Five of us, plus Steve Murrays dog Storm, made a two-day circuit around Eskdale with a wild camp under the feet of Scafell.
Day-tripping the Lakes for a jaunt up such as Pinnacle Ridge or Blencathra is often done: but the western areas are just that bit further. So it was a bit of a novelty to camp in Eskdale.

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The old peat road above Low Birker was our route south-east out of the valley bottom. Its an engineered track centuries old:- turves were cut on the moor and dried in a wee barn before being taken down on a horse-drawn sled (apparently). Ah ! The old days (not).
Maybe Steve Green will restore this to a bothy ? Maybe Caroline could open a tea shop ?

Our first objective was the 489m Green Crag (a Wainwright) a couple of km away across a confused jumble of boulders, crags, hillocks etc. Ideal nav practice for Brian. This is a very rocky little summit – fortunately a small path guided us to a cleft which gives access to the top.

Next, a straightforward march to the wood below Harter Fell, and a steady stiff pull to the summit, again rocky. It's very noticeable that these south-western fells were not Enclosed; so we could move at will across the open landscape with almost no walls or fences anywhere.

On Hardknott Pass, a message to encourage us had been left by some cyclists. How nice.

Next we dropped down to see the Roman fort. How the legionaries from sunny Italy must have just loved being sent to this northern wilderness !!! Bidding farewell to the stones, all of our rucksacks seemed to have gained weight in the late afternoon.

Another 5km northwards along the valley of the upper Esk, brought us finally to Great Moss, our camping place. . Mossy.... in parts. Great.... definitely. A wonderful cirque of mountains from Scafell to Bow Fell. A sinuous stream, and some comfy level ground.

On Sunday we went up and round the shoulder of Slight Side. Then across another couple of miles of un-enclosed fellside, to gain the end of the ridge of Illgill Head overlooking Wastwater.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip, the 4km ridge southwest to Irton Fell includes the dramatic cliffs and gullies above the Wasdale Screes.

There beckoned, a promontory like the prow of a ship, above a huge huge drop. (If you know the Cairngorms, think Sgurr Gaoith).

In days of yore, these were winter routes. A 1980 guide book lists 11 “fine gulley lines” of “first class climbing mainly on water ice”. Hmmm.

Distant views glittered in the sunny haze. I got a text from O2 Roaming:- “Welcome to the Isle of Man”. We could just discern it, way out west.

Clearly a cup of tea was called for. We found it, after another hour downhill, by going through the pleasant woods of Mitredale Forest to come out at Fisherground campsite, where Beverley – not for the first time, hurrah – quickly had the kettle on.


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