows the curve of the River Esk or if you really want a good view of Great Moss and its surrounding peaks... can climb Scar Lathing.
We're following a tried and tested ascent that Bill Birkett recommends which is by the grass rake seen over on the right. My photograph just doesn't do the rake any justice which is much steeper than it appears.

Before we started our climb.
We take in the view towards High Gate Crags (left) and Low Gate Crags (right) with Bow Fell summit peaking out in the centre of the photo.

Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags seen over High Gate Crags from Scar Lathing.
We made good of the steep ascent and thanked our lucky stars that the surrounding Bracken was only ankle high which enabled us to zigzag up the steep rake before reaching the summit where we were met by a cool welcoming breeze.

Looking over Great Moss towards Scafell Pike, Rough Crag, Pen, Esk Buttress and III Crag.
I had initially planned to cross Great Moss by descending Scar Lathing to the west (in the direction of Sampson's Stones) but spotted a narrow path on the edge of the crags (seen right) to the north instead.

A close up of Esk Buttress, Pen, III Crag and Cockly Pike.
With the summit of Allen Crags peaking out above Esk Hause far right.

Cam Spout Crag, Sca Fell and Broad Stand from Great Moss.
We took in the grassy descent from Scar Lathing and linked up with the path we had seen from the summit and followed it until we were roughly adjacent to Esk Buttress then crossed Great Moss where surprisingly underfoot, it was only moderately damp. We reached a ruined stone wall from where we admired our intimidating views of Esk Buttress, Cam Spout Crag and Sca Fell.

Scafell Pike, Esk Buttress, Pen and III Crag.
That's Esk Buttress seen centre with the shattered scree run below while Pen can be seen just to the right. Should you feel sadistic enough to climb Pen from Great Moss there's a great path approached from the left which follows a stream which splits into a 'Y' bear right onto a grass rake and continue steeply until the head of the rake is reached, bear right again over grass and boulder where the summit awaits and you can expect to collapse into a steaming heap!

Cam Spout Crag close up.
For many years I have planned to climb Cam Spout Crag from Great Moss having only summited from Long Green above. The summit of Cam Spout Crag is actually located to the left of the huge cleft. I can't think of many summits where you ascend steeply then descend steeper in order to reach the summit but with Cam Spout Crag, that's just the case.

Sca Fell.

How Beck below Sca Fell.

Esk Buttress, Pen, III Crag, Esk Hause, Esk Pike, High Gate Crags and Bow Fell from Sampson's Stones.
We left How Beck not before spotting a trio of walkers alongside the River Esk who we had seen from Lingcove Bridge earlier. Up until now we had expected to see more walkers, possibly even wild campers around the Sampson's Stones but found no trace so I suppose we had done well having Great Moss all to ourselves up until now.

Great Moss sheep pen.

Scafell Pike, Esk Buttress, Pen, III Crag, Cockly Pike, Esk Hause and Esk Pike from Great Moss.
We left Sampson's Stones behind and made for the curve in the River Esk at the foot of Scar Lathing western flank. It was here we passed the couple seen in the photo and Hi's are shared. A narrow path now follows the Esk back along the flanks of Scar Lathing back to the spot from which we had ascended an hour or so earlier, the grass rake didn't look any less steeper.

Cam Spout Crag, Broad Stand, Sca Fell and Scafell Pike from the top of Esk Gorge.
In this photo you can just about pick out the narrow path we had returned from just above the bank of the River Esk.

Scafell, Pen, Broad Crag, III Crag and Scar Lathing from Esk Gorge.

Returning to Lingcove Bridge with views of Yew Bank, Hard Knott and Harter Fell (Eskdale)
Typically the sun started to come out during the descent back to Lingcove Bridge and with that it actually started to feel hotter than it already was. I imagined how Great Moss would now look in the sunshine as the skies started to clear of cloud but I didn't think about it too long because that isn't what Great Moss is all about for me because it isn't Great Moss without a little moody ambiance and I thought we had that in bucket loads this morning.

Ghyll scramblers setting off up Esk Gorge.
Rather them than me.

Back at Lingcove Bridge.
We told ourselves we'd have a early lunch but it was almost lunchtime anyway by the time we got back to Lingcove Bridge I was looking forward to a bit of scran while exploring the falls when we spotted one of the wild campers who turned out to be a young girl who had just slipped up to the waist whilst in the River Esk, now you'd think her partner would have come to her aid but he was too busy carrying their dog which from afar looked like the comedy moment of the century! As we approached we could see her lower half was wet through and they were having a friendly squabble but he did what any man would do and thought it was far more important to keep the family pet dry rather than help his girlfriend out the River Esk.

Lunch with a view.
Ok we didn't stop to eat our lunch in Lingcove Beck but it was very close by, instead of risking my expensive camera whilst negotiating wet slippery rock I took this photo using my mobile phone instead.


The view back along the River Esk now packed with sun bathers.
We packed up lunch and started to make our way back to Jubilee Bridge first passing a couple of Ghyll Scramblers who were drying off in the sheepfold next to Lingcove Bridge. We had seen many a walker who were vastly out numbered by families sun bathing or swimming in the River Esk from couples like you see in the photo to large groups of teenagers. The saddest sight however was, they were starting to leave litter behind, this is the type of tourist the Lake District doesn't need.

Bow Fell.

The midday heat was beating down and I was able to take long sips from my bite valve knowing the cars were parked just near by. We took the same footpath back avoiding Brotherilkeld Farm but it seemed we were the only ones doing so. The sheep had returned to the ladder sty and we startled them as we passed over but returned as soon as we passed sheltering from the heat of midday.

The car park was much busier when we got back and some drivers had resorted to parking back up the pass in short cuttings that barely passed as verges. Nevertheless we started to kit down behind our cars while being accompanied by the sound of vintage motorcycles who had just come down from the pass. Unable to shake Rod's hand we part with "see you next week" where with any luck we'll be joined by David, it's been sometime since the three of us were last out together.

Wrynose Bottom.
Seeing as it was such a nice day I stopped on the way back to Ambleside to take a few photos.

Little Stand.

The Langdale Pikes, Side Pike and Sergeant Man from the bottom of Wrynose Pass.
I would have had a lovely shot of Wetherlam but the hedge got in the way.


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