Expediton Advice Sought


Just wondered if anyone had done the following summits as a horseshoe - Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar?

Earlier this year I did St Sunday Crag, Faifield and Seat Sandal, starting from the A591 and walking up the Patterdale Bridleway. I first went up Fairfield to find the path across Cofa Pike to St Sunday Crag. Then I doubled back and activated Fairfield. I then descended from Fairfield and climbed Seat Sandal. After the activation I then descended the same way I’d climbed up and joined the Patterdale Bridleway back to the car. I was tired when I got home, but I feel that I had capacity to walk further. (I was a litte heavier then too).

I was looking at the number of activations for LD summits and noticed that Kirk Fell and Pillar haven’t been activated that often. I am thinking about staging a 1 day’s expedition to LD land and thought it would be good to pack in a good number of summits to 1, increase my uniques score and 2, increase my overall score. I haven’t done Pillar, Kirk Fell or Great Gable before.

Looking at the map I propose to park the car at Wasdale Head and then follow the path marked Moses’ Trod before branching off for Great Gable. Next I would drop down off Great Gable and follow the path to Kirk Fell. From Kirk Fell I would then take the path past Looking Stead to Pillar. From Pillar I would then follow the footpath back to Wasdale Head.

Does this seem plausible? I would set off very early in the morning. Has anyone got any comments regarding my choice of paths as the contours on the map seem awfully close together at some points? I don’t mind a bit of exposure!

Would it be better to do the summits in a clockwise circle rather than anti clockwise as above?

73 and thanks for any comments/input in advance.


In reply to M0CGH:
Hi Colin
Anquet says 7.5miles 1500m ascent about 5hours walking.
Possible but certainly not by me hi :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG

In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin, Not done all 3 summits in one go, but individualy it was a big slog up Great Cable when I did it, As for Pillar not to bad of a walk, but never done Kirk Fell, Ask Rob g4rqj about last time me and m3dnc did it, We was lost on a summit, how can one get lost if you been on a summit under clag you know what its like, So if I was to do the 3, I would do Pillar - Kirk and Great Cable, And have a beer in the the head and camp over night. Then go and do Scarfell or yewbarrow the next day, Then travel back home.
Steve m0sgb,

In reply to M0CGH:
I did all three summits once but I started from the Honister Pass side which probably saves 300m+ of ascent (& descent). I did Pillar first, then Kirk Fell via the Black Sail Pass & finally Gt Gable & back to the slate mine via the very obvious path. I believe that 24 points gave me M.G. status.

In reply to G1INK:

That route is in effect the southern half of the Ennerdale Horseshoe, which I last did in pre-SOTA days, the usual horseshoe starts at Red Pike and takes in High Stile LD-012 before heading for Gable, and it needs you to be a strong walker!

In my opinion it is better to gain height relatively painlessly at the start of a big day, and I would choose to follow the path to Sty Head and follow a traversing path that I remember above the tarn to intersect Aaron Slack, then up and tackle Gable from Windy Gap, a long way around but mostly easy angled. Alternatively head straight up Gable from Sty Head, more direct but steeper and rougher. I would also back track from Pillar and descend Black Sail Pass but if you have spare energy take in Steeple and the other Red Pike for the sheer pleasure of it - no points but a lot of point!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:
Hello Brian I am following all this good advice because Joan my wife and myself are going up to LD land for a week at the begining of September and hope to active one or two summits. keep the info coming All the best Geoff G6MZX


Like Steve, I did these three together but in the reverse order with Great Gable first. Some comments:

  1. I would suggest avoiding going over Green Gable. It’s more of a climb than it looks - and it’s wasted energy.
  2. The path from the col up to Kirk Fell is easy to miss in cloud.
  3. There is a vertical slab when descending Kirk Fell Crags to Black Sail Pass. Be careful. A slip could prove very nasty as it’s half way down the steep bit.
  4. I had intending overnighting on the ascent of High Stile before completing the round of the six summits the following day (LD-020 and LD-021) but it proved too much for me. I set up camp where I fell (as it were). The only time tiredness has ever got the better of me.
  5. The walk back from Black Sail to Honister isn’t pathless, but I wouldn’t like to do it in poor visibility. Many of the green dotted lines on the 25000 map don’t exist. Head for the tourist route up from Honister.

I hope the comments are useful.

GL, Richard

Hi all,

Thanks for all the info, I will study the map again tomorrow and get a better visual picture. Although I had done a few summits before SOTA (School trip to Ireland), it is SOTA that has really got me into mountain walking. All the comments as posted above are a great help and it will really help in planning the trip.

I won’t have a free weekend until early September, so that is when I’m hoping to attempt the expedition (If I manage it ok, I could then do it in Winter Bonus period in early 2009 :-))

Me and the XYL attempted High Stile one winter and had to turn back as the snow was impossible to pass without - I imagine- crampons. I really need to tick this one off as it is now the only summit I’ve attempted that’s beaten me!

73 and thanks again for the above comments.


Hi Colin
If you’re on Facebook. Look at the group “I Love the Lake District” There’s a video of me doing Pillar and Kirk Fell.
from Charlie