Honister pass has been in the news recently, having set the UK 24 hour rainfall record of 341.4 mm on 5th December 2015. Hard to believe that just over two months earlier, I was there in brilliant sunshine and temperatures of 22 degrees. Not that I wanted such conditions for the longest trek of my short break, but I had been very lucky so far and I couldn’t really complain.
I had a mind to photograph this remote bothy (a basic shelter, available for anyone to use free of charge) with a moody sky, much as I had seen it in the first image that caught my eye. There was snow on the peaks though and I knew that meant difficult conditions for walking. I would have enough problems with a fixed ankle over rough terrain and I didn’t need to complicate matters. The original directions to the bothy started way down by Lake Buttermere and involved a huge climb. Having studied maps of the area, I decided to try parking at Honister slate mine and follow the disused tramway in the direction of Fleetwith Pike. On paper it sounded ideal and I had visions of a gentle uphill stroll along a fairly even surface. In practice it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
So I parked the car at the mine and set off up the steepest part of the route. I had read about it in advance and was prepared for a half mile slog, but I wasn’t expecting teams along the way repairing the path. Every so often I came across a chunk that had been removed and I had to negotiate my way around on the steep (and often slippery) grass slope. As with most ascents, my view was restricted and I mistakenly thought I would reach the top just a bit further ahead. Of course, by the time I got there I could see there was even more to do and rather worryingly, there had been no sign of the tramway so far. I did eventually find a very short stretch before the path sank into a long and boggy trail. I could either wade through the mud, or try to negotiate the rugged ground either side. In the end I did a bit of both, but progress was very slow.
Eventually I reached Dubs Hut, another bothy not far from my destination. I had planned to stop a while and take some photographs, but that was thwarted by yet another repair team who had stripped all the slates off the roof, presumably to get the bothy in order before the winter set in. It was a shame, but as long as they hadn’t touched Warnscale, I decided I would give them the benefit of the doubt.
My next problem was negotiating the last few hundred yards of the walk as it continued down a very steep hill and over a stream. I came across a young couple who had also been heading the same way. They had walked up and down the track, given up with the slope and had come across someone who had fallen and hurt themselves badly. They told me they had decided to give up and were returning to the slate mine. It didn’t inspire me with confidence. I decided to give it a go and zig-zagged slowly down the hill using my tripod as a makeshift walking stick. The hill wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but the stream was another matter. It was very boggy along the bank and not for the first time I was grateful for the decision to wear my comfortable wellies instead of walking shoes.
I crossed the stream without incident and managed to find the bothy without too much trouble, even though it was very well hidden. The whole trek had taken much longer than expected and I only gave myself half an hour to take a few photographs before heading back to the mine. Even though the weather wasn’t quite what I wanted, you can’t deny that this little miner’s hut has one of the finest views in the country, as can be seen in the featured image above.
Here is another one taken from inside.
Finally a self-portrait as I made my way back. The sun was setting and I still had a long way to go. I finally got back to the car as it was getting dark. I was totally exhausted and my poor feet were in bad shape, but it had been a thoroughly enjoyable experience.