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A High Level Tour Of Ennerdale – Pillar and High Stile

By Ian Tupman   

on August 26, 2018    5/5 (2)

A High Level Tour Of Ennerdale – Pillar and High Stile

Further Details

Route Summary:

Route Summary: A circular route around Ennerdale reaching the summits of eight ‘Wainwrights’

This walk includes the 8 Wainwrights of Pillar, Scoat Fell, Haycock, Red Pike (Buttermere), High Crag (Buttermere), Starling Dodd, Great Borne, High Stile

This walk includes the 9 Hewitts of Great Borne, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Black Crag, High Stile (Grey Crag – High Stile), Haycock, Red Pike (Buttermere), High Crag (Buttermere), Starling Dodd

This walk includes the 10 Nuttalls of Pillar, Scoat Fell, Black Crag, High Stile (Grey Crag – High Stile), Haycock, Red Pike (Buttermere), High Crag (Buttermere), Starling Dodd, Looking Stead (Pillar), Great Borne

Route Start Location: Free car park at west end of Ennerdale Water. Approach from Ennerdale Bridge.

33.36 km 2133 m 10-12 hours best done over 2 days

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Hard Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


The Fox and Hounds at Ennerdale Bridge is a community-owned pub and offers excellent food and local beers. Accommodation is also available.


Some steep and loose ground on well-trodden paths.

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking :

Free public parking is available at GR NY085154

Public Transport:

There is no public transport serving Ennerdale Bridge

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


A High Level Tour Of Ennerdale – Pillar and High Stile Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

A High Level Tour Of Ennerdale – Pillar and High Stile

A strenuous, high level walking route around the Ennerdale valley in Lake District’s Western Fells which can be done in a very long day or over two days with a wild camp or a night at YHA Black Sail. This walk from Ennerdale includes the main summits of High Stile, High Crag and Pillar – and numerous other Wainwrights in bertween!

A High Level Tour Of Ennerdale – Pillar and High Stile Route Description

1 From the car park at grid reference NY085154, pass through the wooden gate and join the track to reach the west end of Ennerdale Water. Turn left and continue on the lakeside path.

Ennerdale Water from the west shore

2 After approximately one kilometre turn left up the track towards How Hall farm. Just before the farm buildings, turn sharp right and climb over the stile into the field. A faint path crosses the field before joining another path from the right. There follows an awkward section between two fields before reaching the narrow road at Whins. Turn right, pass through the farmyard and cross the minor road to join the footpath to Buttermere. This old packhorse route climbs steadily eastwards until it reaches the watershed just before Floutern Tarn. Pass through the gate, turn half right and cross over the wire fence and a wall to make the steep ascent to the summit of Great Borne.

The good path now heads south-east, falling and rising as it passes over the summits of Starling Dodd and Little Dodd before the steep ascent to Red Pike.

Looking back to Starling Dodd and Great Borne

3 We are now on the main ridge between Ennerdale and Buttermere and you are unlikely to be alone as walkers join the route from Buttermere.

From Red Pike continue south-east to reach the summit of High Stile but if bagging Wainwrights, make sure you continue to the summit which is one metre higher than the south top!

4 With excellent views to both left and right, the route continues south-east passing over High Crag and Seat.

High Crag with Fleetwith Pike to the left

5 The view ahead features Haystacks, Wainwright’s favourite fell where his ashes were scattered at Innominate Tarn.

Haystacks (centre) from High Crag

6 Descend to the col at Scarth Gap, turn south and follow the good path down to Black Sail hut.

At the time of writing the Black Sail hostel is open and has an honesty shop selling hot and cold drinks and snacks, a welcome resting place with stunning views to the head of the valley.

Black Sail hostel

7 If you intend to stay the night at the hostel it is best to book in advance as it is very popular.

Leaving the hostel, take the path south-east and cross the bridge over the River Liza.

Green Gable and Great Gable dominate the head of Ennerdale

8 There now follows the steep ascent to Black Sail Pass. Before moving away from the beck on the left, fill up your water containers as there is no potable water on the ridge.

At the top of the pass, turn right and climb easily to the summit of Looking Stead.

Wild camp below the summit of Looking Stead

9 Drop down slightly and ascend on rockier ground before the path crosses more gentle terrain to reach the summit of Pillar – at 892m the highest point on the route and another possible spot for a wild camp with superb views in all directions

Looking north from the summit of Pillar

10 From Pillar, head south-west and descend steeply to the col at Wind Gap. Ignore the path to the left which drops into Mosedale. Continue south-west over Little Scoat Fell to reach the summit of Great Scoat Fell marked by a cairn atop the stone wall. A short diversion to the north will take you to Steeple, another Wainwright, but care is needed on the narrow ridge which leads to it.

Now descend over easy ground and climb to the summit of Haycock.

Approaching Haycock11 From the summit of Haycock and keeping the wall on your right, descend north-west passing Little Gowder Crag. Cross to the other side of the wall, turn north and begin the long descent over uneven ground picking the most economical route to reach the start of a faint path. Continue on the path which descends along the ridge between Deep Gill and Silvercove Beck. The path enters a forestry plantation and crosses Deep Gill by a footbridge.  After crossing the footbridge, turn left and then left again onto a forest track. You are now on the Coast To Coast long distance route. Cross a second bridge and continue through the woods to reach the east end of Ennerdale Water.

Looking west along Ennerdale Water

12 From here the route follows the southern shore of the lake with only a short ascent required at Robin Hood’s Chair, a rock step requiring some simple scrambling. Continue on the wide path to reach the west end of the lake and join the outbound route to return the short distance to the car park.

A flyby of the route can be seen below:


Ian lives In Ardrossan and being only a fifty five minutes ferry crossing to Brodick, the Isle of Arran is his 'back yard'. He knows the mountains of the north of the island well and has walked every permutation of routes over the various summits. He is now spending more time further north exploring the Cairngorms, the far north-west and the mountains of the west of Scotland.

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