A Mosedale Round

The Mosedale ‘Horseshoe’ is one of the four longest, most spectacular and popular high-level circular walks in the Lake District (the others being the Fairfield, Coledale and Newlands ‘rounds’). Several versions of the former exist: this particular one excluded Kirk Fell and the High Level (Climbers’) Route to Pillar summit (the latter was done two weeks previously), but did take in Steeple and also skirted Yewbarrow. However, of the four circuits, whatever the exact route followed, and despite the glories of each the others, the Mosedale one surely provides the grandest panoramas of all, both within its own ‘rim’ and in terms of the views of the magnificent fells that surround it, especially to the east, north and south. Indeed to have within its compass Pillar and Steeple alone, and, in its purview, Great Gable also, would be enough (the ‘holy trinity’!), but to these must be added many other fells of the finest character, and not only those of the High Stile and Scafell ranges, as the shots below should testify.
The way round went firstly from Wasdale Head up Gatherstone Beck to Black Sail Pass, then via Looking Stead to Pillar summit. Then from here, down to Wind Gap, up to Black Crag, along to Scoat Fell and Steeple, then back to Red Pike, down from there to Dore Head, and, finally, back via the Overbeck path alongside Yewbarrow to the Wasdale road and thence to Wasdale Head once again.
I can add nothing of significance to what has already been very well-publicised elsewhere concerning the historical significance of this magnificent area in relation to the birth of English mountaineering. But one small detail that might also be mentioned is that, as a result of my walking the section between Pillar and Steeple for the first time, the possible significance of part of the wording on the splendid plaque, near Pillar Rock, in memory of the rock-climbing pioneer John Robinson, became clearer to me.
This is where it says ‘We climb the hill: from end to end/Of all the landscape underneath/We find no place that does not breathe/Some gracious memory of our friend’. It has now dawned on me that ‘from end to end’ in the first line may be a reference to the whole stretch of the remainder of Ennerdale on either side of the plaque, from Steeple in the west to Great Gable in the east.
And when the wording goes on to say ‘Of all the landscape underneath’, I think this must refer to the south and north ‘walls’ of Ennerdale, since it is also now clear to me that they consist mostly, on both sides, and for their entireties, of one great set of rocky crags after another.
Here, in other words, we seem to have, in poetic form, a sketch of two of the main distinguishing features of this grand dale, once so frequently, as the plaque also testifies, the happy hunting ground of the inestimable climber and ‘one hundred of his comrades and friends’. In selecting the lines in question to remember him by, thus, how many sentiments of the very best kind must have been in their minds!
(Highest point: 2926 ft/ 892 m. Distance: 10.6 miles/ 17.1 km. Ascent: 4536 ft./ 1382m.)

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