A couple of months and about half a dozen summits ago I thought that there was a good chance of Haystacks becoming my 200th Wainwright. But as I continued towards completion, the likelihood of my 200th having any specific meaning diminished.
For some people, their 200th Wainwright is a significant milestone as it is a nice round number and also quite close to the end of their
Lake District quest – they may even pick a specific fell for the occasion. Browsing walking websites will reveal a number of articles about Wainwright baggers’ days out to tick their double-century.
I had no particular desire to tick any particular fell as my 200th – I’ve already picked my 214th and it will have far more significance. As I planned my remaining walks, it looked like Wasdale’s Red Pike (on a Yewbarrow to Steeple ridge route) would mark this milestone, but a Tweet from Eric Robson (of Wainwright television fame) said that the Wasdale fell race was to take place on the day in question. This would probably add to the traffic in the valley already boosted by 3 peaks challengers. As I feared that parking spaces would be at a premium, I quickly changed my plans to link an ascent of Kirk Fell with Haystacks.
car park I soon reached Drum House before turning onto Moses’ Trod. Is there a better path for views in the Honister Pass Lake District? It traverses the slopes of Grey Knotts, Brandreth and Green Gable before reaching Beck Head and the view from the path subtly but constantly changes, having superb views of the giants of Great Gable and Pillar with the twin glacial troughs of Ennerdale and Buttermere commanding the vista to the north-west.
|Ennerdale and Buttermere|
One of the Beck Head tarns was almost dry, despite the recent rains, and the path up the eastern slopes of Kirk Fell led into the cloud. Once on the summit plateau, visibility varied from 10 to 100 metres and it was easy to deviate from the track, making the twin summits just that bit more challenging to find. The north-east top was ticked and the main (south-west) summit quickly followed.
We parted company and I reversed my steps towards Beck Head but this time in much better visibility. Napes Needle was clearly in view from Kirkfell Tarn and zooming in on a photo revealed climbers on and just below the summit. There were a lot of fell runners descending from the plateau to the col and then starting the slog up Great Gable, obviously competitors on the Wasdale fell race, as well as a group attempting the Bob Graham round. I was grateful for my lesser ambition and slower pace.
On Haystacks – my 200th Wainwright – I took the obligatory photos of the profile of the perched boulder and strolled amongst the tors to reach Innominate Tarn. I was expecting an isolated idyll but was a little disappointed upon discovering that it was so near to the main footpath. At the summit there is a small ridge alongside a tarn, with a cairn at either end. The northernmost is the accepted Wainwright summit but the highest point is not clear.
On the way back to Honister I spoke to a group of young men at the top of Black Beck and it became clear that they still had big plans. Having started at Buttermere, they walked up Red Pike and then along the ridge to Haystacks, their aim was to tackle Fleetwith Pike and continue to Dale Head before making Robinson their final summit. I wished them luck but kept quiet about my doubts about them finishing in daylight!
As the sun continued to shine I finished this excellent walk and I would recommend as a good day out with super views. My change of plan had worked out well.