Walking route: Pillar North Face, Lake District

For a bit of drama north faces are the way to go, argues Ronald Turnbull. Here he turns his attention to Pillar

Illustration photo of Walking route: Pillar North Face, Lake District

Route description

  • Pillar North Face: Route From the Liza footbridge (NY175131) take a forest track west 200m, then fork up left in another 200m. A small path runs up beside a stream, then up a spur southeast to Robinson’s Cairn. Here join the High-level Path, and follow it right, into Pillar Cove, then up scree to left of the Shamrock Crag. The Shamrock Traverse slants up to the right, a sloping ledge of bare rock, to reach the col behind Pillar Rock. The first, lower summit, called Pisgah, is an airy Grade 1 scramble. Return to the col, and head straight up the main mountain.
  • See more North Face walking and scrambling routes in the Lake District here

    Pillar North Face

    Slightly similar to: Grandes Jorasses 4208m

    Because: The Walker Spur (Grandes Jorasses) and Walker’s Gully (Pillar) are neither of them places for walkers.

    The Grandes Jorasses, below Mont Blanc, form a north wall one km wide and 1200m high. Rébuffat was blown away not just by its granite and icy avalanche couloirs – but because of its beauty. “Solid yet shapely, it has grace despite its bulk. Its crest is half way to heaven. It is a living thing.”

    The Lakeland version has to be the grand north face of Pillar, rising above Ennerdale in a jumble of rocks, waterfalls and hanging birch trees. Small crags give way to bigger ones, the wide slab of the Shamrock Buttress, and the magnificence of Pillar Rock.

    The finest line on the Jorasses is the Walker Spur; steep, rough granite interrupted by sheets of ice, leading like an arrow to the mountain’s true summit. Pillar has a serious ascent as well: Grade 3 scrambling by the West Waterfall and Pillar Rock’s top. For her 1993 achievement of the ‘Big Six’ in a single summer, Alison Hargreaves chose the less formidable Central Spur. Free of sponsorship or self-promotion, walkers too can take an easier, climb-free line up Pillar.

    First published in The Great Outdoors April 2015

    Words and pictures Ronald Turnbull

    Walk details

  • Slightly similar to: Grandes Jorasses 4208m
  • Because: The Walker Spur (Grandes Jorasses) and Walker’s Gully (Pillar) are neither of them places for walkers.
  • Walking route: Pillar North Face, Lake District