Lake District Walks
Date: 25th March 2012
Distance: 9.8 miles
Ascent: 2547 feet
Time: 6 hours 10 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NY145044
A dramatic walk along the ridge from Whin Rigg to Illgill Head was followed by a tricky walk back along the lakeshore negotiating the Wastwater Screes.
Route Summary: Wasdale Hall Youth Hostel - Low Wood - Lund Bridge - Greathall Gill - Whin Rigg - Illgill Head - Wasdale Head Hall Farm - Lakeshore Path - Lund Bridge - Low Wood - Wasdale Hall Youth Hostel
1. A hazy Wastwater
2. The pleasant path through Low Wood
3. Lund Bridge the River Irt
4. Wastwater from the climb alongside Greathall Gill
5. Looking across the head of Greathall Gill to Whin Rigg
6. Wastwater and the Youth Hostel from Whin Rigg
7. Above Wastwater looking towards Illgill Head
8. Looking down the Screes to the lake
9. Illgill Head
10. Wainwright's summit looking towards the OS top of Illgill Head
11. By the large shelter near the top of Illgill Head
12. The wall descending Illgill Head with Scafell directly ahead
13. Lingmell and the Scafells
15. Looking up the cliff face on the main boulder field on the path
16. Whin Rigg from the Youth Hostel
Walk Detail: This was a walk that I've wanted to do for a long time. The Wasdale Hall Youth Hostel, my accommodation for the night, was the perfect starting point with Whin Rigg, my first objective, looming impressively directly opposite.
After a nice stroll through Low Wood and then across the River Irt via Lund Bridge the walk began in earnest as I climbed the steep path just to the north of Greathall Gill. It was a very hot and sunny day but also really rather hazy which almost entirely obscured the long distance views.
After a short detour to inspect the head of Greathall Gill I had a short snack stop. By this point most of the hard work (at least in terms of uphill walking) had now been done and from the top of Greathall Gill it was an easy walk up on to Whin Rigg.
The next one and a half miles from Whin Rigg to Illgill Head was quite simply superb. I followed the cliff top path which afforded a series of stunning (and occasionally vertiginous) views down the Screes to Wastwater far below. Had the skies been clearer to allow better views across the lake and beyond it really would have been hard to beat.
Having reached Illgill Head the excitement was temporarily over as I began what seemed like quite a long descent towards Brackenclose before making for the lakeshore path from Wasdale Head Hall Farm. I'd read that the lakeshore path below the Screes was quite difficult in places and in fact not far beyond the farm there was a sign warning of the difficulties ahead.
To begin with the path was easy enough and when I did begin to encounter sections of scree I found the going fairly straightforward. Just as I began to get towards the end of the path and was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about I finally encountered the main boulder field.
This section did require great care and was made more difficult by the fact that you are actually walking across a steep slope rather than clambering up or down. Even though I was concentrating very hard on where I stepped the occasional rocks would still wobble or slip alarmingly below my feet. Towards the end of the boulder field with the path tantalisingly close the rocks underfoot began to get even looser and it was almost impossible not to slip and slide.
Upon reaching the path it was then a very simple walk back to Wasdale Hall. For the most part the walk was what I'd hoped it to be. The ridge walk from Whin Rigg to Illgill Head was marvellous and one I'd like to repeat. I'd also been looking forward to the challenge of the lakeshore path but I found this less enjoyable. I'm not sure if I would repeat it, in poor weather or after rain it would be a definite no go.