Red Screes

Red Screes

Infobox Mountain
Name = Red Screes
Photo = Red Screes.jpg
Caption = Red Screes seen from Wansfell summit
Elevation = 776 m (2,546 ft)
Location = Cumbria, ENG
Range = Lake District, Eastern Fells
Prominence = "c." 260 m
Parent peak = Fairfield
Coordinates =
OS "Landrangers" 89, 90, "Explorer" OL7
Grid_ref_UK = NY396087
Listing = Marilyn, Hewitt, Wainwright, Nuttall

Red Screes is a fell in the English Lake District, situated between the villages of Patterdale and Ambleside. It is an outlier of the Fairfield group in the Eastern Fells, but is separated from its neighbours by low cols. This gives Red Screes an independence which is reflected in its prominence.


Taking the form of a long upturned boat, Red Screes is a ridge running roughly north to south. Shorter saddles connecting to neighbouring fells are sent out amidships on either side. To the west Scandale Pass (1,690 ft) connects to Little Hart Crag, a satellite of Dove Crag. From the pass the long Scandale Beck runs south to Ambleside and the River Rothay. On the northern side Caiston Beck makes for Hartsop and Ullswater. To the east of Red Screes is the motor road from Ambleside to Patterdale, reaching its summit at Kirkstone Pass (1,485 ft). Across the Kirkstone are the High Street range of the Far Eastern Fells, beginning with Stony Cove Pike and Thornthwaite Crag. Running south from Kirkstone Pass and its summit inn is the valley of Stock Ghyll which flows the Ambleside, joining the Rothay a few yards from the confluence with Scandale Beck. Kirkstone Beck flows north from the pass, joining Caiston Beck before reaching Hartsop. Thus the boundaries of Red Screes are formed symmetrically by four valleys, with the fell rising at the head of none of them.

The northern ridge of Red Screes passes over the subsidiary top of Middle Dodd. This has little prominence, being more the point where the gradient of descent markedly increases, but Alfred Wainwright in his "Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells" gave it the status of a separate fell and that convention is followed here. The long southern ridge has the equally notable top of Snarker Pike which was not given such a distinction. This is one of many reasons why Wainwrights differ from more logical hill lists such as Hewitts, Nuttalls and Marilyns.

The broad southern ridge runs for about two and a half miles before petering out on the outskirts of Ambleside. The lower slopes have been planted with many small areas of mixed woodland and are extensively compartmentalised by a vast array of dry stone walls. North of the summit the descending ridge narrows at Smallthwaite Band before widening again to the summit of Middle Dodd. From here the descent is steep and rough.

The western flanks are also rough, but the east displays two miles of screeslope, looming above almost the full length of Kirkstone Pass. It is from this view that the fell takes its name. Prominent on Ordnance Survey maps is Kilnshaw Chimney, although on the ground this is just a narrow gully beneath the summit. Richards, Mark: "Near Eastern Fells": Collins (2003): ISBN 0-0071-1366-8]

ummit and View

The summit area is a broad plateau with a dressing of grass and stones. Two unnamed corries are cut into the eastern face and between them a flat topped promontory juts out with the highest point on its northern edge. A number of large cairns have been formed and an Ordnance Survey triangulation column stands nearby. A few yards to the south is Red Screes Tarn, a small permanent waterbody with no plant life in evidence. A number of smaller pools can be found after rain. Blair, Don: "Exploring Lakeland Tarns": Lakeland Manor Press (2003): ISBN 0-9543-9041-5 ] The panorama is excellent, with a first-class view of the Far Eastern Fells and the distant Coniston, Bowfell and Scafell skyline of the Southern Fells. The immediate views down the eastern face to the Kirkstone Inn are spectacular.

Geology and Mining

Drift deposits overlie the dacitic welded lapilli-tuff and sandstone of the Lincomb Tarns Formation.British Geological Survey: 1:50,000 series maps, "England & Wales Sheet 38": BGS (1998)]

There is evidence of mining in Caiston Glen, with the mouth of a level opening about halfway up the beck. This was an unsuccessful trial for lead and extends about 80 ft into the fellside. There is a further small working nearby. There are also the remains of a trial for copper on the eastern flank, a 120 ft level being driven into the fell from close to the modern road.Adams, John: "Mines of the Lake District Fells": Dalesman (1995) ISBN 0-85206-931-6]


The southern ridge provides a popular route to the summit, climbing from the bottom of the Kirkstone road. Other ascents from Ambleside can be made via Scandale or Stock Ghyll, gaining the ridge to the north of Snarker Pike. A number of routes are also possible from the summit of Kirkstone Pass. The direct ascent is steep and badly eroded, whilst those from Red Pit or lower down the pass to the north are slightly more appealing. From the north the walker has the choice of the Middle Dodd ridge or a gentler approach up Caiston Glen to Scandale Pass.

Alfred Wainwright's thoughts on the fell were as follows:Quotation
Red Screes has more claims to distinction than any other high fell east of the Keswick-Windermere road—
# It has the biggest cairn.
# It has the greatest mileage of dry stone walls.
# It has one of the highest sheets of permanent standing water, and, in springtime, the highest resident population of tadpoles.
# It has the purest mountain form.
# It has the reddest screes and the greenest stone.
# It has ... the finest view of the High Street range.
# It has the easiest way down.
# It offers alcoholic beverages at 1480'
# It gives birth to the stream with the most beautiful waterfalls.(Some of these statements are expressions of opinion; others, especially 8., are hard facts.)
Wainwright|The Eastern Fells


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