On the west side of Buttermere there’s a wall of rock that looms over the lake, keeping it in the shade for much of the year. There are three main summits and once you’re up there there’s a great walk along the ridge. I’d been itching to get up there since I arrived in Buttermere and the Wednesday during my short break looked like conditions would be perfect for tackling it. What a difference a day makes!!
I checked out of the Youth Hostel and drove the short distance to the National Trust car park, which is just to the north of the village. There were only a couple of cars parked up, but it would get much busier as the day went on. I got kitted up, locked the car, stowed my car keys safely inside the security pocket in my rucksack and set off walking. It was chilly – there had been no cloud cover over night – but the sun was shining and I knew it would warm up later on.
An easy stroll at first through the village and on to the lake
Looking back towards Whiteless Pike and Grasmoor – what a beautiful morning!
The lake was as still as a mill pond (the sun in the south east made photography difficult)
I crossed the river and then a few yards later, just inside the woods, I took the path that climbed up to Blea Tarn and the summit of Red Pike.
An “engineered” path has been created most of the way up to Blea Tarn, but it was steep and hard work for an old bloke and I was overtaken by a few more agile walkers. The views ahead and looking back down on a sunny morning were outstanding.
The view back towards the Grasmoor group
and down to Buttermere
After the hard climb I reached Blea Tarn where I stopped for a short break and to grab a bite to eat to get my blood sugar up before I tackled the final stretch up to the summit of Red Pike, which had now come into view.
The initial stretch of this final leg up to the ridge, along an engineered path, wasn’t too bad but then it ran out and there was a difficult scrabble up a steep scree slope. The scree was very loose and it was difficult to stop myself from sliding back down at times. It rather reminded me of the final stretch of the Watkin Path on Snowdon, although it didn’t go on for quite as long. Using my walking poles helped, although they got in the way a little on some stretches where I needed to use my hands.
I eventually made it and it was worth the effort for the views over Crummock Water, Buttermere and Ennerdale. I could see over the Solway Firth to Scotland and to the Isle of Man sitting on the horizon in the Irish Sea.
After a break to soak up the views, rest my legs and have a bite to eat, I set off along the ridge towards High Stile. It was relatively easy going now for a while in good conditions.
The view back towards Blea Tarn (it looks a long way down) Buttermere village and the Grasmoor range
Looking back to Red Pike as I neared the summit of High Stile
Looking south west from High Stile I could see the Scafells
Looking back towards Red Pike from the summit of High Stile
Carrying on along the ridge and looking back at the crags below the summit of HIgh Stile
and looking over Fleetwith Pike and the Honister Pass – there’s the Helvellyn and Fairfied ranges in the distance
The ridge terminates at another peak, High Crag. I’m going to bore you with some more views now from its summit
I almost felt drunk with the magnificence of it all. Conditions were just perfect. Sunny, blues skies, but not too hot and with minimal wind and superb visibility. I could have stayed put for longer, but it was time to carry on. And having had a long steep climb to get up on to the ridge I now had to descend down a VERY steep scree slope. Luckily in recent years a lot of work has been done on the path but it was still hard going, initially down a zig zag path through loose scree, before reaching a steep engineered path that took me to the foot of, Stair, a small fell that was crossed to take me to the Scarth Gap – the top of the pass I’d climbed on Monday on my way up to Haystacks.
This is the view looking back after I’d got to the bottom of High Crag – you need to look carfeully to make out the path.
Looking down I could see Buttermere
Looking over Haystacks to Great Gable
I carried on over Satir and then descended to Scarth Gap – there’s Haystacks ahead
It would be feasible on a good day to carry on over the fell and then back down to Buttermere taking my route from Monday, but I turned left and carried on down Scarth Pass. It seemed longer and steeper going down than it had going up it on Monday!
I eventually reached the bottom of the pass and the west shore of Buttermere. I then had a pleasant, easy walk of about 2 miles back to the village
Looking back up the lake towards Fleetwith Pike
I needed a brew by now, so before returning to the car I called into Skyes farm cafe for a pot of tea
and then treated myself to an ice cream for the final stretch back to the car.
It had been a superb walk in perfect conditions and I wished I could have stayed longer. But I had to visit a client the next day so it was time to set off for home. I packed my kit in the boot and set off home by a different route. Rather than tackle the Newlands Pass (it was closed and there were diversion signs, although some vehicles were ignoring them) I headed north along Crummock Water. I’d intended to drive through the Whinlatter Pass but missed my turning resulting in an unintended diversion through Cockermouth. It’s not so easy to make a U-turn on those narrow country lanes!
It had been a great few days up in Buttermere. The weather had been mixed but I’d more or less done what I’d planned. And that walk along the ridge in perfect conditions will remain in my memory bank for a long time!