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Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere


Postby dav2930 » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:09 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Cat Bells, Causey Pike, Dale Head, Eel Crag, Haystacks, High Crag, High Spy, High Stile, Maiden Moor, Red Pike (Buttermere), Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope, Whiteless Pike

Hewitts included on this walk: Causey Pike, Crag Hill (Eel Crag), Dale Head, High Crag, High Spy, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere), Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope, Whiteless Pike

Date walked: 01/04/2017

Time taken: 14.25

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 2853m

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A few weeks ago Karl and myself were in the pub talking about possible walks to do. I mentioned one of my favourite longer walks - basically a triangle of three fine ridges starting and finishing at Hawse End, which I'd done on two previous occasions many years ago. Karl liked the sound of this walk, and although neither of us had done anything of such a scale for some years, we were both keen to push ourselves a bit more than usual, so we decided to give this one a go.

The first weekend in April was mutually suitable and the forecast looked ok. Although Sunday looked decidedly better than Saturday, the prospect of getting up early for work on Monday morning meant that Saturday was the preferable option despite the poorer forecast.


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Thus it was we arrived at the Hawse End car park at 5.00 on Saturday morning, in the dark and the rain. Psychologically, it wasn't a good way to begin. But having made the effort to get there so early we weren't going to abandon our plan before we'd even started, so we got kitted up, complete with waterproofs and head torches, and set off walking at 5.15am.

We appreciated the clear and well engineered path up Cat Bells, as it was easy to follow in the light of our head torches. But it wasn't long before we entered the clag. Torch light shining into a swirling mass of water vapour in the otherwise pitch darkness doesn't give much clarity of vision, to put it mildly. So we were made more conscious than usual of those points at which the nicely made path gives way to vaguely eroded free-for-alls. 'Where's the path gone?' was a pretty bizarre phrase to be repeatedly coming out with, considering the particular path in question! :crazy: :lol:

Somehow we managed to find our way to the top of Cat Bells without any major diversions, and were even treated to a brief clearing of the clag below the summit, revealing the dark outlines of the surrounding fells and the lights of Keswick and nearby villages. Disappointingly it came down again when we reached the top.

A grey and reluctant dawn became just about discernible at around 6.15am, or thereabouts, as we made our way up Maiden Moor, and we were able to switch off our head torches. I took a photo of the summit cairn, but the light was so dim that it's not worth showing. Even on the summit of High Spy the light was still dismally grey and dull, but just about good enough for a photo.

P1020547.JPG
Karl at the summit of High Spy


As we descended from High Spy the clag began to disperse and we were treated to some views of the crags of Dale Head. The daylight was a real boost to the spirits, despite the light rain which persisted all the way down to the tarn and up the 900 ft. plod to Dale Head.

The point where the path reaches the shoulder on Dale Head's NE ridge is superb, giving grand views down the impressive Newlands Valley.

P1020548.JPG
View down Newlands Valley from NE ridge of Dale Head


The view from the summit of Dale Head is even grander, but unfortunately was obscured by clag.

P1020551.JPG
Summit cairn of Dale Head


We didn't linger at the cairn but headed off briskly down to Honister Hause, which we reached at just after 8.30am. We were amazed to find the shop and café there open. I bought a mug of coffee to save what I had in my flask for later. Although we sat outside we were sheltered from the rain under a canopy, which was nice.

It was still raining when we set off up to the Drum Hause, but at least the cloud base seemed to be rising and the clag was breaking up nicely. :)

P1020552.JPG
Pillar, Haystacks, High Crag and High Stile from Dubs Quarry


At Dubs Quarry the rain actually seemed to have stopped, so we removed our waterproofs. This proved unwise as we were forced to put them back on again a bit further on, thus wasting valuable time. But we were in good spirits as this section of the walk was really enjoyable and the views were getting better all the time.

It was difficult to walk as fast as we would have liked due to the wet and slippery rocks underfoot - especially on Haystacks!

P1020555.JPG
Great Gable above the Head of Ennerdale from Haystacks


P1020556.JPG
Pillar from Haystacks


P1020557.JPG
High Crag from Haystacks


From Scarth Gap we girded our loins for the long plod up High Crag - a section that Karl had not been looking forward to. Head down, steady pace, and it's surprising how quickly you find yourself at the top of Mount Purgatory :lol: .

P1020562.JPG
Summit of High Crag looking to Great Gable


And from here the wonderful length of the High Stile ridge lies ahead, one of the classic ridge traverses of the Lakes :D

The ground is quite rough and rocky in places though, and being wet it required a little care to avoid a slip or twisted ankle.

P1020564.JPG
High Stile from High Crag, Ennerdale Water on left


P1020567.JPG
At the edge of Birkness Combe, looking over top of Eagle Crag to Robinson


Along the ridge the views were fantastic on either side, but as we neared the summit of High Stile the clag came down again, so no summit views unfortunately :roll: . All the same we stopped briefly for refreshments. It was 12.25pm.

