In the Wasdale scene Kirk Fell suffers from its proximity to Great Gable, which has a similar base but crowned with dramatic crags and a much higher summit. From Ennerdale the northern crags of Kirk Fell give it a more impressive appearance. The fell and its crags are a key part of the view from the Black Sail youth hostel and are also impressive from Hay Stacks.
The fell has the general form of a flat-topped pyramid, with steep slopes on the south and steep slopes lined with crags on the front, but ending with a large undulating plateau with two seperate summits.
Grid Reference of Summit: NY 194 104
Height: 802m/ 2,630ft
Routes of Ascent
There are three main routes up Kirk Fell. The most obvious climbs directly up from Wasdale Head, following the southern nose of the fell. This is steep all the way, but without any other major difficulties.
The third comes up Rib End from Beck Head at the eastern end of the fell. This is a suprisingly easy route that climbs up a gap between the lines of crags facing Wasdale and those facing Ennerdale.
We currently have one walk that climbs Kirk Fell from the Beck Head end.
The top of Kirk Fell is a large plateau, two thirds of a mile long from west to east and half a mile from north to south. There are two summits - the slightly lower eastern summit at 787m and the higher western summit at 802m.
The summit is cut into by Baysoar Slack, a large cove lined with crags that drops down quite gently at first before emerging onto the steep slopes overlooking Ennerdale.
Streams and Tarns
When it comes to streams the two faces of Kirk Fell are very different. On the Wasdale side the west face has no streams, the south face has Ill Gill, which cuts a small but scenic ravine as it reaches the valley of Gable Beck. The western edge of the fell is bordered by Gatherstone Beck, the eastern edge by Gable Beck.
In contrast a large number of unnamed streams flow down the Ennerdale side, heading towards the River Liza. Sail Beck emerges from Baysoar Slack, then turns right to run down towards the Liza from the direction of Black Sail Pass, with the path down from the pass running alongside it.
The fell has two small tarns, close together between the two summits. Combined they are called Kirkfell Tarn, and after dry spells one does disappear. The same is true of Beckhead Tarn, which was entirely dry on my last visit.
A clear path runs below the northern crags of the fell, lining Black Sail Pass and Beck Head, perhaps for those doing the Ennerdale Horseshoe but who don't want to climb to the top of Kirk Fell.