This board helps you to share your walking route experiences in England and Wales... or overseas.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

A sleepover at Black Sail - Day 2

A sleepover at Black Sail - Day 2

Postby trailmasher » Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:41 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Brandreth, Great Gable, Green Gable, Grey Knotts, Kirk Fell

Hewitts included on this walk: Brandreth, Great Gable, Green Gable, Kirk Fell, Kirk Fell East Top

Date walked: 09/06/2015

Time taken: 3.46

Distance: 15.81 km

Ascent: 1024m

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

The actual mileage should have been 17.70 kilometres (11miles) but we missed out Dale Head - Hindscarth - Robinson.

Kirk Fell- Great Gable plus.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

It's 6:15am on the morning of Day 2 of the Black Sail Sleepover and there is only Chris and myself stirring. As quietly as possible, although I can't see anybody hearing us over the sound of Scot Rail's stentorian nasal activities, this, from what I can gather later, has been the cause of many sleepless hours for some of the group. I personally, didn't hear a thing.

We slip into the kitchen area and as the breakfast starters, cereals, bread, fruit juice, etc are laid out we made the first hot drink of the day and proceeded to drink it whilst sat on one of the bench seats at the front of the hostel. It's bright and mild with promises of another good weather day and the only sounds are the quiet complaints of Chris and the reasons for his early exit from the dormitory. One by one the other guest's appear from their respective dorms and follow our chance of an early morning drink in the great outdoors. The hot part of the breakfast is served at 8:00am sharp and was dished out by some long faced male warden who had appeared the night before. He was not suited to this job at all. Miserable, unsmiling person that he is, I eventually forced a 'good morning' out of him as he passed me by outside. How can you not like a job like he has in the magnificent Lake District? He should either take some happy tablets or give it up and let some other more appreciative person take his place.

Our guard dog has been released from her overnight accommodation and sniffs around in the grass looking for some morsel of food. I throw her a piece of toast and she looks at me with great disdain with that 'where is the meat platter' look. I ignore her as someone gave her a left over sausage, now she has a new best friend.

The nice young lady warden left a little later with Tess in tow saying that it wouldn't take her long to get to Buttermere and return the dog back to the farm.

Breakfast over, washing up done thanks mainly to the lady guests, beds stripped and linen placed under the chess table, packed meals and drinks collected from the kitchen, booted and bagged once again we set off for today's outing. Everyone seems to be alright, or at least not complaining of aching limbs or other such like maladies as we head off north east on the well worn path for the footbridge and Black Sail Pass which runs up alongside Sail Beck.
3 - Setting off for Black Sail Pass.JPG
Setting off for Black Sail Pass.

The way from the footbridge is over grass and begins to climb south almost immediately once the River Liza has been crossed.
4 - Looking back to the hostel - Haystacks - High Stile Ridge.JPG
Looking back to the hostel - Haystacks - High Stile Ridge.

Initially not so bad but getting progressively steeper as we pass through the small rocky outcrop which is close on to the beck side.
5 - Climbing by the side of Sail Beck.JPG
Climbing by the side of Sail Beck.

Suddenly there is a flash of black and white, the bitch is back.

She is not letting on but has either slipped her rope lead or the nice lady let her off it before reaching Buttermere.

She runs to her walking larder, Murphy.

There is a small somewhat level area just above the rocks and as I arrive with some of the group we hear a whooping and screaming from the few that had dashed off in front. When we arrived at the spot the noise was coming from my favourite dog handler come feeder - Murphy. Upon a whim he had decided to strip off and throw himself to the mercy of the small but cold confines of the beck where a waterfall tumbles down from around 2 metres above his head.

His unrehearsed actions caused much glee amongst the party, and as we've all heard of builders bum well this was as fine an example as one could wish for - brings to mind the rear of an Orang Utan - and also the effects that the cold water had on certain other parts of his anatomy were obvious. There's nothing to be scared of here girls. Even Tess would have a hard job finding a decent bite sized piece.

We continued up the mainly grassy bank as the path is just a deep furrow in many places. It always seems wet around this area and though not bad going up slipping can be a problem on the way down from the top of the Pass. Upon reaching the col we turn to face Kirk Fell Crags which is our access onto the fell itself.
6 - Our way up is by Kirkfell Crags.JPG
Our way up is by Kirkfell Crags.