P1020570.JPG
Summit of High Stile


So then it was on to Red Pike, which again was in the clag :roll:

P1020571.JPG
Summit of Red Pike


From Red Pike the obvious way down to Buttermere is via the steep and badly eroded path to Bleaberry Tarn and then down the stone-paved path through the woods. This was the way I'd gone previously, but this time we decided to go down via Scale Force. Karl liked this idea chiefly because he didn't like the paved path through the woods on the other route, and I liked it because it would make a change. Only thing was, it had been so long since either of us had been that way, up or down, that we'd forgotten how rough and stony the path was, and how 'interesting' it was along the side of Scale Beck above the Force :lol:

We concluded that we'd probably have been better off going the other way :roll: . But at least the sun was now shining! :D

P1020572.JPG
Descending towards Scale Beck, looking towards Mellbreak and the Loweswater fells


P1020573.JPG
Crummock Water and the Grasmoor fells from below Scale Force


After much squelching along the rough and boggy path we crossed a fine, stone bridge and reached Buttermere village. We went into the cafe for a pot of tea and a brie and cranberry pannini, very nice too. We thought that was wiser than hitting the pub :angel: .

It was 3.23pm when we set off for the last leg of our walk. Left up the road for the path to Whiteless Pike; only six more Wainwrights to go! :)

P1020574.JPG
High Stile and Red Pike above Buttermere


P1020577.JPG
Rannerdale Knots, Crummock Water and Lowes Water from the path up Whiteless Pike


It seemed a fair old slog up Whiteless, but again head down and a good, steady pace did the trick. At least the ground is smoother underfoot on these fells due to the friable Skiddaw slate that weathers into smaller fragments.

P1020579.JPG
Wandope from Whiteless Pike


The walking from here on seemed a lot easier than on the previous section.

P1020580.JPG
Crummock Water and Lowes Water from Whiteless Pike


Disappointingly the clag came down again on Wandope and Eel Crag, but we still caught glimpses of the impressively steep slopes of scree, heather and shattered rock on our right. On reaching the broken trig point on Eel Crag we felt that it was now downhill all the way. Well, almost. These were great fells to finish on and the ridge from here to Causey Pike is one of the finest in the Lakes. And as we descended towards Sail the clag cleared off again. :D

P1020583.JPG
Displaced trig point on summit of Eel Crag


P1020586.JPG
Looking back to Eel Crag from summit of Sail


The summit of Causey Pike came almost as a surprise - a very abrupt terminus to a magnificent and delightful ridge. We congratulated ourselves on reaching the final summit of our itinerary.

P1020590.JPG
Looking back along the ridge from Causey Pike


P1020591.JPG
Derwent Water from Causey Pike


P1020593.JPG
Ard Crags and Rigg Beck from Causey Pike


P1020594.JPG
Catbells and Helvellyn range from Causey Pike


The top part of Causey Pike - the 'thimble' - is a dome of exposed rock, the descent of which kept us from switching into autopilot. It's a steep little hill, this, and both of us started feeling a few aches and pains going down it. Karl had stubbed his toe on Red Pike and it was now hurting from the forward pressure. And my knees were aching a bit. It's usually my right knee that gives me bother, so I was quite pleased that my left knee was, if anything, the worse of the two. It was a relief to reach the road for both of us! :lol:

All that remained was the short walk on tarmac through Stair and up to Skelgill for the car park. Karl asked me how much money would induce me to do the whole thing again straight off. I said that several million might tempt me to try, but that realistically I didn't think I would get very far.

It was a question that made me think. Unlike most things in today's increasingly nasty and disturbing world, hillwalking isn't pursued for money, but purely for the love of it. That may seem daft to some, but for those of us who have fallen under the spell of this apparently absurd activity, it's a secret garden. While money has no intrinsic value, what we learn from hillwalking is that the journey is an end in itself. In the words of the great John Ruskin, 'There is no wealth but life'.
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dav2930
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby Guinessman » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:54 pm

Dav congratulations to you and Karl. That is one hell of a round :clap:

It didn't really clear on Cat Bells until 2pm, I was on it then. I was also in the Honister café around 5pm, unknowingly following you around the area!

I hate that route up High crag, only done it once upover and never again!
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:28 pm

Well done on an epic effort :clap: shame you didn't get better weather but at least you weren't overheating. That last paragraph is a thing of beauty, could not agree more.
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby mamoset » Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:52 pm

Hell of an effort that, especially in that weather. You must have a Marty Mcfly hoverboard.
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby jacob » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:14 am

That's a very impressive day out Dav. I can feel my knees complaining painfully by just looking at the map, the kilometres and the hours. Nice one!
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby dav2930 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:29 pm

Guinessman wrote:Dav congratulations to you and Karl. That is one hell of a round :clap:

It didn't really clear on Cat Bells until 2pm, I was on it then. I was also in the Honister café around 5pm, unknowingly following you around the area!

I hate that route up High crag, only done it once upover and never again!

