Mosedale Horseshoe : Pillar -Scoat Fell -Steeple
-Haycock -Red Pike -Yewbarrow
For me, Wasdale is a very special place, harsher in character than other Lakeland dales, it is surrounded by some of the Lake district's finest hills. Although much visited it still feels a lonely place, maintaining its character in the face of tourism. Any walk based on the Wasdale Head is likely to be of good quality and the Mosedale Horseshoe is no exception.
|The first decision to be made concerns the inclusion of Yewbarrow in the circuit, for this determines the best direction of travel, based on the "up steep - down easy" principle. If Yewbarrow is in, as it deserves to be, it will be most enjoyably tackled at the start of the route. Or why not give it a short day of its own and do the route anti-clockwise? Real gluttons for punishment can start the day with a real "up hard"by adding in the slog up the unrelenting SW ridge of Kirk fell and then follow the fence posts down to a steep scramble to rejoin the route at the Black Sail pass for Pillar.|
alone can be bypassed on its west side . Travelling
Pike and Yewbarrow1 together can be bypassed by descending
a quiet and pleasant route with good evening views across to Wasdale
Great and Little Lad Crags are two very similar features of this
(both crags above a stream fork with footpath below). I once met a
of walkers waiting to rendezvous with a second (overdue) party at
Lad Crag. By a strange coincidence as I walked on up the dale I met a
group also waiting for overdue friends at Great Lad Crag !
1 Yewbarrow can also be bypassed by descending worn out scree at Dore Head.(not recommended)
|Clockwise Route Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Scoat Fell, Wind Gap, Pillar, Black Sail Pass, Mosedale, Wasdale Head.|
The classic horseshoe (clockwise) but excluding Steeple
After warming up along the road from Wasdale Head (parking is also available at start of route proper) the hard work starts as the path turns NE and climbs up on the left (N) of a wall.Just as the path is about to meet difficulties it contours left and, leaving the bypass path to the left (take this if you are not confident to scramble), zigzags up on rock and scree to suddenly arrive at Great Door with a dramatic view directly down the opposite side of the mountain. In my opinion this is one of the best spots in Lakeland and worth a few minutes break to enjoy the airy views of Wasdale below.
The path continues winding up through rocks until the grassy summit ridge is reached and a pleasant easy walk continues until the north summit is reached, where a little difficulty begins. (It is possible to descend with care off the left (NW) side of the ridge at around the half way point if needed). The easy path suddenly disappears of the end of the ridge and drops down to Dore Head over Stirrup Crag. At the south end of the ridge the path had deviously bypassed the worst of the difficulties but at the north end they are attacked head on as we scramble down to the flat grass of Dore Head directly below. Nothing is too difficult but two awkward positions have to be overcome with greater or lesser elegance, then a steep path begins to reappear and we are soon on level ground looking back trying to work out where the route was.
Scoat Fell and
After the difficulties of Yewbarrow the rocky 1200ft. walk up Red Pike is hardly noticed. (Guide books show a route up direct to Dore Head from Mosedale but this is both very steep and heavily eroded). It is possible to continue on towards Pillar without crossing the summit of Scoat Fell but this misses the opportunity to visit Steeple which is hiding behind the wall running east-west . In clear weather it will be easy to find the narrow ridge just to the west of Scoat Fell summit connecting Steeple with the main mass of the mountain. This must be a superior way of visiting Steeple than wandering about in the conifers in Ennerdale looking for the path.
After Scoat Fell we must descend to Wind Gap, where an escape route over scree down into Mosedale exists. From now on we are on rock until Pillar is left for Black Sail Pass. After the rocky climb up the summit is rather a surprise in its broad blankness and in poor visibility it is worth noting the direction of departure before stopping for a lunch break. All the best features are hidden here and if in mist it may be worth waiting until after descending east to Looking Stead where a good lunch-stop may be found with good views of Green Cove and Pillar Rock. (A path leaves the ridge here abouts north-west for Pillar Rock). Soon after Looking Stead a shortcut path descends to join the main Black Sail path below, but is easily missed in descent and is in any case only adventageous in ascent.
Sail Pass we turn south for an easy and pleasant descent to
Head and a welcome pint*.
|* Those who do not like pubs could fill in the time otherwise wasted by scrambling up Kirk Fell from Black Sail pass and making the knee-breaking descent of its south-west ridge back to Wasdale!|
Variation excluding Red Pike & Yewbarrow, including Steeple and Haycocks as out and backs.Descent by Nether Beck (anticlockwise).
See also Lords Rake Lingmell
Great Gable and Kirk Fell