BLACK STAR, FLEETWITH PIKE & HAYSTACKS
from HONISTER HAUSE

 


Summary

Date - 21st June 2016 Distance - 7 miles
Ascent -
2660ft
Map - OL4 Start point - NT car park Honister Hause (NY 2245 1356)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Black Star on Honister Crag 2077 633 NY 2124 1415
Fleetwith Pike 2126 648 NY 2058 1416
Hay Stacks 1959 597 NY 1933 1320

 

Preface

Tetley and Southey were reading their Dalesman and Lake District magazines, while Allen and Little Eric were huddled over the laptop.

Looking up Tetley said, "what are you looking at, pals?"

"The pictures Dad took on our walk over The Dodds", replied Allen.

"What a wonderful Dad we have", said Little Eric. "Doing them all in one walk, including the long there and back to White Stones and Stybarrow Dodd. It was a big advance in my Birkett and Wainwrights."

"And I bagged them all too", interjected Southey. "Another new area that I have now explored."

"So, how have the pictures come out?", asked Tetley.

"Pretty well bearing in mind that the views were not photogenic due to the hazy conditions", replied Allen. "There should be enough for a story, but we will have to limit the number of times we appear, as there were ten summits."

Southey glanced through the door, "here comes Shaun and Grizzly, with the tea and cake."

"Ooh great", cheered Allen, "I'm....

"gasping for a cuppa!", finished Tetley, while laughing.

"Nothing new there then", said Grizzly, having overheard Tetley.

Allen and Southey got the plates and mugs, Tetley saying, "I'll give you a paw pouring the tea."

"Thanks pal", replied Shaun.

Grizzly announced, "to eat, we have chocolate caramel shortbread, all the work of Little Eric, and I have made some mincemeat slice."

"We haven't had that for a while", said Allen, helping himself to a piece. Then after taking a bite said, "it's scrumptious."

"So is the caramel shortbread", added Tetley.

So all content our thoughts turned to walking.

"This last week for Dad has been taken up with trips to Manchester to hear the four operas of Wagner's Ring Cycle, but I see there are days down next week to walk with Uncle Eric", said Little Eric.

"Wayne and Crumble have told me how wonderful the performances have been, and the final one Gotterdammerung is this afternoon and evening", said Shaun. "It starts at 15:30 and finishes at 22:00."

"Wow", cried Southey. "How wonderful."

"With the long days, it would seem to be sensible to do some of the fells in the northern lakes", mused Tetley.

"Book 7 then", said Shaun, getting the iPad and opening up the list on our website. He scanned down, and then said, "it is a case of not over facing Uncle Eric too much, so how about we suggest Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, starting from the Honister Slate Mine."

"There is also the Birkett of Black Star on Honister Crag, that you will tick off too, Little Eric", added Allen.

So we got the map and book and planned the route. "We make the climb to Fleetwith Pike first then descend and cross to Dubs Quarry, from where we can climb via the tarns to Haystacks", said Shaun.

"We will have to retrace the route then to the quarry, and then pick up the track to Honister", went on Grizzly.

"Dad will have left for Manchester, so we will have to give him our suggestion tomorrow", commented Allen, taking another slice of cake.

Refills anyone?", said Shaun.

Me, please", called out Little Eric..

"And me", said Allen.

"No surprise there", laughed Southey.


Dad was happy with our suggestion, but we had an anxious wait until he spoke to Uncle Eric on Monday night. However all was well, as he too agreed, but made the point that he would have to take his time, so it would be a long day. He too would tick off the summits.

 

The Walk

The plan was to start walking about 10:00. This meant leaving Uncle Eric's about 08:30, so we left home about 07:45.

The day was to be dry with sunny periods, the wind getting up more in the afternoon.

A delightful drive through the lakes to Keswick, to then take the road through Borrowdale.

Well this was the plan until we got there to find that it was closed just today, for we presume resurfacing.

"Oh heck", cried Little Eric. "Whatever are we going to do now."

Checking with the workman who had a map of the closure, he told us that the road was open beyond the Grange junction.

"We'll have to go via Portinscale and cross under the slopes of Catbells then along its eastern slopes", suggested Dad.

This worked out and eventually brought us to Grange, where we could rejoin the road through Borrowdale and so to Seatoller and on up Honister Pass to park in the National Trust car park by the Youth Hostel. The diversion however now meant that it was about 10:45 when we finally set off.

Through the yard we made for the quarry road seen here in the background, as Uncle Eric pauses to examine this non operational Bagguley railway locomotive.

Pausing after a section of climb, Uncle Eric pointed across the valley, "there are more long abandoned workings."

Further research, told us that there had been and incline railway and aerial ropeway that brought the slate down to railway tracks. These then brought the slate to the main site across a bridge over the road. This was removed in the 1970s, but the abutments can still be seen, in this picture of the present mine buildings.

