Ennerdale Bridge to Borrowdale

Previously: St Bees to Ennerdale

Next: Borrowdale to Grasmere

“One can forget even a raging toothache on Haystacks” ― Alfred Wainwright

…Though you will never forget the experience and the amazing views that reward you from all the effort to get here!

On a clear day this ridge line from Red Pike through to Haystacks presents the best views in the Lake District. In my humble opinion, they’re also the best views in the UK, and further afield too! Everything you need for the perfect visuals is here. The distant pale blue of the Irish Sea. The shadows in the dimple of fields and fells across Buttermere. The mirrorlike glare of Crummack Water. The mini-Toblerone from Bowfell through Scafell Pike. The randomness of Herdwicks nonchalantly munching the grass. And who can forget the smiles of your companion as they savour it all with you!

Ennerdale Bridge to Borrowdale – Choosing Your Path

As you’ll know from passing the sign yesterday afternoon, you are now inside the Lake District National Park. Setting off from Ennerdale Bridge, you’ll traverse a section along a quiet, flat lane, passing by some beautiful houses. This length will take you to the car park by Ennerdale Water.
Across the water, you’ll see the magnificent peaks that make up our destination. At the little footbridge you’ll have a choice: you can follow the path along the north shore or the south shore. Both give cracking but very different views of the lake. The north shore route is gentler underfoot, but might be less interesting if you want a challenge. The southern shore path is a lot more technical than the map might indicate. There’s lot of rough stone, little dips and rises, roots, stream crossings. It takes you through the trees, and then into the open air. Basically, if you’re up for it, it’s a lot of fun!


Towards the Peak of Red Pike

Whichever options you choose, you’ll then follow the broad, unsurfaced track that leads past Ennerdale Youth Hostel, which is secluded in the woods. At the next gate beyond here you’ll take a left and follow a path that climbs through bracken in a clearing in the woods. This will be your first major climb of the Coast to Coast. This might be the first time you start sweating too! Don’t worry, you’re allowed to take the odd pause under the guise of sipping a drink or taking a photo.
At this part of the route I feel like an insect walking up the body of a sleeping cow. It seems like it goes on for quite a while, but I assure you it’s worth the effort. You’re heading to the peak of Red Pike. There might be the temptation to miss it and take the short-cut to the right by picking up the path that follows the ridge line to High Stile. I recommend you don’t – Red Pike is phenomenal, and you will be well rewarded!
If you look to the north, west and east from Red Pike you’ll get the first sense of the sheer scale and spread of the Lake District fells. You’ll be able to see the flatter land outside of the National Park that spreads from Cockermouth to Carlisle.

One of the sight's you'll see on the Coast to Coast from Ennerdale to Borrowdale


Red Pike, High Stile and Scarth Gap

The path from Red Pike to High Stile is fun to walk along. It’s nice and grassy in the main with the odd small rock and scree remnants. It’s broad to your right, looking south into Ennerdale, but a steep edge to your left – a bit like atop a black ski run. This goes down to Bleaberry Tarn, and Buttermere right at the bottom.
High Stile is the first rocky peak of the walk. You’ll now be above the grass line and have a little scramble on the rocks and boulders that remain after millennia of erosive forces. It’s also the highest point you’ll reach on this day’s walk. Then it’s a dip and along a narrower ridge to the next peak of High Crag. As the name suggests, this one is even craggier and involves more climbing than the previous one! The path down is intimidating or exhilarating depending on your viewpoint. It’s comprised of a steep down on loose stone. We recommend tackling this with confidence! Let yourself slide making quick regular turns.
Scarth Gap is a classic col in both shape and junction of paths. You’ll be heading straight on and immediately into the climb up Haystacks. It’s like a long rocky staircase leading to the heavenly delights that await at the top. But don’t let that first top fool you – the actual top is a little further on! It would be easy to sit here for hours just soaking in the 360-degree views. Who could blame you! Let’s see if, as Alfred Wainwright said, you can forget the raging toothaches of your life! Or, if it’s a particularly hot day, you may like to do as some of our running group tend to do and cool off in Innominate Tarn!

And down to Seatoller

From here the path heads across the wide bowl of Fleetwith towards Honister Slate Mine. This route will pick up the Coast to Coast walkers who opted to take the lower route past Black Sail and up Loft Beck. You’ll pass the remains of old mine sheds and see close up how and where they quarried for the slate. That’s the same slate you saw on the rooftops of the Lake District cottages!
There’s an opportunity to pop into the Mine Visitor Centre and buy a light souvenir. Just remember your 20kg bag limit! You can grab some refreshments in their café and prepare yourself for the gentle descent down towards Borrowdale. As you come closer to Seatoller, you’ll also catch sight of where you will be walking tomorrow – beside Stonethwaite Fell and up to Greenup Edge.
I always love this dropping down into Seatoller. You pass a few trees, head through a field of bracken and see glimpses of the white cottages in the village. When you’re at this part of the route, enjoy the feeling of accomplishment of a good day in the fells. You have lovely accommodation and refreshments to look forward to!

One of the sights you'll see from Ennerdale to Borrowdale

Next: Borrowdale to Patterdale!

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