Esk Pike (via Eskdale)

I last went on this great round in 2009, but in the opposite direction, and I was curious to see on this occasion if proceeding anti-clockwise had any benefits, i.e., by going first up the long south ridge and then returning via Eskdale proper. 

The walk began once again from Brotherilkeld Farm, proceeding straightforwardly alongside the ever-increasing beauty of the Esk to Lingcove Bridge (and with interesting glimpses all the while to the right of far-off Esk Pinnacle).  Then up beside Esk Falls for a short distance, before branching diagonally off on the right to weave my way through the myriad of crags that make up the long south ridge of the pike.   As Mark Richards puts it (The Mid-Western Fells, p.76), 'The summit seems to take an eternity to arrive', but, as he also adds, 'there is a blessing in that' because the surrounding scenery provides 'total fell immersion'.  This is especially so in terms of the very fine views of the whole range of the (much less frequently visited) eastern side of the Scafell massif.

The summit finally gained, the return was merely a matter of closely following the path of the Esk down from its nascent beginnings near Esk Hause to Esk Gorge and then back down once again via Esk Falls, Lingcove Bridge and the path to Brotherilkeld Farm.

The weather was gloriously sunny throughout, so, as the photos show, there were many fine panoramas available not only of the Scafells but also of Bowfell, the Crinkles, and so on, as well as of the very scenic features of this stretch of the River Esk.  And in terms of the effect of the anti-clockwise route, I would say it is to be preferred, because there is relatively less effort in the ascent by this route (especially in terms of route-finding once the south ridge is commenced!), and the return is all the way a clear, leisurely downhill stroll. The other great advantage of this outing, in whatever direction, is 'the bliss of solitude' - despite it being a sunny Bank Holiday, I saw hardly anyone else on the main parts of the walk (i.e., beyond Lingcove Bridge), something that has been the case on all the other occasions when I have been this way!

[Distance:  10.2 miles, 16.4 km.  Highest point:  2904 ft., 885 m. (Esk Pike).  Total ascent:   3167 ft., 965 m.]

Photos per row