Dale Head Lake District

Posted in Dale Head Lake District on July 14th, 2011 by David Murphy

14th July 2011 I set off from my house about 12.30pm for a Wild Camp alone on Dale Head Summit In the Lake District, it took about 2 hours 30 mins to get to my destination going the scenic route I got stuck behind slow traffic, I parked about a half mile down the road from the Honister Slate Mine on the Honister Pass just outside of Seatoller.
After the steep walk up the road opposite the slate mine was the start of my path up to Dale Head summit, I reset my satmap at 15:02 and off I went as you can see from my satmap screens it took me 1 hour 18 mins total time and 50 mins time moving which means I only had about 30 mins of stops which is good for me lol.
On reaching the summit I had a walk around to find the best pitch for my Hilleberg Akto I setup my Mrs Dragonfly Stove for a cup of yorkshire tea then decided to have a walk over to Dalehead Crags there was a nice spot there for my tent with a nice view over Buttermere Lake, Crummock Water wasnt visable from here, after another brew of yorkshire tea I decided to head back to the summit of Dale Head as am a sucker for the summits even though the options maybe the more sensible at times.
After taking some video footage out came the Akto it pitched ok with only a slight breeze it was time for another brew of tea and then out came my steak for cooking as I was just awaiting the sunset which turned out a little disapointing blocked by a band of low cloud just above the horizon.
My phone signal was very patchy the best signal was over Dalehead Crags so decided to head back over there leaving the tent my backpack, tripod with my video camera on and head over to try and post on my liveblog and read my fans posts.
The moon came out first looking very orange which a captured on my video camera and later became covered at times in patchy cloud.
I  really enjoyed my night in total solitude alone on a hill without any rain with lovely views.
Morning came I must have had about an hours sleep I had my alarm set for 4.30am for the sunrise but was awake before it went off, the sunrise was hampered by low cloud but when the sun appeared it was a great sight lighting the sky red, in the distance over towards scafell Pike and great Gable there appeared to be a cloud inversion happening and the conditions at first appeared just right, the cloud was hugging the hills as a gentle breeze in my direction slowly brought it my way but after hanging around a few hours for it to surround my hill it didnt materialise how I was wishing.
I packed my tent away and was off back down the hill at 6.50am it only took 39mins total moving time and only a two min break back to the car.

Pre Dale Head Comments

My Route

 

Me On Dales Head Summit

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Buttermere

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Dale Head
Dale Head.jpg
Dale Head seen from the neighbouring hill of High Spy
Elevation 753 m (2,470 ft)
Prominence 397 m (1,302 ft)
Parent peak Great Gable
Listing Hewitt, Marilyn, Nuttall, Wainwright
Location
Dale Head is located in Lake District
Dale Head
Cumbria,  England
Range Lake District, North Western Fells
OS grid NY223153
Coordinates 54°31′37″N 3°12′07″W / 54.527°N 3.20208°W / 54.527; -3.20208Coordinates: 54°31′37″N 3°12′07″W / 54.527°N 3.20208°W / 54.527; -3.20208
Topo map OS Landrangers 89, 90, Explorer OL4

Dale Head is a fell in the northwestern sector of the Lake District, in northern England. It is 753 metres or 2,470 feet above sea level and stands immediately north of Honister Pass, the road between Borrowdale and Buttermere.

Topography

The North Western Fells occupy the area between the rivers Derwent and Cocker, a broadly oval swathe of hilly country, elongated on a north-south axis. Two roads cross from east to west, dividing the fells into three convenient groups. Dale Head is the highest fell in the southern sector.

Dale Head is the apex of two hill ridges. The principal ridge descends from Dale Head to the north-east and forms several other fells, each given a chapter by Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. These are High Spy, Maiden Moor and Catbells (alternative spelling, Cat Bells). This ridge forms the western side of Borrowdale and overlooks Derwent Water. The other ridge descends to the north-west and includes the fells of Hindscarth and Robinson; it overlooks Gatescarthdale and Buttermere.

Dale Head is named for its position at the head of the Newlands Valley. This stretches away due north for three and a half miles before debouching into the floodplain of the Derwent between Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake. The eastern wall of the valley is formed by the High Spy to Catbells ridge, separating it from Borrowdale. Entering on the western side are a series of side valleys which drain the main mass of the North Western Fells. The source of Newlands Beck does not however flow from the apex of Dale Head as might be supposed from the name. Instead it has its birth at the col between the main summit and the eastern top, High Scawdel (1,815 ft). The northern face of the fell forming the dalehead is ringed with crags. The main faces are Dalehead Crags and Great Gable, not to be confused with the fell of that name.

