Ennerdale with Pillar on the left and the High Stile Range on the right
Pillar is situated in the western part of the English Lake District (NY171121) between the valleys of Mosedale and Ennerdale. The mountain forms a rugged mass running roughly half the length of the southern aspect of Ennerdale.
At 897m (2927 feet) it is the highest peak west of Great Gable and its name is derived from the magnificent north face: Pillar Rock which is steeped in English climbing history.
Pillar rock has a conical appearance and is made up of two summits: High Man and Low Man. Originally these formed the focal point of the early British climbers but the crags have been further developed over the years to offer superb climbs on impeccable rock at all grades in one of the most imposing and atmospheric settings in England.
Wordsworth described Pillar Rock in his poem The Brothers:
You see yon precipice—it almost looks
Like some vast building made of many crags,
And in the midst is one particular rock
That rises like a column from the vale,
Whence by our Shepherds it is call'd, the Pillar.
View to Great Gable from the start of the Mosedale Horsehoe
The most popular route, easiest and the traditional approach is from Wasdale known as the Mosedale Horseshoe. From Wasdale Head take the path up past Gatherstone Beck to Black Sail Pass and then ascend the ridge easily to the summit. Alternatively take the path right, after Looking Stead, for the scenic High Level Route which traverses to Robinsons Cairn and then to the summit via the Shamrock Traverse and an easy scramble. This route gives wonderful atmospheric views onto Pillar Rock and is the main approach for climbs Pillar Rock. Descend carefully via Wind Gap and then to Mosedale Beck via an unpleasant scree run.
This is the normal access for climbers to Pillar Rock. The approach is 2 hrs from the forestry car park at Bowness Knott (NY109 153). Use of a mountain bike will reduce the walk in by half an hour. (FRCC Guide).
From Gatescarth Farm in Buttermere follow the path over Scarth Gap and descend into Ennerdale past the Black Sail Hut and climb up to Black Sail Pass to join the High Level Route. Descend from the summit down the main ridge back to Black Sail Pass and then either return back via Scarth Gap or more pleasantly follow the path to Great Gable skirting beneath Kirk Fell to the wonderfully named Moses Trod Path. Follow this to towards Honister and then descend back to Gatescarth along the flanks of Fleetworth Pike.
Great Gable and Pillar Route
Pillar can be incorporated in a long days hike from Seathwaite taking in Green Gable, Great Gable, Kirk Fell to Pillar and returning via Wasdale to Styhead Tarn. Route Link
Pillar Rock and the Shamrock Traverse of the High Level Route
No red tape as such but please remember to follow the country code.
Pillar and Wind Gap from Kirk Fell
There is camping at Wasdale, Buttermere and Seathwaite. There are very few facilities in the Ennerdale Valley apart from the Black Sail Hut.
External LinksLake District weatherline
Wasdale Mountain Rescue Website
Maps and Guidebooks
Great Gable and Pillar Route
OS Landranger 89 1:25000
Alfred Wainright: Pictorial Guide to the Western Fells
FRCC Guide Lake District Rock 2003
Scrambles and Easy Climbs in the Lake District. John Sparks and Judith Brown
Scrambles in the Lake District RB Evans