Illgill Head and Whin Rigg form a wide grassy ridge along the eastern shore of Wast Water. Crumbling crags high above send great rivers of rock and boulders the size of small houses down to the water's edge, and far below. Dramatic and spectacular, this is the Wastwater Screes. This walk takes you from Brackenclose at the head of Wast Water, along the ridge where you can look down on the screes from above. Dropping off the ridge beside the impressive Greathall Gill it returns along the road for another look at the Screes across the water.
When planning this walk we deliberated about returning along the lake shore path, through the Screes. Awesome as it is from a distance walking it is a different matter. The rock of the Screes becomes slippery in the wet. Some of the boulders are loose and the gaps between them make for excellent foot and leg traps which regularly cause injuries to dogs and humans alike. Even in good conditions it is a tough walk taking a lot longer in practise than a look at the map may suggest. If you do decide to walk it, allow 2 - 3 hours just for the scree section. Here we recommend returning along the relative safety of the road!
The walk starts at the National Trust P&D car park at Brackenclose which is over the temporary bailey bridge, and just beyond the entrance to the campsite.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the NT car park turn left up the road towards the mountain rescue bridge over Lingmell Gill - so named from the parking area reserved for MRT vehicles.
Cross the bridge and bear left signposted "public bridleway, Eskdale, Miterdale and Scafell Massif". In a few metres bear right in front of the FRCC Brackenclose climbing hut. Cross the driveway, keeping ahead, to go through the gate into the field. Follow the path, with the wall to your right, fording a number of small streams, and go through the gate above and to the right, into the next field. Continue on the path as it climbs more steeply to the stone double bridge over Hollow Gill and Groove Gill.
Above the bridge the bridleway passes below tumbledown ruins. As the bridleway bears away left to climb to the col and Burnmoor Tarn keep ahead on the clearer path to go through the gate in the wall. Climb the small zigzags and bear left to follow the grassy path along the recently rebuilt wall on the left. Just below a rocky knoll the way steepens and there are two stiles in the wall. Use one to re-cross the wall.
Continue on the clear path to gain the ridge. Glimpses of the wall can still be seen over to the right. Continue past the cairn on the beginning of the ridge. A little way on is a windshelter over to the right, and a small cairn on slightly higher rocks to the left - the OS
From the summit cairn there are two principal options for traversing the ridge. A wide path along the middle, or a narrow single-file trod on the edge of the crags. Which has merit probably depends on your desire for exposure and the weather conditions! Our path follows the edge. So where the path splits, bear right on the fainter path through the grass towards the crags and then bear left along the top of the crags.
Reaching the depression where there are a number of tarns. Another narrow path climbs off to the right to a knoll where there are good views back along Wast Water to Wasdale Head and the fells beyond. Across the water is Buckbarrow and Middle Fell, at the back Haycock. On a clear day you can see across the fields to the sea, and Sellafield. Bear left to visit the summit of Whin Rigg.
From the summit of Whin Rigg, carry on along the path as it descends towards the deep gash of Greathall Gill, keep left on the path which is occasionally cairned to visit the head of the gill.
Facing the gill take the narrow path around its right hand side. Initially fairly gentle the path bears right to join with a more direct path, then bears left to descend straight down steeply alongside the gill.
Bracken which was rather forgotten along the top now reappears. Amongst it a few remains of a once stone pitched zigzag path continue the steep descent. Drop down to the gate to enter a cattle field. Cross the field and bear right to go around the field beside the fence, down to the double gates and through to the track.
Go through the gate opposite and through the copse to the River Irt - the outfall of Wast Water. Turn left to follow the river, through the gate into the field, and into the next field. Turn immediately right over the stone Lund Bridge.
Over the bridge bear right through the gate with small footpath markers, and bear right again on the gravel path to skirt Low Wood with the river now on your right. Follow this lovely path through the woodland round to Wast Water, passing below the YHA and on to the steps up to the road.
Bear right along the road. Whilst much of the way is only along the road you can make use of the grass along the water's edge for some of the way. Reaching the head of Wast Water turn right to Brackenclose, and across the temporary bridge back to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Scafell Pike - Via Mickledore||22m (24 yards) away|
|Scafell Pike and Scafell via Foxes Tarn||50m (55 yards) away|
|A Mosedale Horseshoe||106m (117 yards) away|
|Scafell Pike - The Easy Way||1.0km (0.6 miles) away|
|Kirk Fell and Great Gable||1.1km (0.7 miles) away|
|Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route from Wasdale||1.1km (0.7 miles) away|
|Great End, Scafell Pike, and Lingmell: a roundabout journey||1.2km (0.7 miles) away|
|Yewbarrow||1.6km (1.0 miles) away|
|Middle Fell, Seatallan, Buckbarrow - a Greendale round||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