Bannerdale Crags East Ridge – Stow Your Poles Please!

9 06 2020

Mon 8 Jun 2020
I was out on Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags yesterday when I saw an interesting rake I wanted to try above Bowscale Tarn and also had a yen to come back and do the exciting East Ridge of Bannerdale Crags. Today I went back and did just that…

All photos my digi-camera unfortunately – I’ve had to give up taking film as I have a stack of them in my drawer to process and no indication I’ll ever be able to do so!

First of all… why the advice to ‘stow your poles’ in the title? Well, the East Ridge of Bowscale Fell is very fragile and crumbling. As I ascended, I noticed that people had been (presumably) descending the ridge using poles and making holes in the crumbling path. This is one sure way to accelerate the degradation of the path until the route becomes unviable. If you scramble the ridge instead of avoiding all the crags on it, you’ll need your hands free anyway so best to get rid of the poles for this one!

Also, for the same reason, i.e. crumbliness, I’d recommend ascending, rather than descending, the ridge. All sections of crag are avoidable on a zigzag path in the grass, however, for the braver folk, all but one are easy enough and some are slightly exciting…

I parked at Mosedale (I find Mungrisedale a VERY unfriendly village towards walkers) by the start to Bowscale Tarn as I would be coming back down from there later… Parking is currently free at Mosedale (along the verge before the bends coming from Mungrisedale) whereas Mungrisedale very cheekily insist on Β£2 (even to park on the riverbank/roadside) despite the fact that, until a week or so ago, they didn’t want walkers anywhere near their village and blocked off all the parking! As none of it is IN the village, that was unnecessarily bloody-minded to my view. As I said, I’ve always found them unfriendly to walkers anyway…

I walked the 3/4 mile back to Mungrisedale and took off up the normal path for Bowscale Tongue. I debated as I passed the turnoff to the Tongue path whether to take it until I’d gone up the first rise away from the river and then look for somewhere to cross to my ridge. The riverside path used to be delightful but is very wet and boggy in places and, furthermore, a few sections have fallen into the river after the washouts of last year’s terrible weather.

I decided to continue on the riverbank path but, on mounting the start of the East Ridge to Bannerdale Crags, saw that I’d have been better to have started off on the Bowscale Tongue path and then crossed to my ridge. Lots of others look to be doing just that – it would still be wet however…

There is a great path ascends the grassy ridge-end without too much effort and then continues happily along the ridge. The ridge is almost level with a slight rise at the end before you start the exciting bit…

The steep part of the ridge might look threatening at first glance but I’d descended it last time and found it okay so assumed it still should be. However, that was many years ago and I knew how badly it was wearing out…

The ridge starts off up loose slate and some scree but isn’t steep and there is a selection of zig-zag paths up this bit to a wide but low crag band. If you look along this to the right, you soon find a way up it…

I had to avoid the second crag on the left I think as it was too sloping for holds – it was only small anyway so not worth bothering to scramble.

The path, now on grass, also zig-zagged past the third crag which was higher. I missed out the initial rock step and then raked right up rough ground (plenty of others had too) for the next section of the crag. Here I found a lovely gully going up the middle for quite a way – really enjoyed this bit!

From what I remember, I think there were either just one more crag or perhaps two crags. The final crag I ascended on its far right-hand side (over the big drop!). This was hairy but there were plenty of holds and steps, other people had done the same, and it gave a feeling of achievement.

I was really surprised on surmounting this crag to see the ground start to ease off with no more crags. There was just a bit of rocky ridge left which I clambered up wanting to prolong the scrambling. I then joined the zig-zag path on the grass for the short distance to the top of the ridge and then the equally short distance to the summit.

The ridge had been far easier than I remembered and I really enjoyed it!

As you traverse the edge path above Bannerdale Crags heading for Bowscale Fell, you have lots of interesting gullies to look down. Some of these look quite easy from the top but you’d really have to take a look from below first…

Bowscale Fell across the crags and gullies

Looking back to East Ridge profile

We’ve had some rain now…

A male runner (with his shirt off – I was considering my coat by now and already had gloves and my jumper on) passed me on the ascent to Bowscale Fell. I thought I was doing quite well keeping up with him till I reached the summit and saw him way down my descent ridge!

I descended straight on down the arm which has the exit paths from Bowscale Tarn until just below the first steepening. Here, a tiny path sets off bravely to the right to enter the grass rake across the crags…

Bowscale Tarn from just before the rake start

and again in ‘digi-blue’ from the start of the rake

I reached the start of the rake with the tiny path… hmmm – didn’t look so nice today! I tentatively set off along it…

The first half was pretty scary. The path was tiny and crumbling and it was a very long way down (although a series of crags and grassy sections rather than straight down). I inched along keeping a bit of hand-hold on the grass to my right sometimes and treading very carefully indeed. I wasn’t really sure this was a good idea after all but continued cautiously. There were some people having fun in an inflatable boat in the tarn way below…

The path was fairly continuous but, in places, degenerated to having to pick a stable-looking tuft in the stepped grass to put your foot on! There were a lot of bits like this in the first half of the rake and sometimes the path disappeared and then re-appeared a few feet below.

I could see a gully half-way along had been subject to a very bad landslide – I hoped it was possible to cross as it was very steep above and below it and my ‘shelf’ went to nothing at that point.

When I finally reached it, it was obvious that only sheep were using this path as there were only sheep prints across the loose earth. I took a breath and launched myself across it as quickly but carefully as I could hoping I wouldn’t set off down the loose earth…

A similar gully crossing – I had my hands too full with the other one to take photos!

It was nice to reach grass again for the second half of the rake. This half is on a wide, flat shelf so there would be no more difficulties…

Looking back along the rake from a comfortable section

the rake is now on the very top left of the photo

zoom of the rake and the crags below

It was lovely to finally reach the tarn-side. The people with the boat were just leaving so I had the place to myself.

The normal route goes straight up the grass

must bring my inflatable rowing boat next time!

After mooching around by the tarn for ten minutes or so, I set off down the well-made paths back down to Mosedale. I’d had a great day but I have to say I don’t really recommend ‘the rake’!

The lovely Swindale which I walked back down the day before

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19 responses

14 06 2020
tessapark1969

Nice to see you back in these hills. I’ve yet to do Bannerdale Crags – did Bowscale on a rubbish day in March. I don’t much like the look of that rake!

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14 06 2020
mountaincoward

To be honest, with the hills being very local, I haven’t really had any time out of the hills. I haven’t been able to put any posts with photos out though as I can’t get my films developed due to the shops all being shut!

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12 06 2020
Alli Templeton

Hi Carol, so good to see you out and about in some fabulous scenery again. I’ve had to ban myself from blogging for a few weeks owing to my final, big assignment, which has been rather like swimming in treacle under the current circumstances. But I saw this and couldn’t resist a look at some of your amazing pictures, which don’t appear to have suffered from the use of a digi camera. They’re beautiful, as ever. That tarn at Bowscale looks such a stunning blue – is that a ‘special effect’ you add afterwards or is it how you set the exposure up? Either way, it’s a stunner. The hike sounds a real tonic and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. It gives me hope just to read about your adventures again. Looking forward to catching up after I’ve offloaded this essay burden on Sunday, but in the meantime, great stuff and happy walking! πŸ™‚

Liked by 1 person

12 06 2020
mountaincoward

The tarn wasn’t anything like that blue really – that’s why I’ve put on one of the photos ‘digi-blue’ – it’s just that digi-cameras seem to make anything blue over-the-top-blue! I don’t have any control over anything the digi-camera does – it’s just a point and shoot. But I couldn’t go on shooting film until I know I’m going to be able to process them.

Hope your final assignment goes well – I was thinking you’d gone quiet and thought it must be due to your course.

If you get chance, you’ll probably appreciate my post before this one – the non-feminist job application one – it’s pretty funny!

Hope you and your family are well πŸ™‚

Liked by 1 person

12 06 2020
Alli Templeton

Thanks Carol. It’s always difficult around the end of the module with exams or final big essays, but this year has been the worst with all the distractions and everything that’s going on. That’s why I have to ban myself from blogging or I’ll never get anything done. Roll on Sunday when I can finally offload it. After that I’ll certainly be catching up on your posts and looking forward to reading all about your non-feminist job application – sounds great!

We’re all OK thanks, and it’s good to know you’re well and active too. πŸ™‚

It was so nice to see your photos again, even if they’re digi. Better that than not take any at all. I hope you can get the films processed again before long though, as I know that’s your preferred medium. πŸ™‚

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14 06 2020
mountaincoward

I’ll be sat in scanning photos for months at this rate! I’ll probably wait for bad weather (which we’re starting to get again up here now)

Liked by 1 person

18 06 2020
Alli Templeton

Yes, we’re getting some awful weather again now. It’s been hurling it down all day today. Shame, as I’m free now as I’ve finally finished my assignment, and I wanted to do some more medieval cooking outside. No chance so far though. At least you’ll probably be getting some scanning done. πŸ™‚

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18 06 2020
mountaincoward

Yep – it will be very advantageous for that. I bravely went to Carlisle on the train today and the guy processed all my photos so I’m ready to start scanning – will have to be after my 2 days working though…

June’s generally bad – I’m hoping July is better weather…

Hope you get a brilliant grade! πŸ™‚

Liked by 1 person

19 06 2020
Alli Templeton

Thanks Carol. Looking forward to seeing the photos then, and hopefully some better weather to come. πŸ™‚

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10 06 2020
Blue Sky Scotland

A bit of excitement always makes the hills more interesting to climb.

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11 06 2020
mountaincoward

Yeah… believe it or not, I’ve actually got my eye on another rake across the same face!

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10 06 2020
Paul Shorrock

Nice one Carol, I think I enjoyed reading it almost as much as you enjoyed doing it!

It’s been years since I’ve been to Bowscale – one for ‘the list’ when we are finally released as we are still locked down to a 5 mile trip in Wales 😦

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10 06 2020
mountaincoward

I really feel for you guys – it must be bloody awful. I was wondering how you were managing…

You’ll have to give me a shout if you come up to the Northern Fells as they’re in my back yard now I’ve moved…

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10 06 2020
treksandtors

I took my boys up the East Ridge a year or so ago. They loved it, they were eating the berries most of the way up and stuffing more in their pockets for the way down!!

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10 06 2020
mountaincoward

I was eyeing all the bilberry plants and wishing I was a couple of months later when the berries were out. I love bilberries!

Liked by 1 person

10 06 2020
treksandtors

Yeah it was August when we did it. Purple pockets by the end of the walk!!

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11 06 2020
mountaincoward

None ever make it into my pockets – I always scoff the lot. I generally pick with both hands – one is stuffing a berry into my mouth while the other is picking the next. I once surprised an adder in a bilberry tuft – he surprised me too!

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10 06 2020
John Bainbridge

A while since we’ve been in that neck of the woods. Very dramatic pics.

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10 06 2020
mountaincoward

Thanks John. The ‘rake’ was pretty dramatic when you were on it. The tarn photos came out well πŸ™‚

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