A Honister Microadventure… or how I went failed to find Warnscale Head Bothy.
There are very few bothies (buildings left open as simple overnight shelters) in England and most of these are in and around Kielder Forest in Northumberland. A couple exist in the Lakes though, one above Buttermere on Warnscale Head, which I wanted to visit as it’s a fantastic viewpoint down the valley and a great location for some photography.
Originally built as part of the slate mines which delve and burrow through the hills in this part of the Lakes, the bothy is tiny, sleeping only three at a push, so as I left my car at Honister I threw my tent flysheet in my pack just in case.
Dusk was fast approaching as I climbed up the old incline to Dubs Quarry where a second Lakes bothy Dubs Hut sits nestled surrounded by scree and slate waste. Lights in the window showed the bothy was occupied for the night; I droped down towards Warnscale Head with Haystacks rapidly disappearing into the gloom towards where I thought the bothy was. Within 10 minutes or so the light and completely gone and I realised I had rather stupidly not bothered to get a grid reference for the hut so decided to find a patch of grass and pitch up for the night.
The spot I chose proved to be just about the least sheltered point I could have picked and the tent fabric snapped and rattled in the wind through the night, but cocooned in my bag I was warm as toast despite the temperature falling close to if not past freezing. Come morning I had a fantastic view down the valley but with the sun rising at my back behind the mountains the light was a little flat.
It was bitterly cold and the wind was still whipping past the tent so it was good to get moving up towards Haystacks to explore a view more photographic opportunities. The higher fells were still covered with snow which crunched satis-factually under my boots, the first snows of a new winter and hopefully one with many adventures to come.
Innominate tarn and Haystacks summit tarn were both frozen solid and offered some nice compositions, but taking any good photos proved a challenge as the low sun played havoc casting long dark shadows or brilliant glare across the landscape. Despite this is was good to be out and at least I can come back again and find the bothy in time for sunset next time.