Pillar from Bowness Knott

30th April 2012

The first day of the week saw me back in Lakeland. This week I have five days away from work & should hopefully, weather dependable see me on the fells as much as I dare, the week was booked a while ago so the weather back then wasn’t given any thought to, luckily though on my first day off I spied this weather window, too early to see the weather ahead for the rest of the week I just had to take it.

This walk was planned only midweek last week, I first had impressions to see me back in  Wasdale from where Yewbarrow was going to be my main centre of attention, well I say Yewbarrow, maybe Pillar too, but in this, I didn’t want to repeat the Mosedale Round of which I did a couple of years ago, I wanted to mix things up & sadly this time, with Yewbarrow, I drew a blank…

My attention was then turned to Pillar & the numerous routes to gain its reaches; This is when Ennerdale sprang into mind, for you see the last time I was in Ennerdale was so far back ago it was an un-recorded wild camp, so I’m at least going back five years. So now I have a starting point & Pillar to fix on… It was here I spent an evening gazing upon Memory Map & came up with this route, as far as I’m aware its a pretty seldom route as I couldn’t find anyone who had summited Pillar from this angle;

Pillar via Caw Fell north ridge.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Western Fells

-the Western Fells:

Pillar, in fact, far from being a spire of slender proportions, is a rugged mass broadly based on half the length of Ennerdale, a series of craggy buttresses supporting the ridge high above this wild north face; and the summit itself, far from being pointed, is wild and flat. The name of the fell therefore clearly derives from a conspicuous feature in the north face directly below the top, the most handsome crag in Lakeland, originally know as the Pillar Stone and now as Pillar Rock. The Rock, despite a remote and lonely situation, had a well established local notoriety and fame long before tourist called wilder attention to it, and an object of such unique appearance simply has to be given a descriptive name, although, at the time, one was not yet needed to identify the mountain of which it formed part. The Pillar was an inspiration of shepherds. Men of letters could not have chosen better.


Ascent: 3,288 Feet, 1,002 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Haycock, Scoat Fell, Steeple & Pillar
Weather: Bright & Sunny Throughout The Day, Very Windy On Tops, Highs Of 17° Lows Of 9°
Parking: Bowness Knott Ennerdale, (Large Car Park FOC)
Area: Western
Miles: 11.7
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  
Route: Bowness Knott – Ennerdale Water – Irish Bridge – Woundell Beck –Caw Fell North Ridge – Haycock – Scoat Fell – Pillar Black Crag – Wind Gap – Pillar – White Pike – Ennerdale Plantations – Homestead – Moss Dub – Irish Bridge Ennnerdale Water – Bowness Knott

Map and Photo Gallery



8:04am – Bowness Knott car park 9°

The car park was empty as I scuttled across a cattle grid at its entrance, after a two & a half hour journey & a hundred & thirty miles, I am more than ready to leave the car, I stretch as I open the tailgate – blimey I feel tired this morning, with this out comes the pack as I open the drivers door, sit on the sill & lace my boots. Today feels much warmer than Lakeland of two days ago, humid even.

The jacket gets tucked under the lid of my pack as I lock the car & head for the lake path.


Crag Fell & Anglers Crag from the Ennerdale’s shoreline.

The lake had a slight wisp to it this morning blowing in from the Black Sail pass over six miles east at the head of the valley, the remoteness & lack of accesses to Ennerdale was just another factor that appealed to me when I first penned this walk, its Monday morning & I feel confident that I am not going to see a soul all day.


Pillar lies ahead with its summit beneath cloud.

Morning! I pass an elderly couple with three black Labradors on an early morning stroll, they are obviously local as I return my compliments, well, there goes the illusion that I am all by myself here today, I couldn’t help but feel envious of the couple that this landscape was on their doorstep.

Kicking stones along the path I press on.


Crossing Liza Beck at Irish Bridge.


Ahead: Caw Fell north ridge.

Ahead lies Caw Fell in the distance over on the distant right, the ridge in the foreground is my route to gain Haycock. The small outcrop of rock on the left of the picture is Little Gowder Crag, my first destination. With Irish bridge behind me I now need to pick my way through the Lingmell Plantation & reach the lower slopes of the ridge.

I will use this same path on my return later on in the day – but come back in from the left of this picture, but that is a while off yet.


Access to the ridge was much easier than I thought as I follow the woodland path for much less than half a mile until I reached a small wooden bridge which I used to cross Woundell Beck, this area was very muddy & covered in wet pine needles, getting down to the Beck was also a little tricky with wet slime covered rock that needed care to negotiate, hence I failed to get the camera out, the small wooden bridge at that area of Woundell Beck hadn’t seen the light of day for some time & I was more than pleased to leave it behind & get onto some open fell side.


