Drawing 187: Pillar Cove, Ennerdale

Direction of view: S

Notes: The viewpoint is a small knoll at the threshold of Pillar Cove (on the true left hand side of the Cove).

This view appears on page Pillar 14 in The Western Fells.  The photograph from which this sketch was drawn is in the County Archives at Kendal, reference WDAW/4/1/1/1/25.

Comments: I first took this picture on 27th February 2019 (see 217 for an account of that day). It was a steep and tiring slog up into the Cove, but a hugely dramatic scene, with Pillar Rock towering above.  Because it is such a steep, north-facing mountain slope, it will always be difficult to get a well-lit view of this composition.

Pillar Rock (then known as The Pillar Stone) was first climbed by John Atkinson, a local shepherd, on 9th July 1826, probably using a route now known as the Old West.  Early stories of the rock inevitably include mention of the Rev James Jackson, a flamboyant character who climbed the steeple of his church, styled himself “Patriarch of the Pillarites”, and climbed the rock at the age of 79; later he apparently fell to his death in the area.  In 1901, George Abraham led a route he called the New West Climb: described in later years by Walt Unsworth as one of the great classic routes of all time.  Bill Cross and I climbed this route on 24th June 1995; neither of us would fancy it now!