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A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.


Postby trailmasher » Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:45 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Pillar, Scoat Fell, Steeple

Hewitts included on this walk: Pillar, Pillar - Black Crag, Scoat Fell

Date walked: 28/09/2015

Time taken: 7.06

Distance: 23.11 km

Ascent: 1591m

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Pillar - Steeple and Lingmell.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


After our sleepover at Black Sail YH the walking wounded decided that they would like another outing in September with the intention of completing the two unfinished walks of Junes roam around the fells. This, though, was to be a more relaxed two days in one way as this time walking took priority over socialising and the numbers of our group has been sorely depleted due to Scot Rail trying to gamble his life savings away in Las Vegas, Sparks has fallen of a ladder and broke an arm and an ankle, whilst Murphy cannot be contacted and the rumour is going around that due to his previous sterling efforts of handling Tess the sheepdog on our last two day event he has now thrown in the towel with bricklaying and is doggy minding/walking for a living but does throw them the odd half brick to keep his hand in, and the dogs fit. That's the first reason.

After the report of the Black Sail event had been published on WH and the antics of the Sunday night had been revealed, men and boys interrogated, step in the wives of some of the group with the proviso that in future an early morning start to our meeting place would be preferable to an early evening start at the pub. Phew, that's a rough deal. Thinking about it later it was probably the right decision as the thoughts of carting the Macho Man through the village again and ending up with goolies as big as loom weights was not a pleasant thought. That's the second and main reason.

So for this two day adventure it was once again a bit of a mission to speak to everyone due to the nature of their work but we finally decided on staying at Buttermere YH for one night after we had completed the first days walking which would take us to Pillar, Steeple, and Lingmell in Ennerdale, Pillar being missed out in June. Day two would allow us to complete the Newlands Round which we also failed to achieve in June.

The morning of the 28th September started with sunshine as the three that were to accompany me arrived at my house at 7:15am where coffee was offered and accepted gratefully as they had been on the road since 5am. You should have only given name, rank, and number lads when challenged by the women and things could have been so different.

The plan was to park up at Gatescarth Farm car park where a charge of £4 is accepted by the ticket machine for all day parking so not a bad deal really. This we did and once booted up crossed the road and went through the gate and headed off to Peggy's Bridge which allows good frontal views of Haystacks and passage over Warnscale Beck, which itself feeds into the waters of Buttermere.
2 - Haystacks overlooking Warnscale Bottom.JPG
Haystacks overlooking Warnscale Bottom.

From the bridge it's straight forward and through the gate to start the climb up southwards to and behind the small plantation of pine trees and crossing over the small beck which caused a massive landslide and washing away the hillside and path after a deluge of rain a few years ago. Well done to those who re-instated the footpath as it must have been quite a mission to complete.

We then passed through the gate leading us onto Buttermere Fell where the path eases of somewhat before we started the easy climb up the well trodden path to reach a second wall leading us onto the open fells from where the path now gets steeper, rockier, and with a multitude of little paths meandering around the rocks as people have found their own way of going, so it was just a case of following the one that took your fancy really. Before too long we had arrived at the crossroads of Scarth Gap…
5 - Scarth Gap with Haystacks to the left.JPG
Scarth Gap with Haystacks to the left.

where the path continues south into Ennerdale, another breaks off to the east to climb Haystacks and onwards to Honister Slate Mine, and heading northwest the other path continues over Seat, the struggle of Gamlin End to High Crag…
6 - High Crag from Scarth Gap.JPG
High Crag from Scarth Gap.

and the High Stile ridge walk over to Red Pike from where one can drop back down into Buttermere via Bleaberry Tarn or take one of the other two paths via Scale Force or Great Borne both of which eventually reaches the old pack horse route of Floutern Pass.

On our journey up to here the views have been good, especially so with it being such a sunny day. There is just a touch of blue haze in the distance but doesn't really detract from the beauty of the fells as we look upon Fleetwith Pike, the hills which form the Newlands Round, and then across Buttermere looking north we can see Whiteless Pike, Grasmoor, Wandhope, and the small but well defined Rannerdale Knotts reposing at the feet of Grasmoor and Whiteless Pike.

We met a couple of ladies at the junction of the paths who told us that they had stayed at Black Sail the previous night and was up at 3am to see the 'blood moon' and seemed excited about it. I would imagine that as there is no - or very little - light pollution there that the moon would have put on quite a show.

