Greendale Gill breaches the high ground of Middle Fell and Buckbarrow. The outfall of Greendale Tarn is joined by Tongues Gills and numerous becks draining Buckbarrow Moss which then tumbles down between the fells carving a narrow ravine with pleasant cascades creating small waterfalls and plunge pools. The National Trust have been planting trees on the steep lower banks of the gill just above the cottages beside the gill and Greendale Bridge. Whilst Middle Fell and Buckbarrow are rough and knotted, typical of ice scoured terrain. Seatallan behind them is more rounded with much grass and moss. Above Greendale Tarn peaty marsh lies on the saddle with Middle Fell. Across the Wasdale valley the Scafell range stands out, the view stunning and memorable. Middle Fell is possibly the best vantage point of all.
To the north east of Buckbarrow is the Jos Naylor Cairn. It's said he built the cairn on the site of an ancient cairn which marked a burial site or tumulus. We use it as a good marker for the steep descent to the path alongside Greendale Gill which could otherwise be difficult to locate.
Park off the road beside the cottages at Greendale, on the Wasdale side, where there is a patch of rough informal parking and a public footpath sign.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Seatallan, Middle Fell, Glade How, and Buckbarrow; and includes 3 Wainwrights, 4 Birketts, 1 Marilyn, 1 Hewitt, 1 Nuttall, 1 Dodd, 2 HuMPs, and 1 Dewey.
If you need accommodation we have details of 15 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Looking up from the parking area, Greendale Gill is obviously ahead, with Middle Fell to the right, Buckbarrow to the left, and Seatallan hidden somewhere over the back. Climb the path through the bracken, take the one bearing right and then left rather than one beside the fence enclosing part of the Gill. You'll find some small sections of stone pitching which make the ascent a good deal easier.
As the shoulder of the ridge coming down from Middle Fell is reached, the Greendale Tarn path continues ahead mostly level for a bit. Instead bear right to climb the grass bank of the ridge.
Soon the path meanders a little, and the ground gets rocky. Easy to follow still and the occasional cairn is there to confirm the way. Higher still it encounters crags and outcrops which look like they could be the summit, but are not. That lies on the far side of a knotted upland. The path bypasses any difficulties.
The summit cairn of Middle Fell is eventually reached, even if it did feel a lot longer than the map would suggest.
Continue on from the summit cairn. Follow the path across a marshy patch to the edge of the small summit plateau and over to descend just to the left of the ridgeline. The marshy depression between Middle Fell and Seatallan is clear. Keep left and swing down to the depression and cross gingerly.
The path continues as it now starts climbing rough grassy slopes. With boulder fields and scree on either side follow the path as it largely continues ahead on a grassy tongue. Steep enough for a steadying hand to be put to the ground occasionally and pockets dug into the grass by countless boots make for adequate steps.
Just as you feel like giving up and are convinced you'll lay there for the rest of time the gradient eases off. Further on the summit trig point appears, with a large windshelter - cairn. A smaller cairn a little way east appears marginally higher.
From the trig point turn left from the route of ascent and pick up one of the paths descending through the grass approximately south. Follow the clear, wider, and marshy track which materialises and swings south west to the prominent cairn on Cat Bields. It looks a fair distance off but the gentle slope makes for easy walking.
Reaching the cairn, do not continue on the widening slopes ahead but turn left. Descend now towards the crags and broken ground of Buckbarrow with the ridge of Whin Rigg and Illgill Head beyond. First reaching the well built shapely cairn of Glade How continue on the path, the summit of Buckbarrow still lies SSE a further 350m (385 yards).
Descending a little, cross a shallow slightly boggy patch amongst the knotty ground. Buckbarrow's summit cairn is perched on a small outcrop well back from the edge of the crags.
Turn sharp left from the summit cairn and try to locate a path heading north easterly. There are a number of confusing paths criss-crossing the top of Buckbarrow. Ideally take a compass bearing to the Joss Naylor Cairn. This cairn is the key to getting home!
The Jos Naylor Cairn stands as a good marker above the point where you can drop down steep grass slopes beside the aptly named Tongues Gills to Greendale Gill. The cairn is tall, slender, and well constructed.
From the cairn turn down the grass slopes heading south east for the gill. A subsidiary cairn act as confirmation of the right direction. As you descend do not cross any becks or gills to the left or right. As the slope steepens a path materialises beside the left hand gill. Bracken begins to make an appearances once again. Descend carefully.
The path eases to the right passing below a lone tree, and bears right to a sheepfold. Below the sheepfold cross the gill and continue keeping right on the path as it traverses above a new fenced in plantation of trees. Follow the fence as it drops alongside Greendale Gill and finally down to the bridge between the cottages. Turn left to return to the parking place.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Yewbarrow||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|A Mosedale Horseshoe||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|Scafell Pike - Via Mickledore||4.2km (2.6 miles) away|
|Illgill Head and Whin Rigg||4.3km (2.6 miles) away|
|Scafell Pike and Scafell via Foxes Tarn||4.3km (2.6 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011