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Whin Rigg and Illgill Head

Whin Rigg and Illgill Head


Postby nigheandonn » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:51 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Illgill Head, Whin Rigg

Date walked: 26/06/2016

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I might have liked Wasdale hostel better if I hadn't now been absolutely streaming with the cold - but it was hard to get to from the road, a lot of noisy people came in in the night, and they gave me burnt breakfast because I said I'd be down 'about 8' and came at 5 past. It was a dull morning, too, with cloud draping the tops of the screes.

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Cloud-topped screes

I'd decided that the best way in and out was to ignore the road and just follow the lakeside path, but it seemed a very long time before I got anywhere - the famous view down the lake wasn't exactly at its best, either.

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Less than iconic view

Eventually I came to Lund Bridge, and crossed to turn back on myself along by the river, and begin climbing by the wall.

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Lund Bridge

From the top of the wall it was the kind of climb that I'm not keen on at any time - relentlessly uphill through the bracken. I went straight to the counting steps stage - it keeps me going, by giving set resting points, and let me make an estimate of how long it would take me to get to the ridge.

With the bulk of Whin Rigg hiding most of the higher hills, and the tops still under cloud anyway, it was mostly a valley view, over the farmland of Nether Wasdale towards the sea. As I climbed higher Lank Rigg came into view - I really was at the western edge, as well as the southern one.

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Western Fells

The first thousand steps did actually seem to take me about halfway up - towards the top it got slower, as steps started being more forwards and less up, but by then I could see that I was up above the trees, and that the great bowl of the top of Greathall Gill was opening up beside me.

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Greathall Gill

From there it wasn't far to the top of the ridge, and a view into Eskdale, and a more gentle climb uphill which seemed further than I'd expected.

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Muncaster Fell and the sea

The long slow climb did eventually bring me to the shelter at the summit of Whin Rigg, though. The hills I was on had been clear for a while, but the cloud was still touching the summits on the other side of the valley.

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Whin Rigg summit

Walking cautiously by the edge of the ridge brought far more of the lake below into view.

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The lake below

The path led along the top, past small tarns and climbing again. The summit of Illgill Head was both further away and further up than I'd realised, and reaching the top of the rise I could see only brought me another rise ahead.

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A long way back

I was having a definite day of two halves - over these hills, lunch at Wasdale Head, and over Sty Head and possibly Seathwaite Fell to catch the bus home from Borrowdale (there was a Sunday bus out of Wasdale when I first made the plan, but it's not like Borrowdale is really so far away), so I was already keeping an eye on the time.

It wasn't much more than half an hour between summits, though - this time just a cairn on a grassy rise. The cloud had lifted again, clearing Yewbarrow, and just touching Great Gable and Lingmell.

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Illgill Head summit

The next section was the real test for my dodgy knee, dropping fairly sharply down the end of the hill to meet the wall and finish descending by it - it was playing up a bit, but could have been far worse, although I was a bit worried that I was doing it more harm.

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Descending to Wasdale Head

Down off the hill I met a crowd of walkers heading up, and then was able to work out where I'd gone wrong trying to find the corpse road the last time - it is cairned where the paths split, but it's only a grassy track going off, while the obvious stony path leads up the hill.

Then down by the wood and over a tiny double bridge where two streams met.

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Double bridge

Brackenclose was a confusing place where I couldn't find the Wasdale Head path but kept getting mixed up in car parks or campsites or ways uphill instead - the path turned out to lead along the back of the campsite the way the sign said it didn't. I'd been confused as well by the way that the map showed the path wandering about in the river, but it turned out that this was exactly true - it was just that the river was nothing but an expanse of stones at the time!

Wasdale Head seemed even busier than the night before, and although this space was quite determined that it was a village green, it looked a lot like a car park to me.

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Village green

At the shop I bought an ominous black knee support thing - having borrowed a measuring tape and measured my knee, which amused me - and then I went to the inn for a very wintry lunch of soup and tea - between my cold and the cold weather it was more appealing than anything more seasonal!

I came out into the lightest of drizzle - not so bad that I couldn't get my picture of the little bridge near the inn - and went back over the various bridges and through the various fields of the night before.

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Bridge behind the inn

I was trying for the valley route again, and found the junction after a couple of false starts, following the path along by the burn, and through a gate, and past two lonely trees on the hillside. And then there were no more photos, because either the cloud came down on me or I climbed into it, and I was just walking in a wet blank.

