Ennerdale is the 'wildest' major valley in the Lake District, and this horseshoe takes in practically every top on its convoluted skyline to give a long, challenging classic. The fells visited include some of England's finest, including High Stile, Hay Stacks (isn't this supposed to have been Wainwright's favourite?), Great Gable (the clue's in the name), the massive Pillar and wee Steeple - among the most dramatic of Lakeland summits. This makes a tough single day for fell running types, or a brilliant weekender with a wild camp somewhere en route.
Ennerdale is the site of an ambitious wild land restoration project which includes managing the dale's extensive old pine plantations to bring in a more natural mix of woodland. It seems to be working. For more info see http://www.wildennerdale.co.uk/
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Distance: 19 miles (30.67 km)
Total ascent: 2,375m
Steepest Gradient: 41% (1 in 2)
Time: 9 – 12 hours (Walking)
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SummitsRed Pike (Buttermere) 755 m
High Stile 806 m
Haystacks 597 m
Brandreth 715 m
Green Gable 801 m
Great Gable 899 m
Kirk Fell 802 m
Black Crag (Pillar) 828 m
Little Scoat Fell 841 m
Steeple 819 m
Bowness Knott car park by Ennerdale Water, NY108154
Clear paths throughout (what did you expect - this is the Lakes), with some pretty steep gradients in both ascent and descent, and a fair bit of rough rubbly ground. Some bogs on Hay Stacks, but nothing too bad.
A big, fairly serious walk for winter. In snowy or icy conditions there's steep ground requiring care on the descent from High Crag, on both the ascent and descent of Great Gable, and the descent from Kirk Fell to Black Sail Pass. The narrow fin of Steeple would be exciting in the snow too.
Weather and Hill Conditions: mwis: Lake District – Met Office: Lake District
Bus to Rowrah on the A5086; from here it's quite a walk
List any printed guidebooks that describe this route. Links can be written as http://www.example.com
OS Explorer 303 (1:25,000), OS Explorer OL4 (1:25,000), OS Explorer OL6 (1:25,000), Harvey/BMC Lake District (1:40,000), OS Landranger 89 (1:50,000)
Ennerdale YHA 0845 371 9116 Black Sail Hut YHA 0845 371 9680
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by Dan Bailey UKH