South east face of Ill Crag – Scrambling on the Scafell range


On the final rocky crest of the South east face of Ill Crag

The Lake District has a wealth of brilliant rock scrambles, so much so that it can be difficult to choose what to do!
However, Mark had his sights firmly set on the Scafell range and Ill Crag in particular. There are 2 recognised scrambling  routes that lead up to the summit, both being excellent and varied. Our route today was 'South east face of Ill Crag' (grade 2/3) around 300m of vertical height gain, which makes it one of the longest scrambles in the Lakes.

We approached from Brotherilkeld in Eskdale. Undoubtedly this is the finest approach to any mountain route in the Lakes. Firstly we have the Esk Gorge for company, then onto the wide open expanse of the Great Moss, walking beneath the Esk Buttress and finally to the base of Ill Crag. Such a magical place.

The cloud level had dropped to below 500m as we began our scramble up the wonderful rough rock of the initial slabs. This meant that route finding would be more challenging (I hadn't done this route before), but thankfully the layout of the scramble was one crag on top of another, making it easy to pick our route up the craggy mountainside, weaving over to the crags of our choice and missing out any we didn't like the look of.

The Upper buttress looked quite foreboding in the clag, so we took a slightly easier line to its right before joining the final rock crest and following this all the way to the summit. This proved to be a fine finale to a really good scrambling adventure.

Whilst on the scramble, the wind speed had steadily increased to around 30mph, but surprisingly the summit was completely calm, so we stopped here for lunch. Visibility was all of about 5 metres, so no views.

Our descent took in Broad Crag before dropping down Little Narrowcove (which has wonderful scenery) and to the Great Moss. 

A superb mountaineering day out on the Scafell range. If you like scrambling in remote locations this is well worth a look.

​Thanks Mark


Little Narrowcove

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