Wasdale Head - Easter 2018
Good Friday, 30 March

The Day St Olaf's Ascent Sty Head Descent Return Evening Read Me

It's a Sty Head Day!

The sky looked overcast, so while many went on Gavin's circular walk to Illgill Head and Miterdale, I thought that the Illgill Head summit might be covered in cloud. In the event the cloud hung on for an hour or two, then lifted. Anyhow, I thought I might head up the valley of the Lingmell Beck towards Sty Head. I could always retrace steps if the low cloud persisted.

From Sty Head there is a nice broad-side view of the Scafell Pike Massif.
Scafell is the "mild hump" on the skyline.

This was to be a relaxing day (and weather wise a cautious day), allowing me to absorb a bit more of the rocky ambience of the Lakes. Of course, there were good views and photographic opportunities all round, as was to be expected!

Saint Olaf's Church

On the first "leg" of the walk was Saint Olaf's Church, reputedly the smallest church in England. Well, there you are. Superlatives - true or untrue - are a treasure trove for those extolling the virtues of their particular neck of the woods or mountains! The church apparently harks back to about 1550 and the beams are supposed to be from Viking long ships. Anyway, churches reflect a lot of a community's history, and Saint Olaf's was no exception. "Olaf" is a Nordic name and suggests that in ages past, people from Scandinavia came to these parts, although probably not as tourists.

Clouds are still on the top of Illgill Head ...

... and look quite heavy in the direction of Sty Head.

Suddenly one stumbles on the church.
It looks like a farm building, but it's the bell that gives it away.

The door is open, as is the case with many churches in "remote" places.
The remoter a place is, the more trusting are the locals.

The beams are supposed to be from Viking long boats.

True or not, the roof is interesting in its simplicity.

On leaving the church, I see that the mist is still holding Illgill Head in its "grip".

The Wasdale Head Inn nestles beneath Yewbarrow which is marginally lower than Illgill Head.

Here is a last look at Illgill Head and Wast Water before heading up to Sty Head.


The ascent, with its "scrambly" stony path, was good practice for Lakeland walking. The sound of boots treading upon slate is familiar to all fell walkers. Views of Yewbarrow - in the west - and Lingmell - ahead to one side - dominated the scene.

This is Yewbarrow, nestling beneath which one can just make out
the Wasdale Head Inn and the self-catering block.

Heading upwards towards Sty Head, it seems as if the cloud and mist were thickening
around Lingmell Fell and the Scafell Pike massif ...

... while Yewbarrow has definitely thrown off its cloudy mantle.

Heading onwards and upwards there is evidence that weather conditions can change rapidly in mountainous regions. The cloud seems be lifting very quickly from Lingmell, revealing a blanket of snow, much of which had fallen overnight.

Looking back, I can see that the sun has come ...

... over Yewbarrow and Wasdale Head.

Sty Head

Sty Head Tarn and a side-on view of the Scafell Pike massif are features of Sty Head itself. There were possibilities to go on to the apparently picturesque Sprinkling Tarn and also to the start of the clearly visible Corridor Route leading on to Scafell Pike itself. With the weather still a tad dubious and the wind making itself felt, I had a look round and then ambled slowly back into Wasdale.

This is Sty Head Tarn, looking north west.
The path past the tarn goes on to Seathwaite, the Allerdale Ramble and eventually to Borrowdale, which are all in the more visited eastern half of the Lakes.
Sty Head marks one of the divides between the eastern and western halves of the Lakes.

In the view from Sty Head towards the Scafell Pike Massif, the "Stretcher Box" adds a touch of realism, for mountains can sometimes be life-challenging!

There weather is changing very quickly again ...

... as the clouds gathering over Seathwaite (well beyond the tarn) show.

Stretcher Box and Scafell Pike Massif.

From Sty Head there is a nice broad-side view of the Scafell Pike Massif.
Scafell is the "mild hump" in the middle of the "skyline ridge".


On Sty Head, the weather started to look a tad dicey. So further exploration to Sprinkling Tarn or towards Taylor's Force and Seathwaite was - unfortunately - probably not a good idea. Thus, I started my descent, seeing the views, now cloudy, but in reverse. At least, I was attuning my system to Lakeland conditions.

Here's a sideways view of Scafell Pike and the other peaks "in attendance".

Cloud and mist were showing a fondness for the top of Yewbarrow.
The green hump to the right of centre on the side of the path
is, I think, called "Bursting Knott". I wonder why.

Bursting Knott looms up ahead on the right of the picture, which means to the left of the path.
Cloud and mist are still showing a distinct fondness for Yewbarrow.

Bursting Knott is on the left and the lower slope of Great Gable is on the right.

Another view of the snow-covered Scafell Pike Massif.

Suddenly Yewbarrow's mist disappears ...

...and this "teenage" sheep appears.

Other sheep are munching grass.
The backdrop to all this munching is Illgill Head and Wast Water.
Clouds and mist are abroad.

Return via Saint Olaf's Church

Saint Olaf's Church was on my route, so I thought I'd have another look in, because one often sees something new when one revisits historical places like churches. Of course, the church is within a "stone's throw" of the Wasdale Inn, and I was not pushed for time, especially after having reached Wasdale, whatever changes the weather might have in store for the evening.

In the small churchyard I espied this gravestone. This person died on Scafell Pike at the untimely age of only 19, his life before him. The meaning is unclear, but "Fell Asleep" might be interpreted as "succumbed to a fatal accident". Obviously, his death must have been a shock, not only to his family, but probably to the whole of the small, close-knit community.

I go into, the church again ...

... and absorb the tranquillity of this time-honoured place.

Outside, from the churchyard, one can see
Illgill Head, now cloudless, and the lower slopes of Yewbarrow. Wasdale Inn is not far.


Tonight, I had an "earlyish" meal, for I knew that if Gavin was leading a walk, his followers would be back just before sunset. Indeed, it was a while before Gavin's party got back, but I looked in to Ritson's Bar once it appeared that everyone might actually have returned.

The next day was Saturday and high winds and low cloud were forecast. In the evening I met two lads who had come to Wasdale Head just for the Saturday, in order to go up Scafell Pike. I wonder how they would fare. Locals can adjust their "walking days" to the weather. Visitors cannot, alas, choose the weather like a commodity.