Esk Pike is
a fell in the English Lake District, one of the great ring of hills
forming the head of Eskdale.
Fells include the highest ground in England, a horseshoe which begins
with Scafell and Scafell Pike in the west and then curves around the
north of Upper Eskdale to take in Great End, Esk Pike, Bow Fell and
Crinkle Crags. As the name suggests Esk Pike stands at the head of the
valley, although it is not the highest of these fells.
To the north
west of Esk Pike is the depression of Esk Hause, a broad saddle carrying
a number of important paths. The "true" Esk Hause is the north-south
route from Borrowdale to Eskdale. A lower path - the "false" Hause runs
east-west from Langdale to Wasdale, passing a stone wind shelter. There
are also paths climbing to the summits of Esk Pike and Allen Crags,
together with the popular Calf Cove route to Scafell Pike, all
contributing to make Esk Hause a confusing place in mist.
of the main branch of the Esk flows south from the Hause, while to the
north the topography is more complex. Allen Crags stands adrift from the
main ridge, with the valleys of Langstrath and Grains Gill falling on
either side. These combine some miles downstream to form the River
Derwent, flowing through Borrowdale to Derwentwater and Keswick.
of the summit of Esk Pike is Ore Gap, the col separating it from Bow
Fell where the soil is red due to haematite and climbing lore suggests
that magnetic compasses cannot be trusted in this locality.North of the
gap is Angle Tarn, a feeder of the Langstrath. This round tarn occupies
a corrie beneath Hanging Knotts, small trout lurking in its 50 ft
from the summit, Esk Pike throws out a long descending ridge into the
uninhabited fastness of Upper Eskdale. This divides the Esk from its
major upper tributary, Lingcove Beck, which has its beginnings at Ore
Gap. Two miles in length, this ridge falls over a series of craggy steps
to the confluence of the two streams at Lingcove Bridge.
An old Packhorse Bridge is a focal point for those
approaching from the south, particularly when the Esk is in flood. The
south ridge has a number of subsidiary tops which are recognised by some
guidebooks, the principal summits being Pike de Bield (2,657 ft), Scar
Lathing (1,440 ft) and Throstlehow Crag (1,325 ft). Scar Lathing is
particularly impressive, presenting sheer cliffs above a bend in the
Esk. Although of minor significance Pianet Knott on the eastern side of
the ridge also has a very striking appearance from lower down the
The summit area is extremely stony, striking pale
rocks being much in evidence. A series of steps rise up from Ore Gap
whilst the approach from Esk Hause is rough and eroded. A small cairn on
the highest craggy outcrop marks the highest point. Esk Pike's central
position above Eskdale gives it glorious views of the Scafells, with the
Eastern and Northern Fells also forming a fine panorama. Derwentwater
and a section of Windermere complete the scene. A little to the south,
Pike de Bield provides an intimate view of the upper Esk.
Being far from any roads, all ascents of Esk Pike involve considerable
distance by Cumbrian standards. From Brotherikeld on the Eskdale road
the climber can choose between Ore Gap, Esk Hause and the south ridge,
all of these options being around five and a half miles.
Borrowdale gives a choice of starting points, either making for Esk
Hause from Seathwaite, or Ore Gap from Stonethwaite. Access is also
possible from Great Langdale, ascending Rossett Gill from the Old Hotel.
Many walkers will reach the summit indirectly having climbed Bow Fell
first via the Band, or perhaps climbed from Borrowdale over Glaramara
and Allen Crags.