A Lakeland Round (2011): Day 5 – Friday 8 July

Buttermere to Ennerdale

After yesterday’s lack of energy, I was worried about the big walk I had to face today – over 1000m of ascent in heavy mode. And with limited escape routes – one at Scarth Gap (before I’d really got anywhere) and one on Red Pike (by which time the walk’s back would have been broken) – it was either going to be a triumph or a disaster.Another lingering chatty breakfast with fellow hostellers meant it was after 9 before I got away, but I made decent progress along the lake sure to the point where the path to Scarth Gap turned off.

High Stile and High Crag from Buttermere
High Stile and High Crag from Buttermere

I slogged my way up the path, being overtaken by an older couple walking their dogs. The altitude was being gained really slowly, and I knew that Scarth Gap was only halfway in terms of height, but less than a third in terms of height gain.

Climbing to Scarth Gap
Climbing to Scarth Gap

Eventually I made it to the pass, and sat on a rock and chatted about the SWCP to the older couple while they took their coffee break. They then continued to Haystacks while I turned right for the climb over Seat. Thankfully the scree I’d heard about was easily negotiated by steps of stone and 15 mins later was at the top. I took a seat on the top of Seat and had my coffee break.

High Crag from Seat
High Crag from Seat

Before me I could see down into Ennerdale and Buttermere. I could also see the climb up the scree onto High Crag, which didn’t look good, and a thin wiggle to the left. By the time I got up there, of course, the wiggle turned out to be stones set into the hillside to save attempting the scree. Unfortunately, this ran out before the top and I struggled up the loose stony path to the summit.

Approaching High Stile summit
Approaching High Stile summit

The descent to the col with High Stile took a while as the path undulated over and around a number of outcrops, but once past these it was a steady progression up to the summit. And by now, I’d done the worst of the ascent for today and this seemed to help massively in terms of motivation. I walked out along the summit ridge to enjoy the view down into Buttermere. A couple with a young child then asked me if I knew where High Stile was!

Looking down to Bleaberry Tarn from High Stile
Looking down to Bleaberry Tarn from High Stile

I descended to the col and pulled up onto Red Pike, which I’d failed to summit in 2007. I took a few moments to savour my revenge, and then walked down towards Starling Dodd, passing over Little Dodd on the way.

Just Great Borne left, a mere 18m lower, but with a big drop and re-ascent of over 100m inbeteeen the two hills. By now I was tiring and thoughts were turning to getting to the hostel at a sensible time – early enough that I’d be in time for the evening meal. But I couldn’t leave just one fell. I ploughed on, diverting from the path to follow the fence over Gale Fell before rejoining for the final slog up to the summit.

Starling Dodd and Great Borne
Starling Dodd and Great Borne

Just as I summitted the rain caught up with me and having had a good look down into the valley on the way, I decided to save some time by heading down more directly into Ennerdale rathert than my planned route over the end of the ridge. I retraced my steps to the bottom of the depression between Great Borne and Starling Dodd. Then turned right and headed down a gully that eventually became Clews Gill.

I had to watch my feet, slipping and sliding and wrenching my foot at one point. Then when the gully narrowed and deepened I clambered out onto the hillside and struck down through the bracken to the edge of the forest. Failing to find the track that would zigzag me to the hostel, I ended up on a small path that ran alongside Smithy Beck and brought me out on the main valley path much further down the valley. Then a final slog up to the hostel.

After a pretty lacklustre couple of days, I think today was the day that I got my walking mojo back, as from High Stile onwards I flew along. Also, my legs feel better than on previous days, despite the amount of ascent I did today fully laden. And when I worked out my speed, allowing for the ascent, it was one of my fastest.

Today’s stats

Distance: 13.85 miles / 22.28km
Ascent: 1128m
Descent: 1130m
Flat-equiv distance: 21.37miles / 34.38km
Time: 7 hrs 15 mins
Speed: 1.91mph / 3.07kph
FES: 2.95mph / 4.74kph
Wainwrights: 5, subtotal 17
Marilyns: 1, subtotal 4
Birketts: 9, subtotal 31
Trail 100s: 1, subtotal 1
Nuttalls: 5 (all of which also Hewitts), subtotal 5
Points: 38, subtotal 100

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