Sunshine, snow, and the signs of spring - we had it all in Ennerdale!
At the western edge of the Lake District lies Ennerdale, a long valley surrounded by some of the classic mountain peaks – Great Gable, Hay Stacks, Pillar – that give it an Alpine feel. More than a decade ago, the Wild Ennerdale partnership was established to encourage the valley to return to nature. Fences were removed, grazing reduced, streams became unmanaged and forests were allowed to grow up the hillsides.
The aim of this was to give people a feel for the wild side of England. Indeed, there are now over 100 bird species recorded in the valley, and many other animals and plants that call it home. There are no roads going up it, only the forestry track that took us up to YHA Ennerdale, and further tracks up which most cars are forbidden. If you want to get away from it all, this is the place.
We arrived on Friday evening with the skies clear and the forecast for unbroken sunshine. The snows lingered on the surrounding summits, and the daffodils were out in the garden. Spring had arrived. That night, the stars were out, and several people walked back up the track to get a better view of the skies before we lit the stove and settled down to an evening of board games and curry.
The next day dawned as we had hoped, a stunningly beautiful day. The group split into two, a higher walk heading up Pillar and the lower walk opting for Hay Stacks, Alfred Wainwright’s favourite hill. We all enjoyed a walk up the valley itself before committing to these hills, and despite the snow that lingered on the tops, the day was warm enough for T-shirts the whole day.
The air was so clear that from the tops we could see the mountains of southern Scotland, the northern hills of Wales, and even over to Ireland and the Isle of Man. At one point, being on hills on opposite sides of the valley, the two groups could even look across at each other!
Because of the good weather, and the nature of the walks, we were all able to spend a few hours ‘up high’ enjoying the outstanding views from the summits before descending back into Ennerdale and heading to the hostel, via a welcoming cup of tea at Black Sail. It was excellent to have walked to and from our accommodation (something we do whenever possible) and to not have seen a road all day!
That evening, tired but exuberant from the day’s adventures, everyone seemed upbeat at having lucked out with such a great day. Over wine and casserole we planned the next walk.
Sunday’s weather was just as good as Saturday’s so a small group led by John decided on another full day out. They headed round to near Keswick and walked up Grizedale Pike, which gives excellent views of the central Lake District. The rest of the group had a more leisurely morning, exploring more of Ennerdale itself. We walked up Bowness Knott, a rocky viewpoint point up through the forest towards the end of the valley. We then descended to walk alongside Ennerdale Water, and even enjoyed a paddle in the lake, drying off in the spring sunshine before skimming stones (or trying to…).
Our weekend over, we felt blessed with the weather, and glad to have had the opportunity to learn more about this special valley. it is not often you find somewhere this accessible, but with the feeling of total remoteness. There are a lot of other walking opportunities from Ennerdale, and we only scratched the surface of where groups can easily explore. We’ll be back!
View our full gallery of pictures from this amazing Ennerdale Weekend here…
Book your next Ennerdale Adventure here…
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Ennerdale Walking Weekend
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