A couple of years ago I came across a book called 'The Secret Valley- The real romance of Lakeland' written by Nicholas Size in 1930. It is a story that is said to be a true account of the trials and tribulations of the Buttermere valley around 1066 and the years that followed, the time of the Norman Conquest, the search for the secret valley, and an account of what happens when it was finally found. It is a book that focuses on this small but beautiful part of the Lake District and well worth a read if you can obtain a copy. I found mine on Amazon.

Anyway now I digress so back to the report. As we were taking in Pillar as our first objective we continued south and dropped down into Ennerdale, first walking between the two old iron gate posts that adorn - or near enough - the top of the pass and down the grassy bank until the path became more distinct and then onto the unmistakeable good length of stone paved path that follows the wire fence all the way down until we met the forestry road which we followed to its termination at Black Sail Youth Hostel.

Passing Black Sail Hut where we spoke to a couple of lingering late starters we crossed the River Liza over the footbridge and then followed Sail Beck up a good path, sometimes on rock and sometimes on stones and shingle. I have usually gone straight up to the top of the pass after leaving the main path and following a wet and slippery path over grass which I suspect is a fell runner's route but on this occasion decided to take the easier option and kept my eyes open for where the path turns west at about the 460 metre contour. It is plain to see and well made, and takes a more leisurely route up to the top of the pass where, due to the heat of the day, we stopped for our first quaff of the day before turning and following the path northwest up to Looking Stead, where Chris, bursting with energy proceeded to the top to claim a Birkett.

We continued to climb steadily along the ridge path - if I can call it that - over the first section of rough and rocky ground as we left Looking Stead.
11 - The start of Pillars ridge.JPG
The start of the Pillar ridge.

From here the views are tremendous with mountains in every direction, 360 degrees of awesome wonder with a glance into Wasdale where we can just see the roof of the Wasdale Head Inn.
13 - Wasdale with Yewbarrow and Burnmoor Tarn - Illgill Head and Whin Rigg.JPG
Wasdale with Yewbarrow and Burnmoor Tarn-Illgill Head and Whin Rigg behind.

14 - Kirk Fell and Black Sail Pass.JPG
Kirk Fell and Black Sail Pass.

17 - The rocky road to Pillar.JPG
The rocky road to Pillar.

Daniel is feeling a little exposed on this left hand side of the ridge so takes off like a Whippet to get this bit over and done with and we meet up with him again on the stone covered grassy area and continue along the good path to the next section of rocky climbing where we met four walkers on their way down from Pillar having accessed it by way of the High Level Route. They met us with the usual "not far to go now to the top," and I'm convinced that some people have a sadistic streak in them and take great delight on saying this on their way down knowing full well that they are passing out 'misinformation' to the unknowing victim.
18 - A view to the big ones from Pillars 2nd step.JPG
A view to the big ones from Pillars 2nd step.

Fifteen minutes later we are at the OS column on Pillar's summit…
23 - Pillar summit with the big ones in the background.JPG
Pillar summit with the big ones in the background.

and if the earlier views were to be lauded upon well, words can't describe what they are like from up here with the sun beating down from a blue sky and one could get quite dizzy with the euphoria of such wonderful scenery. Every kind of it can be seen from up here. Rocks, crags, rivers, lakes, trees, fields, mountains, even the ravens are greeting us.

The shelter by the trig point is occupied so we take a seat in the one overlooking Pillar Rock and Ennerdale taking in the views as well as the food and drink.
25 - Ennerdale Water-Herdus and Great Borne right with Ennerdale Fell left.JPG
Ennerdale Water-Herdus and Great Borne right with Ennerdale Fell left.

The two men from the first shelter cairn approach us and ask me where the path is that passes over White Pike. As I have never been that way before tell him that I'm not sure but let's go and take a look for it. Within less than a minute I found the cairn that marked the start of said path and another larger one that sits at the top of White Pike marking where it passes over the top of and down the front of White Pike. Asking me once again if it was a good path I told them again that I have never used it so couldn't give advice on it. I also noticed that they were using the GPS on their mobile phone as I asked them where they were heading to. "Black Sail" they replied and then asked me which was the quickest way back to there. To which I replied "The way you came up from Black Sail via Black Sail Pass"

