~Haystacks and Kirk Fell~
4th June 2011
Two separate walks? No, a linear walk majoring on these two fells. For me it's a tidying up operation. Kirk Fell was the only one of the Lakeland Fells (barring the "last" one) that I had not climbed in this century. My only previous visit was around 1990. Haystacks is an important fell for Wainwright pilgrims. Neil Haslewood joined me for this one.
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk....
Neil met me at the campsite and we took his car to Seatoller. We used my car to get to here - all day parking £3. I reckon Kirk Fell is the most difficult fell to get to, if you don't like driving to Wasdale Head - which is a long way to those who live away from the Lake District.
Wainwright's favourite mountain?
We started walking at 08:15 and our early start is rewarded with clear blue skies. Not quite what we expected.
Green Crag, Haystacks
Our route was under Green Crag and to the left, then up onto the top of the crags, keeping on the right side of the beck; another path on the left leads to Dubs Quarry on Fleetwith Pike.
The mountain on the left is High Crag. Buttermere is playing host to the Lakes Charity Classic and the whiteish shapes are the tents for this event. It's for the paragliding community, now I wouldn't mind a go at that!
We are now on Haystacks, so you will not be disappointed by the scenery and the blue skies is a bonus for us.
Buttermere and Crummock Water
I suspect that a good 90% of viewers know this fact, but for the very welcome newer visitors and others, Wainwright chose to have his ashes scattered onto the shores of Innominate Tarn on Haystacks. He died in 1991. Neil looks on.
Pillar from Innominate Tarn
"All I ask for, at the end, is a last long resting place by the side of Innominate Tarn, on Haystacks, where the water gently laps the gravelly shore and the heather blooms and Pillar and Gable keep unfailing watch. .. And if you, dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me." A.Wainwright, Fellwanderer.
After enjoying the summit area, we headed off to find the perched boulder (as in header photo) and then it was a case of finding a route to the Moses Trod path around the head of Ennerdale to Beck Head and the start of the ascent of Kirk Fell.
Blackbeck Tarn and Crummock Water
Kirk Fell from Moses Trod
The weather is changing and cloud is building all around. It's a long way round, but the alternative was to take a beeline and drop into the valley and start climbing again. Not on a warm day like today.
Well here it is, time to start climbing again. Not many folk will combine Haystacks and Kirk Fell in the same walk. Will they?
Why is Neil climbing the fence post? He appears to have become the incredible shrinking man!
Kirk Fell Summit Plateau
The summit is the distant peak, on the way up it seems obvious to climb the near peak, on the way back, it is avoided.
Kirk Fell Summit
Out of shot are two marshalls for the "Ennerdale Round", a fell race. They're expected soon.
Runners on Kirk Fell
Ah well, it seems we are not the only ones combining Haystacks and Kirk Fell. Mind you, they all have pained expressions; Neil and I are enjoying ourselves!
Moses Trod Revisited
One drawback of our plans is a certain amount of backtracking. Green Gable is in front of us and we are heading for Brandreth.
And so to Grey Knotts, nothing too challenging, of the ridge route, AW says "Only those of unusual talent could go astray on this simple walk..." We had no such unusual talent and soon found the triple-peaked Grey Knotts.
Neil on Grey Knotts
There are at least three "Knotts", you might say four. Mr.W gives no clear indication of which one of the two highest he considers to be the true summit. But I think we're on the most likely one. We dropped down to the Honister Mines and had an ice cream. Then it was mainly off-road down to Seatoller.
If you are on your own, consider using the Honister Rambler to enable you to do any amount of long and interesting walks in this area. Neil and I used a two-car strategy to facilitate this unusual plan.
Walkers: Neil Haslewood and me.
Time taken: 8hrs 10 mins over a distance of about 13 miles.
Route: Gatesgarth, Warnscale Bottom, Green Crag, Haystacks, Moses Trod, Beck Head, Kirk Fell, Beck Head, Moses Trod, Brandreth, Grey Knotts, Honister Mines, Seatoller.
Weather and conditions: Sunny start, clouding over to give rather a grey afternoon, not much in the way of wind.
Greetings Count: A quiet start, we met a few others on Haystacks, more and more folk appeared towards Beck Head. Kirk Fell was quite busy with all those runners. Not a route for those in search of solitude.
Richard's Refreshment Review: Neil and I had a pub tea at the Keswick Lodge in Keswick and the food was good and served quickly. Given that Keswick was very busy, I think we made a good choice.
Thanks to everyone who has donated to the BHF fund in respect of my "last" Wainwright; the logo and link will continue to appear on the webpages until the sponsored walk has been done. There's still time for others to chip in, it's a good cause!
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2011 ©