Hills: Illgill Head and Whin Rigg
Date: Sunday 21st September 2014
Company: Just myself
Distance: 15.1km, Ascent: 890m
Time: 4Hrs 10Mins

After two days spent walking in low cloud on Peak District Sub2000ft Marilyns and a circuit from Lingmell to Great End (via Scafell Pike), it had been my intention to just drive home yesterday picking off an easy Sub2000ft Marilyn en-route. However, on awakening and looking out the window, I could see wall to wall blue sky. I therefore decided to head back towards Wasdale Head for an ascent of Illgill Head and Whin Rigg.

Instead of parking at Wasdale Head, I opted to park in the small car park below Yewbarrow. This is a National Trust car park with a £2 donation for parking welcomed. From the car park, I set off to undertake a clockwise circuit of Wast Water.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Yewbarrow looks very impressive from the roadside.

Crags on Yewbarrow from starting point:

It was nice to look East and be able to identify all the summits having now climbed each of them.

Great Gable, Lingmell and Scafell Pike across Wast Water:

Crags on Yewbarrow (zoom):

As I walked the circa 1.5km from the car park to the campsite car park, I was already starting to feel the heat.

Illgill Head across Wast Water:

Walking along the road towards Wasdale Head:

I then walked the road to Brackenclose to find the start of the track leading to Illgill Head. To ascend Illgill Head you want to be on the opposite side of Lingmell Beck from the tourist track up Scafell Pike.

Wast Water from bridge over dry Lingmell Beck:

Start of track leading to Illgill Head:

The track ascending Illgill Head was about as good as it gets - a nice gradient and grassy underfoot.

Following the pleasant track alongside the wall:

During the ascent it was nice to look across to the SW ridge of Lingmell which I had ascended the day previous en-route to Scafell Pike. The SW ridge of Lingmell was a steep slog in comparison to the pleasant incline today.

Looking back to Lingmell ridge and Scafell Pike:

SW ridge of Lingmell (ascended the day previous):

Ascending Illgill Head:

During the ascent I stopped to put on suncream and unknowingly managed to get a small blob onto the camera lens. The next thirty or so photos I took all have a bit of distortion thanks to the suncream. I have cropped some of them to remove the distortion.

Following the wall up Illgill Head:

Looking back to Wasdale Head, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Lingmell:


I really like the look of the Mosedale Horseshoe hills which include Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Steeple and Pillar. This circuit is now No 1 on my Lake District "to do" list.

Mosedale horseshoe hills, Kirk Fell and Wasdale Head:

Ascending Illgill Head:

During the ascent of Illgill Head, I got my first view of Sellafield power station (formerly Windscale). When things go wrong with these nuclear power stations, whatever they contaminate can stay radioactive for a serious length of time! They do however produce a substantial amount of reliable power compared with windfarms.

Sellafield from Illgill Head (zoom):

On reaching the summit area I first visited the large stone shelter and then popped across to a small cairn that looked about the same height. I then proceeded a couple of hundred metres on to the large cairn that I thought was the summit.

At the stone shelter on Illgill Head:

At the small summit cairn on Illgill Head (609m):

On reaching the large cairn, I checked my GPS to find that I had already visited the summit and that this large cairn was 5m lower.

At the large cairn on Illgill Head (604m):

After descending from Illgill Head to the col, I chose the track that runs alongside the cliff. This was definitely the more interesting path as it provided views down to Wast Water and glimpes of the cliffs.

Looking down to Wast Water:

Whin Rigg from Illgill Head:

Looking down to Wast Water:

Cliffs above Wast Water:

En-route to Whin Rigg:

During the ascent of Whin Rigg, I was passed by two fell runners. Despite me feeling a bit like the tortoise in the the 'Tortoise and the hare', I found it funny that I actually beat them down to the Wastwater Youth Hostel as I didn't make a navigational error .

Looking back to Illgill Head:

I visited both of the summit cairns on Whin Rigg. According to my GPS the cairn on the cliff edge is the summit.

At the summit of Whin Rigg:

At another large cairn on Whin Rigg:

I then began my descent hoping to be able to pick up a track leading down alongside Greathall Gill.

Descent towards Greathall Gill:

Wast Water from descent track alongside Greathall Gill:

I found this track an easy enough descent albeit the track does lead you down through tonnes of bracken. With a bit of care it gets you back down to Wast Water very quickly.

Descending the track alongside Greathall Gill:

I then made my way through a field to reach Lund Bridge before picking up the road leading to Wasdale Head.

Lund Bridge:

The circa 4km walk back along the road was pleasant albeit it is a fairly busy road that is narrow in places.

Wastwater Youth Hostel:

I could have avoided walking along the road by taking the lakeside "path" past the screes. However, that path didn't look particularly pleasant so I was happy enough with the road.

The Screes:

Wast Water:

This was a really enjoyable walk. Doing the Wainwrights is becoming tempting despite staying 6-7 hrs away from the Lakes.