2 friends and the coast to coast walk

Ennerdale to Stonethwaite by theshed
September 10, 2008, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Waking up in Ennerdale was a little bit of a mixed blessing.  On the one hand we had the richest most scrumptious scrambled eggs we have ever had, on the other it was another misty and murky morning.  It wasn’t raining but it wasn’t inviting at all. Over breakfast we also saw a very fresh take on fresh orange juice.  Just an orange with the top chopped off a bit like a grapefruit.

Luckily the boots had dried a little, not a lot, but a little.  At least they didn’t squelch when we put them on.  Then it was off on our second day of walking.  Since we stayed at Low Cock How Farm we had about a mile to walk into Ennerdale Bridge.  It was all downhill so we knocked it out fairly quickly especially since we had dinner on our mind, not because we were hungry, just we didn’t have any planned.  All we wanted to do was pick up a sandwich but it’s fairly difficult to do in Ennerdale Bridge.  If we did it again we’d pick up a packed lunch from the pub the night before.  As it was we picked up a pasty from The Shepherds Arms, little did I know I wouldn’t be eating it for a long while.

South West End of Ennerdal WaterLunch done we set off proper.  It was a little way until we got to Ennerdale Water but it was worth it.  The mainly road walk took us down to the south route round the lake.  We’d heard that it was the muddier and more difficult route of the day but we decided to do it anyway.  I’m glad we took the south route because when we approached the lake the views were stunning.

After we’d stopped for a little limbering up and a few photos we set off on what for me was the best section of walking for the whole journey.  The route took us right alongside the lake.  If we’d been doing the walk the other way this would have been the best spot for a little bit of wild swimming.  There’s tonnes of ways to get in and lots of little beaches to chill out on.  However, we weren’t doing it the other way round so we trotted on.

Just after our scary little scrambleThe path starts out fairly flat, which is a good thing as it lets you concentrate on the view.  However it soon gets nice and rocky around Robin hoods Chair.  There is a fantastic little scramble around it.  We took the bottom route, friends took the top, apparently the bottom is the more adventurous.  It’s probably the first little test you’ll face.  It’s not a difficult little clamber but you fall, you die…which is cool.  Then as the walk continues you just end up hopping and skipping along the edge of the water.  You come across loads of little places that look great and it’s a shame that section of the walk isn’t longer, especially when you get to the next long section.

Towards the end of Ennerdale Water we bumped into Wayne and Linley again, the Aussie guys from our B&B in St. Bees.  They we’re just chilling out at the end of the water so we thought we’d walk with them for a little while, along the next section of walk which takes you through Ennerdale Forest and to Black Sail Hut.  With the mountain ranges either side of the valley you would expect the scenery to be stunning.  It isn’t.  We went from some of the best walking to some of the worst.  The track is gravel and grey.  The views are obscured by the plantation and ruined by the logging activity.  Let’s just say Black Sail Hut is a very welcome sight after the 4 miles of crappy walk.  Somehow we got well ahead of Wayne and Linley,  I think they stopped to take a photo and we didn’t realise until we were half a mile down the track, so we arrived at Black Sail Hut ahead of most people.

For those of you who don’t know what Black Sail Hut is let me just take a second.  It’s worth taking a second because for some reason there’s something very special about the place.  The picture to the left is taken from the YHA website, if only the weather was that good when we were there.  Basically Black Sail Hut is an old shepherd’s bothy which has been converted into a youth hostel.  When you’re just passing through there is a kitchen for you to use and plenty of tea bags, sugar, coffee and milk.  There’s a little honesty pot for you to leave money in so take some change and if you’re lucky there’ll be some cake too.  We stopped in for a cuppa and a pint of water.  It’s a shame the weather wasn’t better because the views are stunning.  You very quickly forget about the droll walk you’ve just had to get here.  I really wish I’d paid more attention in English lessons because then maybe I could find the words I need to describe why I liked this little place so much.  As it is you’ll just have to go there for yourself.

At Black Sail we were quickly followed in by a fair few others.  It was the first time we met Douglas, Maureen, Sue, her husband and a couple of other ladies.  We we’re about to spend a fair bit of time with them.