There are two ways of getting up the crags, one is by following the path to the left and making one's way up the fairly steep scree gully, and the other is to bear off right and take the more or less direct route up through the crags.

On the left hand path there were dumpy bags full of stone ready for the repairing of same, and this is the path that most of them took, wanting to go up the scree access gully.
9 - Scree gully access to Kirk Fell.JPG
Scree gully access to Kirk Fell.

One of the group having had enough of scree the day before would prefer to take the route up through the crag so after seeing the others on their way - no chance of mistaking the way up - we two set off up the crags which gave more of an opportunity to take a comfortable breather if required. The way through the crags is alright as it winds its way up and around the worst of the rocks and we arrived at the top not many minutes behind the others who were sat on the grass after finding the challenge of the gulley a bit harder than it looked. Well done lads.

After drinks were consumed we continued up the large and easy fell as we followed the old wall and fence line which would lead us directly to the south summit cairn at 802 metres.
10 - The way to the south summit cairn.JPG
The way to the south summit cairn.

It is at about this point that Sam the Younger begins his attempt at pulling me about walking on the grass. I tell him he needs to try and grow a beard that doesn't blow away in a mild breeze first before trying to outdo his more experienced and banter hardened company. He's a good lad on the whole, bless him.

Following the obvious path we are now heading south east towards Kirkfell Tarn and then west for the north cairn and Great Gable passing over the small cairn at 751 metres and which sits between the two main cairns.
16 - Great Gable and the north summit cairn from the 751 metre central cairn.JPG
Great Gable and the north summit cairn from the 751 metre central cairn.

The more enthusiastic of the group followed the path leading to the right - the impetuosity of youth - that bypasses the north cairn which then meant that they had to swing back around to the north to reach the summit which overlooks Rib End, Great Gable, and so much more that could be mentioned.

From Kirk Fell the views in all directions are, once again amazing.

Tess is still with us.

Looking at Great Gables north east ridge from Kirk Fell it seems impossible to pick a route that would take you onto Great Gable, but a way there is. When the group ask me where we are going from here I point to Gable and the eyes glaze over as they can see no obvious means of access. A few sharp intakes of breath and glances at each other prompt me to assure them that the way up is fine if care, as usual, is taken. I explain the route conditions and pass on the advice of not leaving anyone behind and keeping everyone in sight of each other.

We leave the north summit and proceed to descend the rough path down Rib End. Partly rocky, sometimes scree, the path leads down to Beck Head with its pair of small tarns sat in the middle which we pass to reach the obvious path leading to what is for some, our next adventure, the ascent of Great Gable by the north east ridge.
20 - Wasdale looking from Beck Head.JPG
Wasdale looking from Beck Head.

19 - Rib End from the side of Great Gable.JPG
Rib End from the side of Great Gable.

We pick up the Gable Traverse path...
21 - The route up the north east ridge of Gable Crag.JPG
The route up the north east ridge of Gable Crag.

and begin to make our way steadily up to the bottom reaches of the ridge path when I am called to a halt by one of the group who is not sure of his abilities to get onto Gable this way and is there another. Replying in the positive but explaining that it would mean continuing along the traverse to the top of Windy Gap - which can be seen from here - and then climbing up from there by the south east route to the summit and returning by the same way back to Windy Gap. He elects to not go up Gable by any route or indeed travel on the Traverse to meet us at the top of Windy Gap. The way there is clear to see and safe to boot, but I'm not altogether happy at letting him go off by himself, albeit it's only a short distance. I'm a bit torn here as the lads missed out on Pillar and I don't want them to miss this one if possible.

We all get into a huddle and have a chat about it, and the outcome is that he assures me that he will be alright passing through Stoney Cove as he'll take his time and meet us at the top of Windy Gap. I explain that the path is very loose and he will have to be careful. Decision made I drop down the fell side with him until near the bottom when I let him go whilst watching his progress as I climbed back up to reach the others who had set off up through the crags.