The next question was to ask me which way we were going to leave Pillar so I told them by way of Wind Gap, Little Scoat Fell, Steeple, Lingmell and then back to Gatescarth. I then got a barrage of questions on what the path was like, how far is it, how long it will take, etc, etc. The first two questions I could answer, the next few I couldn't as I don't know how fast they walk, etc, etc. They decided to follow us so off we went southwest down the fell side…
27 - Little Scoat Fell with Steeple on the right.JPG
Little Scoat Fell with Steeple on the right.

until we reached the start of the rocky descent down to the col at Wind Gap…
29 - Looking into Wasdale from the top of Wind Gap.JPG
Looking into Wasdale from the top of Wind Gap.

before the start of the climb up the side of Black Crag. Looking back to check on the progress of the two followers it was noticed that one of them was really struggling to descend through the rough ground so I about turned and returned to the col from where I could ask them if they were alright or needed some help.
31 - The climb out to Pillar from Wind Gap.JPG
The climb out to Pillar from Wind Gap.

They replied that they were fine and could manage without any help but as they were obviously struggling I thought it wise to point out the path from the col that would take them down into Windgap Cove and down to the plantation fence where they could pick up the path over a stile that would put them on to the forestry road back to the Memorial Bridge over the River Liza and then Black Sail Hut.

Good turn done I now have to climb back up Black Crag…
30 - Black Crag from the bottom of Wind Gap.JPG
Black Crag from the bottom of Wind Gap.

to catch up with my fellow walkers and as we passed over the grassy ridge that runs between Black Crag and Little Scoat Fell good views of Steeple can be observed. Little Scoat Fell is adorned with a rough and many gapped dry stone wall which has a very small pile of stones on it with a vertical one poking out of the centre of it.
35 - Little Scoat Fell summit with Pillar behind.JPG
Little Scoat Fell with Pillar behind.

I didn't check but guess that this must be the highest point of LSF. It is now but a few short strides to attain Great Scoat Fell from where a slight change of direction northwest will take us to the pointed, classic, and rocky peak of Steeple…
36 - Steeple.JPG
Steeple.

after we followed the rough rocky path down to the small col before making a choice of, and taking one of the more civilised paths that took us up the easy climb of the west side which is in great contrast to the almost vertical east side.
40 - The rocky road to Steeple summit.JPG
The rocky path to Steeple summit.

41 - Relaxing on the top of Steeple.JPG
Relaxing on top of Steeple.

It is here that we took in more sustenance and views which took in the western fells north of Ennerdale Water, the Ennerdale Fells over to the west whilst down below us towards the northwest is the Birkett of Lingmell the last of our tops for today. Steeple is like many other fells that are rough, steep, high and craggy on the front but with a large expanse of easy ground behind them where one can lounge as long as their hearts, or time constraints, will allow.

Rested up we set off down the long descent of the Long Crag ridge which would take us to Low Beck.
43 - The path over Long Crag from Steeple overlooking Ennerdale Water.JPG
The path over Long Crag from Steeple overlooking Ennerdale Water.

45 - A view to the western fells from Long Crag.JPG
A view to the western fells from Long Crag.

The path down is fairly steep and good but tends to lose itself as it reaches the lower and more grassy areas prior to finding its way to the crossing at the beck where the water bottles were filled up with clear, cold mountain water as it found its way down from Mirkiln Cove and the small unnamed tarn on Tewit How.
47 - The view into Mirkiln Cove from Low Beck.JPG
The view into Mirkiln Cove from Low Beck.

49 - Looking to Steeple-Mirkiln Cove and Tewit How from Lingmell.JPG
Looking to Steeple-Mirkiln Cove and Tewit How from Lingmell.

Crossing Low Beck I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent path which found its way, and us, passing through the heather, and although a bit boggy in places all in all it is a good path which meanders easily up the fell side more or less following the plantation fence and soon after passing a very large boulder at the side of the path we spotted a faint path off to our left which led up to what appeared to be the highest point of the fell and held a large squarish shaped rock on it. As we climbed the shallow rise we noted another large rock to our right which had a fairly large cairn on it but at a lower elevation, or certainly appeared to be but surely the one we are heading for is the summit.

Upon arriving at the first rock we noted a laminated piece of paper tied to a stone resting on it. It’s a note, or to be more precise a clue to some past treasure hunt or geo-caching activity and mentioned something about first aid. Maybe someone who reads this will be able to throw more light on the ‘clue’. Well, the cairn adorned rock definitely looks lower than the one that we are at now but we strolled down to it and sure enough it is lower but according to my GPS this is the official summit. How strange to have a summit lower than the highest point!
48 - Lingmell summit cairn.JPG
Lingmell summit cairn.

