Outline of Route
Overbeck Bridge - Yewbarrow - Red Pike - Scoat Fell - Steeple - Scoat Fell - Haycock - Seatallan - Middle Fell - Greenside - Overbeck Bridge (Grid ref. NY 168068)
Total Distance 10.7 miles, Total Ascent 5100 feet, Equivalent Distance 21.0 miles
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Details of Route
The approach to Wasdale is always striking with the fells looking majestic beyond Wastwater (photo). There is (free) parking space in a small area of National Trust land on the left of the road to Wasdale Head, just after Overbeck Bridge. It is worth walking down to the lake for views of the Scafells (photo), the Wastwater Screes (photo), and Yewbarrow (photo). Leave this parking area by a footpath at the back and head towards the prominent wall leading up the ridge of Yewbarrow. Go through the gate and follow the path up, alongside the wall. Continue along this path as it bears left away from the wall as it approaches the rocky face of Bell Rib (photo). Avoid the path that goes below Dropping Crag to Dore Head and also the one which leads to the scree coming down beside Dropping Crag, though this is a reasonable way up. The better path continues on the right of this scree and eventually crosses it higher up. Having by-passed Bell Rib regain the main ridge, and, perhaps after a visit to the top of Bell Rib, continue to the top. There are several false summits on the way but the long summit ridge of Yewbarrow will be reached and the cairn at the true top.
Continue along the ridge to the top of Stirrup Crag (photo) where there are good views of Mosedale (photo) and the final summit of this walk, Middle Fell (photo). There is now a very steep, and in places very awkward, descent to Dore Head (photo). I've found the easiest (this is a relative term) going, mostly on the left of the ridge - at a certain point on the right, one path peters out at a sheer drop. It is a safe descent for the walker, even if it is somewhat character-building. The path ahead from Dore Head, to Red Pike, is straightforward, but what appears to be the summit for the first part of the route is, in fact, a cairn at the edge of a plateau below the true summit. There is a good view of Seatallan from here photo. It is near this cairn that the famous "Chair" may be found. On my recent visit, once again, I failed to find it, or perhaps failed to recognise it. I have sat upon it in the past and waymarked something like it for the benefit of those using GPS, but what I found recently does not have the flat seat that I remember.
Having reached the summit of Red Pike more of the view around Mosedale towards Black Crag and Pillar opens up. Continue by the escarpment down to the col and then make a beeline towards the summit of Scoat Fell. The obvious path bears right towards Black Crag. This should be avoided and a route found over the boulders which litter the top of Scoat Fell. The summit cairn is found to the north of the summit wall. It is actually called Little Scoat Fell, but is higher than Great Scoat Fell which we traverse later. Head to the north of this summit plateau and find the clear path along a little ridge to Steeple (photo). Here the views to the north and west are uninterrupted and superb. It gives one the feeling, as do the summits of Catstye Cam and Kidsty Pike, of being on top of the world.
Retrace your steps to Scoat Fell but bypass the summit to the right and head roughly westwards, along by the wall, across Great Scoat Fell, down to the col and up, still by the wall to the summit of Haycock (photo). Head south towards Seatallan, and a cairn at the southern end of Haycock's summit. Just before reaching the cairn, bear right down a moderately steep, but easy, grassy slope (photo). There are two or three cairns on the way down but this grassy strip is easy to follow. At the bottom there is a cairn on top of a large boulder indicating the end of the descent. The ground towards Seatallan from here is rough, undulating and often boggy (photo). From here there is no path but in reasonable weather route-finding is easy. In bad visibility one needs to be adept with map and compass or (adequately charged) GPS. Apart from some unusual rectangular corrugated iron bins, apparently for farm litter, there is only one thing of note on this stretch - a large flat stone, which would serve as a table for a buffet lunch, or as a bench on which to sit and contemplate the futility of life. As one approaches Seatallan one of several paths will lead on to the ascent up the main ridge to the summit with its trig. point and tumulus. The views to the west and south from here are excellent.
Return to the ridge you have ascended and follow it down, on the right hand side, gradually bearing right for the col towards Middle Fell. There is an eruption of rocky outcrops on Middle Fell and while ascending the North ridge it appears, because of its width and uneven surface not to be a ridge at all. There are paths but they are easily lost and it is of no consequence. Just keep going up and the summit will be reached. The amount of ascent on this route is deceptively large, and, now approaching 5000 feet overall, one may well feel one's legs complaining on this final climb. The summit is well worth the visit, however, as the view of the Wastwater screes is unmatched.
Head southwest from the summit along the moderately-used and easy-to-follow path. This leads to another of those rectangular bins positioned just above the level of the bracken. From here there is a clear grassy swathe cut through the bracken leading to the hamlet of Greendale - there is no Postman Pat here, his inspirational valley is Longsleddale. Bear left along the road towards Wastwater, and left again at the junction to return (photo) to Overbeck Bridge.
Rev. 18 July 2012