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Thursday, 5 April 2018

Easter in The NW Lakes - Honister to Great Borne

For my Annual Easter Trip I originally planned a 3 day backpack from Grasmere to tick of a handful of remaining Wainrights to the South of Fairfield. A last minute check of the weather showed that instead of a lovely spring camp that I had envisioned the weather had other ideas... Winter was not yet ready to release It's tight grip on the fells. The forecast for the Easter weekend was bleak to say the least- snow sleet showers, strong winds with a wind-chill well into the teens. It also showed that the North western side would fair better, so a rough route was hastily re-planned , maps grabbed, rucksack packed, before an early night so I could be away early the next morning.
I chose to walk a route I last did around 4 yrs ago, but extend it to bag some wainrights in the Loweswater fells with a Wild Camp on Melbreak- a lovely looking spot that I had been eyeing up for some time.
Around 8am on Good Friday I pulled into the small lay-by just before the Honnister slate mine,
The weather was overcast with light winds and no rain - I was hoping it would stay that way!
 Kit readied I got Max out of the van, and we set off towards the slate mine, then taking the quarry track towards Fleetwith Pike.

Lower Flanks of Dale head from Honister  Path

Hut on Honister Slate Mine ... I liked the contrast of the rusty building against the  slate.

The last time I climbed Fleetwith Pike I arrived at the summit in thick clag, so planned on revisiting the summit if it was clear this time... it wasn't- the high tops were in the clouds, so I continued on following the track down to Dubs Hut, smoke coming from the chimney signalling it was occupied. A few pics were taken before I continued on my way.

Dubs Hut.

Crossing Warnscale Beck I continued on to Green Crag, reaching Blackbeck Tarn soon after.

Blackbeck Tarn.

Looking back to Green Crag, with Fleetwith Pike beyond.

Not long after I arrived at what is probably the most famous Tarn in the Lakedistrict - famous for being on Alfred Wainwrights favourite Fell- Innominate Tarn. It is also the area where His ashes were reputedly scattered as per his wishes. Despite being modest in height it is a fell of great character , you could easily spend a half day - in descent weather exploring the many crags here. In His pictorial guide to the Lakeland Fells Wainwright describes it perfectly " Haystacks stands unabashed and unashamed in the midst of a circle of much loftier fells , like a shaggy terrier in the company of foxhounds."

Innominate Tarn

Not long after I reached the summit but for some explicable reason, I only took photo's of the views and not the summit itself ! I did get some video though- you can see this at the end of this blogpost.

Buttermere & Crummock water.

Ahead lay High Crag, looking very moody and imposing with its head in the clouds, from this vantage point it also looked very steep! between myself and the summit lay the minor top of Seat - still steep though and I knuckled down for the climb. The summit of high crag is hidden from view on the ascent to Seat, giving a false sense of security- as when you think you've reached the top, you top out at seat and High crag is still a steep climb from here.

High Crag from Haystacks.

Haystacks, Fleetwith Pike beyond.

Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head & Fleetwith Pike.

Great Gable from Seat.

Soon I reached High Crag, ahead lay one of my favourite ridge walks in the lakes- High Crag to Great Borne. I've walked  this ridge a few times and the views are always spectacular ! On my last visit to this area - a 3day trip taking in Kirk Fell , Looking Stead ( I spent the night here ) before climbing Pillar then descending to Ennerdale Forest before climbing to Red Pike ( where I spent the 2nd night ). On the third day I walked this ridge in reverse, over Haystacks then back to Honnister pass. The last time I walked the full ridge was around 4 - 5yrs ago - I descended to camp at Floutern Tarn on that occasion... this time I wanted to camp on Great Borne.

High Crag summit cairn.

View to High Stile.

Little Dodd, Starling Dodd beyond.

Continuing on I passed over red pike before descending to Little Dodd then onto Starling Dodd. By now it was late afternoon and my thoughts turned to tonight's camp. A short descent to Red Gill provided excellent water for camp, with my usual 4 ltrs added to my pack I set off towards Great Borne to find a pitch for the night.
Once at the summit, I began looking for a pitch. The summit area is quite rocky but I located a couple of likely spots near the summit cairn, both were fairly exposed though, and with winds forecast to strengthen over night I knew the Trailstar would need secure anchoring. I checked the ground but getting good anchor points was difficult so I continued my search - shame as it had terrific views, and was fairly flat. Not long after I found a lovely spot which ticked all the boxes - flat soft grass, dry with fantastic views and good solid pegging ground . Soon my shelter for the night was pitched and I relaxed in the late afternoon sun with a brew. There was a decent sunset, and after taking a few pics I settled down for the night.

Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar on Great Borne.

Pitch on Great Borne looking towards Grasmoor

Starling Dodd, Red pike & High Stile.

Floutern Tarn.

Sunset from Great Borne pitch.

The next day I was planning on ticking of a handful of Wainwrights' in the Loweswater Fells. So with a nice single malt for company I looked over the map to plan next days route. My evening meal was a summit to eat Beef stew with potatoes- first time trying these, and I must say it was one of the tastiest freeze dried meals I've tried so far ! will defiantly be buying more of these.

Tasty Camp Grub.

The rest of the evening was spent gazing out watching distant lights come on , then later I watched Meru - a film documentary following 3 elite climbers as they took on the Sharks fin on mount Meru in India, said to be one of the worlds most difficult peaks- well worth watching if you've not seen it already. Around 6am I was awoken by strong winds and sleet showers, I made myself a coffee then thoughts turned to the day ahead, for some reason I was very reluctant to move on - very little motivation, down to the weather I thought. I decided I would leave the Loweswater Fells for a better day, and return the way I'd come and see if I could find a sheltered spot around Seat or Haystacks before walking out the next day. Once packed away I headed back towards Red Pike... it was very hard going walking straight into 30 - 40mph winds, so I decided to descend to the valley and follow the path towards Black Sail Hut. Once at valley level it was a much more comfortable walk, I planned to ascend to seat via Scarth Gap Pass, but as I neared the turn off point I began to feel unwell. considering my options I descided to head back- this turned out to be a good decision, as shortly before I reached my van I began to shiver, which combined with a headache made me a little nauseous. By the time I reached the van I was shaking uncontrollably and with heater on full I tried to warm up , I was well layered and its the first time I have felt like this - I knew then I'd made the right decision to return home - to stay would have been foolish. Once home, the effects lasted around 48 hrs, I felt drained and ached all over, can only assume I caught some kind of bug as I'm fine now.

Thanks for taking the time to read , and above all else- stay safe out there.

Till next time,
Happy Wildcamping.


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