Bowfell via The Band – Why Go?
Bowfell (or Bow Fell on an Ordnance Survey map) stands high and mighty at the end of Great Langdale, one of England’s most magnificent valleys and the starting point for this walk. The pyramid-shaped Bowfell mountain stands at the heart of the Lake District, flanked by the Crinkle Crags and Esk Pike.
Hiking to Bowfell's summit via The Band gives stunning views across the Pennines and to the Isle of Man on a good day. The climb to the top of the mountain is incredibly straightforward, with the paths clear and obvious, but the boulders along the way can provide a certain amount of fun and demand some scrambling. This hike to the top of Bowfell is rewarding and enjoyable, making it a sure contender for one of the best walks in the Lake District.
Bowfell via The Band – What to Expect
Climbing Bowfell is a straight out and back route via ‘The Band’. It can be done easily in an afternoon, making it an especially good option in winter when daylight hours are short.
The Band is, however, a notoriously unrelenting taskmaster, whether ascending or descending, with a constant pitch and the ever-present sight of your goals on the way up and on the way down which, whilst making for easy navigation, can be a bit wearing – stick at it though, the rewards are well worth it.
This walk has many steep climbs and the ground is often uneven, making a good pair of walking boots the best footwear option. Bring a waterproof jacket too; this walk may not be a long one, but it isn’t fun to be caught out unprepared if the weather suddenly changes.
Bowfell via The Band – The Route, Part 1
9.6km / 3 hours
Starting at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel car park, head first along the road. Then walk between the fields of the flat valley bottom (make the most of the flatness, you won’t be experiencing any more for some time) until you reach Stool End Farm.
Here, you follow the signposts through the farm and start your ascent of The Band. The path splits near the bottom of The Band – you need to take the right-hand fork and then continue upwards, upwards, upwards until you eventually come to a small col and the Three Tarns.
Few people will want to ascend this path without several breathers, and every time you do pause, you'll notice that the views are increasingly inspiring, looking back down Great Langdale towards Windermere, with Langdale Pikes rising on your left and Crinkle Crags on your right.
Bowfell via The Band – The Route, Part 2
On reaching Three Tarns, don’t be surprised to find that the small pools number more or less than three. Enjoy the views across to the Scafell Massif, England's highest ground, then turn sharp right for the final steep slog up the eastern flanks of Bowfell, past the impressive Great Slab and onto the summit.
The summit pyramid of Bowfell is somewhere you’ll want to hang around for a while to take in the views – you can see every major fell in the Lakes from here, with Scafell and Scafell Pike grabbing the limelight. In the distance, you'll see Howgill Fells, the Pennines, perhaps even the Southern Uplands in Scotland, and the Isle of Man popping up out of the Irish Sea.
Once you’ve drunk all this in, retrace your steps back down to the Old Dungeon Ghyll to drink in a well-deserved pint at one of Lakeland’s classic walkers’ pubs.
Want more? Take a look at our full rundown of the best walks in the Lake District for even more great routes.