Hills: Pillar, Black Crag, Steeple, Scoat Fell and Red Pike
Date: Thursday 16th April 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 18km, Ascent: 1290m
Time: 6Hrs 30Mins

On my final day of Lakeland walking, I hit the weather jackpot. Rain, snow, low-cloud, strong winds and bitter cold were at last exchanged for sunshine, blue skies, warmth and a gentle breeze. For my seventh consecutive day of walking, I was able to undertake one of my 'Plan A' ideas - the Mosedale Horseshoe.

On a beautiful day, what could be nicer than a drive along Wast Water to reach Wasdale Head. On seeing the lake, I just had to stop to take a photo of the lovely reflections.

Wast Water during early morning drive to Wasdale Head:

On reaching Wasdale Head, I parked at the Wasdale Head Village Green car park which is free of charge. I was surprised at there being only four other cars parked-up in what is generally a very busy car park. I have undertaken walks from Wasdale Head several times previously. It is possibly my favourite walk starting point in the UK; there are numerous great route options starting from Wasdale Head.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the Village Green car park, I made my way along the road to the Wasdale Head Inn before following the track behind the Inn towards the base of Kirk Fell.

Wasdale Head Inn:

Looking towards Pillar from bridge behind the Wasdale Head Inn:

On reaching the track junction, I took the track leading to the Black Sail Pass. I had walked this track once previously on undertaking a circuit of Kirk Fell and Great Gable.

Looking back to Wasdale Head:

After circa fifteen minutes of walking, I had to stop briefly to strip-off a couple of layers. I could see part of my route ahead forming the skyline.

Red Pike and Pillar:

As I gained height, on looking back I could see the imposing cliffs of Scafell coming into view behind Lingmell. I wondered how busy Scafell Pike would be on such a fine day. On my route, I could see only three other people approximately 20 minutes ahead of myself.

Scafell behind Lingmell and Yewbarrow:

The Black Sail Pass track gets you very easily to a height of circa 550m.

Ascent to top of Black Sail Pass:

From the top of the pass you can carry on downhill towards the Black Sail Hut, take a right onto the scrambly route up Kirk Fell or take a left up Looking Stead towards Pillar.

View from top of Black Sail Pass:

From the top of Black Sail Pass I followed the track leading up Looking Stead, the ascent of which was very easy.

Ascent of Looking Stead:

At the summit of Looking Stead:

While at the summit of Looking Stead, I took a photo looking down to the Black Sail Hut. I also had a good look at a route along the Ennerdale hills which had been recommended by a friend; a route I will likely undertake on my next Lakeland trip hopefully with my friend.

Looking down to Black Sail Hut (zoom):

The next section of ascent required a bit more care; following a path which wound its way fairly easily up through a small crag. During this ascent, I passed the cairn marking the start of the climber's traverse round towards Robinson cairn and Pillar Rock.

Looking down to Looking Stead:

View towards Wasdale Head during ascent of Pillar:

I could now see part of the route I would be undertaking ahead.

Scoat Fell, Black Crag and Pillar:

During the ascent of the boulderfield, I followed the line of rusty fence posts up the hill.

Ascent of Pillar:

On the final section of ascent, I passed a number of very steep drops.

Looking down a steep gully:

In just under 2Hrs 30Mins of walking, I had reached the highest point of the day, Pillar. At 892m, Pillar is just 22m short of 3000ft. There are only six peaks in England above 3000ft, two of which are really tops of Scafell Pike: Scafell Pike, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, Scafell, Helvellyn and Skiddaw.

I had a walkabout the wide grassy summit area of Pillar. This would be a great place to wild camp.

At the summit of Pillar:

Pillar summit area:

The trickiest section of the walk was the descent from Pillar towards Wind Gap. This was not in anyway technically difficult, just steep with lots of loose scree.

Descent from Pillar:

Looking back at descent from Pillar:

On reaching Wind Gap, I next made my way up Black Crag. Black Crag is a Hewitt but not a Wainwright.

Ascending Black Crag:

While the ascent of Black Crag looked fairly rocky, it was quite straight-forward. I visited both cairns on Black Crag.

Looking towards Scoat Fell and Steeple from summit of Black Crag:

Beyond Black Crag, it was a hands in pockets pleasant stroll towards Scoat Fell.

Heading for Scoat Fell:

Wall passing summit of Scoat Fell:

As I approached the summit of Scoat Fell, I was so busy checking out Steeple that I missed the summit of Scoat Fell which was on the other side of the wall. I continued on, deciding that I would return to the summit of Scoat Fell following my ascent of Steeple.

Steeple from Scoat Fell:

Ennerdale Water:

The track leading out to Steeple, and up Steeple, was a bit exposed in places but there was no scrambling involved.

Route to Steeple:

I met three other walkers on Steeple; the first I had met all day. All other walkers must have been on Scafell Pike .

Pillar and Scoat Fell from the summit of Steeple:

Great Gable from summit of steeple (zoom):

I returned from Steeple towards Scoat Fell via the same track and then visited the actual summit of Scoat Fell on the other side of the wall.

Looking towards Steeple from the summit of Scoat Fell:

Before heading for Red Pike, I stopped for a drink and a bite to eat.

Heading for Red Pike:

During the walk out to Red Pike, it was nice to see Buckbarrow and Seatallan. I ascended these fells just a few days previous.

Buckbarrow and Seatallan across Scoat Tarn:

Ascending Red Pike:

At the summit of Red Pike, I stopped to chat with two other walkers. It turns out we all visited Ladakh in 2013.

Looking towards Kirk Fell and Great Gable from the summit of Red Pike:

I then made my way down Red Pike towards the col between Red Pike and Yewbarrow.

Initial descent from Red Pike:

As I got closer and closer to Yewbarrow, I expected the route up Stirrup Crag on Yewbarrow to start to look easier. It did not.

From the base of Stirrup Crag, the ascent looked like climbing rather than scrambling. A guidebook I had read the day previous had suggested that Yewbarrow was best left for a walk on its own rather than tagging it onto the rest of the Mosedale Hills. As I was already feeling quite tired and hot, I was happy to leave an ascent of Yewbarrow for another trip.

Looking up Stirrup Crag of Yewbarrow:

Looking back to Red Pike:

Descent from Dove Head:

From Dove Head I followed a track, which was very wet in places, leading back down to Wast Water.


Illgill Head and Whin Rigg across Wast Water:


The final descent to Wast Water was via the standard 'tourist' route to Yewbarrow.

Wast Water during descent:

The Scafells:

Wast Water during descent:

The final 3km walk back along the road to Wasdale Head passed more quickly than expected. It may have been the effects of the heat but everytime a sheep made a noise I made the same noise back. This passed the time!

Prior to reaching Wasdale Head, I stopped to photograph a small bird. I think it may be a Chiffchaff.

A Chiffchaff:

This was a fantastic walk and a great conclusion to my week-long trip to the Lakes. I'm looking forward already to my next trip.