Leeds Mountaineering Club Blog

Tour of the Lake District April - May 2010


Amy and Dave Our journey began in the glamorous surroundings of Halifax train station where I’d met my girlfriend Amy after completing a half day at work. Our lakes adventure would begin with a train journey to Windermere via Preston. Upon arriving at Windermere station, we hopped onto a bus to drop our rather large rucksacks off at Ambleside before visiting one or two of the local hostelries whilst carb loading and perusing the map for the following day. 

Day One (Coniston YH to Eskdale YH)

After helping ourselves to the full English, our first day began! We had originally planned to walk to Coniston but as both youth hostels were full, we decided to get  the bus to Coniston (via Hawkshead) and begin walking from there. Following what seemed like a never-ending climb up the Walna Scar Road, we arrived at the col, where the views began to open up. The Scafell massif was covered in cloud although Harter Fell was clear and provided us with a way marker for the rest of our first day. Dropping into the Duddon valley we hadn’t seen a sole and after a brief lunch stop next to the river Duddon, we climbed up to the side of Grassguards. Using the SW flank of Harter Fell as a handrail, we made good progress along the tops before Eskdale YH came into sight. A quick descent was followed by a very welcoming pint in The Woolpack Inn. An hour or so later we made good our escape and walked the few hundred yards as we arrived at YH just in time for tea!!

Miles - 10

Day Two  (Eskdale YH - Wasdale YH)

Wastwater YH was the aim of today. After a pleasant walk through the fields, we arrived in Boot. Here we made a steady climb onto the tops. The weather was much brighter today, good spells of sunshine although the cold northerly wind provided a constant thorn in our side, as it would for much of the week, although we were happy to trade these coolconditions if it meant the rain stayed away. Turning left at Burnmoor tarn, we climbed up to Illgill Head (3901). An enjoyable  stroll along the tops (3907 and 8092) brought us to our second peak of the trip, Whin Rigg (3909). By now the sunshine was beginning to wane, coinciding with a boggy descent down to Nether Wasdale. Nice! A tour of the local pubs (both of them!) and it was time for our check in at the YH and the end of day two.

Miles - 11


Day Three (Wasdale YH - Buttermere YH)

A stunning morning as we left the YH (3955) and made our way along the length of Wastwater. The tedious nature of three miles on the road was made much less painful thanks to the stunning views and early morning sunshine. After a quick comfort break at Wasdale Head, we began our ascent round the SW flank of Kirk Fell (8139) up to Black Sail Pass with Pillar looming at the head of the valley. Thankfully the warming sun kept the deceptive chill of the wind at bay and before long we arrived at the pass. It was very tempting to nip up to the top of Kirk Fell but as we still had plenty of walking left to do, we decided against it and instead looked forward to the next target; Black Sail YH. We had considered staying here but the waiting list had put that idea to bed. Instead we consoled ourselves with tea and cake, thanks to the honesty box policy at the hut. Strangely enough we seemed to be the only English walkers who had popped in for a brew as we were surrounded by a mixture of German, Dutch (?) and Australian walkers, all who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, having a well deserved breather and some cake. We managed to tear ourselves away from the welcoming atmosphere of the hut and continued on our way to Buttermere. We arrived at Buttermere village after climbing up to Scarth Gap Pass and down the other side. The obligatory alcohol was consumed before a short walk to the YH and day three was at an end.

Miles - 11.5

Day Four (Buttermere YH - Borrowdale YH)

Having enjoyed yet another hearty breakfast, we headed South East from the youth hostel clockwise around Buttermere to Peggy Bridge. We traced our steps from yesterday back up to Scarth Gap pass; again a clear day with bright sunshine (4033) but strong winds. A quick photo opportunity before we scrambled up to Haystacks; from here we had great views over Great Gable and our next destination, Brandreth. Following a distinct path, followed by a short ascent across open moor we soon arrived at brandreth; the whether had changed and become overcast, although there were still good views over Green Gable, Great Gable and Glaramara. From here we continued along the ridge in a North easterly direction taking in Grey Knotts before a steep descent down to Honister Slate Mine. From here we followed the bridleway down to Seatoller. From here we followed a footpath along side the river, taking us past the youth hostel and on to the Scar Fell Hotel, Rosthwaite where we enjoyed our daily intake of alcoholic beverages before heading back up the footpath to the youth hostel.

Miles - 10.5

Day Five (Borrowdale YH - Langdale YH)

By now we were becoming quite accustomed to the early starts and although it was not what you might call an alpine start, setting off walking at 08:40 is certainly early in our book! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite as kind to us today. The wind had dropped which did have a positive effect on the temperature but the unfortunate consequence of this was low cloud. As we climbed out of Stonethwaite up into the cloud (4096), our waterproof jackets made their first appearance of the week. As we approached Greenup Edge (approx. 620m), the rain became slightly heavier and the waterproof coats were closely followed by the bottoms. A long descent into Grasmere was followed by a brief lunch stop as we recharged our batteries. A mile or so later and after

enjoying a couple of pints of local ale (purely for research purposes) at the Britannia Inn in Elterwater we made our way to Elterwater YH. After waiting a few minutes for the reception to open, we were advised by the warden at the YH that we were at the wrong YH and we had booked in at the Langdale YH! Needless to say, I was not best pleased with myself!! Thankfully the correct YH was only a mile or so away but it was, however, a mile back uphill - not great after a full day walking and a couple of pints in the pub! This cloud’s silver lining was that the Langdale YH certainly seemed to be nicer, definitely more grand than the one at Elterwater.

Miles - 11.5

Day Six (Langdale YH - Patterdale YH)

Another overcast day although the cloud base wasn’t quite as low as the previous day. Today we were heading to Patterdale via Fairfield. Once we made our way back through Grasmere, we climbed steeply up to Stone Arthur, a subsidiary peak of Great Rigg, which soon followed. We were now up in the clouds although the winds had now returned, providing us with the odd glimpse of the valleys below. We continued steadily along the first half of the Fairfield Horseshoe to arrive at Fairfield itself. The wind was still reasonably strong although the cloud was considerably thicker, preventing us from enjoying any views of the surrounding fells. A tricky descent (4166) involving some scree (walking poles were required) and we arrived at Grisedale Tarn. After a brief stop to enjoy the supplies we had picked up earlier in Grasmere, we made our way along the valley bottom and found ourselves in Patterdale. Once we hit the main road, we turned right towards the YH; Amy looked enthralled as I pointed out the George Starkey hut where I had stopped earlier in the year on the club meet. Unfortunately the final leg of today’s walk to the YH meant walking past the pub and yes, we popped in to rest our weary legs…..obviously nothing to do with the alcohol!!

Miles - 13

Day Seven (Patterdale YH - Windermere YH)

The penultimate day of our adventure had arrived and if we were both honest, we weren’t particularly looking forward to this day, which we believed was about 14 miles. Furthermore, the weather wasn’t cracking when we left the hostel. The wind began to pick up as it had done earlier in the week and as a consequence, the cloud cover began to disperse. A nice and gentle walk along paths and tracks brought us to Hartsop. A bridleway along the side of Pasture Beck took us into a very quiet and peaceful valley, with only the ever increasing wind and the odd sheep making any noise. A steep climb up and out of the valley and we found ourselves in a wind tunnel, otherwise known as Thresthwaite Mouth. Thankfully we soon dropped out of the wind as we descending towards the valley bottom (8385) and by this time, the sun had made it’s presence known, so much so, we decided to treat ourselves to a whole 30 minutes for our lunch break. By this time, we had made good progress and whilst we still had six or so miles to go, we were confident of completing the rest of today’s mileage without too many problems and surprise surprise, there was a pub en route! The pub happened to be a rather posh one and bearing in mind we had been walking for

seven days with very few changes of clothes (we were trying to travel as light as possible!), we felt a tad out of place but we made good use of the free, posh smellies in the toilets! A couple of pints later and a mile or so down the route, we arrived at Windermere YH which provided us with our accommodation for our penultimate night.

Miles - 12 miles

Day Eight (Windermere YH - Ambleside YH)

After seven days and 80+ miles, we only had a few miles to go as we made our way back to Ambleside. Our short route took us round the southern side of Wansfell Pike, followed by a gentle stroll through some woods before hitting the main road into Ambleside. We had returned to civilisation and whilst our legs and backs were tired, we had a fantastic week going from point to point. Highly recommended and certainly something that we’ll do again. Our week finished with a stroll into Ambleside (by this time we’d forgotten how to do anything other than walk!!) and rewarded ourselves with a spot of gear shopping. It’d be rude not to!!

Miles - 4

Total miles - 83.5ish

N.b. all miles are rough estimates based upon a map and rough estimations

Dave McKechnie





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