Kirkfell from Wasdale

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Wasdale Head has been a popular base for mountain lovers for over 150 years. Victorian mountaineers and rock climbers were the first to popularise the valley, and the Wasdale Head Inn became the home of English mountaineering, despite the difficulties of getting there. Even today the valley is remote by Lake District standards, but it still remains popular.

The main reason for this popularity is the ring of famous hills around Wasdale head. Star of the stage is Scafell Pike, for no better reason than the fact it is the highest point in England. Next to Scafell Pike lies Sca Fell (a separate mountain) and Lingmell. Heading further away from Scafell Pike you come to Great Gable, which in turn leads to the Mosedale Horseshoe via Pillar, ending at Yewbarrow.

The view looking towards Wasdale Head from Wast Water features Great Gable in the centre, framed by Yewbarrow on the left and Lingmell on the right. If this view seems familiar it should be – it is the logo of the Lake District National Park. The one hill you don’t see, and the hill that most people ignore, is Kirk Fell.

You don’t get a view of Kirk Fell until you are almost at Wasdale Head. It’s the big one, to the left of Great Gable, and although slightly lower than Great Gable it has twice the bulk. The trouble is, with all that bulk it isn’t a pretty looking hill. It is surrounded by hills more photogenic and more famous, and because of this it tends to be neglected.

This walk sets out to put that right. Starting from Wasdale Head the route follows the old trade route from Wasdale to Ennerdale via the Black Sail Pass. At the top of the pass the route heads up to traverse the twin peaks of Kirk Fell. Because of its lack of popularity, Kirk Fell isn’t as criss-crossed with paths as its neighbours, but navigation over the twin summits from the cols on either side is made easy by following a line of old fence posts. From the twin summits, the descent heads for the col at Beck Head, then down to a junction with the Sty Head track before returning to Wasdale Head.

The more popular surrounding hills get most of the attention, and because of that they get the crowds. You can’t be guaranteed total solitude anywhere in the Lake District, but you are more likely to find it here than on the neighbouring hills. You should also find yourself enjoying a fine day out on one of Lakeland’s quieter hills.

England - North England - Cumbria - Lake District - North West


Great Views, Mountains, National Trust, Pub, Waterfall

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