In View ‘THE SCREES’ with Stan Leigh

Wasdale, is best described as a ‘Masterpiece of Creation’, consisting of Wastwater, the surrounding fells - all of them giants and then there are ‘The Screes’. If you just want to visit the area to enjoy the classic Wasdale views, look out for the area called ‘The Landing Stage’ just beyond Greendale, - it’s magnificent - a photographer’s dream! For views of ‘The Screes’ viewpoints at Buckbarrow, Middle Fell, Yewbarrow and ‘The Landing Stage’ are also ideal.

Celebrating Wainwright Completion Stan above The Screes!

However, I’d like to concentrate on how to get above ‘The Screes’ safely to visit the 2 fell summits, Whin Rigg [1755 feet] and Illgill Head [1983 feet] with an enjoyable walk from 2 possible starting locations. However, the first point that I need to make is, don’t even think about taking on the ‘The Screes’ from the Wastwater lakeside – too dangerous! Here are 2 routes for you that are safe and will provide you with fantastic views along the way.

It comes as a surprise that the walk across the ridge from Whin Rigg to Illgill Head [about 1.3 miles] is grass with a few small tarns along the way. The exciting scenery occurs in the first half mile with gullies and aretes plunging down to Wast Water below. The Illgill summit cairn comes as a bit of a disappointment with improved views from the north cairn where the Scafell, Lingmell, Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Yewbarrow panorama is outstanding. Return to Nether Wasdale using the same route.

Infant River Mite

From the summit, there are 2 ridge route paths to Whin Rigg, one that follows the centre of the ridge and the other that runs along the top of The Screes with dramatic glimpses down the crags and screes. The 2 paths merge to reach Whin Rigg summit. The path continues down the grassy southern end of the ridge until it reaches a wall. Turn left here as it heads down to the valley bottom. Turn right here and follow the track back to the starting point.

Look out for the route up Illgill Head on your left. Ascend to the summit taking time to break up the climb as appropriate. Stop at the north cairn before reaching the summit of Illgill Head to take in the views of the high fells and Wasdale Head.

The Giants of Wasdale from Illgill Head

This is a route that I used on Saturday 18th June 2005 when I completed walking the 214 Wainwright Fells for the first time. See the Wainwright Completion photo taken at Illgill Head. A celebration party took place at The Screes Inn at Nether Wasdale afterwards. Quite appropriate, don’t you think?

Nether Wasdale from Whin Rigg

Route 1 from Nether Wasdale – Appoximately 9 miles with 2290 feet of ascent. Park considerately at the hamlet of Nether Wasdale [NY124041] and walk NE to Woodhow Farm, then SE to cross Lund Bridge to a gate and stile to follow the path alongside the wall to Greathall Gill. This path climbs to the head of the Gill and then swings left to reach the summit of Whin Rigg. The summit cairn is delicately poised above the cliffs with tremendous views of the fells with Wastwater below and Woodhow, and Burnmoor Tarns visible to NW and ENE.


Route 2 from Porterthwaite at Miterdale – Approximately 8 miles, with 2286 feet of ascent. Access to the Porterthwaite Parking Area is via a narrow lane on the left after passing Bower House Inn at Eskdale. Follow this lane past St. Bega’s Primary School to a gate with a parking area about 400 yards further on. The walk starts here at NY146011. Follow the track that runs up the Miterdale Valley, through Low Place Farmyard, using the footbridge to cross the river. This track eventually leads to a rocky amphitheatre, with waterfalls. Climb the grassy slope on the right emerging at the top of the crags - Miterdale Head. Boat How is to your right with Burnmoor Tarn ahead.


For these routes, I suggest using OS Explorer Maps OL6 [The English Lakes, South West Area], Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland fells – Book 4 [The Southern Fells] – Page Whin Rigg 5 and 6, Illgill Head 4 and 5 and the following website: NfNDgxNA

Whin Rigg, Illgill Head and the Screes separate 2 amazing valleys – Wasdale and Miterdale. These 2 walks provide an opportunity to contrast their different features and landscape.

Explore and discover! Stan ISSUE 431 | 23 MAY 2019 | 35

The Screes from Yewbarrow

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