Esk Pike

Published 2 November 2011. Last updated 22 February 2020

It was my birthday. And what better way to celebrate than by spending a weekend in the Lake District, and by bagging some fells. And what better fells to do than Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags in Langdale? And whilst I at least got Bow Fell, but the weather meant that the Crinkles got a substitution…

I wonder how many people go to Langdale, look at a map or their trusted copy of Wainwright and go “That’s it! That’s the one! I’m going to do Esk Pike!” Hmm. Probably not many.

The trouble is that Esk Pike is completely overshadowed by its neighbours. Why head there when you could go for the Langdale Pikes or the drama of Crinkle Crags?

It’s not as if Esk Pike is a naff summit. It’s just overlooked. As Wainwright says in his Pictorial Guide to the Southern Fells, “Did it but stand alone, away from such enticing neighbours, Esk Pike would rank highly among the really worth-while mountain climbs.”

But as the great man concedes, Esk Pike doesn’t standalone and it’s a rare walker that visits it that’s not on a walk that also takes in Bow Fell as well. And even then it has to play second best, the unwanted alternative to that well known combination of Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags.

And so it was, on a wet and foggy Friday in September 2011 that we found ourselves at the summit Bow Fell, looking around and realising that in these conditions the Crinkles probably wouldn’t be a good idea at all. So what to do? You can’t just go up to the top of Bow Fell and come down again? No matter what the weather you just have to take in another summit whilst you’re up there. Hmm. Well, guess we might as well do Esk Pike then…

Esk Pike in the distance

As a ridge walk Esk Pike is a mere mile from the summit of Bow Fell and as long as you can find yourself off Esk’s nearby neighbour without getting lost it’s no trouble. Just head down to the Ore Gap and the other side. Sorted.

So anyway an hour later we finally found the right path to Ore Gap and headed up to Esk’s 885m high summit to admire its amazing view of… well… not very much. Like our visit to nearby Bow Fell the whole place was just covered in thick cloud with absolutely no sign of the “excellent view” promised by AW.

As we huddled next to some rocks to keep out of the wind all we could do was celebrate the fact that at least we’d got here and with the weather getting worse we decided to head down to the shelter of Langdale itself following Wainwright’s route down to Esk Hause and Angle Tarn.

Angle Tarn

A pint was waiting for us in the Old Dungeon Ghyll but not before we’d almost got lost on the rough, invisible path on Lining Crag which we took to avoid the potentially steep and soggy descent on the Rossett Pass. When we finally met up with the Stake Pass and could head down hill on a good solid and visible path, it was truly time to celebrate. Even if the rain was even more driving than before.

Esk Pike. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. But you know how to make a reputation for yourself and no mistake.

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