Wasdale And Ennerdale Long Day

Earlier in the week a message came up on a fellrunning group I’m in. “We are heading for some valley hopping in and out of Wasdale and Ennerdale on Saturday if anyone fancies joining us?” It is like a magnet for lazy people like me who enjoy a day out but can’t be bothered with planning an interesting route. My map can stay safely stored in my bag while someone else navigates. I’m hoping to tick a few more Wainwrights off my 45 at 45 list but it isn’t a priority.

A 10.30am start at Honister Youth Hostel is good news for a couple of reasons. 1) No early start. I can leave the house at 8am and get there in time 2) We have a National Trust membership so I don’t need any money to park. I’m a bit concerned after ten minutes following a long line of traffic stuck behind a sightseeing bus. Fortunately it stops as Rosthwaite and the traffic moves slightly faster. I need not have worried as the only person I recognise in the car park is Rob Brooks who runs for Saltwell Harriers.

View from the car park with path to Grey Knotts in the centre

I Meet The Runners

A few more cars turn up as I get ready and remember to apply my sun cream. After weeks of miserable rain the temperature has doubled over the last week and its going to a beautiful day. There are four runners I’ve never met before but when you are running that doesn’t usually matter. In addition to Rob Brooks I’m also introduced to Danny Richardson, Georgina Lewis and Katherine Davis. I already know Graham Lewis Dale and Jon Heaney.

As the plan is explained Jon says it might take four and a half hours Graham buts in to says its going to be longer. The rest of us just shrug our shoulders and prepare to run. It is the first of many route, elevation, distance and resting disagreements between the two today which are comical at times.

Moses Trod (not the guy from the bible)

Graham and Danny Richardson are supporting a Bob Graham Leg 4 next weekend. They want to try out Moses Trod which is allegedly the fastest route between Honister and Wasdale as an alternative to driving. The path isn’t particularly distinct in places and we struggle to pick it up until it becomes very stony. A sharp stone impacts the side of my left foot and I can feel the bruise building the rest of the day.

Graham and Danny find Gable Crag at the back of Great Gable

It takes about an hour and a quarter to reach Wasdale skirting some of the higher tops in the process. We all know that’s the easy bit out of the way. The car parks are crammed with visitors but we know there won’t be many taking our route.

Katherine and Georgina on Moses Trod
Photo by Jon Heaney


We begin to climb Yewbarrow. It is best not to look up as it seems an impossible task even after climbing it several times. After only a couple of hundred metres we hit an unexpected problem. The hole in the fence BG runners have used to access Yewbarrow for over fifty years has been repaired. We struggle to stretch our legs over the barbed wire and make a mental note there must be a better way to get over the fence.

Jon tying his shoe near the repaired fence on Yewbarrow with Wastwater in the background

The warm, humid conditions are a bit of a surprise after the relative breeze coming through Moses Trod. I’m feeling OK but looking forward to the top. We can see what looks like a Bob Graham attempt a couple of hundred metres below us. It is pretty easy to pick out the contender from the pacers even at long distance. At the top we take a well deserved rest and wait. The BG attempt passes and the contender is the runner we predicted twenty minutes earlier. He is looking in much better shape than one of his pacers in yellow who already has a grey, haggard expression after one summit.

Summit of Yewbarrow. Spot the person concentrating on not falling off his rock
Photo by Jon Heaney

Rolling On To Red Pike

I only know one way to travel between Yewbarrow and Red Pike. Along the scree under Stirrup Crag. Today we run along Stirrup Crag and climb down. It certainly isn’t a faster alternative but it is fun. There are more walkers on the route than I expected and it makes an interesting scramble a couple of times.

The Red Pike in the Wasdale Valley is our next Summit. It is one we all know well from the Bob Graham. We can hear the BG party up ahead singing “Take Me Home Country Roads” on their way up. At the top the exhausted looking pacer in the yellow t-shirt is on his way back down to Wasdale while the rest continue on to Steeple. We forget to ask him why they were singing a John Denver song out on the fells.