The Lone Ranger is doing well and is halfway up between Greengable Crag and Great Gable Crag. He finally disappears from view as we get higher and reach the boulder section where a few small cairns are littered about, but in truth it’s a case of making your own and best way through the jumble of sharp rough rocks until reaching and passing over the short grassy stretch before finally getting to the large rocky outcrop of the summit cairn with its plaque dedicated to the fallen of past wars.

Macho Man celebrates with the remnants of last night's aperitif, whilst Tess couldn't give a stuff.
23 - Celebrating on Great Gable summit.JPG
Celebrating on Great Gable summit.

24 - Peter-Chris-Billy-Brian-Keith-Sam at Great Gable summit cairn.JPG
Peter-Chris-Billy-Brian-Keith-Sam and Tess at Great Gable summit cairn.

Murphy's bag must be like the Tardis as he once more feeds the dog on food that obviously didn't come from the hostel. One other thing about Murphy is that he must either have a hitherto unknown make of long lasting battery in his phone or a wrap around battery pack clung to his body as he has used it nonstop from the day we set off - I know we're only on Gable - until we get back to Buttermere.

Sam the Younger has taken some bark off his right calf whilst climbing through the rocky section and there is a small trickle of blood adorning the area. There are also two comely wenches sat on the opposite side to us and we notice Sam sidling around to stand in front of them with gore to the fore and hoping to solicit some sympathy and a forlorn chance of getting into a conversation with them followed by, hopefully, a phone number or two. He may as well not have moved as their own conversation continued as they swung around to take in the views from a different direction. Sam the Loser, you need some style to pull a girl on Gable.

A small portly Spanish/Italian lady appears at my side as I pull my sandwiches from my bag and proceeds to tell me that she's dehydrated, aching, not sure of the way to Black Sail, and the list went on. Every time I try to take a bite she asks another question. Out with the map and I try to put her right from passing over Brandreth and down to Honister instead of Windy Gap and following the River Liza from its source down to Black Sail where I'm sure she'll do someone else's head in. Boy, she can talk. The lads have latched onto this now and also begin asking me, and encouraging her, to ask me more questions as I try to force a morsel of food between my lips. I give a wry smile and tell 'em that there are three more ways off this hill and to treat me with the respect that I deserve 'cause if I pass out through undernourishment they're stuffed. Olay!

Food and banter over, The Voice having moved on to younger blood, we set off down to Windy gap via the south east path which is now much worse than it used to be as we find our way through the loose and rocky slopes of this side of Gable Crag.
26 - The south east path down to Windy Gap and Green Gable.JPG
The south east path down to Windy Gap and Green Gable.

27 - The view down Aaron Slack to Styhead Tarn.JPG
The view down Aaron Slack to Styhead Tarn.

As we descend the Lone Ranger comes into view stretched out on Green Gable. Good man.

Reaching Windy Gap…
28 - Green Gable ahead.JPG
Green Gable ahead.

we take the red coloured zigzag path up the side of Green Gable meeting the Lone Ranger near the top. Turning round to look at Gable I see The Voice making her way down accompanied by her latest avid listener and she is obviously in full flow with her companion seemingly taking breathes for her.

Another top and more photos are taken, including by myself. It doesn't matter how many times one goes on the same hill there is always a picture to be taken. Altering light conditions, weather, time of day, all can and do make the landscape appear in entirely different moods.

I have a chat with The Lone Ranger and establish that he's alright; he confirms that he is and commences to relate his passage from leaving me to making his way up to Green Gable summit solo of which he is rightly chuffed.
30 - Pillar and Kirk Fell from Green Gable summit.JPG
Pillar and Kirk Fell from Green Gable summit.

31 - Another view down Ennerdale and into Buttermere.JPG
Another view down Ennerdale and into Buttermere.

Next on is Brandreth which we can see from our elevated position on Green Gable. We look over Base Brown, Gillercomb, and into Borrowdale over to the south east whilst almost in front of us is Gillercomb Head which we pass over to reach Brandreth. We drop around 150 metres off Green Gable to reach the few small unnamed tarns which are sat on Gillercomb Head where we stopped nearby for a short break whilst the back markers caught us up.
35 - Base Brown - Gillercomb and Borrowdale from Gillercomb Head.JPG
Base Brown - Gillercomb and Borrowdale from Gillercomb Head.

Tess and Murphy are joined at the hip.

