Sunday, October 7, 2012

Four Lakeland Passes

Borrowdale - the start

I wanted to get some longer runs done in preparation for the Montane Ultra Trail 26 Grizedale race which I have entered. I found this route on the Long Distance Walkers Association website. It's an event organised by the Morcambe Bay and Bowland group. The actual event is next weekend. I am not able to enter next week so I thought I would have a run around anyway. There was also a helpful route description available here.

A basic outline of the route is as follows:
Starting from Rosthwaite, run along to Seathwaite, up to Stockley Bridge and then up to Styhead Tarn. Down to Wasdale Head, around Kirk Fell up Black Sail Pass, Down to the head of Ennerdale, up Scarth Gap Pass, down to Buttermere along to Gatesgarth Farm, along Warnscale Bottom, up and over to Honister Slate Mine, back down to Seatoller and along the river back to Rosthwaite. Got it?

route and elevation - 19 miles, little bit of up and down?
bridge at Peat Howe, beautiful clear water
heading towards Seathwaite. Base Brown in the middle, Seatoller Fell on the right

The directions were a bit tricky to start with but it was essentially - turn right out of the National Trust car park in Rosthwaite, follow the road around through the village and then follow the signs for the youth hostel.

The track goes over some fields, down a road and over the bridge to the youth hostel. Following the path in front of the youth hostel, along the river until a fence stops any further progress.

This part of the river is really pretty. The path is a bit rough and climbs over rocks. In one part there is a chain bolted to the rocks for a handrail.

Once at the fence, the path goes around the rocks until it heads down into a field and through some buildings to the road. Straight across at the road and the track continues on to Seathwaite. The track at this point is fairly flat and easy going.

Base Brown to the right

lots of traffic heading up to Styhead Tarn

Once at Seathwaite, turn left along the left hand side of the river on the path up to Stockley Bridge.
This path is pitched but rough to run on. 

 There were a lot of people around, all seemed to be drudging their way up to Styhead Tarn.

After crossing Stockley Bridge, the path went steeply up the side of Seathwaite Fell.

Before too long, I got to Styhead Tarn and the stretcher box. 

The impressive Scafell Range really draws you, it felt a bit strange to be up here without either heading on towards the Scafells or turning to head up Great Gable.

Styhead Tarn
famous Stretcher Box. Lingmell behind
the path down to Wasdale Head along the slopes of Great Gable. Plenty of people on this path too

Great Napes on Great Gable

I felt pretty fresh at this point. Reflecting on the day afterwards, the climb up to Styhead Tarn was probably the easiest climb of the day. It was also the first so I'm not sure if that was significant.

I stood for a while looking at the Scafells before carrying on around the corner of Great Gable and heading down the Bursting Knott path to Wasdale Head.

The path goes between the shop and Ritson's Bar, through to the beck but not over the bridge. You carry on around this path and get on the track of Black Sail Pass.

looking back to Great Gable

Kirk Fell, the ugly way up

The path goes past the fence where you can climb directly up the corner of Kirk Fell. It carries on along the side of a wall before climbing up and eventually crossing Gatherstone Beck.

It continues to wind steeply to the top of the pass where the gate that Wainwright said that only a fanatical purist would use still sits.

Heading up Mosedale, it was nice to see from a different angle, the scree slope coming down from Dore Head on Yewbarrow. It looked very steep from across the valley compared to the week before when we were running down it.

Stirrup Crag with Dorehead Screes. The white sliver stopping just past halfway is the way we came down from Yewbarrow on our walk last week
gate at the top of Black Sail Pass
Black Sail Youth Hostel is the white speck in the middle of the picture at the bottom of the valley.
That's where we are heading to.
Black Sail youth hostel again. The col to the middle right is the way I will continue on over Scarth Gap Pass

The route down to the head of Ennerdale Valley looked really nice. It seemed like it would be gentle and easy on the feet. It was actually slippy and wet and not all that pleasant.

Once at the Black Sail youth hostel, I was on a forest track so enjoyed a proper track for half a mile or so before heading up the climb towards Scarth Gap pass.

I was still doing ok in terms of my energy. I knew that the run down Scarth Gap Pass to Buttermere was nice and fairly easy on the legs. 

The climb up was easier than I thought it would be and before long, I was at the top looking over the Buttermere Valley.

starting up to Scarth Gap, looking back to the head of Ennerdale
top of Scarth Gap Pass, looking up Gamlin End to High Crag
Gatescarth Farm, where I am heading. The onward path along Warnscale Bottom visible here too

The run down the Scarth Gap Pass to Buttermere is pretty cool. It's a bit scary at the top where there are some big steps but it soon gives way to a nice dirt type track.

The track is steep in parts but seems to be just the right angle to be able to run comfortably down.

I crossed the flat path to Gatescarth Farm and was happy to see an ice-cream truck there so I bought a cider refresher and set off walking up the road to the bridleway.

looking back over Buttermere

this horse bites

The path along Warnscale Bottom that climbs up the side of Fleetwith Pike to Dubs Bothy and the slate mine is one of my least favourites. 

There are a lot of big, ankle breaking stones on the path and it's a tough climb. I was feeling it at this point, despite the cider refresher, and was taking my time.

There was a Shetland pony wandering around at the bottom of the path. Apparently, it's always here and apparently, it bites! It was friendly enough when I went past and provided me with another welcome excuse to stop and have a rest.

almost at the top, looking back over beautiful Buttermere
Honister quarry works are a welcome sight

Dubbs Bothy

Once I got to the top of Honister, by the bothy, I knew that all the significant climbing was done.

The route description says to follow the line of the old railway track. This is easy to pick up from the bothy, it goes straight and continues to go straight.

The track goes up for a bit further before starting to head downhill. After a short time, it starts to drop downhill more drastically until it ends at the Honister Slate Mine.

old rail track
Honister Slate Mine

I decided to stop off and use the toilet at Honister Slate Mine. I saw at this point that I was quite dehydrated so decided to stop and have a coffee.

From the slate mine, the track goes behind the youth hostel and goes away from but alongside the road.

It rejoins the road and then goes off again at a more severe angle. 

At this point, the bridleway is joyous to run on, surfaced with crushed stone which gives a little bit when running. It doesn't stay like this for too long though and soon enough, the track reverts to the ankle breaking rocks.

feel that path on tired feet - ahh!
hmph, that didn't last too long

From here, the path goes down into the woods and back along the river to Rosthwaite. A total of 19 miles in about six hours and some very tired legs. Happy though!

1 comment:

  1. brilliant Paul, 19 miles! no wonder you had tired legs :)