Our original plan was to continue forward until we had reached Ling Mell Plantation and then take the Nine Becks Walk path back to Ennerdale Forest and pick up the forestry road there and then along to the Memorial Bridge over the River Liza and then from the footbridge take the rising path that goes under Marble Stone, Seat, and finally arrives near the top of Scarth Gap. But it was not to be as Peter’s knee was beginning to trouble him again and worst of all – dare I say it – yeeees I must, he is suffering from chaffing in the nether regions. I know one shouldn’t laugh at someone else’s misfortune, but the Macho Man with chaffing, you’ve just got to.

So we retraced our steps back to Low Beck and began the walk back along the initially pathless heathery ground below Long Crag until coming across a fairly good sheep trod which we followed as it wound its way well above the forestry fence line more or less heading for the path which runs out of Windgap Cove. By the way, we did see the two men descending down into the Cove from Wind Gap and upon inspecting the route - albeit from a distance - from Pillar down to and then over White Pike and the descent over the rocks and down to High Beck it didn’t look much better than the one into Wind Gap.

As we got nearer to the path from Windgap Cove we left the sheep trod and made our way down the now very rough ground and across to the fence and High Beck where before too long we met our path at the stile over the fence and which took us down a fairly rough path through the pine trees until we reached the well made forestry road which would take us east and back to the Memorial footbridge.
51 - Pillar Rock from the Memorial Bridge over the River Liza.JPG
Pillar Rock from the Memorial Bridge over the River Liza.

Once across the bridge and now on the road on the north side of the River Liza, again a change of plan was made as it was decided that it would be easier on a bad knee and sore buttocks if we simply continued along the road until we came to the path leading to the top of Scarth Gap as the climb is easier and shorter than the original route from the footbridge. So at a fair rake of knots accompanied by a fair amount of wincing, mincing, and limping from the wounded one we made it to the bottom of the path where a ten minute halt was called to give body and soul a well earned rest.

The remainder of the return back to Gatescarth Farm and the car was just a case of retracing our inwards journey from this point but with a couple of stops to cool things down a bit. As we dropped off behind the small plantation overlooking Peggy’s Bridge, Buttermere took on a pink hue as the sun was slipping away behind some clouds but the picture that I took came to nothing. Once we had arrived at the car and relieved ourselves of the days load from off our backs and feet we found our way to the hostel, clocked in, got a beer, room number, showered and changed, Vaseline applied, and then made our way to the Bridge Inn where an unusually quiet evening was spent over a meal and a few pints of the local Cumberland Ale.

Leaving the Bridge at around 10:30pm we walked back to the hostel by the light of the full moon and smart phones – very romantic – didn’t have to use the key code as it was before 11pm and was in bed by the unearthly hour of 11pm. Things have certainly changed since the last outing. Ah! well, there’s always next time.

This has been a good days walking on an Indian Summers day in late September. It has been warm and sunny with a few clouds and a cool breeze at height with, as usual, good company. Apart from a recurring knee problem and some chaffing problems by one of the group all has gone well. Daniel is getting over his slight trepidation of exposed places/positions so well done him, and Chris is now finding his ‘hill feet’ after now having got a few walks of various underfoot conditions under his boots.

Tomorrow morning we are going to park at Little Town and walk the Newlands Round taking in Cat Bell’s, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth, and Robinson.
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trailmasher
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby thefallwalker » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:31 am

another great report trailmasher! a perfect account of the day including the chaffing episode or series as it seems to becoming! :lol: its strange what i seem to forget about the days until i read the reports! looking forward to our next 2 dayer next week and once again thanks for the day and keeping us safe bud!
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby dav2930 » Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:40 pm

Ah, days on the fells in weather like that imprint themselves on the soul! A wonderful part of the Lakes - it'll be great to see Ennerdale when the process of 'rewilding' is complete. Pillar Rock looks amazing from the memorial bridge; it's hard to grasp the scale of it in a photo. Well done the three of you. :clap:

The Secret Valley sounds a very interesting book. I'll have to seek out a copy (thanks for the heads-up).
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:14 pm

Great report and photos.

