Last updated
Summit Cairn, Ullscarf - geograph.org.uk - 1057771.jpg
Highest point
Elevation 726 m (2,382 ft)
Prominence c. 115 m
Parent peak High Raise
Listing Wainwright, Nuttall, Hewitt
Coordinates 54°30′01″N3°05′41″W / 54.50016°N 3.09475°W / 54.50016; -3.09475 Coordinates: 54°30′01″N3°05′41″W / 54.50016°N 3.09475°W / 54.50016; -3.09475
Lake District National Park UK relief location map.png
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Location in Lake District, UK
Location Cumbria, England
Parent range Lake District, Central Fells
OS grid NY292122
Topo map OS Explorer OL4
Listed summits of Ullscarf
Name Grid ref Height Status
Low Saddle NY288133 656 m Nuttall

Ullscarf is a fell in the English Lake District close to the geographical centre of the Cumbrian hills. It forms part of the watershed between the Derwentwater and Thirlmere catchments, a ridge running broadly north-south.

Fell high and barren landscape feature

A fell is a high and barren landscape feature, such as a mountain range or moor-covered hills. The term is most often employed in Fennoscandia, the Isle of Man, parts of Northern England, and Scotland.

Lake District mountainous region in North West England

The Lake District, also known as the Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes, forests and mountains, and its associations with William Wordsworth and other Lake Poets and also with Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin. The National Park was established in 1951 and covers an area of 2,362 square kilometres. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

Derwentwater lake in the United Kingdom

Derwentwater, or Derwent Water, is one of the principal bodies of water in the Lake District National Park in north west England. It lies wholly within the Borough of Allerdale, in the county of Cumbria.



Ullscarf is bordered on the west by the Greenup valley, with steep but mainly grassy slopes, the chief exception being Lining Crag. This impressive rock face is prominent in views up the valley, standing right beside the bridleway. From above however it is reached via a shallow grassy saddle and makes a fine viewpoint or picnic spot. A number of gills run down this western side of Ullscarf.

To the east lies Thirlmere across a moorland of small hillocks. The final descent is steep, falling down conifer clad slopes to the reservoir. To the south of Thirlmere is its feeder valley of Wythburndale, which rises eastward to its source below Greenup Edge. Above Wythburndale Ullscarf displays a near continuous line of crags, the principal faces being Castle Crag and Nab Crags. A series of low tops crown the edge above Nab Crags, one of them bearing a prominent stone structure visible from the valley below. This is marked 'beacon' on OS maps, but is in fact a very short length of dry stone wall. It was set up some decades ago to replace a vandalised beacon cairn. [1]

Ordnance Survey organisation that creates maps of Great Britain

Ordnance Survey (OS) is the national mapping agency of the United Kingdom which covers the island of Great Britain. Since 1 April 2015 part of Ordnance Survey has operated as Ordnance Survey Ltd, a government-owned company, 100% in public ownership. The Ordnance Survey Board remains accountable to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It is also a member of the Public Data Group.

Cairn man-made pile of stones or burial monument

A cairn is a human-made pile of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn[ˈkʰaːrˠn̪ˠ].

The main ridge of the Central Fells continues south from Ullscarf, dropping over a field of rocky knolls to cross the wide depression of Greenup Edge. This is the connection to High Raise (Langdale), the highest of the Central Fells. To the north, the natural boundaries are unclear. Standing Crag provides a terminal to the summit plateau, rising beautifully above its reflecting tarn. From here the ridge continues across wet ground toward High Tove, the next Wainwright. Some guidebooks [1] however consider the intermediate Bell Crags (summit unnamed on Ordnance Survey maps) to be a separate fell. A second subsidiary ridge travels north north west from the summit to Great Crag, passing over the twin tops of Coldbarrow Fell.

The Central Fells are a group of hills in the English Lake District. Reaching their highest point at High Raise, they occupy a broad area to the east of Borrowdale. Perhaps unexpectedly the Central Fells are generally lower than the surrounding hills, the Lake District's general dome-like structure having a slight dip in the middle. The range extends from the boggy ridge between Derwentwater and Thirlmere in the north, to the famous rock peaks of the Langdale Pikes in the south.

High Raise (Langdale) mountain in United Kingdom

High Raise is a fell in the Central Fells of the English Lake District, not to be confused with another High Raise situated in the Far Eastern Fells. High Raise is not one of the most spectacular mountains in the district; however, with a height of 762 metres (2,500 ft) it is the highest point in the central fells of Lakeland.

Tarn (lake) Mountain lake or pool in a glacial cirque

A tarn is a mountain lake, pond or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. A moraine may form a natural dam below a tarn.

Between these two northern ridges is Blea Tarn. A large pool of about 40 ft (12 m) depth, [2] Blea Tarn provides the main feed for the more famous beauty spot of Watendlath Tarn. Drainage to the east (and Thirlmere) is provided by Ullscarf and Launchy Gills, the former flowing via the secluded Harrop Tarn within the Thirlmere Forest. This may be a corrie tarn which has silted up over time, extensive shallows being colonised by sedge, water horsetail and yellow water lilly. [2] These waters are joined by the Wyth Burn from the south of the fell. All water from the west of the fell reaches Greenup Gill via a number of feeders and flows to Derwentwater.

