18 May 2011

Three days in the Lake district

My thanks to Jon for his 3 part series on his trip to the lake district. I have personally not been up there but seeing the pictures makes me think I should make the effort and do some routes while I am there.

Three days in the Lakes

Part 1 - Haystacks, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable, Brandreth & Greyknotts

Monday 9th May 2011

Our first walk started from the National Trust car park at Honister Pass, we headed off to Haystacks with it's Innominate Tarn via Dubs Quarry. The first part was fairly tough on un-tested legs and involved a long slow incline up to Dubs, then following a simple trail up to the top of Haystacks. I was pleased that our first 'Wainwright' was the one most favoured by the great man himself and it gave some great views of the surrounding fells and valleys. We descended into the Ennerdale valley, overshadowed by the dark, brooding Pillar (one for another day!) and up past the remote Black Sail Hut which must be a fantastic place to stay.

We followed the river for a bit, then took a sharp right up Black Sail Pass towards Kirk Fell, a fairly steep path took us up the pass and we then decided to add some adventure and check out a cut into the side of the fell, which we later discovered to be 'Baysoar Slack', and see if we could get to the top of Kirk Fell via this route. Baysoar Slack was awesome and many minutes of exciting scrambling (combined with a number of rests!) brought us thankfully to the top of the gully!

We lunched at the top of the Slack and then summited Kirk Fell, with excellent viability and a view Great Gable to die for!

As we walked down off of Kirk Fell the winds really picked up and a combination of this, fatigue and watching a group having great difficulty descending Great Gable made me greatly uncertain about ascending this great English peak!

My valour however prevailed and with some encouragement form Scott we began to pick our way up the east side of Great Gable, via an uncertain and unclear path. It was much easier than it looked and whilst we were inconvenienced by a hail storm we made good progress and even managed to stop for some foot care and the discovery that one of the soles of my brand new boots was falling off! Reaching the top of Great Gable was a massive high after my earlier concerns and the views of the surrounding peaks were awesome.

After spending some time at the top we made our way down towards Green Gable and with a sudden change for the worst in the weather forcing us to take cover for a time and don our waterproof gear. One lasting impression of the Lake District will be it's forever changeable weather!

In order to get to Green Gable we had to cross the aptly named 'Windy Gap' and given the driving wind and horizontal rain this was not a fun experience. We watched one poor guy climb up Aaron Slack to Windy Gap, seeming to continually take two steps forward, then one step back the entire time. Climbing up to the top of Green Gable being buffeted by winds was rather how I imagined that this would be walking on the surface of Mars – tough, but not entirely un-enjoyable.

Our trip back to the car off of Green Gable and over Brandreth & Greyknotts was uneventful and overshadowed by more poor weather, with the decent down to the Honister Pass via Greyknotts seeming to take forever. My car has never looked so good and then it was a quick change and a trip down the hill to our base at the YHA Borrowdale. Our first walk in the Lakes was about 9 miles and took in 6 Wainwrights, not bad for a pair of Southerners, and one completing the have the trip with a broken boot!

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