Crinkle Crags and Bowfell Walk

START: Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel Great Langdale

LENGTH: 9.2 miles / 14.8 km

ASCENT: 3500 feet / 1086 metres

GRADE: Very Hard with strenuous climbs and descents

START: Grid reference NY286061

MAPS: We always recommended you take a map and compass with you when following a walk route. Available maps are:

BMC – LD 1:40000 XT40 Covers all the central lake district.
OS Explorer – 1:25,000 – Sheet OL6
OS Landranger – 1:50,000 – Sheet 90

Maps can be purchased at the ODG if required.

Crinkle Crags are so called because of their profile as a succession of abrupt undulations on a high long ridge and there are five distinct ‘crinkles’ The walk involves leaving Great Langdale and walking south west into neighbouring Oxendale before climbing besides Browney Gill to round Great Knott and then onto the Crinkle Crags. To make the walk even more memorable you can include an ascent of nearby Bowfell, a majestic mountain at the head of Great Langdale and one of England’s highest. The conclusion to the walk involves a descent to Angle Tarn before a short climb over Rossett Pike to descend by the side of Rossett Gill into Mickleden and finally following Mickleden Beck on the Cumbria Way back to the start at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel Great Langdale.

This is a roller coaster of a ridge called Crinkle Crags. According to many seasoned fell walkers, this is one of the ’12 Best Walks In The Lake District.’

Park at the National Trust Car park near the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel then headed off westwards out of Langdale into tiny Oxendale. A short while after passing Stool End, the last farm in the valley, you will reach a footbridge crossing Oxendale Beck and the climb will begin. Climb first to Brown Howe, then to a fork in the path near Red Tarn and finally to Great Knott. This drag will gain you over 500 metres in height in less than 2 miles. Soon after Great Knott which can easily be mistaken as one of the Crinkle Crags, the going will get much easier. You are now at over 700 metres and approaching the Crinkle Crags Traverse.

There are several options on how to negotiate Crinkle Crags. As Wainwright himself said “the traverse of the ridge being amongst the grandest mountain walks in Lakeland and strenuous effort will be recompensed by superlative views. Timid walkers will be less happy and may find the mountain hostile but should attempt it: other mountains are climbed and forgotten but Crinkle Crags will always be remembered.”

There are a number of paths crossing the ridge and at each crinkle some go round and some go over. The choice is there to take either the high routes over Crinkle Crags or the lower side paths. Stop to mountain spot and admire the views from Crinkle Crags they are just amazing.

Just over two miles north west are the Scafells and the same distance to the north east are the Langdale Pikes. Look south and the Coniston Fells can be seen three miles distant.

You can now leave Crinkle Crags by walking due north down to Three Tarns which are perched on a saddle connecting the crags to Bowfell. After the Tarn, there is a short stiff 200 metres ascent to the summit of Bowfell. During the climb take time to view the amazing geology of the Great Slab. This is an impressive large crevassed lump of rock protruding out of the mountain at about 30 degrees! Following this head, onto the boulder field and Bowfell’s summit. There is a wind shelter at the summit to keep out of the weather and to take a well earned rest and break for refreshments.

The walk continues from Bowfell by walking north and then west to Ore Gap. The gap flanks Bowfell and its neighbouring mountain Esk Pike. At the highest point of the gap and just 1000 metres on the other side of Esk Pike is Esk Hause. Here a decision needs to be made about which path to take – difficult in thick mist! Head down Ore Gap and then onto Angle Tarn which is another good resting point.

From here there is a short final climb round the edge of Rossett Pike and Hanging Knotts to the head of Rossett Gill. The track, a section of the route connecting Langdale to Wasdale is a steep descent but the consolation is the superb views of Pike of Stickle and the Langdale Valley.

The final section of the walk is great for after the taxing descent of Rossett Gill you now enjoy a peaceful two mile level ground walk along the Mickleden valley floor back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and the car park in Great Langdale. Most of it is spent close to the trickling waters of Mickleden Beck – sometimes tempting to take a dip on a hot day and after your 7 hours of classic fell walking. Dip or no dip, head back to Old Dungeon Ghyll Hikers Bar for a well earned stop for refreshments!