…Caw, Stickle Pike and more!
Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and More – Route Introduction
Walna Scar is the highest of all of Alfred Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland. This hike links Walna Scar to 9 other outlying fells in the south of the Lake District National Park over a distance of 26km. This route card is a fantastic option for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.
Adventurer Nic walked this route on Wednesday 24th June 2020. These were Outlier numbers 39 to 48 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these outlying fells too.
Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and More – Route Stats
Fells: Great Stickle (305m), Dunnerdale Fells (280m), Tarn Hill (313m), Stickle Pike (375m), a nameless summit 1183′ (361m), The Knott (284m), Caw (529m), Pikes (469m), Green Pikes (420m) and Walna Scar (621m)
Total Distance: 26.1km / 16.22miles
Total Ascent: 1,090m / 3,576ft
Approx Walk Time: 10 hours
Grid Reference Start: SD 201917
Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and More – Route Report
The Lead Up
A few days earlier we’d hiked the Bannisdale Horseshoe and Knipescar Common, two great walks on the far eastern edge of the Lake District National Park. After a couple of days rest we headed to Ulpha to take on another big day in the hills.
James and I met our good friend Laura in the car park on the road between Ulpha and Stonestar. Laura is a postal worker in the Windermere post office but was making the most of her week off with some hiking.
The ascent was straight forward as there was a clear path which led through thick bracken right from the edge of the small car park virtually to the summit of our first Outlying Fell of the day – Great Stickle.
The ground was firm underfoot and the gradient wasn’t too steep. The view up to the crags ahead was beautiful.
I love the colour of bracken in June and there seemed to be a sea of green in every direction we turned.
We looked back and could pick out the summit of Whitfell quite clearly as we’d hiked that as part of our extended circuit of Devoke Water previously.
As the trail zigzagged gently through the ferns towards Great Stickle, we were chatting away intently. It was one of those ascents that passed quickly due to great conversation.
The Summit – Great Stickle
A large cairn marked the summit of great Stickle, five metres south-west of a trig pillar. From here we were treated to an excellent, albeit hazy, view down to Duddon Sands.
I also loved the view to the other side, which featured Stickle Pike with a backdrop of higher Lake District mountains. I had the feeling this was going to be a great hill day.
The Summit – Dunnerdale Fells
From Great Stickle we pondered over which route to take to Dunnerdale Fells. We followed a series of small interconnecting paths through the bracken to the edge of this pretty tarn which was teeming with wildlife.
The ground was firm enough as we were in the midst of a heatwave, but I would imagine this area could be very slushy in poor weather.
A very modest cairn of two rocks marked the summit of Dunnerdale Fells.
The Summit – Tarn Hill
From Dunnerdale Fells we headed towards Tarn Hill, weaving around ponds and through bracken, avoiding the crags.
I’m sure the size of the cairn on Tarn Hill made the two stones on Dunnerdale Fells feel woefully inadequate.
The view from here, overlooking a tarn (no surprises there) towards Buck Barrow and Whitefell was stunning.
But it couldn’t compete with the view to the other side. Stickle Pike looked so grand up ahead. We were keen to press on.
The Summit – Stickle Pike
We left the summit of Tarn Hill to the north, all the while Stickle Pike was getting closer and closer. It looked far bigger than its lowly 375m height tag!
We aimed for the col between the two fells and followed another path through bracken which wound up and over steeper, rockier ground to the summit. And boy was it a handsome summit.
Hiking fells like this is one of the reasons I love being a peak bagger. I’d never heard of Stickle Pike prior to walking the Outlying Fells of Lakeland but it’s such a fantastic hill and an absolute must for lovers of Lakeland.
We settled down to eat an early lunch at 11:30 am. Laura put us both to shame with her lovely, fresh prawn salad while James and I picked the mould off the bread of our peanut butter sandwiches!
At this point in the walk we were so happy. We already had four of the ten fells under our belts but Walna Scar seemed a long way away. We were under no illusions we would be back at the car at tea time. Thank goodness for the late sunsets at this time of year!
From our summit vantage point we took the opportunity to scout out the route ahead, looking across Stickle Tarn to the junction at Kiln Bank Cross and on to our next Outlying Fells.
The Nameless Summit – 1183′
We descended to the car park at Kiln Bank Cross and followed the trail to the east, passing a cave in the crag.
From there we took a left fork in the trail, which traversed up the western side of Raven’s Crag.
This trail led us straight to the nameless summit which Alfred Wainwright, in his book The Outlying Fells of Lakeland, fondly referred to as – nameless summit 1183′.
This fell reminded me how must I enjoy bagging the hills that are close to the sea. You get a completely different perspective to the land locked fells in the centre of the Lake District. On a hot day like this was it almost felt like we were abroad!
