Wasdale to Esk Hause




Wastwater ( Canon 24-70L at 62mm )

I walked from Wasdale Head to Esk Hause on 2nd November 2008, a day which happily turned out bright and clear. Esk Hause will not appear on most maps. It is a mountain pass between Eskdale and Borrowdale at an elevation of 2490 ft.

I was staying by Lake Windermere and drove off to Wasdale Head after breakfast. I doesn't look far on the map, but the roads are slow and winding and I stopped for shots along the way - some boats on Windermere, and the classic view of Wastwater above. I have taken that shot before but this was the first time with the lake reflecting blue sky and it makes a big difference. The three main hills in view, from left to right, are Yewbarrow (2060 ft), Great Gable (2949 ft) and Lingmell (2625 ft).

  Esk Hause from the slopes of Great End ( Canon 100-400L at 120mm )

By the time I reached the large and free car park at Wasdale Head it was already 11:30am. I walked up to Sty Head pass with its stretcher box, then took the path to the right which winds up and round to Esk Hause, into brilliant sunshine and a stiff cold wind. There were quite a few walkers crossing the open expanse of the pass in different directions, some heading up towards Scafell Pike, the highest point in England at 3209 ft, which is within striking distance. Paths from Borrowdale, Eskdale, Langdale and Wasdale all climb up to Esk Hause. The picture above shows the 'saddle point'. Esk Pike rises on the right, and the downward slope on the right goes into Eskdale. Off to the left is Borrowdale. The Langdale Pikes are in the background.

three walkers descend towards Borrowdale ( Canon 100-400L at 190mm )

It was now about 2pm so I decided against trying for Scafell Pike. As well as running out of daylight I was also short of food, having brought just a banana and a snack bar, and getting tired. I know this sounds lame but I am a photographer not a mountaineer. The ascent from Wasdale is about 2300ft, and I was weighed down by the Canon 5D and four lenses including the hefty 100-400L and 24-70L.  It's just as well I left the tripod in the car. Anyway there are lots of angles from Esk Hause. Good visibility and numerous walkers allowed me to compose human figures against the distant hills with the telephoto lens. There are also extensive views to the north and south.

 from Sty Head into Wasdale ( Canon 100-400L at 100mm )

A couple of days earlier there was blanket of snow over the hills, but it was melting fast. Snow is not reliable on the lakeland fells, a spell of mild westerlies can cause a melt even in mid-winter. There were just a few patches on Esk Hause, but they improve the photos considerably. The shot below might have benefited from more snow, but I like the restful feel of the receding hills. The view reaches as far as the Irish Sea.

I keep track of the conditions in the Lake District through the met office mountain guide and walker's blogs like Sean McMahon's excellent Striding Edge. I'm waiting for a spell of cold, clear weather with snow cover and will then make a more determined effort to reach the hill tops.

view south from Esk Hause ( Canon 24-70L at 38mm )