Walk Report: Red Pike (Ennerdale)


Date: 12th Apr 2008
Stats: 8.0 miles, 2300 feet
Weather: Bitterly cold on top, strong winds, low cloud, hail and rain showers
Trig Points: 0
Fells: 1: Red Pike
Other Info: Free parking at Bowness, but no toilets despite the OS map’s sign
Summary: Bowness, Ennerdale lakeside path, Gillerthwaite, Gillflinter Beck, Red Pike and return by same route

Key to symbols:
= Trig Point     = Yorkshire Top

Day two of this short break was all about testing my legs for a long steep climb. I’m quite aware of the task looming ahead of me in a few weeks time when I plan to climb Ben Bevis. That’s a climb of over 4000 feet in the space of about 4 miles. I need to know whether I’m going to be able to climb that sort of constant gradient before I set out.

To climb Red Pike from the road beside Ennerdale Water is an ascent of 2000 feet over a distance of 1.25 miles. That half the ascent of Ben Nevis and twice the gradient. I feel sure that if I can manage that sort of climb and still have some breath in me, I can manage Ben Nevis.

So if I did nothing else today I wanted to climb Red Pike. As it turned out that’s exactly how it went.

Ennerdale walking weekend
Car park at Bowness. I’m the third car to arrive, but then it is only 8am.

Ennerdale walking weekend
Looking towards the eastern end of Ennerdale Water

I walked the road beside Ennerdale Water. I could have used the path through the trees again, beside Smithy Beck, it’s a much nicer walk. However, this would reduce the amount of ascent from the bottom of Red Pike, so I stuck to the original plan.

Ennerdale walking weekend

Ennerdale walking weekend
Approaching Gillerthwaite – the fell – not the Youth Hostel or the Outdoor Centre.

It appears that there is a load of building work going on at Ennerdale YH, or High Gillerthwaite, depending on your preference. I found out later that the YHA is making extensive renovations to this Hostel in order to allow them to make some radical changes to the Black Sail Hostel four miles further along the valley. It looks like the usual hostel style accommodation at Black Sail, bed, breakfast and evening meal with an attendant warden is likely to become a bed only hostel where you must bring your own supplies. Discussion of this topic can be found here on the LiveForTheOutdoors website.

Ennerdale walking weekend
The start of the climb to Red Pike – a popular alternative route for the Coast to Coast.

Ennerdale walking weekend
Red Pike with its head in the clouds. The path runs up the left of the picture to the fold in the land where it follows the right hand track along the ridge

Ennerdale walking weekend
The path by the beck, with a cairn to show where to cross the stream – like you need one?

Ennerdale walking weekend
In fact the path is cairned all the way to the top. Useful if you’re not carrying maps, compass or GPS with you – in which case what are you doing on the fells?

Ennerdale walking weekend
The misty, windy and mighty cold summit of red Pike

Ennerdale walking weekend
Still lots of snow lying up here

Ennerdale walking weekend
On the descent.

My heart wasn’t in it if I’m honest. I did the 2000 foot climb in about an hour – around what I was expecting. The weather put the dampers on the rest of the walk for me – I didn’t fancy walking the ridge all the way to Haystacks in mist. To confirm my thoughts, as I left the summit of Red Pike it started to hail really heavily and the wind increased.

I’ll be back though..

Ennerdale walking weekend
The weather worsened as the day went on, so I was happy that I cut the walk short.

Ennerdale walking weekend
Almost back at the base of the climb.

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