Esk Pike from Brotherilkeld

28th May 2023

I worked last weekend, and I was eager to get back onto the fells for something a little different as we find ourselves within a run of great weather. I had three walks in mind, none of which I'd plucked from my ever increasing 'to do' list. Given that it's a Bank Holiday weekend I needed to factor in where todays walk started from, and the more I thought about starting from Eskdale the more it made sense. So I had my starting point; where to walk came next, Harter Fell and Hard Knott sprang to mind, but I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine, and a solid six hour walk sounded just up my street, it had to be Esk Pike from Brotherilkeld, Eskdale.

The last time I walked Esk Pike's south ridge was during the Summer of 2019 when Rod and I set off from Cockley Beck. It was a day much like today, with the exception that we totally missed the views due to low cloud, and, given how incredible the views are, I figured it was time I returned. I had never intended to include Allen Crags in this walk, and you'll learn why I did further into the walk report. I personally feel there is no finer way to Esk Pike's summit than via its south ridge, cradled by Great Moss and the Scafell Massif on one side and Bow Fell and the Crinkles on the other.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells
The outstanding feature is a lengthy south ridge, bounded by the River Esk westwards, and to the east, by Yeastyrigg Gill and Lingcove Beck: a ridge with many abrupt crags.

Ascent: 3,271 Feet - 997 Metres
Wainwrights: 2, Esk Pike - Allen Crags
Visiting: Pike de Bield
Weather: Predominantly Sunny Highs of 22°C Lows of 12°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Jubilee Bridge, Eskdale
Area: Southern
Miles: 12
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 6 Hours 15 Minutes
Route: Brotherilkeld - River Esk - Lingcove Bridge - High Gait Crags - Yeastyrigg Crags - Pike de Bield - Esk Pike - Esk Hause - Allen Crags - Esk Hause - Great Moss - Sampson's Stones - Damas Dubs - Cowcove zig-zags - Scale Bridge - Taw House - Brotherilkeld

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post code: CA19 1TH
Grid Reference: NY 212 801
Notes: 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 postponed to get into upper and lower Eskdale whether you aim for a walk up Harter Fell, Bowfell or the Scafells These spaces during the 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 Hardknott Pass or just after the cattle grid on the right if approaching from Eskdale. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


The Langdale Pikes and Side Pike from the bottom of Wrynose Pass.
I couldn't resist a quick stop off to take this photo of the Langdale Pikes before heading up Wrynose Pass, what a stunner of a morning.

Bottom of Hardknott Pass, Jubilee Bridge, Eskdale 12°C 7:45am
My intention was to set off early, but I and a few other cars had been held up by a group of cyclists heading up Hardknott Pass where we were forced to stop on the zigzags just below the top of the pass. It was no bother given the views, although I'm not sure how fun the cyclists thought it was to be watched as their front wheels twisted under the agony of the steep pass.

The parking spaces were almost full when I arrived at Jubilee Bridge, grabbing one of the two spaces left.  I'd parked next to two guys who were kitting up, and although I passed on my 'morning' I only got a half-mumbled one back from one of the guys. I'd remembered to apply some spray on suncream but had forgotten to bring a cloth to wipe my hands afterwards D'oh! The two guys had by now walked down to Jubilee Bridge no doubt heading for Harter Fell afterwards. I lace up on the familiar boulder, which I'm parked behind, while finishing off a bottle of Lucozade Sport before completing a final sweep of the boot and locking my car. By the way my pack thudded against my back I knew I was in for a full day of walking as I set off up the pass as far as the end of the wall from where I gain access into Upper Eskdale.

Looking back towards Harter Fell (Eskdale) Crook Crag and Green How.
Despite the parking spaces being full I seem to have the place to myself as I settle into the walk.

Heron Crag and Round Scar.
Still in shade but not for long as I notice Bow Fell has a huge mass of cloud over its summit over to the right.

The River Esk with Bow Fell still masked in cloud.
I'm confident, given how quickly the temperature is climbing, that the cloud will disperse soon. There's no sign of Esk Pike yet, and I'm just hoping it's not a repeat of my last visit.

Green Crag (left) Throstle Garth and Throstlehow Crag as I near Lingcove Bridge.
The couple seen over on the right were here to explore the pools and falls of the River Esk which during the summertime get really popular with wild swimmers and bathers. This area, and the area behind me is known as Tongue Pot.

