Pillar done properly

Wainwrights: Caw Fell, Haycock, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Steeple
Hewitts: Haycock, Iron Crag, Pillar, Pillar - Black Crag, Scoat Fell

Date walked: 10/11/2019

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 25km

Almost two years ago I climbed Pillar for the first time, as part of a traverse from Honister to Kinniside. It was horrible. A wet, windy and claggy ordeal over what I considered a dull route, up the East side from Black Sail Pass. I suppose the weather didn't help but I became really sick of the repeated false summits and lack of views of Pillar's most interesting features. Since finishing all 214 Wainwrights, I've been re-climbing some of the better hills by more interesting routes. The first time I climbed Blencathra was 'round the back', via Scales Fell, in atrocious conditions. So I repeated it via Sharp Edge in, well, equally atrocious conditions, but still!

The mountain I really wanted to repeat was Pillar, ideally via a route around Pillar Rock. I was staying with my parents in Ennerdale, so decided to take advantage of a window of perfect weather to climb Pillar from the North, then go over Scoat Fell, Haycock, Caw Fell and Iron Crag back to Ennerdale.

The forecast was for snow so I brought my ice axe and crampons. From the lake, the Ennerdale fells looks completely snow free though, so I decided to leave the winter gear in the car. I started at the outlet end of the lake at 9.30, following the coast-to-coast route along the lake, via Angler's Crag:

Pillar 1.JPG

Pillar 2.JPG

Pillar 4.JPG

Moss Dub brought back memories. Many years ago I went on a mountain bike trip around the lake district, starting at Ennerdale. After cycling to the end of the lake I got a series of punctures, all within about a mile, until I had no repair patches left. In a fit of petulant frustration I picked my bike up and threw it away without looking. Unfortunately I happened to throw the bike right into a huge patch of waist deep nettles. Wearing football shorts, I took an age to slowly trample down the nettles until I could reach the rotten dammed bike and wheel it all the way to Honister Hause. That was the day I realised mountain biking wasn't for me.

Pillar 5.JPG

Pillar 6.JPG

Pillar 7.JPG

Shortly after reaching the High Level bridge (not the footbridge further up), there is a faint path marked by a post leading South East up towards Pillar. This starts off quite boggy and indistinct before turning left through an obvious gap through the trees. The route passes over another forestry road before a final section leading out onto the open fell, below Pillar rock.

Pillar 8.JPG

Pillar 9.JPG

After an initial steep climb, the ground levels off and opens out into a vast amphitheatre with Pillar Rock in the centre. The main route goes up the left hand side of the rock. It is apparently possible to climb up the right hand side, although this is more of a scrambling route.

Pillar 10.JPG

Pillar 11.JPG

Pillar 12.JPG

About halfway up, the ground became frosted, though not icy. Eventually I reached a point where the path appeared to split. One route appeared to climb further up the mountain, while the other made a traverse around the corner:

Pillar 13.JPG

I couldn't work out from the map which route led behind Pillar Rock. I set out to follow the traverse, which involved crossing a few icy slabs above the crags. There were a few 'slip-and-die' sections in which I seriously regretted leaving my crampons behind. The route led round a corner but I could not get a clear view of what was coming next without stepping out onto the ice. I still wasn't 100% sure this was the correct route and was concerned I may be following a climber's path. So I decided to backtrack, re-crossing the 'slip-and-die' sections, to where the track split.

Pillar 14.JPG

The other path was less distinct and after a while I lost it completely. After climbing 100 m or so I found another faint path traversing back over towards Pillar Rock. Following this, I eventually joined the proper route climbing up from the rock. It appeared the first route I took was the correct one after all. OK, so 'Pillar done properly' might not be such an appropriate report title, but 'Pillar done mainly properly except for a section where I got lost' doesn't sound so good :roll:

Pillar 15.JPG

Pillar 16.JPG

After that, I climbed the remainder of the mountain, doing my best to follow the faint path.

Pillar 17.JPG

Pillar 18.JPG

Pillar 19.JPG

Pillar 20.JPG

Pillar 21.JPG

Pillar 22.JPG

The summit of Pillar:

Pillar 23.JPG

The start of the long plod home along familiar ground:

Pillar 24.JPG

I noticed this very defiant tree near Wind Gap the last time I was here and was delighted to see it's still managing to survive:

Pillar 25.JPG

I won't bore anyone with details of the remainder of the route. Get to the wall on Scoat fell, follow it all the way (taking a 10 minute diversion to climb Steeple again). That's it 8)

Pillar section of the route:

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 9

Monte Moro Madness

Attachment(s) Date walked: 07/09/2019
Comments: 1
Views: 165

Alphubel: climbing the 'upturned pudding bowl'

Attachment(s) Date walked: 04/09/2019
Distance: 9km
Comments: 4
Views: 412

Reaching 214 on Wainwright's favourite

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Base Brown, Haystacks
Hewitts: Base Brown
Date walked: 19/04/2019
Distance: 14.2km
Comments: 8
Views: 483


Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Green Crag, Hard Knott, Harter Fell (Southern Fells), Slight Side
Hewitts: Harter Fell (Southern Fells)
Date walked: 12/04/2019
Views: 252

A comedy of errors in the Salzburg Alps

Attachment(s) Date walked: 29/03/2019
Distance: 12km
Ascent: 1000m
Comments: 3
Views: 269

Global warming aided Langdale scrambler

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Bowfell, Cold Pike, Crinkle Crags, Pavey Ark, Pike o'Blisco, Rosset Pike, Thunacar Knott
Hewitts: Bowfell, Cold Pike, Crinkle Crags (Long Top), Crinkle Crags South Top, Pike of Blisco, Rossett Pike, Shelter Crags
Date walked: 25/02/2019
Distance: 16.3km
Comments: 1
Views: 439

Winter Sgurr a'Mhaim and Devil's Ridge: closure

Attachment(s) Munros: Mullach nan Coirean, Sgurr a'Mhaim, Stob Ban (Mamores)
Date walked: 25/01/2019
Distance: 19.5km
Views: 478

Grey Corries anything but grey

Attachment(s) Munros: Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Coire an Laoigh
Date walked: 20/01/2019
Distance: 31km
Comments: 1
Views: 468

Scafell West Wall traverse

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Lingmell, Scafell, Scafell Pike
Hewitts: Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Lingmell, Scafell, Scafell Pike
Date walked: 25/12/2018
Distance: 10.4km
Comments: 3
Views: 1141

Pointless Parasite

User avatar
Location: Barcelona
Occupation: Medical physicist working in cancer epidemiology
Activity: Mountaineer
Mountain: Breithorn

Munros: 84
Corbetts: 5
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 17
Wainwrights: 214
Hewitts: 115
Sub 2000: 8
Islands: 2

Filter reports



Trips: 9
Distance: 127 km
Ascent: 1000m
Munros: 6
Hewitts: 14
Wainwrights 18


Trips: 10
Distance: 80.3 km
Munros: 17
Grahams: 1
Hewitts: 15
Wainwrights 35


Trips: 3
Distance: 52 km
Ascent: 1207m
Munros: 6
Hewitts: 11
Wainwrights 14

Joined: Apr 09, 2017
Last visited: Jan 19, 2020
Total posts: 117 | Search posts