It felt unnatural to be walking away from Caw, the 529m hill looming behind me in the photo below, but first we needed to lose some height to bag The Knott, at 284m.
The Summit – The Knott
So we continued south along the ridge.
It was an undulating route, passing over a couple of other tops. Whitfell and Buck Barrow made for an awesome backdrop.
We made it to the top of The Knott and admired our next objective, Caw.
The Coniston Fells looked fearsome from this angle. We knew we’d later have to ascend a good chunk of that to reach Walna Scar.
The view to Great Stickle, our first Outlier of the day was also stunning.
And of course we were even closer to the sea.
Re-fuelling once more, we had a good giggle during a well earned rest by the summit cairn of The Knott.
The Summit – Caw
We retraced our steps for 300m before turning right along the trail, heading north-east towards Jackson Ground on the map.
This part of the trail was really good underfoot so we made quick progress. We crossed Long Mire Beck and followed the path up to the highest point of the pass before noticing some cairns to the right of the trail. We peeled off the trail and followed the cairns to the foot of Caw, where a steep ascent up the south face was required for 150m.
Around 20m from the summit, an older gentleman passed us with remarkable pace and flexibility. We caught up with him on the summit.
He was a local to south Cumbria, living in Barrow-in-Furness, and after a short chat he ventured off towards his next hill of the day – White Maiden.
The views were simply incredible.
A few friends had recommended Caw as their favourite Outlying Fell of Lakeland so my expectations were high and the views certainly didn’t disappoint!
There were OUTSTANDING views to the highest peaks of the Lake District including Scafell Pike, Pillar, Great End and on to Esk Pike, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, Pike O’Blisco and all the Coniston fells – Great Carrs, Swirl How, Dow Crag, Coniston Old Man. In the foreground – Harter Fell and Hard Knott also stood out.
The views off to the other side were striking for different reasons. A sea view and then Black Combe and a number of other familiar outliers from trips gone by. What a treat.
The Summit – Pikes
Laura decided to leave us at this point, so made her own way back to the car from Caw. James and I continued on, heading north-east towards Pikes.
The uninterrupted views of the Lake District giants were heavenly.
It seemed like it was mostly downhill towards Pikes, and there were now only two summits between us and Walna Scar.
A rocky outcrop marked the summit of Pikes.
The Summit – Green Pikes
The amble across to Green Pikes was trouble-free and joyous.
We were now heading directly towards the big mountains in distance and it was difficult to concentrate on where we were putting our feet because of the distraction of the awesome scenery.
Green Pikes was my favourite place to photograph of the day. There is no cairn on the summit but the views are out of this world.
The Summit – Walna Scar
And just like that we had one Outlying Fell remaining! Walna Scar here we come.
We descended off Green Pikes and headed for the wide track known as Walna Scar Road. The path led us past a series of old ruined quarry buildings. What awesome views they’d have if you could stay in them I pondered.
The track wound its way up Walna Scar Side and to a crossroads at the col between Walna Scar and Brown Pike. We turned right to head south up and onto the summit.
The top was marked by a cairn and overlooked what appeared to be the full length of Coniston Water.
Looking back, the zigzag path up Brown Pike and on to Dow Crag was so clear as visibility was great.
We celebrated the milestone, as we were now 40% through Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland and we’d already ticked off the two highest fells – Walna Scar and Black Combe.
The Long Descent of Walna Scar
Thinking about the long walk back to the car, we left the summit and retraced our steps back to the ruined quarry buildings, before continuing through a gate down Walna Scar Road, heading north-west towards the base of the valley, which contained the Tarn Beck and the village of Seathwaite. We filled our water bottles from the stream and couldn’t quite quench our thirst on what felt like the hottest day of the year so far.
We reached the road at the bottom and walked along it for almost 2km under the blissful shade of the large trees that lined the street. The view to Harter Fell from the valley was beautiful, surrounded by woodland and quintessentially English dry stone walls.
Another Ascent Before Finishing the Walk
We joined a path which led gently uphill back towards the Kiln Bank Cross car park for around 3.5km.
As we regained 200m of height the views opened up behind us once more.
By this point we were very tired and a bit low on energy so some high calorie sugary snacks were on the menu to perk us up.
We made it back to Kiln Bank Cross car park and made a beeline for Stickle Tarn. From there we followed the trail beside Hare Hall Beck, laughing as we spotted two Herdwick sheep in the middle of a swampy tarn having a cool down.
We were back on the bracken lined trails for the remainder of the walk, bypassing Great Stickle and picking up the original route of ascent which led these two weary hikers back to the car.
Wrapping Up our hike up Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and Friends
What a day! 26km and over 1,000m of ascent on the hottest day of the year probably wasn’t the best idea but the views certainly warranted completing this walk on a clear day.
Our next outing would be Cold Fell and Ponsonby Fell in the western Lake District.
About the Author
Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.