Crinkle Crags and Bowfell Walk

Crinkle Crags and Bowfell is not just one of my favourite Lakeland walks, It’s one of my favourite walks anywhere. It’s been a long while since I’d done it so was pleased that I got to pop across and re visit it especially after a day of exploring Coniston, testing a Landrover Defender with a mate and researching the excellent local hostelries (The Black Bull for it’s beer and the Sun Inn for it’s beer and food although not the service).

Last time I went up Crinkle Crags and Bowfell I was laden with camping gear, It was early evening in September and I sat and watched the sun go down from the summit of Bowfell before descending down to Angle Tarn to pitch my tent ready to head over to the Langdale Pikes the following day.

This time there was no big rucksack, no camping gear and it was early morning, The plan was to go light and take our time, enjoying the unusually sunny and warm weather along the way.

We parked up near the pub Old Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale, donned our boots and set off along the valley towards Stool End Farm, after passing through the farm yard, we took a left where the path split, heading towards Oxendale Beck, before crossing it via a small wooden bridge. Although the water level was that low we could have probably walked across the beck bed without getting our feet wet.

crinkle crags summit

Me and em on the summit of Crinkle Crags

We climbed steadily up the hill alongside Oxendale Beck continuing up hill over Brown Howe towards Red Tarn, before reaching the tarn we turned right, towards Great Knott, again climbing steadily to the summit, from here we followed the relatively clear, flat path across to the bottom of Crinkle Crags.  We stopped for a bit of lunch and a breather just as the sun came out.

Here had we not had a rather large, heavy boxer dog with us we’d have probably gone up the Bad Step, It’s quick and not as bad as it looks from the bottom, although I would most certainly rather be going up it than down it as a couple of guys were doing as we passed. The best way round the step is to follow the scree path to the left that winds it’s way up, over a few boulders to some cairns, these can then be followed across the summit.

On a clear day the next bit across the crags is straightforward, the paths are pretty clear, it’s just a case of  picking your route and looking for the cairns. In the mist it could ge ta bit tricky so If you are going to attempt this on anything other than a clear day remember to check your position regularly.

stunning views

Stunning views and warm weather

Once safely across the crags, there is a little bit of a descent before the start of the mixed rock and scree path up Bowfell. We chose to stop at a little tarn not far from the summit to have a bit of a sunbathe, enjoy the views and let some of the people descend from the summit before we nipped up for a few photos.

Again the descent is straight forward and easy enough it’s just a case of minding your step, you will soon come to a cross roads of paths near a couple of small un-named tarns. Here you have 2 options, go straight on and up Esk Pike, turning right before Esk Hause and descending past the shelter and Cairn before doubling back towards Angle Tarn, this is the route I prefer but by now the sun was really strong and both us and the dog needed some more water so instead of taking the route over Angle Tarn, we turned right at the crossroads descending down the bank to the path that then leads down to the tarn.

Descending Bowfell

Boxer watching their backs

After the dog had a quick swim in the tarn we followed the path up the bank for a before working out way down the zig zagging red rock path, past the bags of rocks that the Fix the Fells guys and girls are using….well to fix the fells.

Once at the bottom it was simply a long hot trudge along the valley floor, keeping the river on our right until we reached the finish back at the Old Dungeon Ghyll where the reward of a pint, huge Cumberland sausage, with homemade chips, coffee and monster slice of cheese cake awaited.

If you haven’t done Crinkle Crags and Bowfell then pack your bag and go and do it now, the scenery is stunning every step of the way, the up hill gets your heart pumping, the views from the summits take your breath away and the pub at the end provides a great place to chat about what you’ve just done.

You can donwload my Crinkle Crags and bowfell walking  route as a GPX file here, just unzip it and away you go.

You can view the rest of my photos on flickr here. 


  1. John Washbourne (Washy)
    Jul 12, 2011

    It is a good walk. I prefer to ascend The Band then veer off right to gain the Climber’s Traverse on Bowfell. Stunning rock scenery and a brilliant natural spring gushing from the rocks in a biblical fashion. Then scramble up the river of boulders by the Giant Slab before a stroll to the summit. Then I’d do you walk in reverse. I used to throw in Pike O’Blisco for good measure but my knees ain’t that good nowadays.

  2. Moggy
    Jul 13, 2011

    I’ve never done the band, I will have to give it a go! PIke O’Blisco is cool though!!

Submit a Comment