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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Distance: 13.85 miles / 22.28km
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