Ennerdale Bridge - Borrowdale (Rosthwaite) - 15 miles (7-8 hours): This was quite a challenging day's walk, and involves more ascent than Day 1. Adverse weather conditions are more likely to have an impact, but in spite of a forecast for heavy showers, we largely stayed dry, with just two short showers as we walked up the side of Ennerdale Water. We left Ennerdale Bridge at about 0930, and headed for the path alongside the north of Ennerdale Water - the traditional Wainwright route follows the south shore, but is more rocky and muddy, and tougher walking. In view of the potentially long day, we opted for the easier, but perhaps slightly less dramatic option. Ennerdale Water looked lovely in the morning sunshine.
After leaving the end of Ennerdale Water, there is still a good bit of fairly tedious, but easy walking, along a forest track until finally you emerge from the trees to drop down to Black Sail Hut, one of the most remote and dramatic locations in the Lake District.
'Black Sail Hut is a Youth Hostel, but is often left open for passing walkers, so they can use the toilet and kitchen facilities. It is perfectly placed as a lunch stop on Day 2, to take on refreshment before taking on the toughest climb of the walk so far. Black Sail is one of Wainwright's favourite locations in the Lakes, as it sits nestled below an array of dramatic fells - Haystacks, Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar to name but a few.
Care is needed when leaving Black Sail, to take the correct path towards Loft Beck - we saw several walkers take the wrong path - you should take the higher, less distinct path heading south-east, not the main track, which can lead you into the wrong valley completely !. The climb alongside Loft Beck up towards Honister is the steepest of the walk so far, but the path is well engineered with stone steps, so is not too hard if you take your time. There are great views back to Great Gable and Kirk Fell as you ascend the Loft Beck path.
As you emerge onto the plateau after climbing up Loft Beck, weather depending, you can have one of those 'wow' moments on the Coast-to-Coast. Stunning views open up in all directions - across to Honister Slate Mine below Fleetworth Pike, views back to Haystacks, High Crag and Red Pike, and as you cross towards Honister, great views into Buttermere open up on your left.
The path from the top of Loft Beck swings right past the lower slopes of Brandreth and Grey Knotts, and is clearly marked with frequent cairns, so navigation should not be a problem, even in poor weather. It then joins former tramways to cross towards Honister, and then down (fairly steeply) to the Honister visitor centre (a good refreshment stop before the final walk down to Borrowdale).
There was still about 3-4 miles walking from Honister to our hotel in Rosthwaite, but the walk down from the visitor centre was generally pleasant, down through Seatoller, then on alongside the River Derwent - there is one short section of rocky scrambling above the river (with a chain in the rocks to use as a hand-hold) to negotiate, but otherwise the path was good.
We walked into our Hotel (Hazel Bank Country hotel- slightly expensive, but very nice) at about 1830, after a long day's walking, but which had been very enjoyable and not too technically demanding. We now felt we were in the heart of the Lakes, with the dramatic scenery to match. Navigation on Day 2 was relatively straightforward, as long as you took the correct path from Black Sail to Loft Beck !. We were lucky with the weather - this would be a very tough day in poor weather. Whilst very good quality (4 rosette) evening meals were available at Hazel Bank, we opted for a rather more relaxed meal at the Scafell Hotel bar just down the round - good quality it was too, eaten outside on the terrace above Stonethwaite Beck (with midges for company).
Peter and Lorraine, owners of Ty Uchaf since 2011. We will post occasionally items that may be of interest to our guests, past, present and future !