From the car park return to the road and go west. At a 90º bend head straight on, through a gate and along a private drive to Stool End Farm. Signs point the way through the farmyard. Briefly follow the track into Oxendale.
Very soon go right on an obvious, well-engineered trail. This climbs the blunt crest of The Band, gaining height steadily and offering increasingly good views back over Langdale. Beyond a fairly level section the path forks. The left branch makes a rising traverse across the southeast flank of Bowfell to climb it via the Three Tarns col. It's more fun to go right instead, following the ridge (effectively still The Band) on an obvious path that winds among outcrops, with occasional views over towards Bowfell Buttress and pockets of entirely optional scrambling on excellent rough rock. A steep climb brings you to the stony summit area. The main top is some way across the plateau - don't be misled in mist by all the extraneous cairns dotted around.
To descend swing back roughly east-southeast to skirt the crag of Bowfell Links, before cutting south to descend a steep rubbly path to the Three Tarns col. Ignore the various turn-offs here and continue south across rugged terrain, where some nice slabby scrambles can be found if you off-path. Crinkle Crags form a rising series of little rocky peaks, and though paths outflank some they should really all be climbed (what else did you come for?). The ascent culminates on the main summit, Long Top.
To descend the Bad Step go south from the summit, where a path suddenly ends in a short but steep and polished downclimb of about grade 2 standard; it's over before you have time to notice it's begun. Alternatively take a well-scuffed path that loops wide on the right to miss out the Bad Step altogether. Both alternatives rejoin at the next little col, from where a short climb gains another rocky minor summit, the final Crinkle. Descend roughly southeast from here across grassy slopes, bearing a little left to cross the top of Browney Gill and reach a major pass close to Red Tarn.
A path laid with stone steps descends the steeply just on the east side of Browney Gill before curving rightwards into the floor of Oxendale. Cross a footbridge and follow the farm track back to the approach route at Stool End farm.
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Sep 2011