Walking Route: Bowfell North Face, Lake District

For a bit of drama north faces are the way to go, argues Ronald Turnbull. Here he turns his attention to Bowfell

Illustration photo of Walking Route: Bowfell North Face, Lake District

Route description

  • Bowfell: the route Head up the Band above Stool End farm. At the 600m mark (NY254062) the main path bears off left but keep on up the crest on a smaller one. After 200m this bends suddenly right, to contour across steep, broken ground. It passes below the toe of Flat Crags into a crag-ringed hollow. Turn up left, on a small path immediately to right of the Great Slab, to Bowfell’s plateau.
  • See more North Face walking and scrambling routes in the Lake District here

    Bowfell North Face

    Slightly similar to: Cima Grande 2999m

    Because: one huge rocky slab. Well, moderately huge in the case of Bowfell.

     

    The Cima Grande is the one among the Big Six that’s not actually very big. Its north face appears as a 500m vertical slab of dolomite limestone. This is an illusion. The lower 200m of it are overhanging.

    Bowfell’s north face route is also a climbers’ one; the Climbers’ Traverse path to the Bowfell Buttress. They’re pretty blasé about the narrowness of their path, but mere walkers will find it exciting enough. It leads into a “sanctuary of soaring summits and dead, fallen stone”  – Rébuffat’s description of the Dolomites does nicely for Bowfell as well.

    Above now, 250 metres of smooth stone, the Great Slab. Instead of 90° plus, it’s a mere 30°, which the brave with good boots can walk straight up. For the rest of us there’s a bouldery path alongside.

    First published in The Great Outdoors April 2015

    Words and pictures Ronald Turnbull

    Walk details

  • Slightly similar to: Cima Grande 2999m
  • Because: one huge rocky slab. Well, moderately huge in the case of Bowfell.
  • Walking Route: Bowfell North Face, Lake District