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A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather

A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather


Postby Alteknacker » Tue Aug 31, 2021 10:58 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Caw Fell, Haycock, Scoat Fell, Seatallan, Steeple

Hewitts included on this walk: Haycock, Iron Crag, Scoat Fell, Seatallan

Date walked: 26/08/2021

Time taken: 10.5

Distance: 32.4 km

Ascent: 1624m

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Having the daughter and grandkids staying with us, I hadn’t looked at the weather forecast for a few days. But when I did so on the Tuesday, I noticed with something of a jarring shock that fine clear weather was forecast for the next few days, most particularly on the Thursday - and that forecast applied to most of the country, including Assynt, to where I was desperate to return after my last failed foray up there a few weeks previous – failed because of a bum weather forecast, that changed radically just half a day before I arrived there :( :roll: .

But this time it looked as if even the Met Office thought the good weather would be relatively short-lived; so I decided to head for somewhere a bit nearer to home, to complete the Hewitts in the North West of the Lake District around Ennerdale. They’ve been on my list for some years, but it's about four hours drive each way for me, so it invariably means a 2 day expedition, hence this target has over time progressively slipped down the list in favour of slightly easier to plan single day routes.

The idea was to bike from the car park to the start of the hills. What I hadn’t spotted was that there are 2 car parks, so when I entered my destination as “Ennerdale Car Park”, the Sat Nav not unreasonably made its own choice. Which wasn’t the one I wanted :roll: . As ever: more haste, less speed!

Below is the route I ended up taking – slightly different from my original plan, not only because of the wrong starting place, but also because, once I emerged from the forest and could see the way ahead clearly, an ascent up to the ridge via Steeple looked more attractive than the original plan of ascending via Tewit How. On the way back I also made an abortive attempt to cycle around the south shore of Ennerdale Water - only to find that it's not realistically cyclable, at least not for a tyro mountainbiker like me - just endless large boulders.

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ImageRoute Profile.

Frantic packing of stuff on the Wednesday early evening meant that I got off just as my daughter and family left – around 7 pm. And it was an absolutely clear run, until I got to the point at which I should have turned off the A66 on to the A5056. Where I was met with a “Road Closed” sign. Initially I followed the diversions signs, but then managed to lose them. And then when I turned to my sat nav, I was met with the welcome message that it was unable to make an internet connection! So I faffed about for some considerable while working out where I was, and how I’d get to the Ennerdale car park; which I eventually did, arriving there shortly before midnight, having driven in heaven knows how many circles.

Fortunately I was able to find a good temporary camp spot pretty quickly, and was soon drifting off in pleasant anticipation of the morrow.
Image

Awakening just before 07.00am, it felt like it was overcast, but I couldn’t be sure because I was in the forest. So I quickly dressed and took a short cycle to Ennerdale Water to take a look at the surroundings (this was when I realised I’d ended up at the wrong car park – Bleach Green, rather than Bowness Knott!). Sure enough, the promised sun hadn’t yet burned off the early morning cloud, and most of the higher tops were still covered in cloud.
Image20210826-074427.

No great hurry then. Fortified with a brew, I packed up in a sufficiently leisurely manner that when I next emerged from the forest on my way round Ennerdale Water, the cloud was gone from the tops.

Image20210826-081425. Here's looking across at Anglers' Crag from Bowness on the north shore, shortly after setting off on the bike. All looking very promising :D .

It’s an easy ride round the lake, on a good gravel track and almost flat.

Image20210826-082039. Looking west down Ennerdale Water...

I arrived at the Bowness Knott car park (the one I’d originally planned to drive to and start at) in fairly short order. A quick scan of it suggested I may have had more difficulty finding a temporary tent pitch here, rather than Bleach Green, so landing at the wrong place may well have been something of a blessing in disguise.

Turning right at the Irish Bridge, I crossed the valley bottom and stashed the bike in the trees just beyond the end of the Irish Bridge track, locked to a tree trunk and covered it in bracken.

Image20210826-084926. Morning sun on High Stile, looking ENE from close to where I stashed the bike.

The next bit proved quite challenging. I was trying to locate the start of what from the map looked like a track or firebreak that ran straight up through the forest in a north-south direction...
ImageRoute near Irish Bridge.