After a gentle mile through the heather both Little Gowder Crag (R) & Haycock appear, the path here as I gain the top seen in the photo – leans its way right towards Caw Fell, I guess its not called Caw Fell’s north ridge for nothing! I ponder at the thought of an ascent on Caw Fell, or more of a brisk walk really, but decline in keeping with my plans…Pillar is still a while away yet.


Looking across Silver Cove towards Caw Fell.


Looking back down the ridge with views of Great Borne, Starling Dodd & Red Pike with its summit just under cloud, in the very distance with its summit also under cloud is Grasmoor.


Little Gowder Crag & Haycock lies ahead.

Little Gowder Crag sits pretty prominent along the route, here I am sheltered from the wind that is now buffering the ridge from the stone wall on my right, but this wont be for long as the closer I get to Little Gowder Crag I will have to jump over the wall in order to flank it.

Little Gowder Crag is quite a rock despite its name as you look up from the foot of its flanks, what looks like a summit cairn / trig point – from here is actually the wall continuing right over the summit. Can you imagine asking someone nowadays to build a stone wall over a buttress of rock 145 feet high? not just did the early stone wall builders make there living on the fells, they also slept on them too, this just shows the dedication & pride the early stone wall builder’s of Lakeland had.


Haycock summit cairn.

After a pull up to the summit it was here I gave into the fresh winds & adopted the jacket, there’s a big bright sun overhead but its doing nothing in keeping that chill down, before I have something to eat on the far side of the wall I do a little exploring around the summit top.


The Scafells & Scoat Tarn from Haycock’s summit.


Despite the high winds & the wind chill I have noticed that southern & western Lakeland has a glaze to it in the form of haze.

Time for a quick bite to eat.


Steeple & Scoat Fell from Haycock.

Here I take off the pack & take out a couple of mature cheddar & ham sandwiches, although it is only mid-morning I’ve sure grown an appetite over the past couple of hours. I have a small decision to make at this point? which side of the wall do I go down? the left will give me shelter from that biting wind with views of Steeple as I descend, the right however, will leave me fully exposed but I shall be treated to views of the Scafells?


Exposed to the elements as I leave for Steeple & Scoat Fell.


Haycock, Seatallan & in the distance, Illgill Head.


Looking over Mirkiln Cove towards my next summit of Steeple.


Bearing down on Steeple.

I was right on the edge of reasoning at this point in that should I attempt a summit with the wind as strong as it was, one wrong footing down here & it could all go horribly wrong, it turns out I was actually sheltered from the wind on both descent & ascents.


The Ennerdale Valley looking lush in all her colours.


Pillar, Black Crag & a glimpse of Great Gable from the summit of Steeple.

Footings aren’t a plenty at the summit top so needless to say I didn’t hang around for long, time to climb back onto the ridge not before a few more shots I might add.


I took this photo of Pillar, Black Crag & the un mistakable Great Gable over in the far distance.


The last remnants of snow showing temperatures aren’t really dropping as of yet, although I suspect it wont be here much longer as I head for Scoat Fell, here looking back on Haycock & in the far distance Caw Fell.


Scoat Fell summit, here depicted by a small cairn situated on top of the stone wall.

My happy medium with my jacket lays in tatters, I’m hot, I’m blustery & I’m Cold – besides the fact that my hood is acting like a giant umbrella & also whipping me in the face, it was here I layer off again – so its off with the jacket which by now, the back of is covered in my own freezing sweat, this also soaks through to my mid-layer but I don’t care, I roll the hood of my jacket into the collar & is surprised of the effect it had on me, I think I’ve found a happy medium at last.

I press on not feeling the need I am about to take off!


Pillar over Black Crag (Pillar)


Red Pike (Wasdale) & a glimpse of Lingmell & the Scafells as I prepare to descend Little Scoat Fell.


Pillar & Wind Gap.

This was probably the favourite part of the walk for me, Pillar from here looks pretty daunting but its the exact opposite & a real treat to climb, the path takes you across Wind Gap, then from here the path is all in the climb & the last thrust upwards towards the summit, little scrambles are a plenty which gives you that real buzz you are not just fell walking but Mountain climbing.


Mosedale from Wind Gap.

Here we have the wonderful valley of Mosedale surrounded by some of Lakelands and most domineering fells, over to the left of the picture we have Kirk Fell & Great Gable top left, further around to the right we go – we then have Great End, Broad Crag Scafell Pike & finally Scafell, further back you look is towards Eskdale & Harter Fell, in the foreground of the picture at the bottom end so to speak lies Wasdale Head & Lingmell, the crags you see on the right are that of Red Pike (Wasdale)



A setting fit for a king.

I concentrate on the final push on reaching my final summit of the day, I negotiate the scrambles with ease & before I knew it I was at the summit plateau, it really was a special feeling having Pillar to myself that midday, it was just me & the wind – which in fact seemed to be getting stronger by the minute, with this I head for the cairn for a bit of respite.


Lunch with a view.

