Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Pillar via the Shamrock Traverse from the Black Sail Hut

After a lovely breakfast, we were away by 09:20 and followed the route up to Black Sail Pass and after passing below Looking Stead we followed the path leading eventually to the summit of Pillar via a straightforward route. Part way along this path was a junction marked with a small cairn with a narrower path which was more of a sheep trail.
We took this route and it started immediately via a short steep and loose gully descending down a bit to then continue to contour along this steep flank of Pillar high above Ennerdale. After a while we arrived at a junction with the main path continuing ahead. We took the higher level option which ran to the left which rejoined the main path a bit further on.
The path was easy, but you had to be careful here and there where you put your feet as a trip could lead to a tumble down very steep ground, quite a long way.
We reached the landmark on the route which is the large Robinson's Cairn in Hind Cove, where we had a short break. This was followed by a short section of zig-zags on loose scree leading to the rising ramp of the Shamrock Traverse.
At the start was a short steeper scrambling section, then again a level path above very steep ground. One short and narrow slab which had to be crossed was sloping down towards a nasty looking drop. The slab had a bit of water seeping across it and the adjacent rocky wall didn't have much in the way of handholds.
It was only a couple of moves across and was soon passed. Definitely not to have a slip though.
Steeper ground ahead with a meandering path followed by scree and rock led to the notch by Pillar Rock. There was a small group og men and women with harnesses preparing to scramble up the short distance to its summit.
We continued past Pillar Rock on steep ground again on a meandering path until we suddenly popped out on the summit plateau of Pillar next to one of the several circular shelter walls made of piled up boulders and rocks.
We walked across to the shelter by the trig point and then sat inside the sheltering wall to eat our lunch.
After lunch we left the trig point to drop down the easy route back down towards Black Sail Pass but paused for a short while at the top of Looking stead to admire the view down Ennerdale and down to the tiny Black Sail hut far below.

Leaving Looking Stead, we followed our earlier ascent route back to the Black Sail hut. In the evening we had tomato and basil soup, chilli and rice (more like savoury mince with peppers and kidney beans, but still very nice) and chocolate fudge brownie for pudding.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Black Sail Hut

Ever since I looked down on the Black Sail Youth Hostel at the top of Ennerdale years ago while walking the Mosedale Horseshoe, I have wanted to spend a night there. So, earlier in the year we booked a couple of nights for both of us to stay there.
Karen's boots, which certainly fitted fine when she bought them, were giving her problems, especially with the big toe banging against the front of the boot when walking down hill. So, we decided to see if we could get a new pair of boots which fitted in Keswick.
We had plenty of time as we planned a relatively short walk from Gatesgarth Farm across Scarth Gap (re-ascending yesterday's descent route) and then down into Ennerdale and the Black Sail Hut. First we tried Rathbones where we had good service in the past and Karen tried on some Alt Berg Fremington boots as Alt Berg boots come in five widths so the chances of getting a good fit are better. It seemed that the widths they had in stock weren't suitable, so they suggested we try George Fishers just up the road.
So we headed for George Fishers and had excellent service from an assistant working there who, despite having a prosthetic arm was able to tie the boot ;aces one-handed! It took a while to have her feet measured and try on the appropriate Alt Berg Fremingtons with various after market insoles to get the best fit, but we got there after a while. It appeared that the problem was down to foot was rotating a bit inwards causing the big toe to be positioned a bit more towards the front.
While we were already in Keswick and it was lunchtime, we decided we might as well eat lunch there and then return to the camp-site.
We had let the camp-site owner know e would be away for a couple of nights and they charged us a reduced amount to allow us to leave the tent pitched there and the car in the car park. We knew the 77a bus, which would get us to Gatesgarth Farm, seemed to be at 56 minutes past the hour, so we planned to catch the 11:56 bus.
We walked to the bus stop a few hundred metres away at 11:45 and soon a bus appeared from the direction of Keswick. Rats. It was a 78 and bound for Seatoller, so no good for us.
No problem, we thought, the 77a will be along soon. After an hour, and no sign of a 77a, I re-checked the bus timetable on the bus stop on the other side of the road and realised that after 11:56 the buses were every two hours instead of hourly. D'oh! So the next bus would be at 13:56 and not 12:56.
Oh well, at least we knew why there was no bus yet! The bus duly arrived at 14:05 (late again!) and off we went. At the bottom of the Honister Pass where the road is narrow, there was a slight accident with a car scraping the side of the bus, but soon we were back at Gatesgarth.
We set off back up to Scarth Gap and then down the other side into Ennerdale and we arrived at the Black Sail Hut at 16:45. As the Youth Hostel is right on the route of the Coast to Coast long distance route, it is popular with passing walkers and the Common Room, just inside the front door, is left open and the Members' Kitchen is available for making hot drinks. So we, went in and made ourselves a hot drink and waited until the hostel was open at 17:00 so that we could book in.
After making up our beds (we were in separate bunk rooms accessible by outside doors, as were the toilets and shower), we each had a shower. We had also booked meals at the hostel and had a lovely sausage, mashed potatoes and red cabbage for dinner with apple crumble and custard for dessert.
There was a group of walkers from Canada also staying amongst the other guests.

We read in the evening, had a look at the glorious sunset and then had and early night.

Monday, 1 September 2014


Another lovely day after a bit of overnight rain with a little before breakfast. We drove up the road to Gatesgarth Farm and parked in the car park. We followed the route along the wide track which heads for Dubs Quarry and Honister. We left the path to ford Black Beck near Warnscales bothy and passed Blackbeck Tarn and then Innominate Tarn.
Karen decided to take an alternative route which missed out the summit while I continued on the usual route over the summit and then down to Scarth Gap.
At one point as I dropped down a short scrambling section, I saw Karen some distance below and shouted. As I reached Scarth Gap, I started to wait for Karen to arrive but then I heard a shout and there she was coming down the path behind me.
She had dropped down some scree and ended up traversing to join the path from the summit. She hadn't enjoyed her alternative route!
We made our way down from Scarth Gap and back along the level track near Buttermere to our starting point at Gatesgarth Farm.