Whin Rigg walk

Wasdale Screes

Southern Lake District

Route: Whin Rigg and Illgill Head

Area: Southern Lake District

Date of walk: 17th August 2015

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 10.3 miles

Weather: Mostly sunny

We parked on the shore of Wastwater at the end of the road from Gosforth, though the walk could be started from anywhere along the lakeside. The lake was like a millpond as we started out and the initial section of the walk which took us round the foot of the lake was worth the journey in itself

But even better things were to come. Having rounded the lake and walked away from it for a while we started the ascent just before Greathall Gill – to start the climb before this point would be suicidal and as Wainwright puts it ‘this is one fellside that walkers can write off at a glance as having no access for them’. Our route avoided these horrors and took us steeply but safely up the fellside until we eventually emerged onto the summit ridge

From the summit cairn on Whin Rigg we could see the wide path along the ridge leading to Illgill Head. We took a narrower path to the left, which hugs the side of the crags more closely and gives thrilling views down the chasms and precipices which plunge into Wast Water. This was an awesome section of the walk and I’d recommend anyone walking this ridge to go the way we did, instead of following the main path which misses these incredible views

The path back down to the valley from Illgill Head was very easy, and having reached the head of the lake we returned to the start along the roadside. There’s no way of avoiding the road but this is no chore in such wonderful surroundings. Note that the OS map shows a path along the other shore along the foot of Whin Rigg and Illgill Head but take it from me it’s not a practical option – I tried it once but the massive boulders make it a nightmarish walk – never again

As we walked along the road back to the car we looked across the lake to the fearsome face of the fells, which seen from here betray no sign of the grassy stroll along the top of them. It had been a memorable walk

For other walks here, visit my Find Walks page and enter the name in the ‘Search site’ box

Click on the icon below for the route map (subscribers to OS Maps can view detailed maps of the route, visualise it in aerial 3D, and download the GPX file. Non-subscribers will see a base map)

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