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" Fleetwith and Haystacks with Sherran and Bill "

Date & start time:   Monday  14th March 2016,  11 am start.

Location of Start : Honister Slate Mines, Honister, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 225 135 )

Places visited :      Hopper Quarry, Black Star, Fleetwith Pike, Dubs, Innominate Tarn, Haystacks and down to Gatesgarth (a linear walk).

Walk details :      6.3 mls,  1425 feet of ascent,  2550 feet of decent, 6 hour 10 mins.

Highest point :      Fleetwith Pike,  2,126ft - 648m

Walked with :     Sherran and Bill, Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.

Weather :         Blue skies and winter sunshine, warm and wonderful.

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Sherran and Bill suggested a walk up at the head of the valley

as the culmination to their 'long weekend' stay in Loweswater. 

Today the weather came up trumps for this classic Fleetwith and Haystacks walk.

" It's a beautiful day . . . the sun is shining . . . (we) feel good . . . and no-one's gonna stop (us) now, oh yeah."

Do sing along to the lyrics of Queen "Made in Heaven".

Well actually we did stop at Gatesgarth for Bill to drop off the second vehicle at what would be the end of our walk today.

Ahead, after the car journey up to Honister, would be a virtual walk along the skyline.

Bright sunshine colours the scene at Honister as we park in the National Trust car park.

The mine is quietly busy and the bus has just arrived to take another party up onto the Via Ferrata

The two dogs are "roaring to go" . . . well almost !

The relevance of the tiger goes back to Mark Weir's attitude to life . . .

"It is better to live one day as a tiger than a thousand days as a sheep" - an old Tibetan proverb

Our team for today . . . Sherran, Bill, Ann (and myself).

There are two dogs somewhere but they shun publicity on this one.

As we pass the memorial table to the Royal patronage of the mines,

Bill either *waves for the camera  *holds his hand to his ear to hear better  *salutes the Royal plaque . . . (delete as appropriate).

We follow the mine track up

leaving the valley, Honister Hause and the Yew Crag Quarries far below.

As the track levels we pass the standing stones and head off onto the open fell paths.

This is a natural perched boulder on the way up, with a view across to the Watendlath Fells and Helvellyn beyond.

" Machinery as art "

The mine JCB digger parked on a slate tip at the end of shift with snow covered Pillar fell in the background.

We hit the snow line . . . but that was about as good as the snow got for the dogs today

because they do love running and jumping for snowballs.

A slight detour to show Bill and Sherran the old mine huts overlooking Hopper (or Ash Crag) Quarry.

Around the corner and a resurgence of Pillar Fell from behind the crag.

The wire rope marks the upper end of the Via Ferrata that has climbed up the face of the crags below.

Summiteers Ann and Sherran on Black Star, the highest point of Honister Crags.

Well these two got higher . . . who says dogs can't enjoy the view.

From the higher top of Fleetwith Pike at the end of the short ridge

and we can look down at the uninterrupted view of the three north western lakes.

A soft focus shot of the two boys at the slightly lower summit cairn.

It must be positioned so as to be seen from below and to encourage you up after so many false summits on this way up.

The cairn looked to be in need of a little restoration . . . it has suffered a bit over the winter.

That's a bit better but I'm not going back up anytime soon to fix that top but one layer of stones.

Grasmoor and the NW fells in the background have lost virtually all their snow after a week of mild weather.

Too early for lunch and still a way to go.

We hope to traverse around on the higher ground and walk out onto Haystacks, the ridge in the middle distance.

First down to Dubs and the repaired quarry house now open as a Mountain Bothy

Renovations inside and a new water tub outside.

An 1860 picture of the Dubs Hut in its mining days.

Below the quarry the Warnscale Beck gathers before plunging down into the valley below.

The path continues, damp at times, towards Green Crag.

Before you move on . . . take an extra look at that pool of water.

Surprise . . . well it surprised us !

A large pool with a huge gathering of frogs all with one intention in mind . . . procreation of the species.

The Common Frog . . . beautifully camouflaged against the muddy water but not the green slate.

" Common frogs are noticeable for their long jumps after being disturbed, their smooth skin and patch behind the eye.

They tend to be green or brown (although can be cream, orange, red or black) and often have random black blotches."

[ Courtesy of the website ]

There were hundreds in the extended pool along with a soup of freshly laid frogs spawn.

Only the view and the thought of the distance yet to travel (and perhaps lunch)

took us onward and away from this rare and spectacular sighting of nature at its best.

As we walk around the fells and between Great Round How on the left and Green Crag on the right

we regain the view of Pillar but can also see the erratic stone on the skyline above Ennerdale.

Hold your cursor over the picture to see a closer view from a visit last year.

Sherran though the snow covered face of Pillar was Haystacks and was not relishing the thought of the extended walk around.

Once over the next brow her fears were allayed as our route ahead became clearer.

Blackbeck Tarn.

From here you can clearly see Green and Great Gable, Pillar . . . and out of shot to the right, the closer summit of Haystacks.

From here the path took us on towards Innominate Tarn

and offered superb views of Warnscale Bottom and the Buttermere Valley on this lovely day.

Up the rise to the tarn . . . had this climb been a foot or two less then the water from here

would drain into the Buttermere Valley not Ennerdale, and enter the sea at a totally different location . . . Sellerfield not Workington.

Obvious wildlife on this tarn included a pair of Mallard ducks . . . even at this altitude of nearly 1750 feet above sea level.

A favourite little mountain pool in the heather overlooking the main tarn.

The next little rocky alcove offered dry ground and a lack of that gentle cooling breeze . . . an ideal place for lunch.

. . . with a pretty ideal view too.

A short distance above the islands was the summit of Haystacks and the last high point of our walk today.

Haystacks was chosen by the guide book writer Alfred Wainwright as his favourite place in the Lakes and would be his final resting point

when the time came to scatter his ashes (1991).

We took Sherran and Bill round to see a small plaque . . .
. . . but sadly this fitting epitaph has gone for some reason.

His memory lingers however in the minds of every fellwalker that has ever read his books.

Almost a circumnavigation of the "tarn with no name"

before we regain the path and head off towards the summit.

A higher and smaller pool, its size distorted by the perspective of the location,

fails to be given even the hint of a name by the Ordnance Survey.

Ann tops out on the last but one rock crag before the summit.

Behind her the broad, late-winter views of Helvellyn and Raise.

[ Despite the lack of snow on the western flanks there's still a good covering of snow on the tops and eastern facing slopes of the fells apparently.]

In the middle distance too is that Honister Quarry JCB we saw earlier in the day.

Such a nice view from up here that I took a panoramic shot from this top rather than the main summit.

Click here or on the photo above for a Loweswatercam 360 degree annotated picture.

The next high point on the summit of Haystacks.

This is the slightly northern cairn complete with an old and substantial fence post embedded in it.

The slightly higher point is similarly marked with an old iron post and cairn.

Here there's a clear view down into Ennerdale and west out to a rather hazy Irish Sea.

Just below the summit is an elongated mountain pool we know as Summit tarn.

It doesn't even feature on my old 1:25k . . . what an omission for such a lovely viewpoint.

Blue skies and blue reflections at this peaceful place.

No-one about . . . and then three turn up at the same time !

The big picture . . . a blend of four or five vertical shots to bring to life . . . or rather record for posterity

the afternoon view ahead of us as we start our descent to Scarth Gap.

Ahead is the slightly steep rock slab down which Harry may need help with.

- - - o o o - - -


At twelve years old

and suffering from some of the ailments of an elderly dog

we had doubts as to whether Harry could make this walk today.


However his smiling face

and his apparent happiness to be out on the fells

plus his performance on the first part of the walk

encouraged us on.


An occasional lift of assistance up a steep rock step,

or a steep rock descent as in this case,

and he was away on the next leg of the journey.

Long may his mountain life continue.


- - - o o o - - -

Nearing half past four and the sun is starting to drop in the sky,

casting longer shadows into the valleys and giving a deeper yellow hue to the bracken and grass covered fells opposite.

Into the shade ourselves, Scarth Gap well above us now, Harry sits for a breather as Sherran and Bill pause for a photo.

Our attention has been caught by a the slowly increasing sound of a heavy aircraft.

I love the Hercules as an aircraft . . . it is majestic as it defies gravity on its slow fly past

and doesn't scare the **** out of everything as it hurtles low level through the valleys of Lakeland.

[ As a landscape photographer its gentle approach gives you just about enough time to change the lens too !]

Late afternoon light as we reach the last turn of the path before Peggy's Bridge and the walk across the valley.

The final walk across the valley past the pines of Warnscale Bottom and the skyline view of our completed walk today.

- - - o o o - - -


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

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

This site best viewed with . . . lunch in a sunny spot on the high fells.

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Previous walk - 13th March 2016 - Askhill Knott with Sherran and Bill

A previous time up here - 6th Dec 2008 Winter Wonderland on Haystacks

Next walk - 17th March 2016 - Talkin Tarn and the Roman Wall