Rest And Refuel

Our next planned peak is the Buttermere version of Red Pike. It is probably only about five kilometres between the two Red Pikes as the crow flies but we are not birds. First we need to climb to the highest point on todays route. Scoat Fell at 842m or 2,759ft is a nice grassy walk up a gentle slope. At the top its time for a quick picnic and we begin to head down into Ennerdale Forest about 700m below. We leave Wasdale and Ennerdale is in front of us.

Starting to descend from Scoat Fell

On a warm day taking on enough fluid is important and our navigators have chosen a route which has a lovely waterfall about 100m from the top producing what should be clean water. By now we all have at least one flask to fill and we all have a nice little drink from the waterfall.

A much needed water refill just below Scoat Fell
Photo by Graham Lewis Dale

Another Red Pike

The descent into Ennerdale is a mixture of fell, the remains of logging and well worn, stony paths. I’ve heard everyone say the next climb will be the worst of the day. Looking across the valley I can’t see any people or paths the way we are intending to go.

Red Pike (Buttermere) from near Woundell Beck

We cross the river via a ford and enjoy the cooling water on our legs. Rob and Katherine decide to take the less scenic but just as interesting path along the valley floor and back to Honister. The rest of us begin to climb Red Pike. I’m not sure we took the optimum route onto the fell through the logging but it worked.

“This is definitely the path lads”

Escaping the trees I’m sure the worst is over and we start a real climb. Half an hour later I’ve got no idea how far is left to go, where the path is or even what day it is. I’m on automatic pilot stumbling forward through the heather and rocks.

“Do you know the best way to the summit?”
Photo by Georgina Lewis

Graham is ahead on the line he chose and Jon is on the left using his watch to navigate. I don’t care which one is right I’d just like to be at the top. My first new fell today. I’m not going to forget this one in a hurry.

Mark climbing Red Pike
Photo by Jon Heaney

Return To Honister

My supplies of food and water are rapidly depleting but I’ve still got enough to nibble on for a few hours yet. I could do with a long cooling drink but that isn’t possible so I sip my remaining fluid and keep my fingers crossed the stream Graham remembers isn’t a figment of his imagination. Now we are on the tops things start to move a bit faster and we make better progress. We visit High Stile but I’m not sure if we pass the top as it’s a bit to the north. The planned route means we deliberately skirt High Crag and Hay Stacks on our way back down towards Honister. I need to check twice to confirm I’m seeing a mountain biker pushing his bike towards Red Pike 700m up the mountain.

Just what you expect to see at 700m a bloke on a bike

Graham’s stream turns out to be a waterfall called Black Beck. It is in a good place to top up the water supplies and cool down a bit. Most of us are taking the day at a nice steady pace but a couple find the need to have a bit of a race and leave us behind. Additional energy spent they return to the fold and we join back onto the old wagonway we left the slate mine on seven hours before.

On the old wagonway of Dobs quarry


Arriving back at the slate mine Katherine and Rob are waiting for us and seem to have enjoyed their route. My foot is still throbbing and I’m reluctant to make it worse so I keep my fell shoes on to drive home. It has been a good day out and I’ve enjoyed everything apart from the climb to Red Pike. Everyone looked strong and very capable in the hills (with the exception of the BG pacer in the yellow t-shirt). How do I sign up for the next one?

I’ve only added one peak to my 45 at 45 but the day out has set me up for supporting JK on his Bob Graham next Saturday. The only sad faces I see all day are when I get home and arrive an hour earlier than dusk to put the hens, ducks and geese to bed. The geese especially aren’t happy about leaving the sunny evening for their sheds. I’m not really in a fit state to catch them so I’m relieved when they decide to go in after a few minutes of hissing and cackling.

A selection of geese and hens

We hope you enjoyed reading about our article “Wasdale and Ennerdale Long Day”. Have you climbed Red Pike? Is there a pathless climb you hate? Let us know in the comments below.

Read some of of other blog posts for more hilly adventures on dreamingofthefells.uk

Recce of the Old Crown Round

Looking for a walk in Wooler

Exploring the Northern Fells

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Wasdale And Ennerdale Long Day”

WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner