Post 124: The Staveley-Foxfield Horseshoe – the Underpant Trail
11 April 1995: Day 4 – Keswick Youth Hostel to the Black Sail Hut Youth Hostel – 12 miles
We left Keswick at 9.15am and, despite a gentle walk to Portinscale, I felt very lethargic and had the runs. Fortunately, I found a public convenience at the boathouse at Nichol End. The problem was either caused by the extra helping of peach crumble the night before, vitamin B deficiency resulting from too much exercise or worse the first symptoms of andropause?
I found the climb up Cat Bells quite hard, (some photographs taken on an later occasion)
and progress along Maiden Moor and High Spy was not a lot better. I was definitely having an off day. After a welcome lunch at Dale Head Tarn, I straggled along at the rear of the party until we descended steeply to Honister Pass. A steep ascent then led up to Haystacks and Innominate Tarn, where we remembered Alfred Wainwright, whose ashes were scattered thereabouts.
A remarkable wall of cloud rose up from the depths of Ennerdale, as though there was a presence in the area.
The descent to Scarth Gap was particularly tiring and I was relieved to arrive at the Black Sail Youth Hostel, only to find it locked. The warden arrived to let us in just as we were chilling down and gentle rain started. It was a small miracle that this was the only rain of the whole walk, something very unusual in the Lake District.
The hostel was occupied by someone called Brian Smith, who said he had met Wainwright and written a book called, Exploring The High Fells with a Wainwright Guidebook. There is indeed such a book. There were also three youngsters aged between seventeen and twenty keenly playing chess, and a father and two children. By all accounts a quiet night, as on other occasions it has been full to the eighteen capacity, late comers having slept on the lounge floor.
That night, Dan, a fresh air junkie, did his best to finish us off with hypothermia by leaving the curtains open. At least this time the windows were closed. However, the sunlight came through early in the morning, waking me up. I decided to go outside to wash in the stream, taking photographs of the dawn towards Great Gable. What a wonderful sight, as rays of sunlight pierced the gap between Green Gable and Great Gable.
The air had a crisp freshness about it. Small wonder the Black Sail Hut Youth Hostel is one of my favourite hostels; staying there in good weather can be a unique magical experience.