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Monday, 11 July 2016

Haystacks & The Via Ferretta 10-7-2016

This was a day organized by a walking friend, Richard, and a day very similar to one he organized last year to incorporate a bit of a challenge in the style of the VIA FERRETTA at the  Honistor Slate Mines in the Lake District. A fantastic, scary and exciting course to test your nerve, especially in the damp and windy conditions of the great British summer!! Unfortunately, Richard couldn't take part as he pulled his groin and was struggling to do any walking, so mate, hope you enjoy reading about it and hope you get better soon.
The walk that we were doing was a linear that took us from Gatesgarth, up and over HAYSTACKS  and back down to the Honistor Slate Mines. The weather forecast predicted quite a lot of rain, heavy at times and strong winds which didn't sound too promising for the walk or the Via Ferretta, luckily the forecast was wrong again and in our favour. It did rain but more short sharp showers with dry spells in between with quite a bit of mist rolling in and out taking the views away but adding to the mountain atmosphere. We all met up at the slate mines, introduced ourselves and caught the bus down the Honister Pass of the start of the walk. Out of the eight of us, well nine including Tufty the very well behaved and friendly dog, I had only met Jacklyn before, on last years Via Ferretta, but such is the way with these types of small meet ups you soon get to know everyone and as it's very informal and relaxed it turns out to be a good day out with like minded souls.
So, from the farm we followed a good easy path that eventually headed upwards and the first of the wet weather, not too wet, more of letting us know where we were and what time of year it was! Some decent views back down to BUTTERMERE and the surrounding fells were to be had as we gained height plus the wind was getting a bit more gusty in places keeping the temperature a bit on the cool side. Not cold but quite pleasant walking without over heating or freezing to death.
Our route for the day
Off we go
View back to our start point
Into the rain..........
Out of the rain
Looking back down to Buttermere
One thing I did enjoy about this walk is the variety you get. Good paths, small bits of easy scrambling, good views, quite a few tarns, grassy lumps to rocky outcrops. A good place to come for a revisit sometime when I have a bit more time to explore. It was a little rushed as we had a time limit to stick to so we could get back in time for the fun and games but it didn't take away from the enjoyment, just made me want to come back for more in the future :-) It didn't seem to take long to get to the summit and I apologize for not getting everyone in the summit photo. A bit blowy and damp so not much in the way of views but still good and another Wainwright ticked off, not that I'm counting!!!
From good path to short scramble
Misty view down to Buttermere
Heading into the mist
Short scramble
Happy summit
Summit view down before it disappeared again
Tufty the mountain dog
We didn't hang about too long on the summit so we made our way down towards INNOMINATE TARN which basically means "Without a Name". A bit better than nameless tarn I suppose. It is also the place where the ashes of ALFRED WAINWRIGHT are scattered as it was his favourite place in the Lake District.
Just checking the map isn't wrong :-)
A misty Innominate Tarn
A clear Innominate Tarn
Innominate tarn
Innominate Tarn
It was here that the mist started to lift to reveal most of the surrounding tops and also the showers stopped, just the wind remained but at least it made for a better walk down to the slate mine with some good views. One small tricky bit of a stream crossing that we all managed without falling in and a final walk down through the old quarry had us back in plenty of time for a warm drink and a chat before we took on the main part of the day.
Clear views on the way back
Good clear views down to Buttermere and a distant Cummock water
A look back to a now clear Haystacks
On the approach to the old quarry
Steady as we go
Good clear views back to Haystacks
Quarry hut with Haystack behind
The final walk back down to the car park and Honister Slate Mine
A really good 4 hour walk in very good company and I'm sure I'll be back here sometime in clearer conditions as it looks like a good place to explore. Although there was eight of us on the walk, only three of us were doing the Via Ferretta with another four joining us just for the fun and games. There was also a couple of others on their own to make up a full group.
As I said at the beginning, this is really good fun and something to test the nerves as you hang off the cliff's with nothing but fresh air between you and the valley floor. The wind made for some interesting moves especially on the bridge where it swayed from side to side with I guess, a little help from the guide of the day!! Three hours of nervous adrenaline and thankfully the rain stayed off until right at the very end when we came out of the mine tunnel for the walk back and did it come down and coupled with the wind it made for a wet walk back. Just glad it wasn't like that when we were hanging about :-)
With thanks to Jaclyn, Clare, Linzi, David, Steven, Karen, Susan, Steve, Micheal, Jenny, Tufty the mountain dog and Richard for organizing it all.  Hope to catch up with you all again sometime

Roped up and ready to go
The difficult  bit before the bridge
Admiring the views

Oooooooo, long way down

Sit back, relax, have a laugh and chill out to the video of the Via Ferretta The Movie, to remind us all of the fun we had :-)

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