Author Topic: TR - Pillar, the quiet way  (Read 727 times)

richardh1905

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TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« on: 16:48:06, 01/09/20 »
Pillar, the quiet way

A walk up the beautiful Nether Beck valley to remote Scoat Tarn, followed by an ascent of Pillar. A good way to avoid the August Bank Holiday hordes!

Saturday 29th August 2020

Buoyed up by our recent mini break into the Scottish Highlands, and encouraged by an excellent weather forecast, we decided to head into our more local hills this weekend. The challenge was to find somewhere spectacular enough to stand up to comparison with the Highlands, and to escape the bank holiday crowds – I’m glad to say that we succeeded.



Viewranger route HERE

My son had previously expressed a desire to climb Pillar, and, whilst browsing the map, I had spotted what I thought would be an interesting ‘off the beaten track’ route, up the valley of Nether Beck to the west of Yewbarrow and Red Pike. I also fancied having a look at Scoat Tarn. This steep sided valley isn’t named as a dale in its own right on the map, like nearby Mosedale, but there is a farm named Bowderdale at its foot.

It is quite a long drive from our home in South Cumbria, so we didn’t get on the hill until around 10:00. We had taken the Corney Fell Road, which climbs quite high, and had enjoyed superb views across the sea to the Isle of Man and Galloway; exceptional visibility.

The parking spots along the Wasdale Head road were already filling up – we even saw a couple of tents being erected – but we found a good spot at the top of a rise very close to the start of the path up Nether Beck.


The Wast Water fells from our parking spot – Yewbarrow, Great Gable, Lingmell, with Scafell in cloud

The path, which is signposted ‘Haycock’, climbs a little before settling in to a traverse across the hillside, and was rather boggy in places. Gradually we climbed into the Nether Beck valley, admiring the views across the lake to our right and behind us.


Tess having a drink after climbing up into the Nether Beck valley.


Looking back across Wast Water to the cloud topped Scafell range


The noisy beck was initially hidden from view in a wooded gorge, but the valley opened out as we climbed, revealing a lovely series of waterfalls and cascades. The dark mass of Haycock came into view as we climbed up the valley through reddening bracken and boulders.


Nether Beck waterfall – too early for a swim, unfortunately!


Haycock comes into view

The valley steepened somewhat as we passed a small gorge dotted with holly trees, and then curved around to the right.


Higher up, the valley became even wilder


Looking back down the valley towards Wasdale

We crossed Ladcrag Beck and then passed below Great Lad Crag before climbing up into the head of the valley. Rather than follow the main path which heads off northwards up steep ground towards Haycock, we took a smaller path that passed Little Lad Crag, an impressive lump of rock, and climbed up beside the Scoat Tarn beck, passing a chatty walker on the way, the first person that we had met!

Looking back, we got a good view of Seatallan, which must be a good viewpoint, and a hill that I have yet to climb. We also passed a solitary yew tree, leading a lonely existence high up on the fell. One wondered how it had managed to take root and survive when so many trees have succumbed to the overgrazing of the fells.


The grassy eastern flank of Seatallan


The Lonesome Yew Tree, spared the depredations of the hungry Herdwicks!

As we climbed, the view behind us unfolded, and we caught our first glimpse of the sea.


Middle Fell and Seatallan from near the top of the climb up to Scoat Tarn

A little more effort bought us to Scoat Tarn, not the most spectacular of settings, but pleasingly remote. We did spot a couple of people wandering around with packs at the head of the valley – they proceeded to collect water and pitch a tent, watched by us as we had our lunch on a convenient waterside boulder – I do think that 1300 is a little early to be setting up camp.


Scoat Tarn

A faint path headed up the slopes at the head of the tarn, we slogged up this and emerged on to the ridge between Red Pike and Scoat Fell, where we were rewarded by our first view of Pillar, seemingly a short distance away, and of spectacular views down into Mosedale, with Great Gable and the Scafell range beyond.


Looking down on Scoat Tarn, with the Irish Sea beyond. Black Combe visible to the left, Seatallan right.


Our first view of Pillar, seemingly a short ridge walk away

Once on the ridge, we started meeting lots of people, walkers and runners both. I have noticed a big increase in the number of runners on the hills over the years – there must be some fit people around!

We were feeling somewhat less fit, and debated what to do next, whether to turn back and return over Red Pike, head on up to Scoat Fell and return down the valley, perhaps climbing Haycock too, or heading on to Pillar and returning down Black Sail Pass – I am glad to say that my son was up for the latter, despite having trailed behind us on the climbs at times.

