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back to Wainwright Classics

The Mosedale Horseshoe
by Pete Hardy - member no. 9

For the fellwalker who wants to get away from the honey pot summits such as Helvellyn, Great Gable or Scafell Pike there is possibly no better destination than the impressive fells above lonely Mosedale. The drive through the wild valley of Wasdale, alongside Wastwater and The Screes, precedes the start of what is a challenging day of walking. The summits of Pillar (2927ft), Scoat Fell (2760ft), Steeple (2687ft), and Red Pike (2707ft) comprise Wainwright’s version of the Mosedale Horseshoe, although it is possible to also include Kirk Fell and Yewbarrow if you are fit enough.

View across Mosedale to Yewbarrow and Dore Head

The route starts from the Wasdale Head Inn, with an initially gentle walk on the grassy track above Mosedale Beck, this then becomes steeper on the ascent to Black Sail Pass. The modest top of Looking Stead is reached before undertaking the strenuous, and at times rocky climb, to the summit of Pillar. The more adventurous might choose to take the alternative route to the summit via the
High Level Traverse which offers a close encounter with the soaring and
cathedral like Pillar Rock.  

Great Gable and the Scafells from Pillar

On a clear day the most impressive view from Pillar must be that to the
south-east which includes Great Gable and the Scafells. To the north, across Ennerdale, the Buttermere fells of Red Pike and High Stile are immediately in
view as well as AW’s ‘shaggy terrier’, Haystacks.

View down to Mosedale from Wind Gap

A steep, slippery and rocky descent to Wind Gap leads on over Black Crag to the next objective which is Scoat Fell, closely followed by an exciting and airy visit to Steeple along a short, exposed ridge where a head for heights is an advantage! From the tiny summit of Steeple the full length of Ennerdale can be viewed, and beyond the coast. Ennerdale is now less densely forested following recent tree-felling, something that would no doubt have met with the approval of Wainwright.

Ridge to Steeple

The next objective, Red Pike, features a Victorian curiosity in the form of The
Chair, a rocky outcrop on which large stones have been added to construct a
seat, backrest and arms. Not as comfortable as the furniture in your lounge perhaps – but what a view!

After Red Pike all is downhill, unless the view ahead of Yewbarrow inspires your legs and feet to further exertions that is, and as approved by all walkers the inn awaits to provide suitable refreshment.

If your timing is perfect you might even be lucky enough drive back down
Wasdale as the sun begins to set, and so have the added bonus of seeing
The Screes, glowing like gold, reflected on the surface of Wastwater as a
gilded shining level.  

Recommended books for route planning and further reading:
Fellwalking with Wainwright
Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells - Book Seven - The Western Fells
Walking the Wainwrights by Stuart Marshall        

back to the Classics Walks index