Tanya Oliver enjoys a lesser fell among giants on this Haycock and Caw Fell walk
Nestled away in the secluded valley of Ennerdale, keeping company with the well-known fells of Pillar and Yewbarrow, is a rather more shy fell. The name doesn’t trip off the tongue when asked to recall wondrous walks in the Lake District for many, but for me Haycock is a glorious fell to climb. It was a beautiful day as I started from Bowness Knott on the shores of Ennerdale Water. The dark, forbidding Anglers Crag reflected ominously on the still surface as the sun twinkled on the water like diamonds catching the light. I set out with a spring in my step. The walk I’d planned was 16km/10 miles in length, with 701m/2300ft of ascent, and I planned for about 5-6 hours of walking.
Further back along the lake there used to be a pub called the Anglers Arms. It was so close to the shore that visitors could sit inside and cast their fishing rods into the water below. Now that is the type of fishing even I could get used to (I am not sure whether successful catches made their way onto the menu in the evening, but that would have been truly locally-sourced if so!). Sadly, all that remains of the Anglers Arms is a small part of the wall marking its previously grand location.
Views of Ennerdale Water
As I headed through the woods that marked the start of the ascent on a carpet of soft pine needles, the sunlight broke through, casting an almost purple glow among the emerald green trees, and the stream flowed over the rocks at the secluded watersmeet forming gentle cascades. With each upward step through coarse heather, the views opened out like a fan across the Buttermere fells of Starling Dodd and Red Pike and towards Pillar and another favourite fell, Steeple. Ennerdale Water continued to wink at me in the sunshine.
Standing at 782m/2,618ft, Haycock is not a low fell but the climb feels gentle. The only really adventurous part that reminds you of the rugged nature of the area is around Little Gowder Crag. Perhaps this is why people do not turn their walking boots to it often but as I reached the summit and saw the striking view of the Scafells and Mickledore, views to the coast and a vista across so many of the western fells, I was at a loss to understand why.
Haycock and Caw are Wainwright fells. Read this interview with Russ Moorhouse, attempting to wild camp on all of them.
Basking in the warm sunshine having lunch, my only company was a jet-black crow, swooping low across the rocky summit. Not another soul was in sight. With energy left, I headed over Caw Fell before winding my descent back through the heather and dark shadows of the trees to Ennerdale Water as the evening sun cast a smudgy pink and orange glow over the lake.
- Turn L out of Bowness Knott car-park following the lakeshore. Cross the wide bridge beyond the end of the lake towards the woods.
- The path winds up through woods crossing a footbridge (only cross the first bridge – there are two).
- As you leave the woods the narrow path ascends through heather to the ridge between Haycock and Caw Fell. Follow the ridge E over Little Gowder Crag to Haycock summit.
- From the summit follow the ridge back to the grassy summit of Caw Fell. Retrace your steps to the heather path, through the woods and along the lake shore.