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" Haystacks from Honister "

Date & start time:      21st February 2021.   11.30 am start.

Location of Start :     Nation Trust car park, Honister, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 125 136).

Places visited :          Moses Trod, Perched Boulder, Haystacks, back via Dubbs Quarry.

Walk details :              5.5 mls, 2000 ft of ascent, 4 hours 15 mins.

Highest point :           Surprisingly the Moses Trod path, 1,980ft - 609m.

Walked with :             Martin and the dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                    Overcast, cloud touching a few high summits but sunshine mid-walk.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


A week has passed and I've recovered from the exertions of the back-to-back walks ten days ago.

The weather here has also turned full season as the local sunshine gave way to a mini easterly freeze and then back to mild weather.

My neighbour Martin has read a lot about Haystacks, so it seemed a good time to explore the area and visit some of the sights.

Pleased at the prospect of reaching a famous summit today.
We start making tracks from the Honister Mine complex.

It's half term but there are few people about

but then the schools have been closed since January and people can't come to the Lakes on holiday anyway due to the pandemic.

We set off up the mine track and turn at the pillar onto the footpath.
This climbs quickly and soon joins the old mineral railway track.

Looking back as we head up the old dram road.

Across the valley are the Yew Crag Workings, a second slate mine complex with multiple horizontal addits,

a funicular railway and two access tracks.  Towards the high ground many of the mine workings are open quarries.

The footpath on the moorland above leads on to Dale Head, away to the left.

Under foot we spot the occasional railway sleeper as we climb to the site of the old drum house.

This was a large structure with a wooden drum and cable system with a manual braking system that lays forlornly to one side.

I controlled the ascent and descent of the trucks or drams that were used to transport the slate down to the processing sheds we passed earlier.

We turned left at the drum house and joined the old track known as Moses Trod.

Moses was a miner and presumably mule-driver who used this track to carry the finished slate to the coast via Ennerdale Valley.

He allegedly did a good line in illegal liquor for his colleagues, bringing it as a return load on many occasions.

From Moses Trod there's a great view across the raised valley of Dubs Bottom, to High Stile and Mellbreak.

The highest section of the walk turned out to be on Moses Trod by about ten metres or so.

Leaving the main path at the smallest of cairns, we started a slight decline towards Haystacks, the darker summit ahead.

Martin and the dogs at the gate . . . a big improvement from the old stile.

I tried to point out the pillar that gives its name to Pillar Fell, but the visibility and light was rather poor to enable it to stand out clearly.

The path through the gate leads to Loft Beck, the valley that falls away steeply behind the dogs.

By leaving the path and walking up onto the bulk of Haystacks we get our first close up view of Great Gable.


Another gate leads onto the next part of our walk.

Had we stayed outside the fence we would have walked further but ended up at the same place.

Haystacks is a different sort of geology.

Here we leave the rolling fells based on slate and shales and change to a rugged volcanic landscape,

full of rugged rocks and water filled hollows.

Ultimately navigation is easy as you can just follow the fence.

This will take you close to the western edge of the fell but it would miss the feature we searched for today.

There's a glacial erratic rock perched on the top of the fell.

Apart from being a geologically interesting place,

it is also where a group of us scattered the ashes of Brian Wilkinson who was warden at Black Sail in the 1970's and 80's.

The path now meanders through the rugged and varied landscape of Haystacks.

No wonder this area was the favourite fell of a certain Mr Alfred Wainwright.

The Haystacks tarn with no name . . . so it became known as Innominate Tarn.

As we walked alongside Innominate Tarn

we look back at the islands and at the distant fells, Green Gable, Great Gable and Kirk Fell.

Closer to the summit we pass another, smaller tarn that really has no name.

An old fencepost surrounded by stones means that Martin has reached the summit.

Haystacks isn't the highest but it does give you a fine view of many of the major fells of Cumbria.

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

The summit tarn and the view north encompassing the twin valleys of Ennerdale and Buttermere.

Time for a little fell walking energy-refurbishment.

We chose a lower viewpoint close to the top of Haystacks which gave us a lunchtime vista down into the Ennerdale Valley.

Below us was the famous Black Sail Youth Hostel

While we were looking down on the hostel

we were being watched from above, in case we discard anything suitable to eat.

As we are careful eaters the Raven soon realised there was nothing on offer and headed off,

catching the updrafts that swirled around the Buttermere side of the fell.

Time to be moving on.

We head back down to Innominate Tarn but we will then head off to the left to find Black Beck Tarn and Dubs Bothy.

The underlying geology of Haystacks extend to the Green Crag area ahead.

Before we reach there we've got to take the narrow path around the crags, that will take us around to Black Beck Tarn.

Along the way there's an excellent view down into the Buttermere Valley . . . just don't stand too close to the edge !

The stream that cascades steeply down into the valley starts at the large tarn, tucked away in a hollow in the fell.

Looking back at the path alongside Black Beck.
The path onward uses 'path fairy' steps up towards Green Crag.

We share the fell with the locals . . . where this Herdwick grazes the sparse vegetation.

Not all of the slate workings are underground.

Ahead is the Dubbs open quarry on the side of Fleetwith Pike.

Just pay attention when you are crossing Dubbs Beck.

Looking back at the river crossing and away into the distance to Haystacks that we climbed earlier.

The plentiful water supply for Dubs Bothy is now fed by a pipe not an old inverted iron rail.

The pipe emerges from within the old slate tip and the sparkling water flows into a nice new tub.

The door to the bothy is always open.
The old fireplace was blocked for years
but now a new stove can heat the interior.

Th bothy is free to use but bring your own food and fuel.

Recent improvements by the Mountain Bothy Association includes now windows and bedding platforms.

We're please to see the bothy in such good condition . . . but we'll not stay there ourselves today.

We head across to the western end of the dram road, the trackway that we used on our outward journey.

It starts by climbing up from the flat quarry area in front of the old mine buildings.

Where the old track starts to level out it attracts pools of water, so the path will some times deviate to one side.

Ahead is the slight rise that was the site of the old Drum House.

The last of the ascent has been done and from now on it is downhill all the way.

The last section of the trackway is so steep that the walking path has to deviate around the side of the crag.

Our view includes the Yew Crag quarries once more.
The pitched path leads down to the mine building at Honister.

- - - o o o - - -



There are several sculptures around the mine buildings,

none are more impressive than this fine sculpture of an Osprey.



It was quite strange to pass the mine buildings and cafe

which are closed to business at present.

We look forward to the re-opening in April or May



- - - o o o - - -


Five and a half hours after we started the walk, we're back at the car park at the end of the walk.

Before we could see it, we heard the sound of a helicopter which seemed to be getting louder as we searched the valleys.

The Bristow's Coastguard helicopter emerged from the valley and roared overhead.

- - - o o o - - -

As a postscript we were able to help this gentleman who had broken down on the steepest part of Honister Pass.

It turned out to be someone who I knew and last met on a valley carol singing event at the Bridge Hotel, the Christmas before last.

Cheers John . . . glad to be of assistance.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures generally taken with my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

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

This site best viewed with . . . a fine day to walk a classic fell.

Go to Home Page . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 12-14th February - 'Fire and Ice' in Loweswater

A previous time up here - 13th July 2003 A Tale of Three Buttermere Bothies

Next event - 24th February - Owen John Hiley Arrives