Pillar Round

  • Remote and rough crossing
  • Superb views of the western lakes
  • Options to extend route

Just the names Pillar and Steeple were enough to create a tangible sense of awe and mystery to me as young boy. I remember my two elder brothers heading over to Wasdale many moons ago and it felt like they were up to something special, something rather scary but certainly very exciting. Even now the round of Pillar and Steeple is one of the great Lakeland walks, aided to no more extent by the remoteness of the Wasdale valley.

I have climbed them from Ennerdale which has the one, and only, advantage of views of Pillar Rock. However the best route is the circuit which heads off for Black Sail Pass and crosses over the vast bulk of Pillar, Little and Great Scoat Fell, takes a detour to Steeple before taking in the long ridge of Red Pike and dropping steeply down for a well earned pint at the hotel. The terrain over the tops is mainly rough (particularly on the Scoats) but the views are fantastic with Great Gable and the Scafells seen at their best and a fascinating panorama down the length of Ennerdale. It is possible to lengthen the walk by including Kirk Fell and Yewbarrow at either end but this makes for a very long day and time is better spent exploring the the cliffs of Pillar and Red Pike

Recommend: Leave the steep ascent of Yewbarrow for a separate day – adding the 1,000 foot pull from the valley to the col with Red Pike would finish you off. However Kirk Fell may tempt you at the start.

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Pillar map


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OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL6 & OL4. Buy Map
Start Point: NY 186084. There is some free parking 200 yards before arriving at the Wasdale Head hotel
Height to Climb: 1008 ms (3,306 feet)
Terrain: This is a popular round so the paths are good but the plateau of Pillar and Scoat Fell are vast and rocky so the path disappears at times.
Eating & Drinking: The Wasdale Head hotel has a good climbers bar attached offering a choice of sophistication or less so. The bar is good but I cannot vouch for the hotel!
Similar Walks Nearby: The Wastwater Screes
The Scafells from Wasdale Head
Not so easy Yewbarrow
Places to Stay: Gosforth Hall Inn