This Highlight is in a protected area
Please check local regulations for: Lake District National Park
Named for the scree that litters its fine, east facing combs, Red Screes is a mountain of considerable bulk that is familiar to anyone who has driven the Kirkstone Pass. Hikes to Red Screes take you to a proud standalone massif containing two Wainwright summits and offering magical views of Windermere and Ullswater.
A long, bulky ridge running from the Wainwright summit of Middle Dodd in the north to Snarker Pike in the south, Red Screes rises proud as one of the principal fells in the east of the national park. It is separated from the Fairfield massif by the Scandale Pass on one side and falls sheer to the winding road below on the other. There are many great ways to the top.
The Kirkstone Pass is one of the most dramatic in the Lake District, as it squeezes and snakes its way between Red Screes’ steep flanks and St Raven’s Edge. The shortest walking routes to the summit often start from the Kirkstone Pass Inn which, at 1,489 feet (454 m), means half the ascent is already done.
However, a steep, short and strenuous there-and-back outing from the inn almost completely misses the point. There are many enjoyable, high level walking routes to Red Screes, either starting in Ambleside or Hartsop. Both offer good accommodation options, whilst Ambleside has all the amenities you could wish for.
The higher Eastern Fells of the Lake District often hold snow long after it has melted in the west. On such days, the views to the High Street range are delightful. It is rare that Red Screes requires an ice axe and crampons but, when dusted with snow, be prepared to turn back if you find you are not well enough equipped.
A steep ascent up from the Kirkstone Pass Inn, the trail zig zags expertly in and around the crags. I found the route to be obvious in good visibility, with some of the steps low down on the route having been stone pitched. In dry weather the rock is grippy. It helps to put your hands on the rock in a couple of places (but it would be a stretch to call it a technical scramble).
In poor weather Red Screes can be a dangerous place to be with the rocks becoming slippery in the wet and a gust of wind could result in a nasty fall - one Mountain Rescue volunteer fell in early 2021 and sustained life-changing injuries during a rescue.
April 27, 2021
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