Pillar and Scoat from Wasdale Head.

Start. Wasdale Head.

Route. Wasdale Head - Mosedale - Gatherstone Head - Black Sail Pass - Looking Stead - Murl Rigg - Wistow Crag - Pillar - Wind Gap - Little Scoat Fell - Scoat Fell - Little Lad Crag - Netherbeck Bottom - Netherbeck Bridge - Overbeck Bridge - Down in the Dale - Wasdale Head.

Notes. I don't seem to get to Wasdale very often, it's such a pain in the backside drive, so today was an early start. Accompanied by the dawn chorus I loaded the car, the roads were quiet, if it always took just over an hour I'd be there every weekend. After parking on the village green at Wasdale Head I watched a number of fellow early starters heading for Scafell Pike, another referred to Great Gable as his high ground for the day, I laced my boots up a smug grin on my face, they're welcome to the honey pots I was heading for the quiet and some of the best high level walking in the Lake District.

This is a walk for those trying to avoid the crowds, those who like ridge walking, those who enjoy the thrill of an easy scramble, close cropped grass under foot, boulder fields to traverse and if you dare lift your eye from the toe of the boot staggering views, what more do you want, and at the end of the day the world famous Wasdale Head Inn.

I started by wandering down the narrow lane accessing Wasdale Head Inn, the path swung left passed Ritson's Bar to join the banks of Mosedale Beck, with the beck for company I wandered into Mosedale. A lonely place, a typical glacial hanging valley, high mountain scenery rising on three sides, but there's a breach in the walls of rock, rivers of scree and steep mountain sides, Black Sail Pass my portal into the promised land. The climbing started the instant I stepped into Mosedale, long, never ending, I kept telling myself people traveled this route for a living, over hundreds of years man had traversed this pass to access Ennerdale and Buttermere, I was here for pleasure and there wasn't much of that on this endless hot slog.

On I climbed the heat of the morning soon gave way to a cool mountain breeze, views over my shoulder to Illgill Head and Wast Water started to open out, the memory of a hot uncomfortable walk is now distant. Up Gatherstone Head I climbed, above the many cataracts of Gatherstone Gill. When the mountain slopes on ether side started to close in I popped out onto a coll, the head of Black Sail Pass. What remained of an old boundary line cut across the coll, a rusting gate and a line of equally rusting fence posts, this was the Ennerdale Fence my guide to Pillar Mountain. North-west I walked across Looking Stead above Green Cove then up the first of a number of easy scrambles, once up easy walking followed before the next scramble. It took a while before I was climbing the flanks of Pillar, a trig point and a number of wind shelters adorn the summit, time for coffee and a well earned rest.

After sitting a while I had a quick wander around, enjoyed the views then plotted my route off the mountain. The south-west ridge provided my escape route, a well trod path guided me down the ridge terminating at another scramble, scramble over I stepped onto Wind Gap a narrow coll with steep drops on ether side. Easy walking followed above Black Crag and Mirk Cove before another scramble deposited me at a boulder field guarding a cairn on a wall, the summit of Scoat Fell. I continued a dry stone wall for company, close cropped grass under my boot soles, the next summit on the ridge, the pyramid shaped Haycock. My companion the wall continued over the summit but I stopped at the coll before the ascent, sat down had a brew and studied the map. Haycock looked awfully steep, my legs were complaining and I fancied lunch in the Wasdale Head Inn, a row of green dashes descended through Netherbeck Bottom, a bridleway, after another cup of coffee I decided that was the way for me.

With a narrow path under foot I descended the hill, steep in places boggy in others a delight for aching joints and sore legs. Three miles through exquisite Lakeland mountain scenery, all the way to Netherbeck Bridge where I spilled onto the valley road thoroughly knackered, unfortunately it was still two miles to Wasdale Head. With views over Wast Water for company and to the giants closing the head of the valley, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and the Scafell massif, two miles passed quickly terminating at the Wasdale Head Inn and the sanctuary of Ritson's Bar, “Cumberland sausage please and a pint of your best lager shandy” well I was driving.

view route map.


Green Crag over Mosedale with Pillar mountain rising to the right.

The scene over the green fields of Wasdale, just tilted into view Wast Water backed by Illgill Head.

The mighty head of Mosedale.

Ascending Gatherstone Head looking back to Yewbarrow and Dorehead Screes.

From the top of the Black Sail Pass views to Brandreth over the head of Ennerdale.

Near the summit of Looking Stead looking over Ash Crag to Green Gable, the Ennerdale cliffs of Great Gable and the bulk of Kirk Fell.

Looking over the Ennerdale Forest to High Stile.

Heading up Pillar looking back over Black Sail Pass, dominating the view Green Gable, Great Gable and Kirk Fell.

Wast Water and the Irish Sea coast seen through Dore Head the coll between Yewbarrow and Red Pike.

Great Gable, great from any direction.

On the slopes of Pillar viewing Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag.

Wonderful rock architecture above Hind Cove seen from the final pull onto Pillar Mountain.

The summit Pillar with staggering views over the Cumbria coastal plane.

Ennerdale Water with the Irish Sea melting into a grey horizon, seen from Pillar.

Next on the list, Black Crag and Scoat Fell but first a steep descent to Wind Gap.

A grey day on the Lakeland fells, heading up Scoat Fell.

Seen from near the summit of Scoat Fell, Great Gable over Kirk Fell.

A cairn on a wall the summit Scoat Fell.

Descending through Nether Beck Bottom looking back to Haycock.

Wast Water and the screes.

The Sca Fell massif, from left to right, Lingmell, Scafell Pike not looking the highest ground in England, it never does, sometimes I think the OS have it wrong, Sca Fell and I think the little knobble to the right is Slight Side but I may have that wrong.

The mini Matterhorn, Yewbarrow.

The Scafell massif over Wast Water.

End of an epic, the Wasdale Head Inn.

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