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To Sty Head in the mist

As I went on, the path grew fainter and fainter, and I began to doubt that I'd gone the right way - especially when the path tried to cross the burn, which the map showed that the zigzag path didn't do. I thought I must be below the right path, and went off looking for it - and I did find a tissue which someone had dropped, but I never did find a better path, and just kept heading upwards on the best line I could find.

(If I had looked on the Wainwright map, as I did afterwards, I'd have seen that I'd been on the right path all along, and that if I'd just crossed Spouthead Gill instead of turning away from it, I'd have met the clearer path on the other side. But I didn't really want to get the book out to get wet too, and the map seemed clear enough.)

I wasn't worried, exactly - it seemed that the valley could only funnel me out to the top somewhere - but it was eerie climbing with no idea where I was or how far I had to go, over slow rough ground. At one point I could hear voices to the right of me, but although I moved towards them, thinking they might be on a better path, I couldn't see anyone.

As the slope eased I started to sometimes see rocky places looming from the mist, and then found traces of path again - not only a trodden line, but occasional cairns, which was a good sign. Then I could feel - more than see - something towering over me to the right that was so big that it must be Great End, and a while later I was finally on a good path again.

I turned left, since I knew I was too far to the right, but instead of coming to Sty Head I came to a path junction, and turned left again - I was pretty sure that I knew what had happened, and that I'd gone right up near Spouthead Gill to the Corridor route, but I seemed to be on that path for a long time, and although I'd walked it the day before I'd been letting my mind roam rather than watching my feet, and with no view it didn't look very familiar.

Just when I was starting to worry, though, I saw not only the stretcher box, but two men standing beside it - I'm not sure when I was last so glad to see anything. I still didn't get my photo of it, though!

I had no idea how long it had taken, because I didn't really want to fish anything out into the wet to see, so just pushed on, down past the tarn, which was further down than I thought, so that I had another time of knowing I couldn't be anywhere else, but that I'd be happier if I could see that. And on down by the burn, on a path that was mostly clear enough, if a bit rough in places, and more steeply downhill past a fenced area of trees, which my knee liked even less - but at least out of the cloud now - and down more steps and rocky places to the bridge, and finally onto a valley path, along towards Seathwaite.

At the farm buildings at Seathwaite, where it was more or less dry, I finally looked at the time - 20 past 5, and I was trying to catch the 17:39 bus just over a mile away, so if I hurried I should just make it. Something went odd either with my phone's timekeeping or my hurrying, though, because I got to the bus stop worried that I'd missed the bus, and the more reliable clock in my tablet said it was only half past!

A lady in a car offered me a lift to the outskirts of Keswick - "I've been as wet as you before", she said! - but I waited for the bus and started the slow process of drying off - my train home had been cancelled, but this was almost a good thing, as I could sit in a warm pub in Penrith (with Hungary just about to play Belgium) and eat a proper dinner and spread my wet things around me while I waited for the next one.


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nigheandonn
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Re: Whin Rigg and Illgill Head

Postby simon-b » Sun Aug 21, 2016 3:31 pm

I enjoyed that. Special hills for me these, with superb views down to Wast Water. I agree that the valley route to Sty Head is not the easiest to follow.
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simon-b
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Re: Whin Rigg and Illgill Head

Postby ChrisW » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:22 am

Great write up N&D, bloody shame about the soaking though and the knee...are there any lasting effects?

they gave me burnt breakfast because I said I'd be down 'about 8' and came at 5 past.


:lol: :lol: The day started badly and just got worse :roll:
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ChrisW
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Re: Whin Rigg and Illgill Head

Postby nigheandonn » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:09 am

Simon-b: I've failed to find the valley route from both ends now - third time lucky!

Chris W: It had its moments, though - even a bad day on the hills is good. I'd just have liked some better views.

I have no idea what's going on with the knee - I originally fell on the scree on Scafell with my leg under me on the last Saturday in May, and really struggled the next day, but it had eased so much by the Monday that I didn't think it was a lasting problem. So I had completely forgotten about it by the time it went again on this trip a month later - and then it was better on the Monday, and completely fine through a month and a half of ordinary walking and sightseeing and two dance festivals, and went again when I was back in the lakes last weekend! So I do need to go and get it looked at, but it's hard to remember where and how much it hurts when it's not hurting at all...
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nigheandonn
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Re: Whin Rigg and Illgill Head

Postby ChrisW » Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:40 pm

it's hard to remember where and how much it hurts when it's not hurting at all.


Those are the worst things to cure for the medical professionals too, I had a similar issue with my calf reviewed again and again but we couldn't get anything done until it went pop and the problem became very acute :roll:

Hope it clears up mate :wink:
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