Having walked up from Ennerdale Bridge to Black Sail Hut and then down to Rosthwaite it was interesting to see what the surrounding hills look like - still fancy a high circular day out from the car park at Ennerdale Water.
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:25 pm

dav2930 wrote:Ah, days on the fells in weather like that imprint themselves on the soul! A wonderful part of the Lakes - it'll be great to see Ennerdale when the process of 'rewilding' is complete. Pillar Rock looks amazing from the memorial bridge; it's hard to grasp the scale of it in a photo. Well done the three of you. :clap:

The Secret Valley sounds a very interesting book. I'll have to seek out a copy (thanks for the heads-up).


Thanks for your comments "dav2930" :D and I never get tired of walking in that area. It's about time that Ennerdale was sorted out as it's looked a tip for long enough :( and yes, Pillar Rock looks entirely different from that angle than anywhere else, more pointed I would say.
There is a second hand copy of The Secret Valley on Amazon at £5:13p +£2:80p postage from Revival Books Ltd if you're still interested in it :wink: Oh! and there was four of us on the walk :)
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:28 pm

thefallwalker wrote:another great report trailmasher! a perfect account of the day including the chaffing episode or series as it seems to becoming! :lol: its strange what i seem to forget about the days until i read the reports! looking forward to our next 2 dayer next week and once again thanks for the day and keeping us safe bud!


Thanks TFW and wonder how wounded one is :lol: just hope the weather is good for next week :roll:
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:35 pm

Gordie12 wrote:Great report and photos.

Having walked up from Ennerdale Bridge to Black Sail Hut and then down to Rosthwaite it was interesting to see what the surrounding hills look like - still fancy a high circular day out from the car park at Ennerdale Water.


Thanks very much Gordie12 :D and sounds like you was on the C to C walk :clap: so you must have seen a fair bit of the hills around there. I can recommend a day or two walking in the Buttermere/Ennerdale areas :) great hills and great walks :D
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby dav2930 » Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:21 pm

trailmasher wrote: Oh! and there was four of us on the walk :)

Oops, sorry about that :oops:
Thanks for the Amazon tip re Secret Valley.
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:40 am

Well that, chafing apart, looked like a great day out, Pillar is my favourite fell and Steeple a contender for favourite summit. Wonderfully written report as ever :clap:
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby ChrisW » Tue Oct 20, 2015 6:21 pm

Another absolute cracker TM, the opening about broken bones and dog walking bricklayers had me laughing, as for those two guys in the middle using smartphones for navigation :roll: the least said the better I think...and the chafing of the nether regions :shock: oooouch :lol: :lol:

Lovely shots from a long tough day in the hills....and ready for another tomorrow, my feet hurt from reading it :lol:
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:09 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Well that, chafing apart, looked like a great day out, Pillar is my favourite fell and Steeple a contender for favourite summit. Wonderfully written report as ever :clap:


Well that, chafing apart, looked like a great day out, Pillar is my favourite fell and Steeple a contender

Application of plenty of Vaseline sorted out the big boy :lol: and I love all the hills around Wasdale as the views from wherever are just great :) Thanks for your comments which are much appreciated :D .
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:12 pm

ChrisW wrote:Another absolute cracker TM, the opening about broken bones and dog walking bricklayers had me laughing, as for those two guys in the middle using smartphones for navigation :roll: the least said the better I think...and the chafing of the nether regions :shock: oooouch :lol: :lol:

Lovely shots from a long tough day in the hills....and ready for another tomorrow, my feet hurt from reading it :lol:


Thank you Chris as ever :D and I meet too many people depending on their mobile phones as a means of navigation on the fells :crazy: It was a great day out and the good weather always helps :)
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Re: A late September sunshine stroll to Steeple.

Postby Gordie12 » Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:32 pm

trailmasher wrote:
Gordie12 wrote:Great report and photos.

Having walked up from Ennerdale Bridge to Black Sail Hut and then down to Rosthwaite it was interesting to see what the surrounding hills look like - still fancy a high circular day out from the car park at Ennerdale Water.


Thanks very much Gordie12 :D and sounds like you was on the C to C walk :clap: so you must have seen a fair bit of the hills around there. I can recommend a day or two walking in the Buttermere/Ennerdale areas :) great hills and great walks :D


Yip, stuck to the traditional route till Black Sail Hut then headed off and climbed up to Grey Knotts with a little walk along Moses Trod before dropping down to the slate mine at the Honister Pass on a warm and sunny day. Next time, it will definitely be the high route.
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