I woke knowing I had a little head start on the day’s walk, by virtue of my camp at High Nook Tarn. I was a bit slow packing up and it was nearly a quarter to nine before I was away. But it didn’t matter – it was likely to be quiet being midweek and away from the big sexy fells, and I had 11 hours or so of daylight to play with.
The day was forecast to be more of the same as yesterday – low cloud and wind, albeit not silly strong wind, just enough to get on your wick. It was an easy decision to head for the terrace route around the base of Carling Knott which would take me to a suitable point to climb up for Burnbank Fell. Having resolved to not worry unnecessarily about bagging the myriad of Birketts that fan out from the main tops, I just wanted to focus on the 4 Wainwrights remaining in this group. If any convenient Birketts presented themselves without requiring too much of a detour and, most importantly, if I could see them, then fair enough I’d visit them. But I certainly wasn’t planning to spend the day floundering around in the mist for questionable benefit.
The terrace route was lovely and level as it wound around the side of the fells and above the trees. It also provided some welcome shelter from the wind. As I reached Holme Beck, I also got a mobile signal so took a pause to catch up on things and get an updated forecast from mountain-forecast.com.
A path of sorts took me up a little way alongside the beck, and then I climbed steeply up alongside a fence to gain the north-east ridge of the fell. A bunch of wild horses stood nonchalantly observing my efforts. I found a way over the fence and made my way along the ridge, entering the cloud shrouding the top part of the fell.
I found the highest point , lingered a few minutes for my track to record the bag and then set-off in the direction of Blake Fell. The strategy now was simple – follow fences – and this brought me onto Blake Fell without any trouble. Carling Knott on my left and Sharp Knott on my right were ignored as not meeting my requirements for convenience and visibility. I stuck with the fence.
On the descent to the col, 3 guys were out installing new fences, and they must have distracted me as I found myself heading towards High Pen at a fence junction. I’d only gone a couple of dozen yards though and a quick check of the gps soon put me on the right side of the fence to follow. In minimal visibility, it was clear the key to this game was about being on the right (ie correct) side of the right fence at all times, rather than the right (ie right) side of the wrong fence!
I reached Gavel Fell with no further risks to my locational integrity and headed on down. Having made decent progress and with Banna Fell to my right perfectly visible, I went for it, and spent a few minutes tramping around its flat heathery top trying to find the highest point. Back to the fence, across it and up onto the relative steepness of Floutern Cop. Below me I could see Floutern Tarn and the main path across the pass. Whilst tempting, I still had one more Wainwright in the set to deal with.
I climbed up onto Hen Comb and there at the summit encountered the only fell-top walkers of the day, each finding our own little outcrop to shelter from the wind. I lazed a while looking down on Loweswater and deciding what to do next. At 2:30, I still had a few hours left so could either go high over Great Borne etc or drop down into Ennerdale. I have to say the attraction of a night at the hostel proved irresistible and the low cloud hiding the top of Great Borne wasn’t enough of a draw to persuade me otherwise.
I dropped down off Hen Comb to pick up the path over the pass, following it down through the farmland and the valley road. I slogged it out along the road and then forest track to the hostel, arriving bang on the dot of 5pm.
A further decision now awaited me – a dorm or a camping pitch. The camping pitch looked a bit ropey and provided no shelter from the wind, so I went with the dorm. And a 3 course meal too of course. Soup, bangers and mash and Eton Mess for £8.50, and there was loads of it too. Barely able to keep my eyes open, I headed for an early night.