The southern flank of the fell running down to the summit of the Honister Pass road (1,180 ft) has much gentler slopes, although there is outcropping rock on either side. Buckstone Hows and Yew Crag overshadow the road.From the top of the pass Gatesgarthdale Beck runs north west to Buttermere while Hause Gill flows east to Seatoller and Borrowdale. Across the road is Grey Knotts in the Western Fells.

The ridge to Hindscarth departs north west from the summit of Dale Head, soon narrowing into the fine and airy Hindscarth Edge. Both slopes are rocky, that to the south being known as Molds. Far Tongue Gill descends from the north of the ridge, a tributary of Newlands Beck.

Although High Scawdel stands east of the main summit, the high ground takes a great loop to the south around the head of Newlands Beck. It then drives north to the depression at Wilson's Bield (1,655 ft) before climbing to the summit of High Spy. The rest of the North Western Fells bear no tarns worthy of the name, but Dale Head has two. On the northern slope near the source of Newlands Beck is Dalehead Tarn, while the smaller Launchy Tarn lies near the top of High Scawdel. Dalehead Tarn is a shallow pool providing a popular stopping place for walkers. Its varied flora include water horsetail, sedge and bogbean. Launchy Tarn is smaller and may have been formed by overgrazing and erosion of the underlying peat.[1]

Geology and Mining

Dale Head stands at the junction of the two main Lakeland geological systems, the Skiddaw slates to the north and the Borrowdale Volcanics to the south. On the northern flanks are outcrops of the Buttermere Formation, olistostrome of disrupted sheared mudstone, siltstone and sandstone. Southward march the Borrowdale series beginning with the plagioclase-phyric andesite lavas of the Birker Fell Formation, visible near the summit.[2]

The fell has seen extensive mining history. Dale Head Mine was driven below the northern crags for copper, several levels still being visible. Long Work was another copper mine a little further down the valley, worked for malachite and pyrite from Elizabethan times. On the southern flank of the fell, centred around the head of the pass, are the Honister Quarries. These are an extensive system of underground quarries, worked for Green Slate. The earliest extant records date from 1728 and since then huge caverns have been carved out on either side of the pass. The Yew Crag workings on the Dale Head side were operated until 1966, operations on the slopes of Grey Knotts continuing. In 1887 work began to drive a tunnel right under Dale Head into Newlands Valley, connecting with a proposed tramway to join the railway at Keswick. The scheme was abandoned after opposition from landowners. The main workers accommodation at the mine is now the Honister Hause Youth Hostel.[3]

Summit and view

The view of the Newlands Valley and Skiddaw from Dale Head summit cairn .

The summit is marked by a cairn standing on the brink of the northern face. There is a fine end-on view of the Newlands Valley to the north, backed by Skiddaw. All around are rank upon rank of fells, of the major Lakeland ranges only the High Street group not being fully visible.[4][5]

Ascents

One of the most popular ascent routes of Dale Head begins from the summit of Honister Pass, where there is a car park and a youth hostel. The route ascends directly alongside a fence for approximately 2 kilometres and would take the average walker some 45 or 50 minutes. Longer routes begin at Little Town in the Newlands Valley, climbing either via Dalehead Tarn or the old access track to Dale Head Mine. From Borrowdale a start can be made at either Seatoller or Longthwaite, ascending first to Launchy Tarn and High Scawdel.[4]

References

  1. ^ Blair, Don: Exploring Lakeland Tarns: Lakeland Manor Press (2003): ISBN 0-9543904-1-5
  2. ^ British Geological Survey: 1:50,000 series maps, England & Wales Sheet 29: BGS (1999)
  3. ^ Adams, John: Mines of the Lake District Fells: Dalesman (1995) ISBN 0-85206-931-6
  4. ^ a b Alfred Wainwright: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book 6, The North Western Fells: Westmorland Gazette (1964): ISBN 0-7112-2459-5
  5. ^ Birkett, Bill: Complete Lakeland Fells: Collins Willow (1994): ISBN 0-00-218406-0
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Pillar Lake District

Posted in Pillar Lake District on April 10th, 2011 by David Murphy

3rd Jan 2011 myself and Paul parked up somewhere in Ennerdale valley to hike Pillar and camp on the summit, I planned the location to park the car as less of a hike to the summit, but little did we realise the road was private so we had to leave the car a few miles future away than planned which meant when we set off on foot it ended up much later than we had anticipated.

Off we started hiking and we ended up pitching our tents well short of the summit as darkness was creeping in and agreed we wouldn’t reach the summit with the time we had left, so we pitched on a windy hole called Windy Gap little did we realise at the time.

