21st July 2012

Walking the Lakeland Passes - Walk 20 - Ore Gap and Esk Hause

Walk Overview
Time 06.30 to 17.00
Duration 10 hr 30 min
Distance 21.4 mile
Ascent 5500 ft
Walking with On my own
Brotherilkeld - Lingcove Bridge - Lingcove Beck - Yeastyrigg Gill - Ore Gap - Angle Tarn - Angletarn Gill - Langstrath - Stonethwaite - Seathwaite - Stockley Bridge - Grains Gill - Ruddy Gill - Esk Hause - Sampson's Stones - Scale Bridge - Taw House - Brotherilkeld
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, Jubilee Bridge, Hardknott Pass

Hardknott Pass has got to be one of the steepest and most difficult roads in the country. In fact, many people make the effort to drive all the way around to this part of the Lake District just to face the challenge. I should point out that this road can be extremely dangerous during the winter months and is best avoided altogether if the weather is at all frosty. I was caught out myself on one occasion when using the route as a shortcut over to Cockley Beck. Just above the steepest of the bends the road turned into an ice rink and I had no alternative than to reverse back down until I reached a convenient turning place; not an experience I'm keen to repeat.

The car park has room for about ten cars, but should you find it full, there is usually room a little further along the road into Eskdale.

Route Map

Today's walk took me from Eskdale over to Borrowdale, and then back by a different route. In light of the distance and the terrain involved an early start was definitely needed. The upshot of which was that I actually got to enjoy some sunshine and also these constantly changing cloud formations that added a bit of drama to the start of the walk.

This is the point where Lingcove Beck (coming in from the right) joins up with the River Esk (the one straight ahead) which comes here from Great Moss. I'll be walking around the edge of Great Moss later this afternoon.

Lingcove Bridge.

Anyone already up on the tops would have had a real treat this morning.

Lingcove Beck snakes its way into the depths of Upper Eskdale. The pointed fell up there is Bow Fell.

That's where I'm heading. Across the open ground, into the gill and up to Ore Gap.

It was absolutely gorgeous walking through here this morning. Total peace and quiet and as it turned out, the best time of the day.

As I entered Yeastyrigg Gill it became increasingly steep and enclosed. This was just one of many fantastic places visited on this walk.

These two rocks are seriously big and surprisingly square. Compare them to the size of the building between them.

Turning around for a view back down to Upper Eskdale. Harter Fell is on the right, under cloud.

Nearing Ore Gap now and the gradient becomes a little easier. I think I did well to stay out of the cloud up here today.

The Cistercian Abbey in Furness was founded in 1127 and was eventually to become one of the wealthiest in the country. Not only did they own lands in various other parts of England, but they were in possession of substantial areas of the Lake District. In 1209 the monks bought most of Borrowdale. And although Borrowdale is relatively close to their Abbey at Furness, travelling between the two places was by no means an easy undertaking. In 1242 they purchased Brotherilkeld Farm and a large part of Upper Eskdale, thus providing them with lands between the abbey and Borrowdale.

For anyone walking between Brotherlilkeld and Borrowdale, Ore Gap provides one of two obvious crossing points; the other being Esk Hause. Various sources tell us that Ore Gap was the route used by the monks of Furness Abbey. They mined Iron Ore in Eskdale and used this route to transport it over to Langstrath for smelting. It also makes sense for them to have used the same route to reach their other lands in Borrowdale. When this route is viewed on a modern map, it shows an almost straight line journey through an area which is still viewed as difficult and remote terrain even in our modern times.

There must have been 'something' taking place today. There were people all over the place around Ore Gap and along the Bow Fell / Esk Pike ridge. There were also a few people heading up to Ore Gap from Angle Tarn. If everyone who had a number was out and about, there must have been at least 200 people taking part.

Looking back up to Ore Gap.

Angle Tarn.

Down into Langstrath I go.


Langstrath. I don't come here for ages and then I'm through here twice in as many weeks.

Langstrath waterfalls.

Langstrath Beck and gorge, taken from the footbridge.


On route out of Langstrath. That's Eagle Crag up on the left.

"All I ask is that once in your life you listen to what I say"
"It's not my fault. I thought you said 28 bundles of 6ft fence posts"
"I never mentioned the word bundle. I just asked you to order 28 fence posts at 6ft long each, , , now look at what we've ended up with. Well, , , the sledge hammer is over there so you'd better start swinging it"

, , , , more fence posts.

The Langstrath Country Inn.

Borrowdale was very quite today and there was no need to wait for a gap in the traffic to take this picture which is what you'd normally expect to do at this time of year.

Just before I turned off towards Seathwaite I took this picture of Seatoller.

Perhaps I should have pretended to be a parking attendant and hung around to charge them all £5 for the days parking.

Now I'm heading up to the low point on the skyline on the left. And as we say around here "it's sek a lang way"

Walking through Seathwaite.

I don't think I've ever seen any water flowing under this bridge. common sense tells me it must do sometimes though.

Stockley Bridge.

A view back down to Seathwaite.

Footbridge over Grains Gill which a little further up stream turns into Ruddy Gill.

And this is Ruddy Gill.
The path goes up the bit on the left, not through the gill itself.

A view looking back shows extensive views across to Derwent Water and the Skiddaw fells / Blencathra in the far distance.

Most of the up hill walking is done now as I head up the path to Esk Hause.
Given the number of cars parked at Seathwaite, I'm surprised I didn't pass more people on here.

Now it's time to head back down into Upper Eskdale. Although, this time I'd be in the Great Moss area instead of the Lingcove Beck area I was in earlier.

I know it's down hill, but this is one of the slower sections of todays walk. Big stones, holes in the ground and a beck to contend with all force you to be prudent and seriously watch where you're putting your feet.

Looking back up. What a great place !!


Almost down to Great Moss now and the surprising thing is how short the route is between Esk Hause and the point where the ground levels out. What you need to remember, is that you're not actually down at proper valley level. Great Moss is found at around 1200 / 1300ft asl so there's still about 1000ft of descent before you get to Eskdale.

Looking up Little Narrowcove.

See if you can spot the climbers somewhere on this crag.
I think the crag is called Central Pillar on Dow Crag, , , I could be wrong.

If you couldn't spot them, here they are.
Speaking for myself, there's absolutely no way I would even attempt this. I make no secret of the fact that it would terrify me.

As I said earlier, this walk includes some fantastic places.

If you like big rocks then this is the walk for you. These ones are called Sampson's Stones.

Great Moss with a good view of the route I'd taken from Esk Hause; the low point on the skyline.


Looking behind and I get a view of Esk Pike, Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags.

Well if these guys can't even get on with each other I'd best make a hasty retreat before they realise they don't like me.

Looking down a sea of bracken to Brotherilkeld and the entrance of Upper Eskdale.


This is Taw House farm.

Brotherilkeld Farm seen here in front of the unmistakable pyramid shaped Bow Fell.

Well what a brilliant day and one I'll not forget in a hurry.

Just one note though:
This was by no means an easy walk and should not be attempted by those with limited experience. Parts of the route are through pathless time consuming terrain which can be confusing for those who don't know the area. And to state the obvious, if you do happen to walk all the way from here to Borrowdale, you're then faced with a long tiring walk back.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks