Pillar and Ennerdale water

Pillar, with Crag Fell and Ennerdale Water in distance, viewed from Haystacks

Height:  2927 feet above sea level.

Volume: Book 7 (The Western Fells).

Date climbed: First visit: 31st May 2010 (walk 16). Second visit: 6th September 2018 (walk 152b).

Bagged as numberFirst round: 56 of 330. [ << Grisedale Pike (55)   (57) Sale Fell >> ]

Rock climbers near the summit of High Man (Pillar Rock)

Rock climbers near the summit of High Man (Pillar Rock)

Second round: 166 of 330. [ << Scoat Fell (165)  (167) Bigland Barrow >> ]

Route of ascent and descentFirst visit: I did not do it by the method pictured here… I ascended from Gatesgarth, via Scarth Gap, the Liza Memorial Footbridge, Pillar Cove, the High Level Route and Shamrock Traverse (see pages 13-14 of Wainwright’s chapter).  Descended to Black Sail Pass, Black Sail YHA and back over Scarth Gap to Buttermere village.

Second visit: Came in along the ridge from Scoat Fell. Left for Buttermere as before.

What Mr Wainwright says (from page 2 of his chapter): “Pillar… far from being a spire of slender proportions, is a rugged mass broadly based on half the length of Ennerdale, a series of craggy buttresses supporting the ridge high above the wild north face, and the summit itself, far from being pointed, is wide and flat.

“The name of the fell therefore clearly derives from a conspicuous feature on the north face directly below the top, the most handsome crag in Lakeland, originally known as Pillar Stone and now as Pillar Rock. The Rock, despite a remote and lonely situation, had a well-established local notoriety and fame long before tourists called wider attention to it, and an object of such unique appearance simply had to be given a descriptive name… The Pillar was an inspiration of shepherds. Men of letters could not have chosen better.”

Pillar summit, sheep

Sheep enjoy the fact that the summit of Pillar is like a bowling green, 2,927 feet up.

What I say: At the time I first did Pillar I said that I considered it the hardest single ascent of thpse I had done up to that point, indeed, probably the hardest walk of all so far notwithstanding the fact I bagged only one fell on it. The climb up from the Liza footbridge to the summit was a very steep climb, but I am glad I used the route.  would guess that 90% or more people who climb Pillar never see Pillar Rock, at least not properly, yet this is surely a candidate for being the finest crag in England.

Looking down Ennerdale Water, to Pillar

Looking down Ennerdale Water, to Pillar. Picture taken on walk 43a.

The views of it all the way up Pillar Cove, from below, and then from above as I climbed up Shamrock Traverse, were extraordinary. Indeed, Shamrock Traverse is named by Wainwright at the end of The Western Fells as one of the ‘six best places for a fellwalker to be (other than summits) because of their exciting situations, and which can be reached without danger’, and there can be few other places in the country which put the average ordinary bloke, like me, in such a dramatic position. But you really have to make an effort to get there.

On the rest of my first visit, and the second time round, the fell risked being a bit of an anti-climax: the view is good, but the top is too flat to get the full effect. In fact, as the photo of the sheep suggests, it’s an absolute bowling green compared to the rest of the fell. But the whole thing is a rugged beast and definitely one of the District’s big hitters. For Pillar Rock alone it deserves top marks.

[ << Pike o’Stickle      Place Fell >> ]

One Response to “Pillar”

  1. […] Walk 152b: Steeple to Pillar (14 miles: Steeple, Scoat Fell and Pillar) […]

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