Cirque An amphitheatre-like valley formed by glacial erosion

A cirque is an amphitheatre-like valley formed by glacial erosion. Alternative names for this landform are corrie and cwm. A cirque may also be a similarly shaped landform arising from fluvial erosion.


The summit area is composed mostly of till (clayey silty gravel) overlying rocks of the Lincomb Tarn Formation. This consists of dacitic lapilli-tuff with andesite sills. The eastern plateau above Thirlmere shows some outbreaks of the volcaniclastic sandstone of the Esk Pike Formation. [3]


Lapilli is a size classification term for tephra, which is material that falls out of the air during a volcanic eruption or during some meteorite impacts. Lapilli is Latin for "little stones".

Tuff Rock consolidated from volcanic ash

Tuff, also known as volcanic tuff, is a type of rock made of volcanic ash ejected from a vent during a volcanic eruption. Following ejection and deposition, the ash is compacted into a solid rock in a process called consolidation. Tuff is sometimes erroneously called "tufa", particularly when used as construction material, but properly speaking, tufa is a limestone precipitated from groundwater. Rock that contains greater than 50% tuff is considered tuffaceous.

Andesite An intermediate volcanic rock

Andesite ( or ) is an extrusive igneous, volcanic rock, of intermediate composition, with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and rhyolite, and ranges from 57 to 63% silicon dioxide (SiO2) as illustrated in TAS diagrams. The mineral assemblage is typically dominated by plagioclase plus pyroxene or hornblende. Magnetite, zircon, apatite, ilmenite, biotite, and garnet are common accessory minerals. Alkali feldspar may be present in minor amounts. The quartz-feldspar abundances in andesite and other volcanic rocks are illustrated in QAPF diagrams.

A 16th century mine, Launchy Gill Level, was driven 60 ft (18 m) into the fellside below White Crags on the Thirlmere side of the fell. A scramble is required just to reach the mouth of the level. [4]


The top of the fell is an upland plateau of about 4 square miles (10 km2), predominantly clad in coarse grass and heather. There are few paths on the fell itself. One track follows the watershed, being marked in places by old iron fenceposts. Bridleways cross the ridge to the north and south of Ullscarf, providing access from Wythburn, Thirlmere, Stonethwaite and Watendlath. The summit is marked by a large cairn on a small rocky outcrop, the old fenceposts marching past (intermittently) in either direction. [1]

Views from the top are extensive, befitting the central location, with the Scafells and Helvellyn ranges being shown to particular effect. [5]


From Wythburn to the south east a number of routes are possible. The Wythburn valley (and its bogs) can be followed to reach the ridge at Greenup edge, or more direct climbs can be made via Harrop Tarn. From here either the line of tops above Nab Crags or Standing Crag will be the intermediate objective.

Ullscarf can be climbed from Watendlath, gaining the north-north-east ridge above Blea Tarn, and then ascending over the tops of Coldbarrow Fell.

The most-used route, since it coincides with a section of Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk, is to follow the Greenup valley from Stonethwaite, passing up beside Lining Crag and then turning north before Greenup edge to 'cut the corner'. [1] [5]

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Dale Head mountain in United Kingdom

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Esk Pike mountain

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Sergeant Man mountain in United Kingdom

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Great Crag mountain in United Kingdom

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Eagle Crag mountain in United Kingdom

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Bleaberry Fell mountain in United Kingdom

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Glaramara mountain in United Kingdom

Glaramara is a fell in the English Lake District in Cumbria. It is a substantial fell that is part of a long ridge that stretches for over six kilometres from Stonethwaite in Borrowdale up to the important mountain pass of Esk Hause. The summit of Glaramara at 783 m (2,569 ft) is the central point of this ridge, which separates the valleys of Langstrath and Grains Gill. However, the ridge has two additional fells, numerous subsidiary tops and several small tarns making its traverse an appealing and challenging walk.

Red Pike (Buttermere)

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High Tove mountain in United Kingdom

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Armboth Fell mountain in United Kingdom

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Sergeants Crag mountain in United Kingdom

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Steel Fell mountain in United Kingdom

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Tarn Crag (Easedale) mountain in United Kingdom

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Blea Rigg mountain in the United Kingdom

Blea Rigg is a fell in the English Lake District, lying between the valleys of Easedale and Great Langdale. One of the Central Fells, it is a broad plateau with a succession of rocky tops. Many routes of ascent are possible, beginning either from Grasmere or Great Langdale, though the paths are often poorly marked and hard to follow.

Calf Crag mountain in United Kingdom

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Birkhouse Moor mountain in United Kingdom

Birkhouse Moor is a fell in the English Lake District, an outlier of the Helvellyn range in the Eastern Fells. It is properly an eastern ridge of Helvellyn, but was treated as a separate fell by Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. That convention is followed here.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Mark Richards: The Central Fells: Collins (2003): ISBN   0-00-711365-X
  2. 1 2 Don Blair: Exploring Lakeland Tarns: Lakeland Manor Press (2003): ISBN   0-9543904-1-5
  3. British Geological Survey: 1:50,000 series maps, England & Wales Sheet 29: BGS (1999)
  4. Adams, John: Mines of the Lake District Fells: Dalesman (1995) ISBN   0-85206-931-6
  5. 1 2 Alfred Wainwright: Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book 3 The Central Fells: Westmorland Gazette (1958): ISBN   0-7181-4002-8