A full Mosedale Horeshoe

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By SheepFarmer on 03/10/18 at 4:56pm

Hills walked:
Kirk Fell East Top (Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Kirk Fell (Wainwright, Birkett, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP, Clem, Fellranger, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Looking Stead (Pillar) (Birkett, Nuttall, and Synge)
Pillar (Wainwright, Birkett, Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP, High Hill of Britain, Clem, Sim, Fellranger, Synge, and Tump)
Black Crag (Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Scoat Fell (Wainwright, Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, High Hill of Britain, Fellranger, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Middle Scoat Fell (deleted Nuttall)
Steeple (Wainwright, Birkett, Nuttall, Fellranger, Synge, and sub Sim)
Red Pike (Wasdale) (Wainwright, Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, Fellranger, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Black Crag (Synge)
Yewbarrow North Top (Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Yewbarrow (Wainwright, Birkett, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP, sub Marilyn, Clem, Fellranger, Synge, Sim, and Tump)
Symonds Knott (Nuttall, High Hill of Britain, Synge, and sub Sim)
Date started:15/09/2018
Distance:22.7 km or 14.1 miles
Ascent:1641m or 5384ft
Descent:1645m or 5397ft
Start OSGB:NY184075
Time taken:9:40

Moving Time 7h 38m

Day 4 of my holiday & the last full day, after my change of plans the previous day I was back pretty much to what I'd planned which was a full Mosedale Horseshoe, I'm calling it full as I included all of the optional fells so my basic route was - Kirk Fell, Pillar, Little Scoat Fell, Steeple, Red Pike (Wasdale) & Yewbarrow (GPS track & Profile below), all together a mighty walk & the biggest I've done for a good many years.



The start for me was in the National Trust (NT) campsite where I had my tent, although there is a good car park for the public just outside. As I started off I had high hopes of good views as there was a bit of sharpness to the views & the cloud level was above the tops.

Having on the night I'd arrived scouted out the public footpath that goes North along the edge of the campsite and then fords the beck, I found that a new permissive path has been put in place to allow one when water levels are unsuitable to continue to follow the Eastern side of the beck until you join an existing path that crosses the beck on a footbridge, currently this path is not marked on OS or Waymaps but given time I'm sure it will be.

Now my preplanned route had been to go up the steep end ridge of Kirk Fell but having had a bit of time to reread Wainwright book 7 about it being a turf clutching crawl & also taking to heart a comment he made somewhere about zig-zags I decided to alter things and ascend to Beck Head & then head up to the summit. However some of my first full views of what lay ahead came as I was still down in the bottom. The first pic (Pic 01) of Kirk Fell centre & Pillar disapering of left from it came as I approached The Green at Wasdale Head.

Pic 01

Having left the road & now onto the farm drive you pass little St Olafs church that I'd visited the previous evening, it's hidden in the clump of trees in the pic (Pic 02) below, but the track is pointing straight at Great Gable that from this angle hides it's dome & from the same place (pic 03) Wasdale Head Inn & campsite with Pillar showing itself in the V of Kirk Fell & Yewbarrow.

Pic 02

Pic 03

From here it was follow the farm drive through an area of green pastures enclosed with nice stone walls, around the farmstead & onto the Moses Trod Path, pretty much at the point where Gable Beck meets Lingmell Beck there's a wooden footbridge one goes over then it's a left turn up hill towards Beck Head, that is the low point on the ridge between Kirk Fell & Great Gable, the path starts on grass and slowly gets steeper then turns to stones as it crosses scree runs & actually you are on Great Gables flanks and looking up at it you just see a jagged rocky top with scree below & no easy way up.

But at this point the views are best looking back down Wasdale, (Pic 04) as shown below, the foreground is Lingmell left & Kirk Fell right with Yewbarrow beyond & then Illgill Head dropping into Wastwater.

Pic 04

From there it was straight on up to the grass & tarn at Beck Head where you start to see the fells over the other side, Great Gable starts showing it's dome head appearance and it was here I turned to the West to do the last 200m of ascent of Kirk Fell most of which is a scramble up rock. It was here at Rib End that you see the Scafells range emerge to a broader extent, with Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Lingmell and Scafell (Pic 4b)

Pic 4b

Near the top of Rib End, Great Gable shows the full glory of its dome, with Green Gable to its left (pic 05)

Pic 05

Onto the top of Kirk Fell and you're back onto grass mainly bar it's rocky high points, coming this way takes one over its 2nd summit and on to it's main one. At the wind shelter at the summit I took a break to swap the OS map I had out with the other in my rucksack as this walk is on 2 different ones, in unfastening & swinging rucksack of my back the GPS unit that was clipped to the waist strap went flying off & unfortunately must have just hit stone to button as afterwards although the unit was working one of the buttons didn't so I couldn't access some of the screens & settings.