Looking back on Lingcove Bridge.
After a quick chat with the couple I began my ascent alongside Lingcove Beck flanked by the sound of cascading water and the infinity pools.

Throstle Garth.
It's really starting to warm up now as I'm reminded how steep this section of path is.

The view beyond Throstlehow Crag.
Towards Slight Side, Cam Spout Crag and Sca Fell.

Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell (far left) whose summit is just poking out of the cloud.

The path levels alongside Lingcove Beck as I round the lower flank of Yew Bank north ridge. The craggy outcrops in the centre of the photo is where I'm heading with Pianet Knott (in shade) seen off to the left.

Pianet Knott, Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags.
It's time to cross Lingcove Beck now and head over the shoulder of Pianet Knott, you can't see it but there is a faint path to follow.

Incredible views of Slight Side, Cam Spout Crag, Sca Fell and Scafell Pike.
Just as the cloud peels away from Scafell Pike summit.

Looking back on Yew Bank and a distant Hard Knott with Harter Fell (Eskdale) to the right.
It's a steep pull as I gain the shoulder of Pianet Knott with rewards plentiful as the ground plateaus as far as Low Gait Crags and High Gait Crags.

High Gait Crags, Esk Pike South Ridge (Yeastyrigg Crags) Green Hole and Bow Fell.
I flank Long Crag and Low Gait Crags over to my left and aim for High Gait Crags seen in the distance with III Crag domineering beyond.

The view into Great Moss and the River Esk.
With Scar Lathing seen over on the right, High Scarth Crag and Silverybield Crag over on the left, and not forgetting Slight Side and Cam Spout Crag in the distance.

Esk Pike South Ridge.
What looks like Esk Pike summit from here is actually Pike de Bield, with Yeastyrigg Crags seen to the right. It looks like the cloud is isolated to just Bow Fell but with that said, it is lifting slowly.

III Crag, Esk Hause and Esk Pike from High Gait Crags summit.
High Gait Crags doesn't have to be gained in order to access the south ridge but it does offer some of the best views of the Scafells and Upper Eskdale.

Esk Hause, Esk Pike, Pike de Bield, Yeastyrigg Crags and Bow Fell from High Gait Crags.
Not clearly seen is the singular trod I use to gain the south ridge over on the right. .

Cam Spout Crag, Greencove Wyke, Broad Stand, Mickledore, Scafell Pike, Esk Buttress, Pen, Broad Crag and finally III Crag.
Scafell Pike summit is looking busy already with quite a crowd stood at the summit.

In't tother direction.
Before I leave I take in the view over Great Moss towards Sca Fell, Cam Spout Crag and Slight Side. I'll be down there later.

Sca Fell East Buttress close up.
With Cam Spout Crag seen to the left whose summit of the cleft known as Perriguine Gully.

Here looking towards Esk Buttress, Pen, Scafell Pike, Broad Stand, III Crag and Esk Hause.
From Esk Hause I'll descend into Great Moss later following the origins of the River Esk.

From a pool close to High Gait Crags.
I take in more views of Sca Fell, Broad Stand, Mickledore, Scafell Pike, Esk Buttress, Pen, Little Narrow Cove, Broad Crag and finally III Crag.

Looking down Esk Pike South Ridge.
Where's all the sunshine gone!

Yeastyrigg Crags with Pike de Bield off to the left.
In the time it had taken me to gain the ridge proper it had clouded over and with it came a notable drop in temperature. I continue up the ridge this time avoiding the gully opting to head left from where I'll gain Pike de Bield.

Esk Pike from Pike de Bield.
With Pike de Bield gained I span around to descend its rocky spur to find a solo woman heading down the ridge who appeared from out of nowhere. She was checking her map and compass and hadn't noticed me standing at Pike de Bield summit.

Pike de Bield.

Moody Scafells and Slight Side from Esk Pike summit.
With Pike de Bield behind me I headed for Esk Pike where I joined the rocky footpath bound for the summit. Besides the two people I spoke to back at Lingcove Bridge and the solo woman walker I hadn't seen anyone all morning which after three hours was actually quite welcoming.

Esk Hause, Great End, Great Gable Green Gable, Base Brown, Seathwaite Fell with the Grasmore group beyond.
There were only two people at the summit by the time I reached it one being a really friendly chap and the other being a chap hogging the summit cairn hence no summit photo. To add insult to injury, instead of giving me a few minutes before he began his descent he decided to descend right after me, almost clipping my boots as I descended.

