With just a week to go until the Lake District classic Ennerdale fell race, it's perfect time to get some last-minute route recceing in. Angela joined us on Tuesday to have a look at some of the trickier parts of the route, on the section from Brandreth to Pillar.
The full race route is a testing 23-mile horseshoe with 7000 ft of ascent, taking in none-less-than nine summits (and traversing a fair few more). The record stands at an incredible 3 hours 20 minutes, set by Kenny Stuart back in 1985, but for most simply completing the race is the aim. If the distance and ascent aren't enough to test you, there are numerous devious route choices that need a thorough look at before the event and in bad weather navigating yourself around becomes one of the biggest challenges.
Upon looking at the weather forecast, we thought that we were in for some of that testing bad weather on Tuesday, but upon arriving at the Bowness Knott car park in Ennerdale we were pleasantly surprised to find the clouds above the summits and a distinct lack of rain.
Car access to Ennerdale is limited to those staying at the Ennerdale Youth Hostel or the Low Gillerthwaite Field centre, and so for us it was a 6-mile "warm up" along the track to the Black Sail Youth Hostel before we started our ascent up Loft Beck. From the Haystacks-Brandreth col we had a look at the numerous traversing options to miss out the summit of Brandreth and arrive at Gillercomb Head. It was back on the main path up Green Gable and fortunately the clouds had stayed at bay so we had a great views of the descent options that bypass Great Gable.
We chose to descend Windy Gap on its north-western side, before traversing off left to meet the Moses Trod, and after some fun on the scree we arrived at Beck Head ready to tackle Kirk Fell and its intricacies. The fastest descent from Kirk Fell is via the (in)famous "Bob Graham gully", a precipitous groge that bypasses the main path (which gets a bit scrambly at this point) to the north. We took our time on the loose rock and scree, keeping on the left of the gully to avoid some serious drops to the right. It's a route that's definitely worth having a look at before race day and Angela was glad we'd done so.
It was then back on the main path once more for the ascent of Pillar, before returning back to the valley via its north-west ridge for the 2-mile run out along the track back to our cars. Fortunately the rain had stayed off all day and we even got a bit of sun at the end. Thanks to Angela for a great day out in one of the Lake District's most remote valleys!
Green Gable on a somewhat sunnier day than we had last Tuesday.