Sat 25th Jun - Sun 26th Jun, 2005

Pillar/Black Sail Meet

Members: Virginia Castick, John Castick, Roger Dyke, Christine Beeston, Cathy Devine, Cath Sanders, Roger Daley, Frank Williams, Margaret Williams

Guests: Simon Theobalds


Most of us stayed at Ennerdale youth hostel on Friday night ready for an easy walk in on Saturday morning. Roger Daley and Simon walked over from Honister and incurred the wrath of the new warden at Black Sail by arriving about midnight. John and I had taken bicycles to facilitate the 4 mile walk from Ennerdale youth hostel to Black Sail. I volunteered to carry everyone's excess baggage in my panniers. We wobbled off up the track and did actually beat the walking team to the hostel, but not by much. After being refreshed with tea and cakes, left out in the hostel for weary travellers, we set off for the crag. Roger and Simon had left us a note and were already halfway to Pillar. After a pleasant walk in the sun along the climbers traverse from Black Sail pass, it then took us ages to get round the bottom of the crag to our intended route, New West climb. When we finally got there, realising we should have gone over, not under the crag we decided it was too late to do the route so some of us went up Slab and Notch to the top of High Man. A lovely walk over the top of Pillar saw us arrive back at the hostel just in time for the evening meal. Frank and Margaret were already there having walked over from Buttermere youth hostel. Roger and ? had climbed New West route and were also back at the hostel.

The new warden we thought to be very inflexible compared to the warden some of us had met the previous year. The tame sheep wandering through the hut and eating oranges is a thing of the past! The midges were horrific and even a trip to the loo (outside and round the back) was a dangerous game. Once inside the "facilities" the midges were waiting in their swarms to catch you with your knickers down. Sunday was another nice day. Frank, Margaret and John went for a walk over Haystacks. The rest of us set off for Pillar deciding this time to walk down the valley and approach from below. A farcical time of trying to find the path up and indecision finally led to Roger and Simon walking back to Honister, Cath and I going back to Ennerdale to climb on a low level crag and Cathy, Roger Dyke and Christine flogging up the very steep slope back to Pillar. Roger and Cathy finally did New West climb whilst Christine watched.

John had a fantastic freewheel on his bike back down the valley for 6 miles back to the car park. I freewheeled down from beneath Pillar but was again loaded with masses of excess baggage. Much juggling with cars finally had everyone back to the road end by 7 at night and we all left having had a really good weekend.

Lessons learnt

  • Pillar is a long way from anywhere.
  • Go with someone who knows their way round the crag
  • Don't go out for a pee at 6am in just your undies when the midges are about.
  • When the warden says breakfast at 8, she means 8 not 7.59.

Virginia Castick

Meet Promo:

The pre booked places at Black Sail Youth Hostel have now been taken but don't let this stop you coming on the meet. The warden has agreed to let people camp outside the hut and use the toilets. You may also book a meal at the hut at a cost of £7.50. This is best done in advance. You may prefer to walk over on Saturday or Sunday from Buttermere or Wasdale or Ennerdale. I can give you advice on walking times and alternative places to stay if you need it.

This mountain crag has a wealth of routes especially in the middle grades. It also has one of the best scambles in the Lakes - Slab and Notch climb. For walkers this venue is superb for ascents of Gable .Pillar and other more remote tops. The meet leader intends to cycle up to the hut from Ennerdale early on Saturday morning and leave her bike at the Youth Hostel. It should only take half an hour to walk to the crag from there.

This hostel is unique and a visit should not be missed. The tame sheep came as a particular surprise when we stayed at the hut last autumn.

Virginia Castick

John and harem at Black Sail (Roger Dyke)
Leaving Pillar (Roger Dyke)

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