Yewbarrow is one of the few smaller fells around Wasdale Head, but access to the summit is guarded by steep sides, a difficult scramble at the southern end and a nasty crag at the northern end. This walk gets us onto the long summit ridge without having to take on either of those routes. Instead we use a path that takes advantage of a gap in the line of crags on the north-western slopes of the fell, reaching the lowest point in the dip between the northern and southern summits.
Length: 6 miles
Map: Lakes South West
Last Walked: June 2014
We start from the small NT car park at Overbeck Bridge.
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Follow the path that runs upstream with the beck to the left. This brings us to the wall that runs steeply up the southern ridge of the fell heading towards the crags of Bell Rib. Ignore the path that branches off to the left early on and follow the path alongside the wall. As we approach the crag the path begins to curve left away from the wall, eventually joining a path that runs across the fell.
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Follow this path north. After a short distance it splits in two - the right hand branch goes up the steep slope between Bell Rib and Dropping Crag, the left hand branch runs along the slopes heading up the valley. Follow this left-hand path.
This path runs below the western crags of Yewbarrow all the way to Dore Head. As we head north keep an eye out for a grassy gap in these crags, which comes towards the northern end of the valley, and is roughly level with the lowest part of the summit ridge. For the moment continue north to Dore Head, but as you go look out for a small cairn built on a boulder in a gap in the scree slopes, below a sizable crag. This marks the start of our route up the fell.
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After visiting Dore Head (well worth it for the views towards Wasdale Head), turn back and head south. Ignore the path and instead stay at roughly the same height, skirting the lower edges of the scree slopes.
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Keep an eye out for a path that runs along the lower edges of the scree slopes. Just before the southern end of the screes look out for the cairn on its boulder - this marks the point at which the path turns sharply left. A steep but simple path brings us to the base of the crags, where it turns right, and runs along the
base of the crags, above the scree slopes, most of the time taking advantage of a slight ledge. After a surprisingly short distance the slopes begin to flatten out, marking our arrival on the summit ridge. The path then curves left and runs up the grass to join the main summit path (a small cairn marks this junction).
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We have reached the long summit ridge at a dip between the northern and southern summits. Take the time to explore the entire summit area. Start by turning north to head towards the top of Stirrup Crag, the precipitous northern end of the fell.
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After visiting Stirrup Crag head south towards what appears to be a fairly dramatic southern peak. This is a bit of a visual illusion, formed by some rocks just below the summit. Although the OS only gives a height for the northern end, the southern summit is actually higher.
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Follow the path past the summit and down to Bull Crag and the area above Great Door - feel free to explore as far as you want - it is even possible to finish the walk by following this path all the way off the fell, although there is an awkward rocky scramble just below Great Door. To follow our route turn back north after exploring this end of the fell and head back past the summit and down into the dip.
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Just before the lowest point in the dip a cairn marks the start of our path. This runs west towards the edge of the fell, then turns right to run back below the crags. Look out for the turn left back to our cairn on its boulder. At this cairn ignore the path heading north back to Dore Head and instead make your way carefully downhill to the path. At the path turn left and follow it all the way back to the car park.