But, after lots of toing and froing along the main east-west track, it turned out to be a quite narrow and rather faint zigzagging path! If you want to follow this path, look for the pedestrian gate marked on the map above, which is about 50m up from the east-west track in a southerly direction.

Once on the path, it's easy enough to follow, though it's pretty steep, and so quite hard work, at least for me.

Image20210826-092648. But as ever, one is more than compensated for the effort by the superb views, this looking west across Ennerdale Water as the path begins to emerge from the trees.

Image20210826-100244-2. I had to keep stopping to look back to this view...

Image20210826-100602. Once up on the plateau above the valley, I had the opportunity to view my hitherto planned route - here viewed in pano...

Image20210826-100627. ...and here the same in normal view.

Image ...and the same labelled.

From here it looked like the route up to Steeple and Scoat Fell was something more characterful than that via Tewit How, notwithstanding the latter's superb name; and, moreover, though I'd visited Scoat Fell three times when walking the Wastwater Horseshoe (Yewbarrow to Scafell) I'd never actually stood on Steeple. So I changed plan and followed the former.

It was quite a yomp though, and I started to get thirsty; so remembering that I'd used about half a litre of my water for the morning brew, when I came to the first beck I stopped to take a drink and fill the bottle to the top, in anticipation of there being little or no water on the ridge. Only to discover that I'd managed to overlook the water bottle when packing my sac :( :roll: :shock: . Not good for surviving a ridge walk on a baking hot day! So I drank as much as I could physically manage at the beck, and fired a few prayers upwards for water sources later en route.

It took me an age to get up to Scoat fell - giving me plenty of excuse to look around and admire the view ... west to Ennerdale Water ....
Image20210826-110857.

Image20210826-113354-2. ...and across to High Stile and neighbours

Image20210826-113444. Ahead Steeple, viewed from Long Crag.

Image20210826-114805. Looking back towards Long Crag on the ascent to Steeple.

Image20210826-115511. Looking west towards some of the summits I plan to visit

Image 20210826-115511-labelled.

Image20210826-115946. Spectacular views of the crags as I ascended - Black Crag in the right middleground, Pillar centre pic further in the background.

Image20210826-120705. At last the summit of Steeple, the cairn viewed looking east towards Pillar on the LHS, and Great Gable in the background on the RHS.

Image20210826-120732. Pano from Steeple looking SE towards Scoat Fell.

Image20210826-121912. It's just a few strides really to the summit of Scoat Fell. Here's looking east from the summit cairn.

Image20210826-121920-2. But I didn't linger - there wasn't any water here! Haycock is centre pic, Seatallan in the background left, and my next target. The weather is just superb, and the air is beautifully clear. For once the forecasters really have got it right!

I contoured around the lower east side of Haycock, which is quite rough and boggy, and fortunately I spotted a spring from which I could (just about!) drink, it being a few centimetres deep. Again I hoovered up as much as I could, and then continued, feeling much refreshed.

Image20210826-125814-z. ESE zoom to the Scafells.

Image20210826-130120. Ahead Seatallan.

Image20210826-130154. And the same in pano, with Wastwater just showing in the bottom left.

Image20210826-134050-zoom. Wonderful views in all directions, but the Scafells continue to demand attention (Great Gable to the far left).

Image20210826-135437. Looking back the way I'd just walked, towards Haycock.

Image20210826-135500. And the same in pano

Image20210826-135840. The summit, with the Irish Sea just visible in the background.

I took a break here to munch some lunch. The only available liquid source was a large orange and an apple, so it was a bit dry. I would definitely have appreciated a litre or so of water with it!

Image

After stoking up, I headed off back in the direction of Haycock, but circling the edge of the summit plateau to get the best of the views, before rejoining the path I'd come along earlier.

Image20210826-144624. I headed for the right hand shoulder of the hill, thinking this would be somewhat less steep than the south face - which indeed it was. And spiced with a few scrambles if one was minded to take them - which I was! What it did not have was any running water, and my throat was getting pretty parched.

Image20210826-153429. Looking back towards Seatallan shortly before cresting the summit plateau.

Image20210826-154441. And ahead the collection of summit structures. Thinking I might as well visit them all, I headed first for the nearest one, only to back off pretty smartly as I get to within a metre or so of it, for it was completely and utterly covered in winged ants - in the middle of the swarm I couldn't even see the rocks below them - a core diameter of well over a metre. I'd had a similar experience on Schiehallion some weeks previously also. I can't understand where they come from, because I've rarely seen ants on summits - anyone any ideas? Something special about 2021??

