Drawing 392: Great Slab, Bowfell

Direction of view: E

Notes: This picture is taken from close by the path from Bowfell summit to Three Tarns.  Late afternoon sunlight is best.  A slightly different (and arguably better) version of this picture appears as a double page spread on pages Bowfell 13 and 14 in The Southern Fells.  The figure shown in the sketch is out of scale.

Comments: I first took this picture (image 1) on slide film on 2nd May 1981 – see 329.

My second photo on slide film (image 2) was taken on 16th April 1994.  My diary records: “We [Peter Messenger and I] set off from Dungeon Ghyll shortly after noon on a glorious warm day….. Higher up [the Band] slushy snow patches were passed, heralding a complete change of environment at the start of the climbers’ traverse – a cool wind, a temperature about 20 degrees F lower, and firm snow.  We donned extra clothing and crampons, and with these and our ice axes set out along the traverse, which was a joy…. At its end, we ascended beside the Great Slab… standing on the apex of the slab, which swept snowily away, backed by Bowfell Buttress and the head of Mickleden, was a magnificent situation”.  We also got sketches 288 and 177 that day.

My picture for the digital project (image 3) was taken on Midsummer’s Day 2017, on a walk with David Claxton.  We set out from the valley into unpromising muggy mist, but it cleared quite magically as we traversed Crinkle Crags, and sun came out just as we reached Great Slab, where David posed.

This sketch also appears on page 44 of Wainwright in Lakeland, page 210 of Westmorland Heritage, and page 122 of Memoirs of a Fellwanderer.  Sections of it are used on the front and rear endpapers of Volume 1 of Lakeland Mountain Drawings.  The image also appears on pages Bowfell 13 and 14 in The Southern Fells.  This latter is a different drawing, although of exactly the same scene; a different walker (more to scale) appears at the apex of the slab.