Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite
This is a long leg and you should plan this section carefully – allowing plenty of time to arrive at your destination safely. For the inexperienced and dubiously fit this leg of the Coast to Coast Walk can seem long, & tiring. It involves rougher terrain and more awkward navigation than many expect. Unless you are very fit and an experienced long distant walker three things should be seriously considered:
1) Start your walk from before Ennerdale Bridge e.g. Cleator Moor –and you are in for an extremely long & tiring day. This certainly shouldn’t be contemplated outside of the summer months of May June or July as benightment has befallen several that have attempted this!
2) Baggage Transfer. There are several companies offering this service and even if aiming to backpack the route a lightened load on this leg may make your day more enjoyable.
3) Route Choice. High or Low Level. In good weather fit walkers with light packs will revel in the superb ridge walk over Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag and Haystacks. Many an ambitious trekker has phoned from Honistor with tired legs and blistered feet, desperate to get down to Rosthwaite before the kitchen closes! Most however will be more than satisfied with the walk through remote and wild Ennerdale.
When Wainwright wrote his Coast to Coast Walk he never meant it to be a definitive route and although The Wainwright Society is actively campaigning, it remains outside the list of National Trials. Erosion, Upland Access and Rights of Way have all changed the factors influencing today’s walker in their choice of route.
The traditional route ascends North East out of the valley head alongside Loft Beck. Although partially pitched this route remains steep and is now rough and eroded towards the top. In poor weather, walkers on this route can emerge onto a cloud shrouded, windswept and relatively featureless fellside. The path is not too hard to follow but I consider the following alternative a more stimulating and more rewarding route.
The Haystacks – Dubs Alternative Route
From a point about 2km before Black Sail Hut (GR NY176132) near The Memorial Bridge across the River Liza (good picnic spot) and below the impressive crag of Pillar Rock, there is a path that ascends on the north flank of the valley diagonally towards Scarth Gap. (Currently the spot is also identifiable by a stand of dead pine trees) Take this path and listen for the babbling stones as you climb towards the main track between Black Sail and Gatesgarth. Follow this track to the summit of Scarth Gap. (GR. NY189133). From here you can join the High Level Route and traverse Haystacks – Wainwright’s favourite summit. A short easy scramble ( avoidable by path on right) leads to the knobbly top. From here a clear path leads ESE to Innominate Tarn where Wainwright’s Ashes were scattered. Continuing beyond Black Beck Tarn the path swings NE to ford (stepping stones) the beck below the Refuge of Dubs Hut. The Old Tramway can now be followed directly all the way to Honister.
Time wise there may be little difference between the two routes. While this alternative gains a summit it spends less time above 500m and is marginally shorter. If you choose AW’s original route do memorise the sketch map (left) as it is amazing how many set off for Gt Gable or Wasdale Head by mistake.
Ultimately the choice of route remains your own but remember if staying at The Royal Oak Hotel your dinner is served at 7 and 7:30pm. October through until March!
“.. long experience of the needs of fell-walkers has made Borrowdale folk adept at catering for outsize appetites and tired bodies” A. W.
Please also visit our Mountain Safety Page for information on how to stay safe on the mountains.