Honister Slate Mine is the last working slate mine in England, operations having first started in 1728. It finally closed in 1989, but underwent a reopening and resurgence in 1997 by local businessman Mark Weir, who redeveloped the mining side - producing small quantities of roofing slate - and turning the site into a tourist attraction within the Lake District National Park. A 600mm (1 ft 11 5⁄8 in) narrow gauge industrial railway is used to assist in the slate extraction process.

Attractions around the mine complex include a visitor centre, underground tours of the workings, and England's first via ferrata, where participants use a safety harness to scale a cliff path.

Honister Mine featured in the 2011 BBC television programme Tales from the National Park. It followed owner Mark Weir, and his attempt to open a zip wire from the top of Honister Crag on Fleetwith Pike to the mine below. Tragically the married father-of-three died in a helicopter crash during the making of the programme. The planning was eventually refused by the Parks Authority on the grounds of impact, even though the likes of explorer (and Lake District resident) Sir Chris Bonington and notable business/tourism organisations supported the scheme. (Source - Wikipedia)

We, with Dad and Uncle Eric also had supported the zip wire application.

The official reopening of the mine by the Duke of Edinburgh, is commemorated by this plaque.

So now we climbed via the zig-zags and then soon struck off right to find a narrow path towards Fleetwith Pike, coming after a while to a hollow with a small pool, with rocky knolls right and ahead

Little Eric was looking at the map, and said, "Black Star is shown, but it is difficult to see where it actually lies."

"It has to be to the right above the precipitous drop to the pass below", replied Shaun.

"The one ahead does not tie in with the grid reference, so it must be this here on our right", said Dad.

There was a path that weaved its way upwards and soon we were at the cairn that is Black Star on Honister Crag.

"Come on" cried Little Eric. "Time for our picture."

You will see that we have settled in the small rocky hollow just below the highest point. This was because it was rather breezy and literally where the grass ends there is a vertical drop of hundreds of feet!

Dad said, "I have had doubts about whether we came here in 2006, as it was not then the usual practice to take your picture on Birkett summits."

"Well", replied Grizzly. "You can put your doubts to rest. I looked up your notes for that walk and I quote, 'went up a mound that I thought was the top. This was Honister Crag. I had not checked my Birkett book beforehand so was glad I made the short deviation'"

"Thanks lad", replied Dad, "and at least you have your picture here now."

Southey had turned to look north, and echoed all our thought, "wow, what a stupendous view. What is it I can see?"

Tetley obliged. "The lakes are from the front Buttermere, Crummock Water and distantly Loweswater. Red Pike is the fell above Buttermere. Above Crummock is Mellbreak with to its right Hen Comb and behind the higher summits are Gavel Fell and Blake Fell. That in shadow behind Mellbreak is Carling Knott. Distantly beyond is the Solway Firth and the faint shape of the Scottish hills."

"We had some good days climbing all those", said Little Eric.,

Mighty mountains rose to the west among them Kirk Fell (2630ft). "That's one Uncle Eric, Southey and I have still to climb", he went on.

Breaking the reverie, Shaun practically said, "we had better be getting on", pointing to the clear path that wound its way to the summit of Fleetwith Pike.

As he made to get in the rucksack, Allen commented, "the backdrop is the Buttermere Ridge, High Crag (2442ft), High Stile (2644ft) & Red Pike (2478ft).

"More of my outstanding", said Little Eric.

So making our way down we continued along the clear path, passing by this small pool. "My how clear the water is", commented Uncle Eric.

A final pull followed and there we were, at the summit of Fleetwith Pike, where we needed no encouragement to settle at the cairn.

Here we met a young lady, who on seeing us said, "fantastic, great."

Dad chatted a little, as he does. She had come up via Fleetwith Edge from Gatesgarth, and was now going to Haystacks and then down Scarth Gap to complete her round.

Southey looked round in wonder, saying, "what stupendous views. I am such a lucky bear."

Dad now went a bit Japanese with the camera and here are the results -

First our final objective today, Haystacks, backed by mighty Pillar (2927ft).

The Buttermere Ridge. High Crag in shadow, High Stile and just peeking out beyond Red Pike.

And lastly to the east side of the lakes, Grasmoor (2795ft) with the ridge in front, from the left, being Whiteless Pike (2165ft), Third Gill Head Man (2402ft) and Wandope (2533ft).

So tearing our eyes from the views we made to set off again, but not before Dad had taken this shapely cairn, with High Crag and High Stile with peeking over the shoulder the summit of Red Pike.

"Right", said Shaun pointing. "Here is the descent path."

We could clearly see it as is meandered on and on and down and down to join the main path from Honister to Haystacks, and taking this steadily the descent was accomplished in half an hour,

In the immediate area where the paths met, is the long abandoned Dubs Quarry.

