You can’t miss Bowscale Fell when you view it from Bannerdale Crags. It’s not the most amazing view – just a rather nondescript looking lump just over the horizon – but it has fine views, and t’s an easy stroll from where I was standing.
All I really needed to do was walk over the path next to the escarpment, before drifting off to head to Bowscale’s subtle summit.
I was revelling in the peace and tranquilly. It seemed rather ironic that I’d seen more people on Mungrisdale Common – a fell that Wainwright decreed no one in their right mind should ever go to – than I had at Bannerdale Crags, and all indications suggested that Bowscale Fell would be similarly quiet. Well apart from a small group of people standing in the middle of the path. Standing rather still, as if having a chat. For a rather long time.
I could see them as I slowly approached, and wondered if they were planning on staying for the duration. Then I spotted a pile of silver foil; like someone was wrapped in a survival blanket. I didn’t want to intrude on whatever was going on , but also the hillside was a little boggy. Should I take a wide path and respect privacy whilst also potentially getting rather wet, or just walk straight through and try not to disrupt them too much?
In the end I opted for a latter, and nodded a brief acknowledgement of their existence as I passed. Given the calmness of the group, whatever had been going on was well under control and there was little I could offer to the situation. Shortly after, a helicopter began to hover nearby; help was at hand.
Throughout the day the sun had been shining brightly, but now it was creeping behind cloud, leading to a bit of a chill in the air and with the result that one walker – me – was really ruing inadvertently leaving his hat somewhere on Souther Fell. It nearly wasn’t the only thing I lost. As I wandered around Bowscale Fell’s summit, a fellow walker pointed out that my bag was open and that I was nearly about to lose my map too!
Disaster was thankfully averted, and after a few minutes standing at the summit’s simple cairn, I headed to the nearby stone shelter to get out of the cold wind. Quite what Bowscale Fell had done to get the honour of having a stone shelter wasn’t abundantly clear – no other fell I visited that day had had one. Mind, it really needed have been there at all for all the good it did. The wind managed to blast it in every direction, and the best the pile of stones could do was slightly reduce the impact of the wind rather than avoid it completely.
With the cloud cover increasing, the views were perhaps not the greatest, but then you could argue I’d seen it all before anyway from Bannerdale Crags and Souther Fell. But that’s fine because Bowscale Fell has something else to offer. A tarn.
Tucked away overlooking the Mosedale valley, the Victorians were regular visitors to Bowscale Tarn. A pony track led up from the nearby hamlet of Bowscale, from where visitors would head up from to admire the tarn’s beauty. But times change and these days the tarn’s level of fame is not what it once was. Tucked away at the edge of Lake District, visitors now flock to more accessible areas, more easily accessible by car.
Visiting the tarn would mean a bit of a detour on the route back to my own car, parked down below in the village of Mungrisdale; it would have been far faster to take the more direct path from the fell summit direct to the village. But Wainwright made a passionate case for the diversion and let’s face it, he was a man who knew what he was talking about.
It took a few minutes but I eventually found the turn off that would take me down a ridiculously steep path to the tarn; the kind of descent where I tend to suspect that I’d be better off doing sat down, shuffling along on my bottom, than trying to walk upright. Still, I made it in one piece and before too long I was standing at the tarn edge looking at the light twinkling on the water’s surface.
Wainwright had been right in his suggestion, I concluded, as I stood there soaking it all in, whilst being completely alone. Those Victorians had known a good thing when they came here. We had, perhaps, thrown the baby out with the bathwater when tourists began to stop visiting Bowscale Tarn. Yes it was a little effort, but that little work was handsomely rewarded.
With more time on my hands, I could have stayed for a while. But the autumn light would be fading soon, and reluctantly I left the tarn, returning it to its state of peace and tranquillity. A little walk down the pony track and I was in Mosedale; a hamlet of a handful of cottages and a Tesco delivery van. A mile or so down the road and I was back at the car concluding a day that saw five more fells in the bag, and another corner of the Lake District ticked off. And a thoroughly pleasing corner at that.