Simon Ingram on why Bowfell would be a great place to watch the apocalypse.
"For one silly, unshakeable reason, I always associate Bowfell with the end of the world. It’s all down to a chap I once had a chat with in the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, who seemed preoccupied with the notion that Langdale’s finest rocky asset would be a pretty fine vantage point, come the apocalypse. “It’s right in the middle, see,” he mused, a conspiratorial twinkle – or perhaps just a reflection from his brandy – dancing in his eyes. “It’s high, so you’d get a great view of it coming over the mountains.” Whatever and whenever this apocalypse may be, I could sort of see his point. Bowfell’s central, powerful poise over the Lake District is unmatched. But it’s the mountain’s aesthetics that first captured my affections. It has a feeling of broken grandeur, like a much higher mountain that’s fallen down and into ruinous disrepair, its defining feature – the Great Slab – a magnificent scar across its east face.
The first time I saw Bowfell was from High Raise. The sun, shining on its icy quartz, had turned the Great Slab into a diagonal mirror cutting the mountain in two.
“What’s that?” I’d asked.
“That’s Bowfell,” came the reply.
“Wow,” I said. Wow, indeed.
The last time I was up there was under a blue sky beneath migrating clouds and a gentle, chilly wind that seemed seconds from snow. For the first time, I wandered onto the slanted precipice of the Slab itself, and found myself falling in love with Bowfell all over again. Everything about it: the grassy approach up The Band, that view of the Langdale Pikes, the Three Tarns just before the final ascent, the fact that the summit has nooks beneath it where you can grab a cuppa – everything. And every time I go back up it, I find something new to add to the list. This time it was an impressive, stormy view into Great Moss, tinged with clouds and backlighting the Scafells into misted, crenellated silhouettes. On the summit, I found a nook, pulled out my flask, and drifted.
It’s a position of power: everything seems lower. Less significant. And though it’s a silly thought, sit on the top and you realise Bowfell wouldn’t just be a good place to watch the apocalypse: up here you feel like you might even have a fighting chance."
Best route: via The Band, from Langdale.