She, Tess, suddenly takes off. She's seen some sheep and wants to keep her hand in as she has done nothing but eat for the last day and a half. The sheep run as expected, Tess follows them half heartedly and must think sod this for a game, its easier flashing my long eyelashes and wet brown eyes at Murphy, the soft touch.
36 - Looking back to Green Gable.JPG
Looking back to Green Gable.

We set off once again for the top of Brandreth and once gaining the summit…
37 - Brandreth top.JPG
Brandreth top.

we linger but for a moment before following the fence over much wet ground roughly south east to reach what was to become our final summit of the day, Grey Knotts.

On the OS map it shows a green trail leading from Grey Knotts down to Honister Slate Mine. There is no obvious path as the going is rough and as I suspect that one or two are quietly suffering from one thing or another I elected to head off on a south westerly course down the easier fell side and pick up the old Moses Trod route which is well made and will take us down to the site of the old Drum House which was where the winding gear was housed during the days of the old slate mining era.

Reaching the Drum House we then followed the obvious path - the old tramway - down to the Honister Slate Mine café, shop, mine tours, via ferrata, etc. This path has been badly eroded with flood water as the path level is around half a metre lower than the original level but the good old National Park has dumped many a dumpy bag of large stones along its length ready for its reconstruction.

The lads gratefully throw their bags down and go for drinks, food, and whatever else takes their fancy as I wait outside weighing up our next move which should be Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson, and Buttermere. Dale Head looms in front of us with its long, steep but grassy bank to attack but I have my doubts and wonder if the spirits are willing but the bodies weakening as we have done quite a bit of climbing so far today and the rough downhill's are just as hard as the going up of them. We'll have a chat about it.
39 - Cafe at Honister Slate Mine.JPG
Café at Honister Slate Mine.

Tess is now worrying a sausage roll followed by a piece of gluten free cake unselfishly supplied by, yep, Murphy.

Macho Man is quiet, I think he's tiring.

Having a chat with the gang some suggest that time is an issue, one has sore feet, one whose hips are aching, another has sore shoulders which is understandable not having carted a bag around for two days before this outing. They are all in agreement that they would like another outing in September so I suggest that we could do the Newlands Round from Little Town which would give us a day's walking and would better suit the ones who are concerned about exposed areas as there are none on this particular route. The way back then is to follow the road down Honister Pass to Gatescarth Farm, from there another quarter mile or so and we'll pick up the path which runs around the north east side of Buttermere and the car by the church. It's roughly 9 kilometres back to the car.
42 - Walking down Honister Pass to Buttermere.JPG
Walking down Honister Pass to Buttermere.

So off we goes, me at the back shouting "car" every now and again as required whilst Tess makes an attempt at catching them as they go by. It's suggested that someone keeps a grip of her. Ever tried holding a sheepdog whilst bent double and hanging on to a collar? Her Glaswegian handler is forgotten as she intermittently chases cars and shows off her skills at herding sheep which aren't too impressed with her attempts.

The lads pace quickened as we pass another rather tired looking group who were having a rest in the large car park by Gatesgarthdale Beck, but soon resumed their usual pace when well past them. So we plod down the hot blacktop with me walking on grass where possible until we pass by the foot of Fleetwith Pike with its white memorial cross which is perched on the lower crags. The cross is dedicated to a Fanny Mercer who in 1887 was accidentally killed as she fell to her death whilst out with her family and attempting to leap off a ledge by using her alpenstock but overshot with the consequence of falling 130 feet down the mountain side to her sudden and sad demise. Reaching Gatescarth Farm we regrouped once again before setting off on the final quarter mile of road walking before reaching the more pleasant lake side path.
49 - Looking north east across Buttermere.JPG
Looking north east across Buttermere.

It is now a mere three kilometres back to the car, an easy walk along the wooded path which meanders up and down before passing across the more level area of grass by Crag Wood and once again reverting to the meandering type. We then pass through the roughly hewn rock tunnel before reaching green fields once again and making our way along the enclosed paths which will take us through the yard of Tess's home, Wilkinsyke Farm. She doesn't look anything like remorseful as we make our way ever nearer to her front door. Upon reaching the farm yard and without a backwards glance to her now food bankrupt benefactor for the last two days, she skips off and jumps over the garden wall and lies down with three other sheep dogs as though nothing untoward has happened.

