Lake District Walks
Date: 26th March 2012
Distance: 6.1 miles
Ascent: 2767 feet
Time: 4 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NY186085
A steep scramble up on to Kirk Fell, my 200th Wainwright, with glorious long distance views.
Route Summary: Wasdale Head - Mosedale - Black Sail Pass - Kirkfell Crags - Kirk Fell - Kirk Fell East Top - Rib End - Beck Head - Gavel Neese - Burnthwaite - Wasdale Head
1. Kirk Fell
2. Looking back along Mosedale towards Yewbarrow
3. Red Pike and Pillar from the top of Black Sail Pass
4. The next stage of the walk was a scramble up Kirkfell Crags
5. The final section culminated in a scramble up this gully
6. Haystacks from Kirk Fell
7. Wastwater from just below the summit of Kirk Fell
8. Great Gable from Kirk Fell
9. On the top of Kirk Fell
10. The view towards a distant Skiddaw from Kirk Fell
11. Kirk Fell's East Top
12. The summit of the East Top
13. Great Gable from the top of Rib End
14. Kirk Fell from Beck Head
15. Wasdale from just below Beck Head
16. Looking back up to Great Gable from Gavel Neese
Walk Detail: This was an important walk for me as it brought underfoot my 200th Wainwright top. It nearly didn't happen though as my right knee was feeling the after effects of the previous day's walk along the Wastwater Screes and I was unsure whether it was a good idea to attempt what was going to be a steep ascent and descent whichever route I took.
My initial plan had been to tackle Kirk Fell head on by taking the direct route from Wasdale Head and then taking a roundabout return route via Beck Head and the traverse path to Black Sail Pass and finally back down Mosedale. In the end I actually climbed via Black Sail Pass before attempting the scramble via Kirkfell Crags.
I almost didn't make it to the top of Black Sail Pass as my knee wasn't getting any better and I came close on several occassions to cutting the walk short. In the end my stubborness coupled with the fact that it was a glorious day with great visibility encouraged me to continue and once I reached Black Sail Pass I was committed.
Once I'd made my mind up to go that way I'd been looking forward to the scramble via Kirkfell Crags and indeed it was enjoyable - until I found myself in a scree laden gully with few handholds and loose rock underfoot which had an alarming tendency to slide under my feet. Assuming this wasn't the true path I must have worked my way a bit too far round to the east of the main route. I managed it safely enough but it certainly got the adrenaline flowing!
The views from Kirk Fell were first class. Apart from an abundance of Lakeland tops I could also clearly see the Isle of Man, while further to the south, beyond Black Combe, what I assume could only have been the mountains of Snowdonia - the first time I've seen them from so far away. The best view though was of Great Gable which looked absolutely immense.
From the top of Kirk Fell I made my way past the small tarns and over the eastern top before descending Rib End. While this route didn't involve any scrambling it was another rocky path and in places quite loose underfoot. Towards the bottom I slipped and caught my hand on a rock leaving me with a large bruise and another ache to contend with.
Now that I'd managed to reach the summit and bag my 200th Wainwright my main concern was to get back down to Wasdale Head without doing any further damage to my knee (or hand!). Almost at the last moment I decided to take the path from Beck Head which leads aross the flank of Great Gable, above Gable Beck, and then down into Wasdale via Gavel Neese. For the most part I didn't have too many difficulties but to avoid undue pressure on my knee I took it very slowly.
Despite the worries over my knee I still really enjoyed this walk and Kirk Fell itself. Perhaps one day I'd even fancy having a crack at the direct path and the Beck Head to Black Sail traverse as I'd originally planned.