Thank you GM :D Quite a coincidence that you were in the same area on the same day! That route up High Crag is a bit of a grind but I find the thought of it is worse than the reality - provided you expect it to be an endless, lung-bursting orgy of suffering :lol: .

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Well done on an epic effort :clap: shame you didn't get better weather but at least you weren't overheating. That last paragraph is a thing of beauty, could not agree more.

Thank you for your kind comments JK, much appreciated :D . Good point about the upside of bad weather!

mamoset wrote:Hell of an effort that, especially in that weather. You must have a Marty Mcfly hoverboard.

Thanks mamoset :D Not quite sure what a Marty Mcfly hoverboard is but it certainly sounds useful! :lol:

jacob wrote:That's a very impressive day out Dav. I can feel my knees complaining painfully by just looking at the map, the kilometres and the hours. Nice one!


Thank you Jacob :D I think my knees are my nemesis :lol: .
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby trailmasher » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:09 am

Whoah!! That's one hell of a fine walk chaps and well done :clap: :clap: especially with the weather conditions that you had to contend with :( Three fine ridges and despite the poor visibility some decent record shots of your epic trek :clap:

No question about it, High Crag is a bitch to get up :crazy: :roll:
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby dav2930 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:17 pm

trailmasher wrote:Whoah!! That's one hell of a fine walk chaps and well done :clap: :clap: especially with the weather conditions that you had to contend with :( Three fine ridges and despite the poor visibility some decent record shots of your epic trek :clap:

No question about it, High Crag is a bitch to get up :crazy: :roll:

Thank you TM :D I'd certainly recommend this one to anyone looking for a longish Lakeland round; Karl loved it despite stubbing his toe on Red Pike and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it for the third time. The weather could have been better but then it also could have been a lot worse! :wink:
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby hooter2014 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:58 am

well done, my legs are wobbling a bit just thinking about your route :clap:
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby dav2930 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:21 pm

hooter2014 wrote:well done, my legs are wobbling a bit just thinking about your route :clap:

Thanks hooter :D
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:45 pm

3 superb ridges - what could be better? Well, I guess the weather could have been a bit friendlier - I must say, I'm impressed that you decided to continue notwithstanding rain in the darkness, with no idea how clag-bound the upper bits would be... Anyway, we both clearly share a love of long days in the hills :) .

And - at least to judge from the pics - it turned out to be not so bad at all. You got some cracking views - from Dubs Quarry; around Haystacks (which I don't know at all); from High Crag (on the basis of which I've noted High Stile Ridge as a "must do" - and so many others.

I'm further impressed that you had the mental fortitude to leave the establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction that served up cranberry pannini. I don't think I'd trust myself to take such a break at that point in a long and strenuous walk.

But from the pics it's clear that it's worth the effort - it must be if an acute pain in the left knee is a cause of happiness... :roll:

My son and I have a cunning plan for this summer, that includes a chunk of these (albeit with 1 - 2 days wild camping); and this report has only served to whet the already pretty well whetted appetite.

Great stuff!

Thanks for posting.
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Re: Ridge Wandering Around Newlands and Buttermere

Postby dav2930 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:59 pm

Alteknacker wrote:3 superb ridges - what could be better? Well, I guess the weather could have been a bit friendlier - I must say, I'm impressed that you decided to continue notwithstanding rain in the darkness, with no idea how clag-bound the upper bits would be... Anyway, we both clearly share a love of long days in the hills :) .

And - at least to judge from the pics - it turned out to be not so bad at all. You got some cracking views - from Dubs Quarry; around Haystacks (which I don't know at all); from High Crag (on the basis of which I've noted High Stile Ridge as a "must do" - and so many others.

I'm further impressed that you had the mental fortitude to leave the establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction that served up cranberry pannini. I don't think I'd trust myself to take such a break at that point in a long and strenuous walk.

But from the pics it's clear that it's worth the effort - it must be if an acute pain in the left knee is a cause of happiness... :roll:

My son and I have a cunning plan for this summer, that includes a chunk of these (albeit with 1 - 2 days wild camping); and this report has only served to whet the already pretty well whetted appetite.

Great stuff!

Thanks for posting.

Thanks very much for your comments AK :D It was actually your report on a big round of the Northern Fells that got me all nostalgic about some of the big walks I used to do and so indirectly inspired this one.

I do find a twenty minute or half hour break on a walk like this helps to recharge the batteries and gives a psychological boost, though I must admit that availing oneself of an establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction that sells brie and cranberry panninis, if not alcohol, does seem a bit of a luxury! :lol:

As for the knee, the mild happiness I derived from this wasn't so much that the left one rather than the right was acutely painful, for a change, as that the right wasn't as bad as the left, for a change, but without the left being as bad as the right is wont to be on such occasions. Hope that makes sense! :? :lol: In any case, it was certainly worth the effort!

Hope your cunning plan with your son comes off with some help from the weather gods; wild camping sounds a great idea. 8)
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