We decided to skip Scoat Fell, instead we followed the main path which traverses spectacularly above steep ground which plummets down to Mosedale far below.


Spectacular views down into Mosedale, and of the fells beyond.

We thought that all that stood between us and the summit of Pillar was a short easy ridge walk, so we got an unpleasant surprise when the ground dropped away steeply to the east of Black Crag, a minor top on the ridge – perhaps I should have taken the path that traverses across the southern side of the ridge after all! But we were rewarded by some lovely views down into Ennerdale, with the hills of Galloway beyond – the visibility was so good that it was possible to pick out the individual tops, and I could see Merrick, the highest mountain in Southern Scotland, as well as a host of other hills to the east.


Ennerdale far below, with the hills of Galloway in the distance.

The path dropped steeply, and degenerated into a boulder hop, before improving again as it approached the western ramparts of Pillar. The way up was steep, and Tess had to be helped up some rocks, paws scrabbling furiously. The steep section soon eased off, and it wasn’t long before we arrived on the flat plateau of the summit.

We lingered for a while admiring the extensive views – to the South, we could make out Blackpool Tower, the Clwyd hills, and, a bit further to the west, Snowdonia. Masses of wind turbines seemed to fill the Irish Sea, and to the west the Isle of Man was quite clear. We could make out the Mull of Galloway, followed by the Machairs and all of the Galloway mountains. Criffel, although lower, was quite prominent, and we could clearly see the higher hills of the Southern Uplands beyond.

A diagrammatic view of the panorama can be found HERE.


Tess first to summit, as usual!


The Isle of Man from Pillar, Scoat Fell to the left.

From the top, we headed eastwards for a mile or so, pleasant easy walking along a broad grassy ridge, losing height in a series of steps, where we did encounter some rougher ground. As we descended, Kirkfell became more prominent, and we wondered how the scree runnel of a path climbed up around or over Kirkfell Crags – it looks like a thoroughly unpleasant route (I did come down this way once, a few decades ago, but I cannot recall what it was like).


Descending eastwards from Pillar towards Kirk Fell and the Black Sail Pass

After stopping for a mid afternoon snack of dried Kabanos sausage, which Tess is very fond of, we descended to the top of Black Sail Pass, and began the descent into Mosedale. I discovered that my phone battery was flat, so thank you to my wife for the remaining photos.


Looking back towards Pillar from the top of Black Sail Pass

The Black Sail Pass path was on the whole easy going, well constructed pitched stone at the top, and well graded zig zags lower down. At one point we had to ford a beck by way of some unstable stepping stones – always a good spectator sport!  >:D


Descending Black Sail Pass with Tess, with Yewbarrow ahead.

Yewbarrow looks very imposing from Mosedale – Stirrup Crag does not look like a dog friendly route – and neither does the long scree chute below!

The gradient eased and we were all too soon amongst the bank holiday crowds around the Wasdale Head Inn. I fancied a pint but it was far too crowded for my liking, especially during a pandemic. The little campsite opposite the hotel was packed with tents, cheek by jowl, and the car park down the road was full to overflowing. A long line of cars parked badly along the side of the road sported yellow parking tickets beneath their windscreen wipers – the Police had been having a field day.

The walk back down the road under the slopes of Yewbarrow would in normal circumstances have been a pleasure, but the constant stream of cars made it rather tiresome, and we were glad to get back to the car. Despite this, we had an excellent if rather long day, 8 hours to cover 11 miles through some rough and remote country.


A last look at the Wasdale fells.

Sunset over the Isle of Man, and Fish and Chips at Greenodd on the way home finished off a memorable “Quality Mountain Day”.
« Last Edit: 17:48:52, 01/09/20 by richardh1905 »
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windyrigg

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Re: TR - Pillar the quiet way
« Reply #1 on: 17:02:50, 01/09/20 »
Excellent photos; I walked up the Nether Beck a few years back but turned left at the top for Haycock. We had mist and drizzle all day, you did way better than us.