Its cloud but we have map and compassAs we left Black Sail it didn’t take a genius to work out our next little section was going to be a pain.  The photo on the right shows you what we were about to walk up into as does this one.  As it was most of us had set off from Black Sail at about the same time.  As you leave Black Sail you have the choice of two routes, one which takes you along the river and then upwards towards Loft Beck and one that gradually works it’s way up to Loft Beck from behind Black Sail.  Everyone but Michelle and I opted for the higher route.  We skipped across becks galore, some more like rivers, so by the time we caught up with the others at the bottom of Loft Beck we were already a bit warmer than they were.  So off up Loft Beck we went to where it would all go a little wrong.

When you get to the top of Loft Beck the path is marked by a set of small cairns but when you’re in cloud as thick as we were you can’t really see them.  Michelle and I were fairly confident that we’d be able to navigate our way through it.  I wouldn’t call us experienced navigators but we knew how to walk on a bearing and also how to measure distance by step or time as well as the theory behind a bit of leap frogging.  It happened that about 6 of us got to the top at roughly the same time and, some with guidebooks, some with Harvey maps and us with our OS we all stumped for the same direction and set off.  Then we held back and waited a little bit for the two women who were following us up.  We heard them shouting from off to our right and it took a good 30 mins to find them and make it back to where we had all gathered.  By this time, even though we had only walked a hundred metres or so we were already pretty disorientated.  Not as disorientated as another chap, Chirs, who came confidently striding through the cloud announcing we should all follow him because he was heading back down in the right direction.  It didn’t take long for someone to tell him he was heading in the direction we’d just come from.  Suddenly his confidence level dropped a little!

I think this was the stage where we made our first mistake.  It’s very easy to under-estimate how simple it is to get completely lost on top of a hill covered in cloud and that’s what we did.  At that point we should have taken stock of where we were, gone back to a known point and picked our route carefully.  What we did was stride on a little all confident because everyone agreed with each other.  Now bear in mind we’d only met these people about an hour before and the reason we all agreed was because we were all too polite to disagree.  Big mistake.  I’ll not go into details but for the next hour or so we stumbled around thinking we knew where we were heading and really not having a clue.  We then had our first little disagreement.  We all stopped, I was hungry as it was now 3pm and my pasty was still in my bag uneaten and I just had this feeling of stupidity because we’d got ourselves lost.  So we had a slightly heated discussion where I wanted to go east and everyone else wanted to go north.  This is where my thanks has to go to Douglas who came back for a chat and helped me realise staying with the group was the better option.  As it was I kept an eye on what bearing we were walking on and it was north-east so it was a fairly good yet entirely accidental compromise.  After a while we came across a sheep track which we followed for a while.  I thought I knew where we were and took the opportunity to suggest that since it looked like there was an opportunity to head down and out of the cloud we should take it.  Turns out where I thought we were was completely wrong but the idea of heading down and out of the cloud was a good one.

We came out of the cloud and to my surprise we were faced with Honister Pass, right where we should’ve been.  I have no idea how that happened but someone somewhere was smiling on us that day.  Our moods lifted almost immediately with the exception being a couple of people who’s knees were troubling them.  It was a pretty steep descent and it was taking it’s toll.  I borrowed one of them my walking stick and we ploughed on.  At the bottom of the hill, right next to the slate mine, we stopped for a second and laughed off the events.  In the back of my mind I still think we were idiots for getting lost in the first place and I’ve vowed to go on a navigation course at some point.  Most of the others decided to carry on with the route they’d planned which took them away from the road again.  I on the other hand was suddenly overwhelmed with hunger and a desire to be at our destination.  Michelle and I set off down the road, my pasty being rather rapidly devoured and were at the Langstrath in no time.

For those of you thinking about booking the Langstrath we found it a little bit too posh.  The food was gorgeous as was the room and everything else.  We just felt it was a little bit too hotel like and a little bit too clean when you’re walking in in muddy boots.

So that was it.  We went to bed thinking that for a second day it was pretty adventurous.  It turned our to be our most adventurous and varied of the whole walk I think.  As for me, I was determined not to get lost the next day!


2 Comments so far
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What a day this was! Such a beautiful start along Ennerdale, then the drab march along the forest track, the delight of Black Sail, then our troubles in the cloud! It was great to meet some other C2C-ers and is certainly a day we’ll never forget!

Comment by gleavem

[…] You may remember that our second day started well, but ended lost in the cloud above Loft Beck: Ennerdale to Stonethwaite, so we decided to re-do the section between Honister and Blacksail hut to see where we went […]

Pingback by First Walk in the Lake District – Honister Pass & Haystacks « 2 friends and the coast to coast walk

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