Walk up Bowfell and Crinkle Crags via The Climbers Traverse from ODG
Route Summary: Classic scrambling route up Bowfell from the ODG rather than the ‘tourist’ route via Three Tarns. Bowfell and Crinkle Crags should be high on every fell walker’s list. See the best of both with this circuit from Great Langdale.
Classic scrambling route up Bowfell from the ODG rather than the ‘tourist’ route via Three Tarns. Bowfell and Crinkle Crags should be high on every fell walker’s list. See the best of both with this circuit from Great Langdale.
|16.25 km||1321 m||8 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Great Langdale (Stickle Gill)
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Walk up Bowfell and Crinkle Crags via The Climbers Traverse from ODG Route Map and GPX DownloadDownload file for GPS
Summits and Places on this Route
Walk up Bowfell and Crinkle Crags via The Climbers Traverse from ODG Details
Bowfell lies in the heart of the Lake District and its pyramidal peak has one of the most extensive views of all the Lakeland fells. Seeing the Scafell range in profile is worth the climb alone. It is one of the bigs ones, the 9th highest mountain in England (if you are using the Nuttall list), rising to a lofty 902m.
Its popularity stems from these facts, as well as its accessibility and relatively straightforward climb via The Band, a broad, grassy ridge which links the fell tops to the valley below, dividing Great Langdale into Oxendale and Mickleden. Many will be content climbing The Band in its entirety, however we, at Mud and Routes, think you deserve to experience the very best of Bowfell; The Climbers Traverse, a snaking ribbon of path that takes you into the depths of the mountain. Don’t worry, no particular skills are required – the name merely refers to its use by climbers to reach the great climbing routes on Bowfell Buttress and Chambers Crag.
Additionally, this walk also takes in Crinkle Crags, whose name derives from the serrated silhouette of the fell. All five summits are worth exploring, though routes across the individual tops can be intermittent.
Bowfell via The Climbers Traverse Route Description
1 – Parking at the Stickle Ghyll car park is free for National Trust members, otherwise a fee of £6-£8 is required for the day. The car park is large so you should not have trouble finding a space. From the car park, return to the road and take a right, following it the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel. Keeping following the road a short distance to a 90-degree left-hand bend where you will find a metal gate next to a small post box. Pass through the gate and follow the tarmac driveway to Stool End Farm and the bottom of The Band.
2 – Follow the footpath signs through the farmyard to find a gate and the path on the other side. After passing a small stand of trees you will see a fork in the path (NY 27549 05623). Take the path to the right and begin your climb of The Band. A gate through the drystone wall leads into the Access Land.
3 – The path is well constructed and easy to follow as it winds up the slopes of The Band. It’s around 1.5km of climbing before it levels – will see it continuing to the col at Three Tarns. Make sure you keep an eye out for a fainter path above the main walker’s route, heading for the ridgeline. This is the path to the Climbers Traverse and this is what you need to aim for..
4 – In order to reach the path to the Climbers Traverse, you will need to leave the main route up The Band. There is a fork located at approximately NY 27549 05623 where a smaller path leaves the main one to the right, gaining height as it climbs towards the ridge crest. Follow this new path at it rises until you are approximately level with the Three Tarns col. Here, the route turns right and climbs up to a shoulder from where you will see the Climbers Traverse.
5 – The Climbers Traverse is a narrow path which undulates across the side of the mountain. It’s airy with superb views down to the valley below but shouldn’t feel exposed and there are only a couple of short, rock steps to negotiate. The traverse heads for Bowfell Buttress, the tall crag you should see in the distance.
6 – Prior to reaching the main buttress, the path passes beneath two imposing crags; Flat Crags followed by Chambers Crag. A spring emanates from the base of Chambers Crag and can be used to refill water bottles if necessary. At the spring, look up to the left to see a tumble of boulders alongside the Great Slab. This is your route of ascent.
7 – Climb the boulders. You may wish to make use of the edge of the Great Slab but venturing out into the middle is not recommended. The angle is around 30 degrees and there would be little to stop you if you slipped. Once the slope of boulders becomes more like a gully you will emerge on Bowfell only a short distance from the main path from Three Tarns and a short climb from the summit. Once you reach the top, admire the view.
8 – Return to the Great Slab from Bowfell’s summit and follow the path as it descends a steep, loose slope to the Three Tarns col. Cross the col where you will begin the rollercoaster ride over Crinkle Crags. There are five main tops along Crinkle Crags (excluding the outcrop of Shelter Crags). The main summit is Long Top (in the southerly direction it is the ‘fourth crinkle’). A path follows the main ridge though some of the minor tops are optional extras.
9 – From Long Top, the path naturally guides you to the Bad Step, a famed declivity which can pose a challenge to some. The obstacle can be tackled head-on (climbing down is harder than climbing up) though it can be bypassed to the left (assuming you are stood above it, looking south) down a series of grassy shelves. A further route around the right can be found but you will need to retrace your steps a bit to find the path.
10 – Once around the Bad Step, one final climb is required to cross the South Top before a long descent to Red Tarn. The path here has recently been re-built to reduce erosion. It is wide and easy to follow.
11 – Upon reaching the col at Red Tarn (below Pike O’Blisco), follow the stream that flows from the tarn into Browney Gill. The red path here descends all the way back to Oxendale, following the route of the stream. It is pitched in many places though the steps are at an awkward angle, sloping downwards, and can be slippery so you should take your time. Once back in the valley, cross the river via a footbridge and bear right to return to Stool End Farm. Retrace the route back along the lanes of Great Langdale to reach the car park.