April

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Re: TR - Pillar the quiet way
« Reply #2 on: 17:17:51, 01/09/20 »
Wonderful photos Richard of a grand day out  O0 Pillar is one of my favourite mountains  :)


We were on Merrick on Saturday, we would have waved if we had known you could see us  ;)
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Pillar the quiet way
« Reply #3 on: 17:26:47, 01/09/20 »
Excellent photos; I walked up the Nether Beck a few years back but turned left at the top for Haycock. We had mist and drizzle all day, you did way better than us.
Thanks windyrigg - the path up to Scoat Tarn is a good route, and I fancy the tarn for an autumnal wild camp.
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Pillar the quiet way
« Reply #4 on: 17:31:32, 01/09/20 »
Wonderful photos Richard of a grand day out  O0 Pillar is one of my favourite mountains  :) 
Thanks April - it was my second time up Pillar, if my memory serves me correctly - one of the iconic Lakeland fells. I must approach from the Ennerdale side some time, and experience the so called climbers path that traverses across the northern slopes - although I'll not be doing Pillar Rock without a top rope!

Quote
We were on Merrick on Saturday, we would have waved if we had known you could see us  ;)
You know, I had a sneaking suspicion that you would be heading out that way - thinking of doing so myself shortly. Those remote lochs with the granite sand beaches look like delightful campsites. Looking forward to your TR.  :)
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karl h

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #5 on: 17:54:45, 01/09/20 »
Great stuff Richard  O0
Lovely pics and write up of a classic mountain round.
Low Tarn just over the hill from Scoat Tarn is worth a visit  ;)
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BrionyB

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #6 on: 19:37:51, 01/09/20 »
Looks like a very enjoyable walk with amazing views. A real achievement to find a (mostly) quiet route in the Lake District on a bank holiday weekend!

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #7 on: 21:07:56, 01/09/20 »
Great stuff Richard  O0
Lovely pics and write up of a classic mountain round.
Low Tarn just over the hill from Scoat Tarn is worth a visit  ;)


Thanks karl  :)  Nether Beck valley is lovely, and the view down into Mosedale is so dramatic.


I've got my eye on Low Tarn; Greendale Tarn too.
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #8 on: 21:09:06, 01/09/20 »
Looks like a very enjoyable walk with amazing views. A real achievement to find a (mostly) quiet route in the Lake District on a bank holiday weekend!


It was Briony, a memorable walk.


Since moving to the southern edge of the Lake District, I seem to be developing a knack for avoiding the crowds. :)
« Last Edit: 07:09:14, 02/09/20 by richardh1905 »
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Mel

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #9 on: 23:11:36, 03/09/20 »
Smashing write up and pics Richard.


Love the view down into Mosedale  O0
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #10 on: 17:17:04, 04/09/20 »
Thanks Mel - the ground just seems to drop away into the depths of Mosedale.
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Sarah Pitht

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #11 on: 17:50:46, 04/09/20 »
Great TR and photos. Netherbeck looks like a superb place to walk - full of atmosphere. I was about to comment that you had missed off Steeple from Scoat Fell - but then saw that you hadn't taken in Scoat summit - so all is forgiven!! :D


What I really wanted to say is that route map is fab - it really gives an idea of high and low ground and helps you see the terrain. What format is it? Is it from Viewranger?
Thanks.

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #12 on: 21:06:11, 04/09/20 »
Great TR and photos. Netherbeck looks like a superb place to walk - full of atmosphere. I was about to comment that you had missed off Steeple from Scoat Fell - but then saw that you hadn't taken in Scoat summit - so all is forgiven!! :D

What I really wanted to say is that route map is fab - it really gives an idea of high and low ground and helps you see the terrain. What format is it? Is it from Viewranger?
Thanks.

Thanks Sarah - I have a confession to make - I missed Steeple when I climbed Scoat Fell 35 years ago. :D

And thank you for your feedback on the map - I like to include one. The mapping is from opentopomap - as it is open source, no copyright worries! I just pan to the area I want, press the print screen button, then paste and edit the map using Paint.

https://opentopomap.org/#map=13/54.47896/-3.30688

https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OpenTopoMap
« Last Edit: 21:11:41, 04/09/20 by richardh1905 »
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Mel

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #13 on: 21:14:34, 05/09/20 »
https://opentopomap.org/#map=13/54.47896/-3.30688


Thanks for this Richard.  I now have a beautiful screenshot of the Howgills Triangle just ripe for bagging  O0
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Sarah Pitht

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Re: TR - Pillar, the quiet way
« Reply #14 on: 08:19:22, 06/09/20 »
Thanks Sarah - I have a confession to make - I missed Steeple when I climbed Scoat Fell 35 years ago. :D

And thank you for your feedback on the map - I like to include one. The mapping is from opentopomap - as it is open source, no copyright worries! I just pan to the area I want, press the print screen button, then paste and edit the map using Paint.

https://opentopomap.org/#map=13/54.47896/-3.30688

https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OpenTopoMap


Thanks Richard - I can feel some 'playing' coming on!!