From the top the views are extensive and you can see the sea in two directions the Irish sea down over Wasdale & up to the Solway Firth. It was also here that I meet two young men who were also doing the Horseshoe but they'd come up the steep way from Wasdale and although we chatted a bit they soon left me behind & when I meet one at the Inn that evening he said they'd arrived back before 4pm although I don't know if they included Yewbarrow but they did go out to Steeple.

Approaching Kirk Fell Crags I took this with High Stile dropping to Haystacks on the horizontal centre line & Grasmoor & its supporting fells starting over the other side of the unseen Buttermere & Crummock Water (pic 06)

Pic 06

And right from the top of them similar view but round slightly more & closer up to see the route up to Pillar (off the pic) & the High Stile ridge just back to the other Red Pike (Buttermere) & Grasmoor both of which I'd included in big walks last year (pic 07). From the same point is Haystacks & the hard to see building at the end of the track down in Ennerdale is Black Sail Hut (pic 08). Plus a panorama of the ridge up & over Pillar and round to Scoat Fell (pic 09)

Pic 07

Pic 08

Pic 09

Descending the crags is quite a steep scramble and almost climb at times such that it was easier & safer to turn to face the rock & go down backwards at the most awkward points. You then have a bit of a rest-bite on the grass & good get out paths as you cross over Black Sail Pass before you start climbing again. I deviated off the path at a lower lump & then again at Looking Stead where I sat looking at the generally good views round whilst I had lunch part 1.

Moving on past the fork to the path across Pillar's North face & just at the bottom of a rocky ascent up to a high point East of the main summit came this (Pic 10), with the actual summit of Pillar being on the mass to the left.

Pic 10

Approaching the top of the rocky section came (Pic 11) this view into the lower reaches of Mosedale & of Wasdale Head with the pointed from this angle Yewbarrow centre of pic, that I was going over as the last summit of the day. From the same point (Pic 12) a view of where I'd come, Kirk Fell.

Pic 11

Pic 12

Having reached some levelish ground that continued until the last steeper bit to the summit, came (pic 13) a view over Mosedale to the peaks of L to R Yewbarrow, Red Pike (w) & back to Scoat Fell. Pic 13

But note the cloud over the tops in the distance, because as I ascended I went into it or so I thought, but as things turned out it was also descending. So my view of the summit of Pillar (Pic 14) was limited, the pic was taken about 45m away from the trig pillar. But I did stop to have lunch part 2 in one of the wind shelters as it was cold when one stopped and had a bit of a chat with a young couple who joined me & were backpacking & going to Ennerdale via the path that headed off NW.

Pic 14

For me it was SW from the top towards the misnamed Little Scoat Fell as its higher than Great Scoat Fell, same fell actually just its two summits. Following the ridge line made navigation easy, although I was back to the same situation I had on my Bowfell walk, in that conditions were misting & wetting both sides of my glasses & generally could see better without them but I needed them for reading for navigation.

The going varied between an earthen path through grass & rock scrambles in the area of Black Crag which I passed over rather than go round, probably because that was the more trodden route.

As I passed the point where the path splits with a branch heading of to Red Pike (w) I marked the position on my GPS unit, it was then a case of heading up through the boulder field until hitting the wall that leads one onto the summit, still bouldery, that is a small cairn on top of the wall, from the summit of Little Scoat Fell I was heading onto Steeple & being aware of going out onto a sharp ridge with no view of how far things dropped of each side but having previously read about it I took things steady and reached the very top of the summit of Steeple with some careful foot work & as visibility & ground conditions in terms of a rocky scramble were poor. Upon leaving the summit I took a pic (Pic 15) before it disappeared and now having geotagged pics have worked out that I was about 37m away which shows how thick the cloud was.