Allen Crags from the cross shelter at Lower Esk Hause.
I had no intention of including Allen Crags in today's walk, but after witnessing more than a dozen walkers descend into Great Moss via the same route I was taking, I decided to create a gap and include Allen Crags which I hadn't visited for nearly five years.

Allen Crags summit.
Esk Hause was unusually quiet as I passed the stone shelter and took in the slight descent into Lower Esk Hause from where I began my ascent on Allen Crags. The summit didn't look too busy from Esk Pike but on the other side of the cairn sat a handful of walkers along with a chap who was packing away a drone Id heard a few minutes earlier.

III Crag and Great End seen over Lower and Upper Esk Hause.
Walkers were appearing from Great Langdale and Seathwaite most of whom continued over Esk Hause towards Calf Cove and beyond. One walker crossed from the Seathwaite side and dropped into Great Langdale, and I wondered of his route. By now the sun was back out, and I was looking forward to my descent into Great Moss while wondering how far the group I'd seen had got.

Descending down into Great Moss.
I took in the slight ascent over Esk Hause then immediately began the descent into Great Moss following the natural line of the ghyll via a path over on the right.

The ghyll narrows...
As the path morphs into the ghyll bed, it's not a place for tired feet!

Great Moss in sunshine.
The ghyll finally widens before a grassy tongue is reached flanked by the mass of III Crag and Cockly Pike to the right. The large group appeared to have stopped about half a mile ahead.

The view into Little Narrowcove.
With Pen to the left and Skilling Crag and Yorkshire Rake Crags to the right.

Looking back on Esk Hause.
The group had come to rest right on the path and turned out to be a group of mixed age teenagers led by a couple of mountain leaders one of whom thought he make me the butt of one of his jokes as I passed which kinda backfired for him.

III Crag and Cockly Pike from Great Moss.
Seen beyond Little Narrowcove.

Esk Buttress and Pen.
With III Crag to the right.

Esk Buttress, Pen, III Crag, Esk Hause and Esk Pike from the River Esk/Great Moss.
Voices echoed around Great Moss from walkers descending from the direction of Foxes Tarn, so clearly I could actually hear what they were saying. The group I passed earlier had began walking, and at one point, just yards behind me, the leader allowed the group to scatter and even chase lambs, I was getting livid and I widened the gap as I made for Sampson's Stones where I planned to eat a late lunch.

Lunch with a view.
Here looking out over Great Moss towards Scafell Pike, Esk Buttress, Pen, III Crag, Esk Hause, Esk Pike and Bow Fell.

Great Moss.
It was great to de-shoulder my pack, rest a little while watching the group cross the Esk and descend the ravine towards Lingcove Bridge. Peace and quiet returned with just the murmurings of the River Esk, nearby sheep, and the breeze. With lunch over, I was passed by the two walkers who I heard descending Foxes Tarn earlier. Moments later, I shoulder my pack and follow them out of Great Moss.

Descending by Scale Gill.
The afternoon heat was hot now, and I sipped from my bite valve at free will knowing I was on the last leg. The two lads had a good 200 yards on me, sometimes further as I flanked High Scarth Crag to my right and Silverybield Crag to my left. The latter might have been an option had I not scaled Allen Crags earlier, but time was pressing on and the afternoon heat was becoming uncomfortable.

Brock Crag, Yew Bank and a distant Crinkle Crags from Taw House.
With the descent of Scale Gill behind me, I followed the track towards Taw House through fields of sheep who objected loudly to me passing through their field. Feet begin to ache as the twelve miles are reached as I curl the pads of my feet before kicking them into the backs of my boots. A temporary fix, if there ever was one. On the other side of the Esk teenagers carrying towels wander to the pools; some are already on their way back as we pass through Brotherilkeld together.  The glint of windscreens extends as far as Whahouse Bridge, with just as many on foot heading towards Boot.

I pass the phone box at Brotherilkeld which could do with a lick of paint. I had intentionally not collapsed my poles because there's a short but steep pull back to Jubilee Bridge. I spot the two chaps who had left Jubilee Bridge before me, heading from Brotherilkeld Farm who must have included Hard Knott after Harter Fell. A great route, I tell myself. As I kit down, the chaps arrive back at their car, and just like this morning, I don't hear a murmur from them. Cars and bikes come and go up the pass as I open another bottle of Lucozade and down it in one. I let the guys unlace at the boulder while I slump back on the grass hands extended backwards while curling my bare feet in the soft grass.


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