Chapel Head Scar

South Lakes Limestone

Sport climbing on limestone - its steep and fingery routes will test even the fittest.

Crag information
Climbing Area: Lake District Rock Type: Limestone
Importance: National CRoW Land: No
Ownership: Within National Park No. of Routes: 73
Within National Park: Yes Year Developed: 1974
Grid Reference: SD443862

The crag lies within a National Nature Reserve and is an important area of SSSI semi-ancient woodland with Special Protection Area (SPA) status. The Lake District National Park Authority (responsible for managing recreation at Chapel Head) and the BMC have worked closely together to develop the following good practice guidelines which should be followed by all climbers visiting the crag:

  • No access to cliffs north of central gully.
  • Please do not remove ivy or damage trees along crag base.
  • Take all litter home with you.
  • There are no toilets at Chapel Head - please be discreet.

Restrictions apply from 1 March - 30 June.

Reason: Nesting Birds

The restriction is signed and applies to the whole crag.

The birds are regularly monitored and the restriction lifted early if it's not needed. However, it is worth bearing in mind that this is a very reliable site for peregrines and it unusual that they don't nest. If the birds fledge early or the nest fails, any update will be posted on this page as soon as we know about it.

CRoW Information

The cliff and approach are not on Open Access land. However, a large part of the reserve (above the cliff) is, see map here;

Group Advice


Area information

With implimentation of the CRoW Act (2000), many Lakes fells and crags now have an Open Access designation. They also have many nationally important bird and plant species dependant on inaccessible crags/ledges and heather/mixed heath environments for survival. During the bird nesting period, a number of species can be vulnerable to disturbance. The Lake District restrictions are monitored, variable (VR) and reviewed in April/May. If the birds do not nest, restrictions are lifted early. Check the BMC and FRCC websites in early May for details. New restrictions will be notified on the websites and with on-site notices. To view the BMC's Lake District Green Climbing Guide click this link:

Weather Information

Guidebook info currently being updated

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Anonymous User
Hi, is the peregrine ban currently in place this year? Thanks
Is there an answer yet to the previous users question re the peregrine / nesting birds ban at this crag?
Rob Dyer(staff comment)
Hi both, yes the restriction is indeed in place in 2017 - the birds are being monitored and are nesting on the crag. If the restriction had changed, RAD would be updated immediately.

Rob Dyer (BMC Access & Conservation Officer, England)
The peregrines have not nested in Great Gully since 2015 as there are crows nesting in the gully and they are return nesters. The peregrines are nesting further up the valley.

Surely it is time to renegotiate with the land owner for access in the Spring.

Could you please comment on this
Rob Dyer(staff comment)
We have reports of the peregrines in place on the crag. I understand that this is a very popular crag and for some reason, rumours that there are no birds nesting are circulated by certain individuals each year.

Their nest site is often difficult to identify as they are a particularly low key pair, but the site IS occupied each year, or the restriction lifted early on the odd year that the nest fails. It can take some time to pin down their exact nest site - this often requires multiple visits for several hours at a time to be in with a chance of spotting an adult returning with food. Given limited resources, we try to organise as many of these site visits as possible, but it can take some time to get confirmation - the site is a historical site, which almost always is occupied and fledges young.

The BMC and our partners are well aware of the importance of this crag, especially during nesting season and how keen climbers are to get on early - we do everything we can to monitor the birds and lift the restriction early if they aren't there. However, they are present in 2018 and have been for the previous few years. They are a Schedule 1 bird, protected by law against disturbance and regularly nesting at the site so please trust the BMC Access Team to represent climber's interests in monitoring the crag.

If the restriction is still in effect on this page, that is because there is a good reason for it to be.

Rob Dyer
BMC Access & Conservation Officer, England
Anonymous User
Hello is the peregrine ban in place this year 2019, as I went to visit Chapel Head yesterday and saw no sign of them or any other nesting birds?
Rob Dyer(staff comment)
Yes - peregrines are confirmed as back on the crag in 2019 with photo evidence from one of the volunteers who helps monitor the site.