The Other Wasdale Horseshoe

Walk date – 7th May 2020

Distance – 6 miles

Weather – warm and sunny to Wasdale Pike, with rain showers from then on.


It was a lovely sunny late morning when we set off for our afternoon walk, the sun was blazing down with just a gentle breeze keeping the temperature to a comfortable level. Today we decided to use one of the walks in AW’s ‘The Outlying Fells of Lakeland’, the Wasdale Horseshoe, not to be confused with the more well known Wasdale around Wast Water. This Wasdale has no grand mountains, just grassy rolling hills with gentle gradients, well mostly! The terrain is rough and tussocky, it is desolate and largely featureless and, for the most part, very, very boggy. This isn’t somewhere you would probably choose to walk after spells of wet weather but, given the long dry spell we’ve been having. we were fairly sure that much of the permanently wet and/or boggy terrain would have dried out sufficiently well enough not to create any problems, and it didn’t. It was a shame that from Wasdale Pike back down to the derelict buildings of Wasdale Head Farm we were subjected to several rain showers, which began suddenly and ended just as suddenly, but we ended our walk, just as we had started it, in glorious sunshine and by the time we were back at the car our showerproofs were drying out nicely.


Lay-by on A6 at Shap Summit – Whatshaw Common – Wasdale Mouth – Little Yarlside – Great Yarlside – Wasdale Pike – Wasdale Head Farm – Wasdale Beck – Lay-by on A6 at Shap Summit

A short walk down from the lay-by brings us to the footpath sign beside this gate. J has spotted that one of the horizontal spars has come adrift so he hunts round for a large enough stone and hammers it back into position. The general condition of the gate leaves a lot to be desired but J’s spot of D.I.Y. will help to keep it together for a while. We close the gate and head off up the rough track …..

….. and a little further on we pause and take a look back where a Gist truck makes its way down the A6 towards Shap, and clouds of dust are billowing around the Shap Pink Quarry as lorries are loaded with their heavy cargoes, life goes on regardless.

A look back along the pathway as it reaches another track coming up from the A6 …..

….. the view to our right at the junction and …..

….. the view to our left where the path ends at a gate across the road from another lay-by on the A6. We could have started our walk from there too.

We take the right hand turn at the junction and begin the steady walk over Whatshaw Common with a look back now and again over towards the Shap Quarry where lorries are constantly arriving and departing.

The view ahead as we continue over Whatshaw Common where, at the moment, there’s not much to see other than the fence.

Gradually neighbouring fell tops begin to appear as the ground ahead dips a little.

Looking back at our route over Whatshaw Common, I think I mentioned it was rough and featureless terrain!

Eventually Little Yarlside and Great Yarlside, both currently enjoying a sunny spell, come into view over to the left of the shot.

Dropping down towards Wasdale Mouth now with Little Yarlside immediately below us, with Great Yarlside just behind it. We stood for a few moments just enjoying the sunshine, the silence and the view. The Shap fells can often look very grey and dismal as you drive by them on the A6 but today they had a much different look, a quiet charm might best describe them today.

Looking towards Crookdale Head from a little further along.

A superb view into Crookdale as we curve around the wall and make our way towards Wasdale Mouth.

Directly across Crookdale is Robin Hood, one of the fell tops forming part of the Crookdale Horseshoe and further along  …..

….. is Lord’s Seat with Crookdale Beck meandering gently along below it.

Approaching Wasdale Mouth below Little Yarlside. No bogginess today but the ground was full of dried out and very springy moss which takes its toll on the legs despite the flatness of the ground. It was preferable to being knee deep in wet gunge though.

Looking ahead as we begin the steep climb up Little Yarlside which requires a lot more effort than we have had to put in so far. Its a climb of about 300′ so it doesn’t last very long but it does give the cardio-vascular system a workout, especially on a warm day like this.

Over to our right is Wasdale …..

….. and to our left is Crookdale.

A longer view along Crookdale from just a little higher up.

Another view of Wasdale, and Wasdale Beck, from the summit of Little Yarlside. J found a couple of stones which may or may not have marked the summit but they were very insignificant so I didn’t bother with a photo.

Down from Little Yarlside now and crossing the little col between it and Great Yarlside. The climb to Great Yarlside is not as steep as its next door neighbour and it has a few crags and outcrops which makes our view a little more interesting.

As ever, there is always just one more bit of up before you can actually set foot on the top but it doesn’t amount to much really. As soon as we came into view we were keenly observed by the solitary sheep on watch up there on the skyline.

