12th March 2014

Kirk Fell from Wasdale Head


Walk Overview
Time 12:40 to 4:20pm
Duration 3 hr 40 min
Distance 6 mile
Ascent 2600 ft
Walking with On my own
Wasdale Head - Mosedale - Gatherstone Beck - Black Sail Pass - Kirk Fell Crags - Kirk Fell - Kirkfell Tarn - Rib End - Beck Head - Gavel Neese - Burnthwaite - Wasdale Head Church
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, Wasdale Head

Wasdale can boast possession of the highest mountain, the deepest lake and the smallest church. What I'd like to do is add the busiest car park onto this list. During the summer months this is an incredibly popular place, particularly in June when the three peak walkers are out in force.

Unbelievable I know, but parking is actually free. This tiny hamlet also has a hotel / pub, a shop, a camp site and all the facilities you expect to find with it.


Weather Readings

The Gadget
All readings were taken using a Kestrel 2000 Weather Meter
Live temperature recorded at the time I press the hold key
Maximum Wind Speed Maximum wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location Average Wind Speed
Average wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location
Wind Chill
Combination of wind speed and temperature. The gadget does the calculations not me.

Route Map


Ahead of me is Kirk Fell; a big bulk of a fell found at the end of the valley above the aptly named hamlet of Wasdale Head. You have three main options to get to the top from here. You could go up the side of Great Gable to Beck Head and then turn left to the top. If you feel really energetic you could walk straight up the front. I've done this a few times and it's hard going. Or, as I did today, you can walk around the left hand side of the fell following Black Sail Pass to its highest point and then turn right to reach the summit of Kirk Fell.

Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team, , , must be lost!

Behind the building and crossing the beck is this lovely old bridge. It's usually referred to as a packhorse bridge and although it certainly has the appearance of one, I just don't see why it would have been used by the packhorse trains. The only thing I can think of is that the footpath running straight from Down-in-the-Dale bridge to Wasdale Head used to be the main route prior to the modern road being there. I could be wrong, it's just what I was thinking.

Over there you can see Great Gable. It may not stay in view for very long at the beginning of this walk but once you get onto the top of Kirk Fell, you can see it for the remainder of the outing. Admittedly, at the end you'll need to turn around because it's behind you, but that's no hardship is it.

I stood here for a few minutes trying to decide whether to take the direct route. In the end I opted to walk up the Black Sail Pass route.

A view back to Wasdale Head and its busy car park.

Looking into Mosedale. Up on the skyline is the ridge onto Pillar.

This is the crossing point at Gatherstone Beck. I assume on quite a few days during this winter crossing here would have been unwise to say the least.

Yewbarrow silhouette.


Nearing the top of Black Sail Pass.

At the top of Black Sail Pass it levels out for a short distance allowing you enough time to 'make your mind up'. Left for Pillar, right for Kirk Fell and straight over for Ennerdale.

Between myself the the top of Kirk Fell are Kirk Fell Crags. This is a great little route where hands as well as feet need to come into contact with a bit of Lakeland stone (when the rocks are dry). It's also one of those places where it's easier to walk up than it is to walk down..

The steep bit.

and another.

Now it gets a little easier, although I've still a bit to walk before reaching the summit.
The ridge running across the centre of the picture is High Stile, High Crag and Haystacks. Grasmoor is in the distance but not very clear due to the hazy conditions.

It's a bit hazy up here but a good view of Great End, Broad Crag, Lingmell and both Scafells was still on offer.

Great Gable seen behind Kirkfell Tarn.

Looking around to the right and Great End, Broad Crag, Lingmell, Scafell Pike and Scafell are all in view.

I'm on the slightly lower top now and in the background are Green Gable and Great Gable.

Great Gable and Green Gable.

Looking down to Beckhead Tarn(s). Surely one of the shallowest tarns in the Lake District.

Ah, right, , , , now here's a good example of one of the oldest stone circles in Britain for you to look at. Circles, squares and triangles hadn't been invented for very long when these stones were dragged all the way up from Wasdale Head and as you can tell by the positioning of the stones, the builders hadn't quite mastered the 'circle' part of stone circle. By the time the people living at Castlerigg and Stonehenge decided to have a go, circles had became much more commonplace and quite easy to reproduce. Personally, I think these pioneers of stone circle construction deserve more recognition than they receive.
Who said I didn't take any notice of the teachers at school !!

Turning around for a view back up to Beck Head. It's steep, it's loose and in places you feel like you're walking on marbles.

It isn't very often you get a sky as totally cloudless as it was today so this was just magical. Having said that, after the walk I called back in at work to collect the laptop and it was so foggy I could hardly see where I was driving. Hard to believe it was the same day.

A very hazy view down to Wast Water and Wasdale Head.

Great Gable.

The moon above Sty Head.

Once you reach the valley a footbridge takes you across Gable Beck. Just to confuse people, part of the fellside up there is called Illgill Head. This has nowt to do with the other Illgill Head above The Screes / Wast Water.

Looking back along the Moses Trod path to Great Gable and Sty Head. If you look carefully you can make out the path I followed through the scree on the left hand side of Great Gable.

Burnthwaite farm with Great Gable towering above the barn roof.

Outside Wasdale Head church. The sun was only moments away from disappearing behind Yewbarrow so I was lucky arrive just in time to catch the light as it shone through the small churchyard and across the side of St Olaf's Church. Very peaceful !



David Hall -
Lake District Walks