2nd May 2007

It ain't half hot Mum - Whin Rigg, Illgill Head and Eskdale Valley


Walk Overview
Time 12.50 to 18.30
Duration 5 hr 40 min
Distance 11.3 mile
Ascent 2867 ft
Walking with Jennifer
Eskdale Green - Miterdale - Irton Fell - Whin Rigg - Illgill Head - Burnmoor Tarn - Boot - Eskdale Valley - Fordge Bridge - Eskdale Green
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Parking spaces next to Giggle Alley, Eskdale Green

This is a great little car park. Right in the centre of Eskdale Green with a shop down the road and toilets next to the car park. It is a great starting point for a whole host of walks in this area, it's free and more often than not there are empty spaces available.


Route Map

Walking along the wonderfully named Giggle Alley; a short lane linking Eskdale with Miterdale.

Conditions were perfect for our walk from Eskdale today; nice and hot, blue sky, sunshine, almost no wind, not many people out and all on a walk with a little bit of everything thrown in. First there was the lovely Miterdale Woods to walk through, followed by the drama of the path above the Wasdale Screes, the remoteness of Burnmoor Tarn and Eskdale Moor and then to top it off a walk through the beautiful Eskdale Valley.

Miterdale Woods looking quite green and bursting into life.

I think I've mentioned on other walks that finding your way through woodland like this can be a bit of a hit and miss affair until you get to know the area a little better. The route through Miterdale Woods however, is not too difficult at all. From the bridge at the start of the woods the path I usually take onto the Whin Rigg ridge almost follows a straight line route, crossing several narrower paths and also some broader forestry tracks. Each time you're confronted by a path or track crossing the route simply walk straight over to pick up the continuing path through the woods.

Greathall Gill, a huge gash in the seemingly flawless fellside on the Wasdale side of the Whin Rigg ridge.
This is one of those places I keep promising myself I'll walk, but never get around to doing.

And then at Whin Rigg the drama begins with this fantastic view down to Wast Water.

The view across to Illgill Head from Whin Rigg.
Our route took us across the left hand side of the fell with the intentions of getting quite close to the edge so as to take advantage of the views down the Wasdale Screes while there was no wind.

One of the most popular places in this area of the Lake District for none walking visitors to have their pick-nicks is the waters edge at Wast Water where the Gosforth road joins the road to Wasdale Head. From there you get what is probably the best view of the screes. I wonder though, just how many of the thousands of people who look up at the screes every year realise that once you get above the confusion of rocks, crags and scree you'll be greeted by such a large area of grassy fell as this.
In the past when I've told people where I've been walking, I've been asked "how can you walk up there" and "don't you think that's a bit dangerous". What you see in this picture just isn't what you'd expect to find up here.

Looking down to the lake with Wasdale Hall youth hostel on the opposite shore.

And from a little further along, this time with Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Pillar and Kirk Fell in view.
Not a place to walk during strong winds!

The tiny hamlet of Wasdale Head comes into view once you reach Illgill Head. The fells surrounding Wasdale Head are Yewbrrow, Pillar, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Lingmell.

And a close up of Kirk Fell and Great Gable.

Next was Burnmoor Tarn and Burnmoor Lodge seen here from the off path route we took after leaving Illgill Head.
The darker looking pointed fell in the picture is Harter Fell with the Coniston fells behind.

The top section of Kirk Fell seen from the edge of Burnmoor Tarn.

Outbuildings found on the tarn side of Burnmoor Lodge. The lodge itself is just out of shot, on the right.

Burnmoor Lodge actually looks quite inviting in conditions like today; a place to linger, to enjoy and to soak in the surroundings. In stark contrast to this, if you should happen upon this place when the cloud is down and the wind is howling, then you're faced with an altogether different experience. One of uneasiness, where you actually feel more comfortable walking across the mist covered moor than in familiar surroundings, where, in normal circumstances you'd expect to find at least a little reassurance.

As my then nine year old Nephew said on one such day "this place gives you the creeps". I think we were both grateful of of company that day, especially while we were around the other side of the building, where we both swore that someone was watching us out of the upstairs windows

Fording Ramshaw Beck on the lovely route down into Boot and Eskdale Valley.

Harter Fell pictured from the outskirts of Boot.

Eskdale Corn Mill.

Off the fells now and starting our walk through the valley and back to Eskdale Green. A perfect way to finish off a great afternoon on the fells.

Standing on tip-toes and looking over a wall to get this photo of Dalegarth Hall.

A brief gap in the trees offered us this view back through the valley to Scafell and Slight Side (behind a branch, but it is there).

The walk through the valley followed the River Esk and brought us out onto the road at Forge Bridge, where you quite often see the local children standing on the wall and jumping into the river. A ten minute or so walk from here and you're back into Eskdale Green.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks