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High Stile circuit

High Stile circuit

Postby yokehead » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:07 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere)

Hewitts included on this walk: High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere)

Date walked: 18/12/2017

Time taken: 6.5

Distance: 12.4 km

Ascent: 851m

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This is a marvellous round in a great location, with interesting terrain and superb views throughout. If you get the weather. And today we did, in fact the best weather of the 5 days Mark and I had in the Lakes. Along with atmospheric cloud conditions. Oh, and Brocken Spectres!

high stile.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We parked just up the road to the north of Buttermere. There was a hard frost and walking down the slippery road on the steep bit into the village was the most dangerous part of the day, just waiting for a slip and clatter on the arse! Teetering along we avoided that, just. The sun was appearing over the High Stile ridge, the air was utterly still and our world looked just fine.

wonderful ridge in sight, first the icy road to walk down though!

reflecting on Buttermere

Down the track at the end of Buttermere lake and onto the steep ascent on the path through Burtness Wood.

going up - through Burtness Wood

Now then, a general word about Lakeland paths. The ones on an incline, made with large stones and boulders of various sizes. The Lakes have some shockers. Going downhill, you realise how many of the stones slope down and away from you, encouraging a slip, especially when mossy or greasy. Which you tend to get when it is wet. And it is wet a lot in the Lakes. Then there are the stones that are laid level with each other i.e. with no steps, giving the effect of a continuous long sloping slab which if one big rock slab you'd avoid if you could when wet or mossy or greasy. But you're on a path so can't avoid it if you want to be a very very good person and not add to erosion so use it as you're supposed to. At your peril. Then there are the sections of incline that have stones laid nicely flat or even better sloping gently into the hill, with steps a decent foot-lift height, but among them are those steps at a height where you'd need to be a giant to get your foot that high. So you struggle, or avoid the big steps by walking to the side - erosion again. And you can't get into any rhythm. Creating and maintaining paths is difficult, and costly. But if you're going to do it, please do it right! I have been thinking further and maybe there's a conspiracy, or plan? It goes like this. Lay the paths to avoid erosion but create plenty of dodgy bits. A few slips and slides on the poorly sloping parts, maybe some broken limbs here and there. Add in sections that mightily frustrate with their inconsistent step heights. The punter says 'I'm not doing this again, it's purgatory'. So that's less usage of the paths leading to less erosion, and less path building. The authorities/bodies benefit. Keep making the paths worse and one day there will be no usage. No paths to build, job done.

On with the day though! This path wasn't too bad since it was taken in ascent, just shattered thighs. 1.5km later and we were at 500m altitude, viewing the fine cirque of cliffs from Red Pike to High Stile.

Sourmilk Gill with Dodd and Red Pike

the cirque of cliffs

We continued northwest to The Saddle and on to the top of Dodd. The snow-filled zigzags to the summit of Red Pike were clearly visible and we watched a couple of folk struggle up these.

Red Pike from Dodd

Crampons for us we decided, no slipping and sliding and anyway, just good to get them on! Back down to The Saddle, the ground was frozen solid here so we put on the crampons and plodded up to the zigzags. Yes, crampons definitely a good idea even on the steep cropped grass and we made the most of our short time using them.

crampons on the zigzags


It was a good bit of fun and we were soon at the summit area and unfortunately into cloud. Crampons off, we continued along the cliff edge, seeing nothing, and soon reached High Stile.

Red Pike summit and no view, Mark still looking happy though

We thought that was it for the day with visibility but no, it started to clear as we descended southeast from High Stile above Eagle Crag. Dramatic stuff, blue sky appearing and hazy sun with the Pillar to Great Gable massif seeming to be holding back the cloud.

starting to clear


Near us to the north, away from the sun, I saw a bit of colour on the mist - are we going to be lucky? And sure enough, we were treated to the Brocken Spectre. These kept coming and going until we descended below the mist. Glorious stuff, I'd last seen one way back 9 years ago on Cadair Idris.

mist is in the right place

Brocken 1

Buttermere below

below High Stile, heading to High Crag

and again!

On to High Crag with the mist and cloud continuing to clear. The Helvellyn massif to the east was snow capped but we knew appearances were better than fact.

High Crag summit

good looking ridge to Fleetwith Pike, Helvellyn massif in the distance

The initial descent from High Crag is steep, our descent took us out of the sun as it made its last appearance behind the wonderful-looking Pillar.

steeply down from High Crag

last of the sun, behind Pillar


approaching Seat

Over the little knoll of Seat then another interesting descent to Scarth Gap and the final wonderful views.

looking back to High Crag

Seat from Scarth Gap

We decided against Haystacks given time was getting on and with nearly 5km still to go put our heads down for the descent to Buttermere lake and the flat walk to end the day.
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Re: High Stile circuit

Postby trailmasher » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:29 pm

A great walk at any time of year :) also Red Pike is a sod to get up at any time of year :roll: Good walk, photos, and report :clap:
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