Huge spoil heaps abound and we walked through passing the ruins of some of the quarry buildings.

Grizzly commented, "all things considered that roof is in remarkably good condition."

Later research revealed the reason. It is known as Dubs Hut, and is a bothy maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA). A very spartan refuge. A single room, with just the bare floor and no fireplace.

The path dropped down and Shaun said, "we have to cross Warnscale Beck, so we should take this grassy path right."

An easy crossing, to then follow the very rough and rocky path towards Haystacks.

The view opened up right and Allen called out, "wow, another superb view of Buttermere and Crummock Water. A photo must."

"Certainly", agreed Dad as he hauled the camera out of the bag.

"The fell thrusting out on the right side of Crummock Water is Rannerdale Knotts", said Tetley.

"That will be my last in Book 6", replied Little Eric.

"And behind are the Fellbarrow group, where we were most fortunate to meet Uncle Bob", went on Shaun. "If it had not rained when we first tried to climb them causing us to abandon the walk that day, we would never have met Uncle Bob. All those wonderful walks with him would never have taken place."

The path led on, passing, in a little while, on the right the pretty Blackbeck Tarn. "Lovely", said Southey. "What is the mountain behind?"

"Great Gable and to the left of the steep declivity, Green Gable", replied Allen.

An awkward section of eroded path below a rocky cliff had to be negotiated, after which it swung left, before climbing again and bending right to then reach Inominate Tarn.

This is the final resting place of Alfred Wainwright his ashes being scattered in a secret location beside it, in accordance with his wishes. Haystacks was his favourite mountain. We paused here in silent homage to him.

The picture is taken looking down, on the way to the summit.

From here the route to the summit could be seen, the path crossing left to gain the final ascent.

The actual summit is a rocky upthrust with cairns at each end. Seemingly there is little if any difference in height, so Little Eric asked, "which is the actual summit?"

"The cairn to the right", replied Tetley.

Such is the popularity of Haystacks that it was busy with walkers, but there was a short period when we were able to settle for our picture.

From the other cairn, we had this wonderful view of lonely Ennerdale Water, Tetley saying, "the furthest fells above the lake to the left are Crag Hill with Grike behind."

As we then began to return the way we had come, Southey said, "what a truly magnificent and awe inspiring prospect of mountains. I now know that is Green Gable to the left and Great Gable in the centre, but what is the mountain behind on the right?"

"Scafell", replied Tetley. "England's second highest."

As Dad walked on again, Allen said, "I am doing well so far in not having any sheep pictures."

He spoke too soon, as just minutes later Dad snapped this of one of our favourite Herdwicks, sitting in the sunshine amongst the heather.

Allen then said, "It must be time for lunch. My tummy is really rumbling."

"Now we have got the summits done, I agree", replied Uncle Eric.

So we found some rocks to sit on just off the path, with the nice view of Inominate Tarn, shown earlier.

In fact we were all hungry, and so we munched away happily at the sandwiches and cake, all washed down with some mugs of tea. Lunch over it was now a matter of returning the same way to Dubs Quarry along the very eroded rough and rocky path.

Grizzly commented, "it is hardly surprising that the path is so rough, such is the popularity of Haystacks."

At Dubs Quarry we then joined the quarry road that was to lead us back to the start.

Looking ahead, Southey said, "do we have to climb those?"

"No lad", replied Dad. "They are not hills, but just mountainous gravel heaps. There will be a path that avoids them."

Beyond we came again to the zig-zags and it was onwards to descend and reach the buildings on the mine and the start.

This picture is included for Uncle Brian's sake. In August 2005, while on a drive, at Dad's suggesting, they stopped here to go to the cafe. However at that time it was a very primitive arrangement. This involved actually boiling the kettle and making the tea yourself, a notice then asking if customers would wash their mugs before leaving. This did not go down well with Uncle Brian and staying here was abandoned in favour of the cafe at the Theatre by the Lake! So, we include this picture to show that there is now a proper cafe called the Sky Hi Cafe. The board on the wall indicates that amongst the items on offer are, homemade soup, panninis, cakes and selection of drinks. Whether this will be sufficient however to convince Uncle Brian to go, is another matter entirely!

During the walk there had been no mobile reception and this was still the case. Dad was anxious to ring Uncle Brian to tell him we were fine and give an estimated arrival time we would be home. He went to the mine reception and they kindly allowed Dad, on the payment of £1, to make the call.

Pulling out of the car park, the road to Borrowdale was coned off, so we returned via Buttermere and Newlands Pass. This was superb for Dad, as he was not driving, and so he able to admire the magnificent views.

"A grand day", said Tetley, echoing all our thoughts.

And the stats. Uncle Eric, Little Eric and Southey all bagged the three summits.

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