Image20210826-154830-001. Just west of the summit proper, the wall I intended to follow to Caw Fell, and from thence to Iron Crag. A quick look at the map didn't indicate any water sources on the way, and I was feeling pretty dehydrated now.

Image

Image20210826-155756. So on to Little Gowder Crag, Caw Crag and finally Iron Crag, the last Hewitt of the day. Clearly, all easy walking - though with a wee stretch of scrambling on LGC if one is so minded.

Image20210826-155756-labelled.

Image20210826-160920.

Image20210826-162607. Seatallan viewed from near the Caw Fell Cairn.

Image20210826-162832. And the cairn itself. The pic is looking back towards Little Gowder Crag (where the little stretch of scrambling can be seen), and Haycock, just right of centre.

Again I didn't linger, but kept going in the hope of encountering potable water somewhere, following the dry stone wall that runs along the watershed before turning through ninety degrees and dropping into a col before ascending to Iron Crag.

And as I approached the turn in the wall - oh, joy of joys, I see the unmistakable glistening of water just below the watershed :D . It was all I could do not to break into a run. However - there's usually a "however..." :roll: ; however, it turned out to be only the very smallest of springs that ran for about 20 metres down the gentle upper slope there before disappearing underground again. And in those 20 metres it spread across about 10 metres width, so the water was veeeeery shallow - just a centimetre or so; and it was running over watery mud :( . How was I going to be able to drink anything but watery mud??? I walked slowly up and down the flow a couple of times looking for somewhere deep enough that drinking would not stir up all the mud, and to my enormous relief eventually found a place were there was a flow over a fair sized flat stone, to a depth of about 15 millimetres. So, puckering my lips into a pout that would have competed well with the steamiest of catwalk models, I gently lowered my face until my lips felt the water, and then gingerly - oh, so gingerly! - sucked up the lukewarm liquid. Which under any other circumstances would have been a pretty vile experience, but in this case was like imbibing nectar! After which I felt much invigorated, and was able to head off towards Iron Crag with a new spring in my step.

Image0210826-164325. View towards Iron Crag, just after the life-saving spring.

Image20210826-170216. Iron Crag summit cairn, looking south east towards Haycock (to the left), and the crags of Silver Cove in the centre.

Image20210826-170659. The same view in pano, featuring High Stile just left of centre, Grasmoor further left and further in the background, Pillar more or less dead centre, and Haycock to the right of centre.

Now the steep descent into Ennerdale to the south end of the Irish Bridge, where I'd stashed the bike. Which I suspected would be rough, and it certainly met all expectations. The slope was pretty steep, and covered in various sizes of boulders, most of which were concealed by deep heather and bilberry on the upper half, and bracken on the bottom half.

Keen as I was not to break an ankle (and I managed not to fall once), it took me a full hour and a quarter to get down to the bike.
Image20210826-172201-2

I think if I were to take this route again, I would take some time at the outset to study the hillside below Iron Crag to try to pick out more user-friendly terrain for the descent. As it is, I can't really recommend this way down.

(Parenthetically: when I got home later that evening and took off my trainers, it looked as if I'd manage to bring a good proportion of the hillside vegetation down with me in the trainers!!!
Image)

Once back at the approximate location where I'd stashed the bike, I discovered I'd made a sound job of stashing it, to the extent that it took a good while to find it!

I'd planned to ride back round the south side of Ennerdale Water, and set off to do this. But after about 500m of easy riding on grass, the path suddenly changed into a bouldery nightmare :o :shock: . Which I struggled along pushing the bike for a further 500m or so before realising that it would be massively quicker and massively less frustrating to go back to the Irish Bridge, and return the same was I'd come in the morning; and this is what I did.

Given the A1 weather forecast, and the fact that it's still the school holiday period, I was surprised at how relatively few people I saw during the day - perhaps 12 in all, and 4 close enough to speak to.

POST SCRIPT: On the ride back along Ennerdale Water shore, I passed a discarded single use barbecue, an empty beer can, multiple tissues, and a lost rugby ball. Packing away at the car park I noticed someone had neatly packed all their rubbish - single use barbecue, drink cans, food wrappings, etc. - in a large plastic bag, and then dumped it in the middle of the car park.

I think there's every reason to be surprised at the UK's low homicide rate.
Last edited by Alteknacker on Sat Sep 18, 2021 11:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather

Postby Pointless Parasite » Wed Sep 01, 2021 7:14 am

Great report :clap: The Ennerdale horseshoe is notorious for the lack of drinking water and I'm surprised you even managed to find springs. Interesting route too. I've also had difficulty finding the route up the firebreak on Lingmell but in my case I wandered all the way round the big track until finding the pedestrian gate. I was intending to climb Haycock via Tewit How but like you I decided the ridge up Steeple looked more interesting.

The descent route from Iron Crag is unusual to say the least! There is a trail marked on the map going down the valley to the East although I assume it's either very faint or non-existant. Did you find the way across the wall to Iron Crag? There's a couple of steps cut into the wall at the col with Caw Fell but they're very difficult to see.
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Re: A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:53 pm

Pointless Parasite wrote: The Ennerdale horseshoe is notorious for the lack of drinking water and I'm surprised you even managed to find springs. Interesting route too. I've also had difficulty finding the route up the firebreak on Lingmell but in my case I wandered all the way round the big track until finding the pedestrian gate. I was intending to climb Haycock via Tewit How but like you I decided the ridge up Steeple looked more interesting.

The descent route from Iron Crag is unusual to say the least! There is a trail marked on the map going down the valley to the East although I assume it's either very faint or non-existant. Did you find the way across the wall to Iron Crag? There's a couple of steps cut into the wall at the col with Caw Fell but they're very difficult to see.


There were actually quite a few springs; but the majority were the merest millimetre-deep trickles :( .

As regards the descent from Iron Crag: the trail marked on the map that runs north to the edge of the crags was certainly not clear to me on the ground; and in any event, it is only shown (at least on my map) going about half-way down the hill. I guess it's intended to act as a guide to paragliders...

Crossing the wall was no issue at all, for it has collapsed in many places, so it's quite straightforward to pass from one side to the other. The b***** was the difficult terrain. I read up on a few reports after doing this walk, and I think on balance I might well have been better advised walking only, starting and finishing at Bleach Green. Certainly it looks as if the descent from Iron Crag by continuing west to Crag Fell and then dropping down to the weir would have been more sensible.
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Re: A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather

Postby gld73 » Thu Sep 09, 2021 6:43 pm

Ennerdale was the nearest valley to me growing up in Whitehaven, it'd get packed by locals in good weather but is a bit awkward to get to for people coming further afield. If I manage to head out there when I'm back visiting my parents, I still find that - Bowness Knott car park will be heaving in good weather (the walk around Ennerdale is popular, but as you discovered, only the north side is an easy cycle) but the fell tops are almost deserted.
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Re: A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather

Postby dav2930 » Sat Sep 18, 2021 3:54 pm

What a superb day you had for that one, AK - certainly made for some cracking photos. A very substantial route, especially taking in Seatallan, which one wouldn't automatically think to do. I remember the path up through the Lingmell plantations being surprisingly narrow and not obvious to find, when Karl and me went up to the Steeple Buttress. I think the OS is often misleading in the way it shows rights of way which don't necessarily correspond to any visible track on the ground. Given the choice between a green dotted line a black dotted line I'll go for the black one every time :? Re your post-script - the sooner some of these staycationers, assuming that's what they are, can b****r off to the Costas again, the better as far as I'm concerned :evil: But then why should the Spaniards have to put up with these people, when they're a British problem? Perhaps homicide is a better solution after all :lol:
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Re: A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Sep 18, 2021 11:07 pm

gld73 wrote:... but the fell tops are almost deserted.


Indeed! And long may it remain so (he said, selfishly...)
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Re: A round of 4 Ennerdale Hewitts in perfect weather

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Sep 18, 2021 11:23 pm

dav2930 wrote:... especially taking in Seatallan, which one wouldn't automatically think to do.


It's such a long drive to access it from the West, hence including it

dav2930 wrote:Re your post-script - the sooner some of these staycationers, assuming that's what they are, can b****r off to the Costas again, the better as far as I'm concerned :evil: But then why should the Spaniards have to put up with these people, when they're a British problem? Perhaps homicide is a better solution after all :lol:


I think we'd better be careful what we say - I understand that folk are going for Facebook, Twitter, etc. for this kind of incendiary talk.... :lol:
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