There was no snow when we put down our tents but I was outside at around 3am replacing a peg in my guy wire and there was a canny covering horizontal snow hitting my face like needles, after awaking to snow inside my tent from leaving the top of the door open and my end vents open more than likely what else could go wrong well forgetting to fill up my fuel bottle before i left home and the horrible taste of washing up liquid in my drinking water it was a typical wildcamp for me.

Oh and when I got home my camera was broken it got soaked 🙁

Pillar
Pillar and Rock.jpg
Pillar from the east. Pillar Rock is clearly visible on the skyline on the right.
Elevation 892 m (2,927 ft)
Prominence 348 m (1,142 ft)
Parent peak Great Gable
Listing Marilyn, Hewitt, Wainwright, Nuttall
Location
Pillar (Lake District) is located in Lake District
Pillar
Cumbria,  England
Range Lake District, Western Fells
OS grid NY171121
Coordinates 54°29′49″N 3°16′55″W / 54.497°N 3.282°W / 54.497; -3.282Coordinates: 54°29′49″N 3°16′55″W / 54.497°N 3.282°W / 54.497; -3.282
Topo map OS Landranger 89, Explorer OL4
Listed summits of Pillar (Lake District)
Name Grid ref Height Status
Pillar Rock NY171123 780 m (2,558 ft) Nuttall
Looking Stead NY186117 627 m (2,057 ft) Nuttall

Pillar is a mountain in the western part of the English Lake District. Situated between the valleys of Ennerdale to the north and Wasdale to the south, it is the highest point of the Pillar group (some dozen fells clustered round it). At 892 metres (2,927 feet) it is the eighth highest mountain in the Lake District. The fell takes its name from Pillar Rock, a prominent feature on the Ennerdale side, regarded as the birthplace of rock climbing in the district.[1]

Topography

The Western Fells occupy a triangular sector of the Lake District, bordered by the River Cocker to the north east and Wasdale to the south east. Westwards the hills diminish toward the coastal plain of Cumberland. At the central hub of the high country are Great Gable and its satellites, while two principal ridges fan out on either flank of Ennerdale, the western fells in effect being a great horseshoe around this long wild valley.[2] Pillar is on the southern arm.

The main watershed runs broadly westwards from Great Gable, dividing the headwaters of Ennerdale and Wasdale. The principal fells in this section are Kirk Fell, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Haycock and Caw Fell, followed by the lower Lank Rigg group.

Pillar stands on the southern wall of Ennerdale, three miles from the head of the valley. Two tiers of impressive crags run the full length of the fell from Wind Gap in the west to Black Sail Pass in the east. The top tier fronts the summit ridge, a series of coves being interspersed between the buttresses. Below is a narrow terrace bearing the 'High Level Route' path and then a further wall including Pillar Rock, Raven and Ash Crags and Proud Knott. The lower slopes are planted with a broad belt of conifers, extending across the River Liza to the flanks of High Crag.

The southern flank of Pillar looks down on Mosedale, the more westerly of Wasdale's two main feeder valleys. From Wasdale Head village Pillar appears to stand at the head of Mosedale, but the valley curves out of sight, actually having its source on the slopes of Scoat Fell. The Mosedale slopes cannot compete with those above Ennerdale, although there is outcropping rock, particularly at Wistow Crags, Elliptical Crag and Murl Rigg.

The summit of Pillar is at the western end, immediately above the descent to Wind Gap (2,475 ft). This continues the watershed to Scoat Fell and beyond. A subsidiary spur branches off north west of the summit, passing over White Pike before petering out in the Ennerdale Forest. The eastern ridge of Pillar stretches for about a mile, gradually descending before the final upthrust of Looking Stead. This subsidiary top is listed as a Nuttall in its own right. Beyond is Black Sail Pass, a pedestrian route between Wasdale and the head of Ennerdale. Kirk Fell stands on the other side of the pass.