A  look back across Crookdale from just below the crest of the rise. Cloud is beginning to build and mutes the sunlight every so often.

Looking back along our route so far, Little Yarlside just below us and beyond that are the two humps of Whatshaw Common. Lots of grass, a very long wall and not a lot to look at but if you’re not too bothered by any of that and just want a little solitude and peace you’ll find it in spades around here.

Hang on a minute though, J notices movement and spots a rare species walking along in the direction of Wasdale Pike. Out come the binoculars and he identifies it as a freedom loving biped of the genus Homo Sapiens. We haven’t seen one of those on our walks lately so out comes the camera and I zoom in on maximum just to prove we’ve seen one. A like minded soul out and about enjoying the weather and freedom, good on yer mate!

We carried on to the gate at the wall corner and crossed  over to the other side of the wall to Great Yarlside summit from where I took this view looking in the general direction of Wasdale Pike.

I wandered over to the area above Yarlside Crags for this view along pretty much the whole length of Crookdale and …..

….. and, on the other side of the wall, a view of the valley of  Wasdale.

Back over the fence now so we follow the broad track taking us towards a distant Wasdale Pike.

A muted view of some of the far eastern fells around Haweswater with Harter Fell over on the left, followed by Branstree, its long wall  dropping down to the Gatescarth Pass clearly visible, then Selside Pike. Only the merest glimpses of the High Street fells on the skyline behind are on view.

Fleeces went on as we walked on towards Wasdale Pike, a large bank of cloud took up position in front of the sun and the temperature dropped accordingly, still staying sunny ahead of us though.

Another look over to our left to Seat Robert and the fells above Wet Sleddale where were walking a couple of weeks ago.

High Raise, on the centre skyline, peeping up above the Old Corpse Road between Selside Pike and Swindale Common.

The cairn on Wasdale Pike. The clouds have joined forces and the first few drops of rain begin to fall.

From Wasdale Pike a glimpse of Wet Sleddale reservoir and the village of Shap beyond it. Sleddale Hall (Uncle Monty’s country cottage) can be seen on the fellside to the left of the shot.

From Wasdale Pike a look back from where we came. The rain kept coming so I put the camera away until the weather improved. The view ahead of us as we made our way down was very similar to that in the preceding shot, lots of brown heather, pale grasses, and a constant view of Shap Quarry so there wasn’t much to get excited about anyway.

Eventually the abandoned farm at Wasdale Head appears below us so I give the lens a quick wipe to remove the rain drops and take a quick shot.

Approaching the farm building with the rain still splattering down on our showerproofs …..

….. and another quick lens wipe for this shot of the ruined outbuildings as we passed by.

We leave the farm via its old cart track, its still chucking it down.

Further along the cart track and the rain has slowed to an occasional pitter patter. More lens wiping for a look back towards the farm and the communications mast on Long Fell. Shap Quarry sits below Long Fell out of shot on the right.

We came across the ruins of this old building as we passed alongside the tree plantation but there is no indication of it on the OS map, perhaps they don’t even know its there. It must be of some significance for it to have been left in situ when the trees were planted but what it once was I have no idea.

There was hardly any water in Wasdale Beck so we had no difficulty in getting across at this point. From here we walked over to the fence line for a short uphill climb to the access gate for the forestry workers.

The rain stops, the grey clouds roll away, the sun shines again and the temperature climbs again. We stop at the access gate to remove the showerproofs and I took the opportunity to take a shot looking across Wasdale to the old farm and Long Fell. It looks as though the quarrying has gone as far as possible on this side of Long Fell, any more of it and the comms mast could disappear into the rubble.

Movement to the left of the shot caught my attention so I rattled off two shots in quick succession, the second one showed the animal had moved some twenty to thirty yards to the right so it was travelling at some speed. even with a zoom in its not that clearly defined but its a Muntjac deer on the path ahead of me.

We eventually left the forest access track and walked the short distance back to our starting point at the gate where J’s emergency repair job was still holding good. We are parked beyond what AW described as an old sub station but which is now Shap Fell Bothy and is available for hire. All info can be found on the web by simply googling the name. As the shot shows the rain and the grey clouds have gone and the afternoon has turned warm and sunny again. Our car is parked in the lay-by on this side of the road just beyond the bothy so only a couple of hundred yards more to go. Its only been an average length walk but thanks to the pounding they’ve taken over the rough ground our legs are looking forward to doing nothing more than relaxing in the car and letting its four wheels do the rest of the work. Pity about the rain, especially as we got wet and the ground didn’t.