Friday, 16th August 2002
After a sumptuous breakfast at The Shepherd’s Arms Hotel we set off from Ennerdale Bridge at 9.05 a.m. for what was supposed to be a 14½ mile walk to Rosthwaite. This was always going to be a testing day for me as it was the first time I had ever walked some distance on two consecutive days but nothing prepared me for what was to come. We took the advice of the couple whom Tina had met the previous day and took the left-hand side of Ennerdale Water. This was a fantastic walk with breathtaking views of the hills on the far side of the lake.
We had met three other walkers (all experienced) almost as soon as we set off and we mixed well and chatted to each of them in turn. Their names were Roger (from Bournville, Birmingham) a very experienced mountaineer, Joyce (from Slough) and her sister Audrey (from Middlesbrough). All are inter-related and had left their respective partners at home.
When we reached the other end of the Lake we joined the official “Wainwright” route but it was not too long before we hit a major problem. The Forestry Commission had put diversion notices up because of “logging” work being undertaken in the forest and this was the start of our problems. By this time Roger had left us, as it was a clear sunny day, to go and climb mountains on his own and he arranged to meet Joyce and Audrey in Borrowdale at about 3 p.m. This subsequently proved to be an impossible target for the two sisters.
At that time we were climbing, as a result of the diversion, one of the highest hills I had ever had the misfortune to stand at the foot of. When I was informed that there was no alternative other than to climb the wretched hill (called Haystacks) in order to reach our destination I was not at all amused. I had never climbed a hill of this nature before (I was told it was 593 metres high) and this did not fill me with any pleasure. I was told by the experienced lady walkers that we had to go over the top and down the other side. Looking up at “Haystacks” it seemed to be enormous and steep and I was not looking forward to this at all. Pat surprised me by showing a considerable aptitude for climbing, although he doesn’t like heights, and Mary was not far behind. Each time we reached what we thought was the peak we discovered there was a further peak behind it which required to be climbed. This demoralised me and exhausted me although I must say that when we looked down on Buttermere the views were fantastic.
Mary took photographs from about the third peak we had reached and these will undoubtedly be worth seeing. In the meantime we had picked up a partial message from Tina saying that she had had an horrific time with her little Corsa car on Honister Pass when she was trying to visit the Slate Mine and this concerned me as we were ascending Haystacks and it would be a long time before we would return to civilisation (if ever). Eventually we reached the highest peak of Haystacks and could not immediately see where we should go to descend on the other side. Fortunately, Joyce (whom we had met earlier) is a very experienced map reader and it is probably down to her and my friends Pat and Mary that I am able to write down the details of the day’s events.
Although the descent was “less hairy” than the ascent it was very tedious and time consuming. When we reached the bottom we met some other walkers who informed us that “Wainwright’s” ashes were scattered on Haystacks. I wish that I had known previously as I would have derived some pleasure in stamping my feet in certain areas in the hope that the masochist was underneath. He must be having a good laugh at us all today.
We eventually reached the Slate Mine via a disused railway at about 5 p.m. after we had been messing about on Haystacks for over three hours. Nevertheless we had conquered it – it was something I had never done before and never want to again. We did not arrive at Nook Farm, Rosthwaite, until 7.05 pm. and Tina was clearly getting worried. After a quick bath and showers we all went to Scafell Hotel for an evening meal which was good quality but expensive. A nerve racking day with no time for the team meeting.