19th April 2008

Black Sail Hut, an aptly named Windy Gap and a room with a view


Walk Overview
Time 09.00 to 14.25
Duration 5hr 25 min
Distance 8.7 mile
Ascent 3250 ft
Walking with Andrew Leaney
Gateagarth - Scarth Gap Pass - Black Sail Hut (YHA) - Tongue (side of) - Windy Gap - Green Gable - Brandreth Grey Knotts - Great Round How - Warnscale Beck - Warnscale Bottom - Gatesgarth
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, Gatesgarth Farm, Buttermere

This is an incredibly popular parking spot that fills up very early in the day. If you arrive here to find it full, simply continue towards Honister Pass where there is usually spaces available on the couple of small car parks found along here.

I think this car park is actually owned by Gatesgarth Farm. There is a full day charge but every time I come here the price is different.
More often than not you've find a van here selling refreshments.


Route Map

Buttermere seen from Peggy's Bridge.

Gaining height on Scarth Gap Pass, which we used for our route over to Ennerdale Valley and Black Sail Hut.

Looking up to the very steep Gamlin End side of High Crag.

Pillar, showing off what is arguably its best side.

I know eventually all the debris rots into the ground, but for the short term at least, the forestry workers leave a right mess behind when they've finished felling the trees. I suppose I shouldn't moan too much when the result is a view like this one.

The interior of Black Sail Hut Youth Hostel.

A visit to Black Sail Hut was actually the main aim of today's walk. But because of it's remote location, fitting it into a straightforward walk can be a bit difficult, unless you do the obvious Ennerdale valley walk that is. Today we followed a similar route to one I did in 1998. I can't believe it's been that long since I've walked here. I have cycled here a few times from home, but as I say, this was the first time I've walked here in ten years.

The head of Ennerdale Valley is a fantastic place and thankfully, a long way from the end of the public road. If you want to visit this place you need to walk or cycle through the valley, alternatively you can walk over from one of the neighbouring valleys, as we did today.

There's a sign near Black Sail Hut saying that Bowness Knott Car park is six miles further down the valley. In real language this is the equivalent of the road through Borrowdale ending somewhere near Calfclose Bay, Derwent Water.

Looking in the same direction from further up the side of Tongue.

Heading up the scree path below Windy Gap.
It was far from calm up here, but we could tell by the wind direction that we were still being sheltered by the side of the fell. We could also tell that once we reached the ridge there'd be no shelter at all and we'd get the full force of the wind.

The wind was nothing short of ferocious up here, so looking back down to Windy Gap on a day like this, it's easy to understand just how it gained such a name. We had came up from the right hand side of this photo, and when we reached the cairn, seen here below us, the wind felt like someone pushing against us; almost forcing us back the way we'd came.

From Green Gable summit, looking across the Northern fells (top left) the Eastern fells (top right) the central fells (running across the middle) and the Western fells (foreground & left)

One of the Brandreth Tarns.

Not quite at its best today, but this is one of the Lake Districts more spectacular views. On the left of the photo is Ennerdale Valley and Lake. The middle of the picture is taken up by Haystacks, High Crag and High Stile, and on the right you see Buttermere & Crummock Water. Of course the drive around from one valley to the other, gives the impression that they're much further apart than they actually are.

Grey Knotts Tarn. As Andrew pointed out "there's no nice calm reflections in any of the tarns we visited today".

Grey Knotts Summit.

Fleetwith Pike and the Honister quarries.

Buttermere and Crummock Water.

Well hidden and blending in perfectly is this old quarry workers hut; now used as a mountain bothy. I don't suppose any of them offer what you'd describe as four star accommodation, but in the interests of politeness, I'll just say that this particular one was rather basic.

Having said that, , , I'll bet none of the more "luxurious" alternatives could boast a room with a view to match this one, and it's free of charge.

And from the outside (trying) to look in.


David Hall -
Lake District Walks