Pillar trail from Wasdale Head

Walking trail

This classic walk involves a vertical ascent of over 800m so will test the stamina of all but the very fittest walkers. After leaving Wasdale Head Village Green, you'll quickly come to the Wasdale Head Inn, but stay focused on the task in hand, you can reward yourself with a drink after you've completed the walk.

Summit views

On a clear day it's difficult to believe that the views from Pillar summit can be bettered anywhere else in the Lake District. Take your time at the top and enjoy the views before retracing your steps back to the valley floor.

Yewbarrow from Pillar


Map of Pillar walk


Wasdale Head Village Green, grid ref NY 1868 0852


Starting from the car park at Wasdale Head (NY 1868 0852), walk towards the Wasdale Head Inn and follow the footpath between the Inn and the Barn Door shop. Bear right past the buildings and head NE passing the packhorse bridge and Row Head farm following the right-hand bank of the river.


At a fork in the path at NY 1877 0904, turn left and start your ascent into Mosedale valley. Follow the path as it meanders its way along the valley bottom for 1.7km.



Eventually you will reach the rocky ford crossing Gatherstone Beck at NY 1840 1084. Take care crossing the ford when river levels are high. Follow the zig-zag path up on the other side of the beck; this starts steeply and then the gradient eases once you pass Gatherstone Head. Continue along the path for approximately 1km, keeping Gatherstone Beck down to your right.



You'll then come to the start of the main section of stone pitched footpath (NY 1877 1134). Follow the pitched path up to the top of Black Sail Pass.


At the top of the pass at NY 1917 1144, you will reach a broken, old metal gateway along the remains of the parish boundary fence line. Turn left here (compass bearing 304°) and follow the path towards Pillar for 0.8km.



You will reach a saddle just below a steep ascent at NY 1853 1171 where views open out to the Ennerdale valley below to your right. The path then winds its’ way steeply through crags and boulders for 0.4km before the gradient eases and you find yourself walking for 1.4km along a rising plateau towards Pillar.


Pillar summit at NY 1713 1210. At 892m above sea level, the views from the top can be spectacular. If you are lucky you will be able to see Scotland, the Isle of Man and right across the Lakeland fells.

Scafell Massif


After you've paused to enjoy the views retrace your steps back to Wasdale Head.


Wasdale Head Village Green, grid ref NY 1868 0852

You made it

Following this trail on mobile or tablet? Share your experience.

Pillar trail from Wasdale Head

Contact us

Pillar trail from Wasdale Head

How to get here

Wasdale Head Village Green
By road

Wasdale Head is reached from the main A595 west coast road. From the south, turn right at Holmrook for Santon Bridge and follow signs towards Wasdale Head. From the north, turn left at Gosforth and follow the signs towards Wasdale Head. You'll come to a car park by the village green 150m or so before the Wasdale Head Inn.

Pillar trail from Wasdale Head

Facilities and access

  • Car park at Wasdale Head
  • Public toilets at Wasdale Head
  • Refreshments available at the Wasdale Head Inn