After a quick early breakfast I set off as fast as my sore legs would take me. May be I am selfish but I did not want to share the early morning view of Ennerdale with anyone…
Resting for a few minutes at the foot of the lake, water crashing over the weir, the sky did not seem as friendly as it did at St Bees yesterday – I suppose that’s a welcome to the Lakes! The tops of the fells were just nibbling at the clouds, ripping small shreds off them and allowing the pieces to gently roll around the sides.
The south side of the lake was indeed stoney – as the guidebook had suggested, but the trail was easily followable. It got harder going around Robin Hood’s Chair, but after scrambling round and over rocks I was rewarded by a swath of bluebells that looked like they had been stippled over the fellside.
The sounds of babbling streams and becks flowing down from the fell accompanied me as I continued to the head of the lake. While the reflections on the water improved as the wind died completely to leave the water looking as flat as a millpond.
Passing through a kissing gate in the first stone wall a counter displayed the number of times it had been passed through. As I went through it was reading 309911, so I presume I am number 309912 – though I did not go back to check (being just a number fills be with dread, so the potential of being 2 numbers would be doubly worse!).
A little further on there was a choice of routes. One was to follow the tops of the fells for most of the day, the other tracked through to the end of the valley before rising over the ridge. I sat on the stile and contemplated the options. The clouds had lifted and the sun was breaking through, however the forecast was for showers and it did not look the easiest of routes over the top (on day 2!). The guidebook described the high route for experienced walkers and did not fully describe the route. Putting a small contribution into the mountain rescue collection cairn at the foot of Ennerdale Water I decided did not make me an expert. Best not be a duffer today, the valley beckoned.
Travelling up through the valley I reached Black Sail Youth Hostel, and a very welcome bench. It is a shame but the upper reaches of the valley are no where near as nice as the lakeside. I am sure it was well managed but it looks like the valley sides have succumbed to catastrophic deforestation.
The way ahead out of the valley did not look too clear, and I found my compass for the first time to take a bearing. Heading up the side of the fell I found a path lined with large sacks of rocks, a sign warned to keep clear but they make such good resting spots that I made good use of them as seats on my way up. I started the climb at 12:45, and 50 minutes or so later I arrived at the top to find 2 National Trust guys working on the path.
It was here that I took my first scenic detour, seduced by the views. Quickly realising the corner of the fence where I was stood was not the corner of the fence marked on the map I checked the guide book and found mention of a cairned path. I spotted it in the distance and followed it along the contour. Having not gone too far I suddenly found 2 walkers coming straight down the hill and greeting me like a long lost friend. I recognised them from earlier in the day as they had passed me on the forest road – it seemed that they had taken the wrong path out of the valley and ended up going round in circles for a little while.
The three of use found the old slate quarry tramway and followed it to the second objective of the day – the tea room at the Honister Quarry. After a couple of cups of tea and a chocolate slice I was on my way again down Honister Pass.
The views kept on getting better and better as I descended, and the weather was improving all the time. Borrowdale was being bathed in warm sunshine at the end of the day – not bad for a place that is reputed to be the wettest in England.
Having reached Rosthwaite I spotted on my accommodation list that my digs for the night were a mile further on the route in Stonethwaite – not that far but coming at the end of day too it seemed the longest mile yet.
Emergency rations: none
Aching bits: both legs – but just the calves. Both shoulders after the steep, tense, descent into Borrowdale
More photos (from all the days of walking) can be found in the photo gallery.