From Seathwaite in Borrowdale
This route is a monster, a real challenge of endurance (especially if your car is back at Seathwaite) and of navigation skills. Even in fine weather you will have doubts in the area around Allen Crags and especially at Esk Hause. After Esk Hause as you navigate around and up and down Ill Crag and Broad Crag that child-like voice in your head will be nagging away “are we nearly there yet?”
Park your car at Seathwaite, there’s plenty of parking here along the narrow road to the farm. Begin walking through the farmyard and up the track towards Stockley Bridge. If you’re an ice climber look to your right at Sourmilk Gill and Taylorforce Gill, marking them well as serious prospects in a good freeze. Also spot the brilliant example of a glaciated hanging valley above Sourmilk Gill. At Stockley Bridge continue straight on up Grains Gill and to the head of Ruddy Gill. Turn left now, joining the main Eskdale to Sty Head track. In less than 0.5 mile you will come to a crossroads in the track below Allen Crags, turn right and continue to Esk Hause. At Esk Hause turn right again and head for the shoulder between Great End and Ill Crag. Now you will have your first glimpses of the summit. Continue down into Ill Crag col, up and over the shoulder of Broad Crag and down into Broad Crag col. It’s easy to get these two mixed up but, Broad Crag col is narrow and steep sided, Ill Crag col is very wide. (I know I know, too much detail!) Now scramble up the final track and boulders to the summit of the highest mountain in England.
A serious word of caution: I’ve lost count how many people I’ve had to help down off this mountain, not because they were injured but because they were hopelessly lost. The summit area is a confusing mass of boulders and less than obvious tracks and it is easy to become disoriented, especially in mist and cloud. So, take a compass and a map, always take bearings, and have a clear plan of your route down!
The table below gives some important route data for this route and can be programmed into a gps. Note that distances and bearings are “as the crow flies” and not following pathways.
|Ill Crag Col||2900||NY22000||07664||230||0.21|
No climbing gear, good hiking boots, waterproofs, map and compass
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