Is Murphy bereft? Has he a tear in his eye from losing his latest and greatest? Not at all, he takes it like the man he is. We arrive at the cars moments later and I suggest going for a celebratory meal and the odd drink or three. The Lone Ranger doesn't drink nowadays so transport isn't a problem as long as he gets a feed. The Glaswegian contingency have to get back as Murphy and Sparks are off to a wedding in Rhodes tomorrow - Wednesday - whilst Scot Rail is stuffed without a lift.

The rest of us go to the Bridge Hotel where the above are consumed with great relish. Just an aside here, regarding complaints about aching shoulders; I lifted their bags whilst at Honister to check the weight. Scot Rails nearly pulled me over and then he went and bought a slate house plaque which added to his load, the Lone Ranger had four freezer blocks in his bag, Macho Man's mate's bag was not too bad but his knees were taped up the whole two days so fair play to him for getting on with it. The remainder was not too bad so maybe the early advice was taken on board.

Sam the Younger didn't complain once on the trip, but on getting back to my place where they were once again staying the night and upon taking his boots off raw skin and blisters were to be seen in abundance. Should have shown 'em the two girls on Great Gable, he might have got a hit! Anyway after E had administered the ointment and plasters and fussed around him for a bit he sat back admiring the war wounds and justifiably pleased with his two days on the fells, as were the whole group.

For a first time out on the fells everyone did well. Yes, we missed out part of the planned routes but I reckon that what they did was what some seasoned walkers would call a good day out. Maybe I expected too much from them, but they weren’t pushed into anything that they didn't want to do or felt uncomfortable with.

They want another two day trip out in September, so watch this space.
User avatar
Posts: 1272
Joined: Nov 26, 2014
Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria

Re: A sleepover at Black Sail - Day 2

Postby ChrisW » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:07 pm

Fantastic 2nd part to this report Trailmasher, from trying to pick up girls on mountain tops to Italian squawk boxes and bitches that turn their back on you as soon as your food runs out it's an epic. Additionally that's a good slog for a bunch who haven't previously walked to the shops and back. It's made worse by heavy packs that don't feel heavy when you pick 'em up at home :roll: ...then the scree....I swear nobody likes ascending that damn stuff, though descending it is great fun.

Well done to the whole group, it's a round I would have been proud of :clap:
User avatar
Posts: 4940
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 25, 2011
Location: Cochrane- Alberta - Canada

Re: A sleepover at Black Sail - Day 2

Postby trailmasher » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:55 pm

ChrisW wrote:Fantastic 2nd part to this report Trailmasher, from trying to pick up girls on mountain tops to Italian squawk boxes and bitches that turn their back on you as soon as your food runs out it's an epic. Additionally that's a good slog for a bunch who haven't previously walked to the shops and back. It's made worse by heavy packs that don't feel heavy when you pick 'em up at home :roll: ...then the scree....I swear nobody likes ascending that damn stuff, though descending it is great fun.

Well done to the whole group, it's a round I would have been proud of :clap:

Thanks Chris :D . All good northern lads game for anything although the scree did throw 'em a bit. As for the Italian, if I was married to her I think a new patio slab would have to be laid in the near future :lol: .
User avatar
Posts: 1272
Joined: Nov 26, 2014
Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria

Re: A sleepover at Black Sail - Day 2

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:26 am

Another highly enjoyable installment. Strange how different types of terrain upset some people. One man's broad ridge is another man's sharp edge I suppose.
User avatar
Hill Bagger
Posts: 3241
Munros:25   Corbetts:10
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:166
Wainwrights:214   Islands:8
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Location: County Durham

Re: A sleepover at Black Sail - Day 2

Postby trailmasher » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:50 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Another highly enjoyable installment. Strange how different types of terrain upset some people. One man's broad ridge is another man's sharp edge I suppose.

Thanks for your comments Anthony :clap: and yes, one minute the lad was alright, the next the head had gone :crazy: . I've seen it happen to riggers at work who have been at it for years.
User avatar
Posts: 1272
Joined: Nov 26, 2014
Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Outside Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests