Having never been to the Lake District before, I knew not of what to expect. Having done some fairly in-depth research into the area, I was aware that the photographs that are in hiking magazines are views that can only be seen for the lucky few on exceptionally clear days. Fortunately, one of these days happened to coincide with my visit.
The idea was to park up at the bottom of the first climb, walk across a ridge and down to “Britain’s most remote youth hostel”; the Black Sail YHA. From there, a loop to bag 5 more Wainwrights, back down to Black Sail for one more sleep and then another ridge walk back to the van to complete the 3 day circuit.
After arriving at Bowness Knot Forestry Commission car park, we got some sleep and then gathered our gear and set off on our first day of the hike. It was an overcast day that ended up becoming tricky in terms of navigation due to the entire ridge (and the “amazing views”) being hidden by the low cloud cover. The initial stage of the hike took us up parallel to a waterfall which was beautiful. After that, you could have been anywhere that resembled boggy, trudgy conditions underfoot. After 6 hours of hiking, we soon began our descent to the Black Sail YHA. The clouds soon started to lift and then I began to see what the Lakes were really all about.
As part of the money we paid, the YHA provided us with a three course dinner in the evening, cooked breakfast and a packed lunch. The food was homely and very tasty – exactly what we needed to keep our energy levels up. The following day, we woke to a cracker of a day. The weather was stunning. Water was the biggest necessity of the day so after our hydration packs and bottles were filled, we then packed our day packs and set off on our circuit which included Haystacks, Green and Great Gable, Kirk Fell and amazing views of the surrounding peaks and lakes.
After a long day, we then returned to Black Sail for our final evening. Time Team and Black Adder star, Tony Robinson made an appearance as he was creating a documentary for Channel 5 which was a nice surprise.
By the end of the evening, the humidity had increased a huge amount and the wind had picked up massively. It was clear that a storm was on its way. After a sticky night in the bunkhouse, at 0530, the storm showed itself in just under 10 minutes. There was lightning all around us which made us change the route of our final day so that we kept at low levels to avoid any chance of being struck.
All in all, it was certainly an amazing hike that was a perfect introduction to an area I’d love to return to in the near future. Pillar Rock was one of the peaks that I couldn’t bag due to the electrical storms so that is certainly a good excuse to return.