Pillar (left) from the top of Steeple

Geology

The primary rock types in the summit area are the plagioclase-phyric andesite lavas of the Birker Fell Formation. Bands of volcaniclastic sandstone and andesite sills are also present. Rhyolite and lapilli-tuff appear amongst the northern crags, with outcrops of the Craghouse Member on the north west ridge.[3]

Summit and view

The summit is surprisingly wide and grassy, patches of stones interspersed with short turf. An Ordnance Survey triangulation column stands beside a cairn and windshelter. At the northern edge of the plateau a further wind shelter marks the descent to the mountain rescue stretcher-box and the High Level Route.[2]

The view is excellent with all of the major fells except the Coniston range in sight. Loweswater and Ennerdale Water can be seen, together with Burnmoor Tarn. From the north windshelter is a striking view of the summit of Pillar Rock.[2]

Ascent routes

Pillar is usually climbed from Wasdale Head, by far the nearest road access. The simplest route involves taking the Black Sail Pass, the main foot pass between Wasdale and Ennerdale, to its highest point (around 545 metres), then ascending the mountain's relatively gentle east ridge. Greater interest may be obtained by branching off the ridge (at c. 640 m) onto the "High Level Route", a narrow path which traverses around Pillar's northern crags before approaching the summit from the north, affording good views of Pillar Rock. Many walkers based in Wasdale climb Pillar as part of the Mosedale Horseshoe, a circuit of the skyline one of Wasdale's side valleys, which also includes Scoat Fell, Red Pike and Yewbarrow; Kirk Fell may also optionally be included.

Pillar may also be climbed from Ennerdale. From the YHA youth hostel at Black Sail at the head of the valley, it is a fairly short walk (around 1.5 km and 300 m of ascent) to the summit of Black Sail Pass, from where the same routes can be followed as described above. As Black Sail hostel is five or six miles from the nearest public road, this approach is somewhat impractical to day-trippers (especially since the Ennerdale valley is itself remote from the main tourist centres of the Lake District), though attractive to those staying at the hostel. Alternatively, there are various paths up the mountain from lower down the valley which offer the possibility of closer acquaintance with the crags of the north face.

It is not unfeasible for strong walkers to approach Pillar from the Buttermere valley, which has the advantage of being more accessible than Wasdale from major tourist centres such as Keswick. It is first necessary to ascend and descend the Scarth Gap Pass between Gatesgarth and Black Sail, which then allows an ascent via Black Sail Pass as detailed above. The walk from Gatesgarth to the summit of Pillar and back involves over 1,200 metres (4,000 feet) of ascent, more if the High Level Route is taken.[2][4]

Pillar Rock

Pillar Rock from Robinson's Cairn

Pillar Rock is a large rocky outcrop surrounded by cliffs on the northern side of Pillar. When seen from Ennerdale it appears as a tall and thin column, hence its name. In the early 19th century it became widely known as one of the wonders of the Lake District, chiefly due to it featuring in William Wordsworth's poem The Brothers.[1]

You see yon precipice—it almost looks
Like some vast building made of many crags,
And in the midst is one particular rock
That rises like a column from the vale,
Whence by our Shepherds it is call'd, the Pillar.

Wordsworth, The Brothers

The first recorded ascent of Pillar Rock was made in 1826 by John Atkinson of Croftfoot, Ennerdale. His route, known as the Old West Route, is still classed as a rock climb, albeit one graded Moderate, the second lowest grade on the British system.[5] It is the earliest recorded rock climb in the Lake District (not counting Coleridge's inadvertent descent of Scafell in 1802); subsequent Lakeland climbers also concentrated on Pillar, and by 1872 four different climbing routes had been pioneered on the rock.[1] The easiest route to the top of Pillar Rock is now considered to be the Slab and Notch route, classed as a grade 3 scramble, whilst the classic route is the New West, classed as a Difficult rock climb. By 2007 over 90 climbs had been recorded, including 17 graded E1 or above.[6]

Pillar Rock has a topographic prominence of more than 15 metres, and thus qualifies for the list of "Nuttalls" compiled by John and Anne Nuttall in their book The Mountains of England and Wales (see also Hill lists in the British Isles).[7] It is the only summit on the list that cannot be reached without recourse to rock climbing.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c H.M Kelly & J.H.Doughty. "A Short History of Lakeland Climbing, Part 1", Fell & Rock Climbing Club Journal, 1936-37. Accessed 17 November 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d Alfred Wainwright: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Volume 7 The Western Fells: Westmorland Gazette (1966): ISBN 0-7112-2460-9
  3. ^ British Geological Survey: 1:50,000 series maps, England & Wales Sheet 29: BGS(1999)
  4. ^ Bill Birkett:Complete Lakeland Fells: Collins Willow (1994): ISBN 0-00-713629-3
  5. ^ Stephen Reid. "Rock Climbing in Wild Ennerdale". Accessed 17 November 2006.
  6. ^ UKClimbing.com Databases – "Pillar Rock". Accessed 29 September 2007.
  7. ^ John & Anne Nuttall (1990). The Mountains of England & Wales - Volume 2: England (2nd edition ed.). Milnthorpe, Cumbria: Cicerone. ISBN 1-85284-037-4.
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