Pic 15

Coming back from Steeple I noticed on the Talky Toaster maps on my GPS unit that Little Scoat Fell was marked off to the SW of where the path from Steeple joins in & went in search of it, I think I knew it wasn't correct but didn't want to miss it out having come so far, so after a bit of wandering and finding that its position as a summit was in error & it was just a group of rocks, it was back to the true summit of Little Scoat Fell & then following the wall back the way I'd come up, but as the wall ended although I didn't realise at the time I was heading off course, but when I next checked my navigation realised it and slowly sorted myself out, looking at my track now it was 3 minutes before correcting and then 3 mins to get back to my initial error point, out on the mountain it seemed like an age, but I do remember it was in a boulder field & descending and that I was then trying to get back to the path marked on the map but at the same time picking a hopefully easier route through the boulders. Looking at my track overlaid on the satellite imagery now it looks as though there was a bit of a path like way that I was on in error, that some people have used to cut the corner when coming from Red Pike. The main thing is that I realised my mistake, corrected myself & came to no harm.

Having got back onto the good path along the ridge I think having made a mistake I was striding out, to make up for lost time & thinking my turn was at the low point & not checking my GPS for the point I'd marked to make things easy for me as often as I should, although the page i'd have normally used, with pointer & distance was one of the ones that I couldn't access due to my incident earlier with the unit, so i went by it in the cloud until my next check when I was 2 mins past it so more backtracking.

My next error was that on the approach to Red Pike (w) I fell into step & started talking with another walker & although going generally in the right direction we took the path that takes the level route & bypasses the edge & summit, it was only when he said that his GPS had gone onto the next point past the summit that I turned directly uphill and cut over the grass to reach the edge & summit, although I took a pic all it showed is some rounded grassland & plenty of white cloud. My next actual view came as I was descending off the end of Red Pike (w) when a break in the cloud let me see a misted view down into Wasdale, but this was the start of an improvement as I could see a brightness form the sum above and the cloud below started to clear such that I got in some good views down considering what it had been like but the cloud still covered the higher tops & was still drifting around but approaching Dore Head came a view (pic 16) of my last fell for the day Yewbarrow and at the top of the Dore Head scree's (pic 17) a view into Mosedale.

Pic 16

Pic 17

To get to the top of Yewbarrow I took the route that most other people seem to have taken judging by the wear on the grass although with hindsight it my be that people go forward & then turn back because the route up Stirrup Crag is not something to be taken lightly, if you look back at pic 16 you are going up first the steepish rock & grass slope to that dome of rock that sits at the end of Yewbarrow "looking unassailable" as Wainwright says.

It was on the rock of the crag that I caught up to Bob & I promised to name check him so there it is, but the reason is that he had reached a bit that required a climbing move even for a tall person like me, a boost up with the legs from some not that secure footing to grab a handhold & pull up, he was unsure if he could make it & as he was on his own was thinking of turning back, but I offered to take the lead on the basis that if something happened to me then he was there to get help. I did make it & he then followed & we did it that way up to the summit that had just one more climbing move, the rest being a scramble. I think that going up Stirrup Crag is one of those places where you always think that the way or alternate move you didn't take would have been easier.

Having reached the plateau on the top it was then a bit of a walk along the grassy ridge in the cloud as it had descended once again over the summit, but as per chance Bob & I walked at the same pace we continued on together & chatted quite a lot, I was extolling the virtues of this site to him, discussing GPS units, PC mapping apps & that I found a walking pole a great benefit. At the end I got an almost birds-eye view (Pic 18) with zoom down to the NT campsite & car park, from just where the ridge starts to drop down steeply in a scramble requiring hands at times.

Pic 18

When we reached the car park by the road, there were a couple of 4×4 branded with RAF Mountain Rescue & people out with radios, but I asked & they were just practising. It was on the road that Bob & I parted ways as he continued on ahead of me back to Burnthwaite Farm B&B, the last property at the top of Wasdale, as I stopped to take more pics. Including this (pic 19) of thick cloud on top of Kirk Fell & Great Gable just at the road junction to the NT campsite.

Pic 19

For me it was then back to my tent for a wash & brush up before off to Wasdale Head Inn for a meal as I had been doing but this day found it very busy with full tables, I was joined at mine by a bloke and I asked if he'd had a long day, but he said not, he'd been slow & taken an hour & a bit, to the top of Scafell Pike & back in the fell race, with the quickest just under the hour mark, I said that for me that would be very quick.

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