In the summit shelter it is peaceful, gone is the wind not two feet above my head, I take in the magnificent view sandwich in hand., but wait… what was that? I swore I just heard a woman’s voice? rather than pop my head above the shelter I wait for this woman to either walk past or join me in the shelter, I carry on munching on the sandwich thinking I’m hearing things.

But it was definitely a woman’s voice, I’m bloody sure of it.

As I pack up I’m slightly apprehensive by now about popping my head out over the shelter, if there is someone there I don’t want to scare the living daylights out of them – so I pop up with my pack half on & do a full 360° turn around.

No one!!

Eh, ok the wind is playing trick on me, as I head over in search of a view of Pillar Rock I hear it again above the roaring summit wind, now its freaking me out & I feel the hair, on not just my arms but my legs stand on end.

For anyone who owns a Samsung Galaxy SII & is familiar with voice activation then you will then know these next three most definitely annoying words..

What would you like to do?

Paul, you are a one 100% Dufus.

Id activated by mistake the voice activation on the mobile while it was tucked away in the lid of my pack. IDIOT.

Lets move on & never speak of this again!


High Man & Pisgah or more commonly know; Pillar Rock.

The wind is buffeting me about the summit like a crisp packet so I take no chances on trying for the perfect shot, as soon as I have my shot I back away from the edge as cautiously as I approach it.

The last time I was here, was actually on the Mosedale Horseshoe way back in June 2010 back then we gained Pillar’s summit by the High Level Traverse, from which we witnessed great views of Pillar Rock &  rock climbers inching their way up, it was, & always will be a most memorable day & today I was a little saddened I couldn’t take away better views of Pillar Rock in all its glory.


Before I leave the summit I take one last look at the shelter, cairn & trig point.


White Pike & the Ennerdale Valley.

If I had any apprehensions about today’s route it was locating this path which in fact I found quite easily north west of the summit trig point, I presumed there possibly would of been a cairn at the top; as with more “off the beat paths” in Lakeland but I couldn’t see one.

The path towards White Pike (CR) starts of narrow with a not-so-steep gradient but upon reaching  White Pike does it then turn into rough boulder field, here the path is difficult to follow marked out over the boulders by small cairns of which only the keen may spot.


Mirk Cove from High Beck.

The pointed peak over on the right is Steeple.


Pillar, White Pike, Wind Gap, Black Crag & the Scoat Fell ridge from High Beck.

I followed the path from Pillars summit almost inline with White Pike’s peaked crest just over on the left of the picture, after negotiating the boulder’s & finally the last half hour of the descant was meant by a pleasant yet steep grassy path, it was here the Mexican stand off occurred.

As I am just about to leave the boulders I pass a sheep over on my left shoulder, (you can see where I’m going with this one) I pay it no attention as I’m by now plotting my route through the Ennerdale Forest what lay below me – It was here I hear the sound of a gallop over grass, I turn around & the sheep that I had spotted more than a couple of hundred meters behind me was charging at me, as I spin around this sheep comes to a thunderous stop, it halts & stares right through me, okay… split second thinking – Do I need my pole here? because right now its neatly fastened to my pack.

I raise my voice in an almost comical fashion & say, Do we have a problem here?

The sheep stands down as I think, what the hell just happened!!



Dubs Moss with Pillar on the background.

I go deep into the undergrowth of Home Stead & the Ennerdale Plantation to reach Dubs Moss, the paths here were over-run through the plantations with dangerous pine needles that made nothing of any sort of grip as I descended the forest paths, narrow & spilling over with the previous nightfall’s rain, these paths made for some very careful footings indeed, & to be honest I was glad to be back on the main forest path that en-circles the whole lake & indeed the Black Sail Pass.


Anglers Crag from the lake path.

The afternoon heat has reached around 17° & by now I sure am feeling it, before I leave the forest path I encounter the Galway heard of cattle, gentle yet domineering they look on with there ears tagged in bright yellow, one is itching itself upon a tree & for the life of me I do not know how that tree stayed rooted, I smile & say to myself – you want to share some of your gentleness to your fellow sheep up on Pillar O’ yonder.

As I approach Irish Bridge I pass two young mothers with young children out for an afternoon stroll, with them is one of the biggest German Shepherds I have ever seen, her name was Liza after Liza Beck.

Very apt I thought with a smile.

The last mile was a frog march, I by now am feeling the heat & drink my Camelbac dry knowing I have another litre of juice in the boot of my car, this also went down as I sat on the rear panel with the tailgate aloft, I ponder at my fitness a wee while knowing I have something special set for June which will acquire me at full fitness indeed, but I’m not too harsh on myself as I was only last on the fells not 24hrs earlier & nearly four hundred miles previous.

Today I may not have gained Pillar’s reaches from the orthodox route, nor been met with the stunning satellite fells that flank its summit top. Planning a route for me is as much as important & I get just as much satisfaction from this as I do walking the fells.

I’m pretty chuffed with my un-orthodox route & recommend it to anyone wanting to try something a little different.


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