29th August 2007

A walk above Wasdale Screes and into Miterdale Valley


Walk Overview
Time 14.00 to 18.30
Duration 4 hr 30 min
Distance 10.2 mile
Ascent 2880 ft
Walking with Richard Lewthwaite
Eskdale Green - Miterdale Forest - Whin Rigg - Wasdale Screes (above) - Illgill Head - Burnmoor Tarn - Miterdale Head - 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

Following the track past Low Holme, which links the village of Eskdale Green to the lovely secluded valley of Miterdale. We did end up walking almost the whole length of the valley, but that was much later in the walk. To start off with however, we simply dropped down into Miterdale and then headed straight up the other side and through the woods in order to gain the grassy ridge below Whin Rigg.

Although the map still shows this whole area of fellside as being covered with trees, large swaths of forest have actually been felled. The clearance of the trees has revealed, amongst other things, old walls, ruined sheepfolds, a small tarn and numerous rocky outcrops such as this one near a conveniently placed seat. Lets hope they don't replant the fellside with those awful regimented rows of conifers and that they either plant or allow the area to regenerate naturally with native trees.

A close up of Sellafield with the Irish Sea behind.

The path to Whin Rigg passes across the top of Greathall Gill; a most impressive landmark in the fellside, seen here with Buckbarrow, Seatallan and Haycock on the opposite side of the valley.

A close up of Buckbarrow.

The view ahead to Illgill Head, with the pointed top of Great Gable on the left and slightly more rounded Scafell on the right.

And then, when you reach the top of the Wasdale Screes, you get the most incredible views down to Wasdale and Wast Water.

Lots of people, undoubtedly enjoying the afternoon sunshine around the area where the Gosforth road joins the road to Wasdale Head, which incidentally, is one of the places featured recently on the "Britain's Favourite View" program on TV. This particular nomination was made by Sally Whittaker who plays Sally Webster on Coronation Street. She stood on or very close to the small island and looked down the length of the lake in the direction of Wasdale Head to get her favourite view.

Another view across to Illgill Head, this picture shows the two tarns found along the ridge.

This photo was taken from the edge of the smaller of the tarns just as we left the main path along the ridge and headed across to the narrow track above the screes.

Living the high life.
Being a none climber this was as close to nature as I intend to get. After Richard took this picture of me I did kneel down and peer over the edge - for about one and a half seconds.

With a little less fresh air and a little more solid ground below us we continued across the edge of the ridge, where the views down to Wast Water and the fells on the opposite side of the valley just keep coming.

Harter Fell.
With its distinctive summit, made up of a collection of huge rocky outcrops Harter Fell offers the suggestion that it may be home to some ancient hill fort. Those who have visited the summit will know that this imaginative hill fort is notably absent. However, the reality which does wait at the fell top couldn't possibly cause any visitor to leave with a feeling disappointment.

At the end of the ridge, just past Illgill Head summit. If it's a view of Wasdale Head and its surrounding fells you're after, then this is one of the best places to stand.

A close up of Yewbarrow and Pillar.

One of the largest of the Lake District tarns and also one of the most sullen is Burnmoor Tarn. The tarn maintains its dominance over other lesser tarns by accepting an almost continuous supply of water from the lonely expanse of ground known as Eskdale Moor. The moor itself could aptly be described as little more than an immense sponge which soaks up and to a great extent holds onto the water which runs down from the surrounding fells.

There are indeed many places in the Lake District that are considerably more remote than this spot, in fact a walk to either Wasdale or Eskdale from here is a relatively short affair; easy enough to follow in good conditions and not too strenuous at all. However, in stark contrast to almost all other parts of the district, this is somewhere that actually fills the lone walker with that rarest off feelings; one of being well and truly alone. Not in its simplest definition; from the realisation that no one else is about, but rather from the overwhelming mood of isolation the area casts over you.

This became particularly noticeable on the couple of occasions when I ventured across this moor on my own, while the cloud was down. On days such as those the desire to keep looking over your shoulder not only becomes very real, but also unavoidable. The imagination steps up a gear and the thought that this route was, at one time, used to transport coffins from Wasdale across to Boot for burial, sets all manner of thoughts into progress. Not least the tale of one particular burial party. This procession was following what I'm sure must have been a familiar route, when the horse carrying the coffin suddenly bolted and disappeared into the mist. The legend goes on to say that when the mother of the deceased was told the news, she died of a broken heart, caused by the thought that her son wouldn't be given a Christian burial. Inevitably her own funeral could not take place until her body had been carried over the same moor to St Catherine's Church in Boot. Once again the horse is said to have bolted, only this time, with a covering of snow on the ground, the rest of the party were able to follow the tracks left by the horse. To the surprise of the gathering however, the tracks didn't lead them to the horse carrying the old woman's coffin, but rather to that of the son. The irony of the tail is that the son did end up getting the burial which had been planned for him, yet the horse carrying his mothers body was never found.

Burnmoor Lodge is a privately owned property found on the Eskdale side of Burnmoor Tarn and along with the likes of Skiddaw House must surely be a contender for the most remote dwelling in England.

After a short rest next to Burnmoor Lodge we headed across a small area of wet ground to look down into the incredible and almost amphitheatre like head of Miterdale Valley. This picture shows the route we took from the boggy moors above to start our walk through Miterdale.

Surrounded by steep grassy fells on two sides, flat boggy moors above and an exceptionally narrow and relatively dry valley below, this simply isn't what you'd expect to find here. Once you actually walk into this basin the place feels quite surreal.

Looking back up the route to show just how narrow this part of the valley is and considering just how much water there is on the moors above the valley, it seems strange that the beck here is not much more than a trickle.

The little stone bridge near Bakerstead Outdoor Pursuits Centre.

And Bakerstead itself.

Built into the dry stone wall next to Low Place Farm you'll find this sign, telling people to "head right for Eskdale".
It must be rather a curiosity for some visitors, but it is almost written the way we would say it around here anyway.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks