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" Black Sail and the Coast to Coast-ers "

Date & start time: Wednesday  June 2013, am start.

Location of Start : The Gatesgarth car park, Buttermere, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 194 149)

Places visited : Scarth Gap, Black Sail, Ennerdale, Loft Beck, Mosses Trod, Honister.

Walk details :   5 mls,  1475ft of descent, 2850ft of ascent (in two sections)  6 hours 15 mins.

Highest point : Mosses Trod, 2000ft above sea level St Bees and Robin Hood's Bay.

Walked with : Paula, Tom and Abi,Sue, Sarah, Ann and the dogs, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Very kind . . . sunshine, a few large clouds and super visibility.


 " Black Sail and the Coast to Coast-ers " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


Our daughter and grandchildren are up in the Lakes and friends of hers are walking the Coast to Coast long distance footpath. 

We arrange to meet up with them at Black Sail Hostel in the Ennerdale Valley, which is great because we haven't been there for quite some time.

Bethan is confined to light duties today so Paula takes one car to Gatesgarth then Ann takes another to Honister and joins us after a shorter walk.

I hope we all meet up as planned . . . it was in danger of getting slightly complicated.

Gatesgarth Farm at the start of the walk.

We paid and displayed and would collect the car later in the day.

The first party . . . Abi, Paula, Tom, Harry and myself.
Three swallows on the telegraph wire with Scarth Gap behind.

We set off up the paved path . . . heading for Black Sail.

Where the stream washed out the path a few years back, the damage has been repaired and the drainage improved.

What was intriguing was the use of imported stone . . . about a dozen engraved stones were spotted

and each engraving was coloured in with gold paint . . . there's a story there somewhere

These were just two . . . look out for others when you next take this track up the fell.

Climbing higher above Buttermere now, leaving the white building of Hassness far below.

To our left, the sunlight was highlighting the old miner's track which makes its curved way down to Warnscale Bottom.

There's plenty of water in Dubbs waterfalls after the recent rain.

Abi and I play spot the cairn . . . count to ten . . . on the way up.
Basking in reflected glory of a good climb.
Behind us, the climb up to High Stile via Gamlin Edge.
Picture of the author by his daughter.

We all reach the level ground at the top of the pass.

One feature of Scarth Gap was the chance of a drink and a biscuit . . .

the other was this delightful bell heather in full bloom next to the path.

Get ready now for the descent down the other side . . . what must go up goes down they say . . .

That's Pillar Fell just catching a little cloud on the other side.

The head of "Wild Ennerdale"

The clear felled forest to our right is now starting to blend in again with the moorland grass on the left.

When we walked over to Black Sail in the 1980's this area was forested and we had to duck under the trees or take a higher track to avoid them.

We had heard that they've started to renovate the Hostel

but seeing builders vehicles, a skip,

sandbags and rubble below us

still came as a bit of a surprise.


We'll be able to see how far they have got

when we get to the hostel in about ten minutes time.

Well . . . stand back . . . it is so strange to see heavy industry in this remote part of the Lakes.

No amount of disruption to the building can detract from the beauty of the valley in the sunshine.

The obligatory photo in front of the door of the hostel.

Inside little has changed . . . but they've moved the tables round . . .
. . . and tidied up the fireplace.

It was good to see the guitar there . . . and it had all six strings . . . even though the tuning was a little out.

The present warden was away on annual leave and we were welcomed

by the relief warden (Alan ?) and even gave ourselves

some old fashioned "hostel duties" by unloading supplies

and carrying them through to the kitchen.

In the common room, a fine painted mural high on the wall

which seems to be capable of being lit

by new fangled electricity, an addition in recent years.

What next . . . they'll have a phone and be able to talk to the world !

( 07711 108450 by the way but book through the YHA )

Many of the old pictures are still there . . . Black Sail through the ages.

The hostel is an old shepherds bothy with a long history of visitors.   Below are two old photos from the early days of photography . . .

An Abraham's Print . . .
. . . . and one from the Williamson Family Archives.

Paula checks out some more recent archives . . .

Tom could be saying . . . " You were here HOW long ago ?" . . . What do you think ?

Paula found an entry made by her big sister nearly 25 years ago.

It was a pleasure to still be able to buy a cup of tea and soak up a little of the atmosphere.

Make your own brew . . . money in the pot please . . . songs and music by Tom.

We were here to meet up with Paula's walking friends who were on the second day of their twelve day walk.

While we were here we may as well enjoy a quiet lunch overlooking the fells . . .

The warden turned the builder's generator off . . . the Gillerthwaite Warden moved her landrover away from the front door

to allow the sun to shine once more on the seat . . . . and the workman on the JCB stopped for his lunch . . .

. . . and all was peaceful once again at Black Sail . . . the way it should be !

That was until these two arrived !

Sue and Sarah had walked all the way up the valley and were appreciative of the chance to stop . . . so joined us for lunch and a cuppa.

Time for a chat before we headed off . . . after all  . . . they had to get over to Rosthwaite tonight

as they and their overnight bags were booked in to accommodation in the village.

Leaving the valley to the warden and workmen we head off up the valley . . .

past the footbridge that takes the path over to Wasdale via Black Sail Pass.

Harry enjoyed a brief swim as we headed up the left hand side of upper Ennerdale.

Ahead was the distinctive outline of Green Gable and the rounded Great Gable, their crags now in deep shadow.

We heading off through the glacial moraine for Loft Beck, the valley on the left between Haystacks and Brandreth crags.

Climbing up alongside the Tongue Beck . . .

. . . before it splits at the waterfall to make its own way up towards Green Gable.

We are climbing quickly now alongside the real Loft Beck.

This was the first big climb of the holiday for Sue and Sarah

and the pace slows slightly.  Another family group follows us up.


We didn't notice the black objects in passing

but below there were some very large sheep . . . which turned out

on closer examination to be the Ennerdale Black Galloway Cattle

which feature in the "Wild Ennerdale" project.

A well made pitched path climbs up alongside the beck . . .
. . . and we gradually gain height.

A brief stop at the top to have a drink and enjoy the moment.

Looking across the valley we had the briefest glimpse of the crags of Scafell,

the adjacent Scafell Pike being hidden from view.

Looking north west along the length of Haystacks at the summit of High Crag / High Stile beyond.

In the lovely visibility we get a clear view of Mellbreak and Low Fell too.

" Higher and wider "

Sarah and Sue . . . Coast to Coast-ers

Behind them, their last view of the Irish Sea this holiday as they were on their way east

their thoughts set on reaching the North Sea some 190 miles away.

Our climb now eased as we set off to join Mosses the Mosses Trod path on the fellside ahead.

It starts at Honister and winds its way over to Wasdale via the flanks of Great Gable and Kirk Fell.

Lovely views down Buttermere today.

Tom takes a break at one of the cairns along the way . . . we should make another rendezvous here.

Ann had parked a second car at Honister and walked up the Dram Road with Bethan.

It was hot and Bethan enjoyed a little dip on the way up.
Up at the Drum House earlier . . . turn left . . .

Fine views of Fleetwith Pike and Buttermere for her too

before we spotted each other and met up half way along the Trod.

Full compliment . . . Ann, Tom and Abi and the two dogs all together again.

We walked on, Ann doubling back on her outward route, reaching the Drum House a short while later.

From the walk down we could see across to the Yew Crag Quarries and the rail incline.

. . . as we walked down this old funicular track leading back to the mine headquarters below.

What . . . a traffic queue on the Honister Mine Road ?

The bus was taking folk on a mine tour . . . the truck and trailer was collecting sheep from the fell.

Just the last section of the path which will take us to the end of our walk today.

- - - o o o - - -

It seems that the renovations to Black Sail include new up-to-date accommodation for the hostel warden

thereby ensuring that the hostel will be fully staffed and able to provide the normal friendly service including meals and accommodation.

The renovations will improve energy efficiency and hopefully will secure the hostel's future for years to come.

- - - o o - - -

Black Sail Hostel (circa 1959)

I wonder if this (attached) is of interest to you? Your recent pictures of Ennerdale and the Black Sail Hostel prompted me to dig out my old black and white prints taken on a long-ago stay there (July 1959).

According to what I wrote on the back of another photo the warden at the time was Douglas Moore and his dog's name was "Tiny". I vaguely remember that there were "proper" toilets at that time, but the washing facilities were in a nearby stream. We were a small group of schoolgirls who were on a hostelling trip in the Lake District; this was our favourite hostel.

Thank you for helping to keep such beautiful places in our ageing memories . . . S.Barton.

Thanks for the picture and building memories for us too . . . RmH .

- - - o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Canon 1100D SLR digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a few bob for the honesty box for the tea and coffee.

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Previous walk - 22nd July 2013 - John's Tour of the Lake District

A previous time near here - Saturday 27th June 2009 Kirk Fell with Jo

Next walk - 31st July 2013 - Local and Hen Comb with Paula

Fancy a stay at Black Sail Hostel - Click here for the YHA Black Sail web site