Bowfell, via Worneyside Force, Hell Gill, and the Great Slab

Rarely do the mountains allow walkers into climber territory, and then allow us to escape with an easy scramble out to safe ground. But this happens right under the north east face of Bowfell.

Whorneyside Force and Hell Gill can be found at the far end of Oxendale, which most visitors only brush through the entrance of as they head for Pike of Blisco, or Crinkle Crags. Deep in the valley and well hidden the force drops 12m into a beautiful pool of clear mountain water. On a summer's day it's certainly a place to linger a while just to enjoy the surroundings. Hell Gill in contrast is a place you probably don't want to actually go into. At least not far. Our route climbs alongside it and Busco Sike for a while before finding a suitable crossing of the beck. Then it's up steep grass slopes to find the start of the Climbers Traverse somewhere above The Band.

The Climbers Traverse leaves the path along The Band, crosses the crest of the ridge and leads onto a narrow terrace high above Mickleden. After about 500m (550 yards) the path drops to a hidden little citadel. Here a spring issues forth from the base of Cambridge Crag even in high summer. Climbing groups can often be seen kitting up, or already high on the massive buttresses voices calling out to each other. Our escape is up to the left, a path starts up loose stone hugging close to the side of the crag. It soon becomes tight zigzags weaving amongst boulders. Over to your left a massive sloping slab appears. This is the Great Slab.

From the top of the Great Slab, Bowfell's summit cairn is a short stroll away. Heading north to Ore Gap the walk descends to Angle Tarn, and then beside Rosset Gill into Mickleden. It's then just a stroll back to the start.

If you are uncomfortable with exposure above steep ground this is probably not the walk you are looking for!

The walk starts at The Old Dungeon Ghyll at the western end of Great Langdale where there is a National Trust pay and display car park. This quickly gets busy most weekends. Alternatively park at the New Dungeon Ghyll where they are both NT and Lake District National Park Authority car parks.