A Buttermere round: Fleetwith Pike to Great Borne

Wainwrights: Fleetwith Pike, Great Borne, Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere), Starling Dodd
Hewitts: Fleetwith Pike, Great Borne, High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere), Starling Dodd

Date walked: 18/09/2020

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 23.3km

Ascent: 1724m

Forewarned is forearmed
This is one of those reports where I have to apologise from the outset for the number of pics. I have excuses - pretty good excuses actually: it was a superb day, in superb country; but – the views, the views! Up to now I’d thought the best round for views in the Lake District was the Wasdale Head Round – Yewbarrow to Scafell. But I think this Buttermere round beats even that. (Or perhaps it’s just that the hills work their magic anew every time one is among them…). Anyway, I couldn’t prevent myself from stopping to absorb the vistas more or less every few minutes, and from taking a good few ( :roll: ) pics. I’m no photographer in the JKLL mode, but if the pics here give even a quarter way representative idea of what it was like, I’ll be content.

The Forecast
...for Friday was good, as indeed it was for the weekend...

– but I try to avoid weekends in the Lake District...

... so Friday it was.

The Route
This was a largest group of Hewitts in the Lake District that I hadn't yet walked, and I'd been wanting to do so since I'd looked at them from the Wasdale Head ridge (Pillar, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, etc.). Regrettably I hadn't looked carefully enough at the map, otherwise I'd probably have walked along the north east shore of Buttermere to close the loop at Gatesgarth, rather than biking along the road, which is what I actually did.

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The Report
A 3.45am departure from home saw me arrive in Buttermere just after 07.00am, where I parked up. There were already a few cars there, but nothing like the number that were there when I returned.
It was beautifully clear and already the ridge was showing at its most alluring. Image20200918-071109-2.

Image20200918-071140-2. After a quick breakfast, I changed and got going on the bike for Gatesgarth.

Unfortunately I only realised when I was well along the road that I could have cycled along the Buttermere shore track :( :roll:
Image20200918-073904. Truth is though, that fact didn't spoil the view - here of High Crag (LHS) and High Stile (RHS) - which augered very well for the day.

Image20200918-075555-2. After chaining my bike to a fence in the car park, I started off on the ascent of Fleetwith Pike via Fleetwith Edge; which is a good old climb of some 540m, and, to ensure the walker doesn't get bored, features innumerable false summits... Suffice it to say, I didn't get bored :roll: .

Image20200918-081851. The crags of Hay Stacks were dramatic and even slightly sinister in the low rising sun.

Image20200918-082255. ...while the view down Buttermere valley defies description - I must have taken 20 or so pics of this as I slowly ascended Fleetwith Edge. Fleetwith Pike cast a long shadow into the valley.

Image20200918-091721. To the North, Dale Head (RHS) and Hindscarth (LHS), with Whiteside in the distance, are also picking up the morning sun.

Image20200918-092458. A little further round Hay Stacks on the extreme LHS, with Pillar behind; and then High Crag and High Stile again overlooking Buttermere.

Image20200918-094231. Eventually, many many false summits later, I got to the summit of Fleetwith Pike, and parked myself on the cairn to soak in the views. Just wonderful!


After 20 minutes or so of just enjoying being there, I managed to tear my eyes away from the scene, and continue on my way.

Image20200918-095234. First, an easy yomp descent to Dubs Bottom following an intermittent path.

Image20200918-103252. Then along an up-and-downy path amid fabulous rough and gruff rocky terrain - this pic looking roughly north towards the crags of Hay Stacks.

Image20200918-103837. And looking back just east of north towards Fleetwith Pike from a little further along the path. Magic!

Image20200918-104257. En route: Pillar viewed across Innominate Tarn. Apparently Wainwright's ashes were scattered in this miniature jewel, and one can see why he might have wished for that ceremony to be just here.

Image20200918-105715. There were quite a few folk on the multiple summits of Hay Stacks, but precisely because of the multiplicity of summits, it was easy to imagine sitting there in pure solitude. And the views...!!! This looking north...


Image20200918-110242-2. ...and this looking SSE up the head of the River Liza valley towards Great Gable.

Image20200918-110656. Ahead - NW - Seat, and High Crag - the start of the ridge proper.

Image20200918-114700. First there's a drop via a rough path down into Scarth Gap, followed by a 100m+ climb up on to the hump of Seat (this pic is taken from the top of Seat).

Image20200918-114740. Which necessitated yet another breather while I took this pic looking back towards Hay Stacks.

Ahead a 225m climb up on to High Crag. And it does feel to be quite high! The path - just visible, zig-zagging up to the LHS of the scree.

Image20200918-122202. As usual these days, it was a s-l-o-www ascent; but that afforded plenty of occasions to look back and admire the view. Here's looking back again to the head of the Liza valley, Great Gable in the background, while starting in the foreground: Seat; then, behind it, Hay Stacks; and yet further behind and to the right, Fleetwith Pike.

Image20200918-123854. Eventually I managed to haul my dripping carcass to the summit. In the background is High Stile.

Image20200918-124451. From here Fleetwith Edge doesn't seem to consist entirely of false summits. But it does!!!

Image20200918-125005. It's just a short hop from here to High Stile.

Image20200918-130328. ...which is blessed with some fantastic crags - at least a full day's scrambling available here!!!

Image20200918-131751. Looking back towards High Crag, as I approached the summit of High Stile.

Image20200918-132211. "...just sat contemplating land and sea..." The summit of High Stile. And still life: day sac with agent orange fleece :roll: .

Image20200918-132226. To the North West, Red Pike, and in a line behind it, Starling Dodd and Great Borne. Ennerdale Water just peeping out to the far LHS.

Image20200918-132822-2. A little further to the North, more of the district's lakes: in the foreground, Bleaberry Tarn, and behind it, Crummock Water.

Image20200918-132853-2. The same view in pano.

It's really easy ridge walking round to Red Pike, which I reach in fairly short order
Image20200918-135405. Looking back, High Stile.

Image20200918-135824. Now on to Starling Dodd, path easy to see. Behind it, and slightly to the right, is Great Borne, the last hill of the day.

Image20200918-140049-2. Same view in pano. Loweswater just visible, just right of centre pic.

The path is very clear and easy to follow...
Image20200918-141812. Looking back the way I've just come to Red Pike.

Image20200918-141822. Ahead Starling Dodd.

Just easy upland walking (though a bit of a slog for me on the last short pull to the summit)...

Image ...where there's a modernist rusted steel sculpture, and a fine view of Great Borne ahead, with the Irish Sea in the background.

Image0200918-143842. Initially I missed the path down from Starling Dodd towards Great Borne; but I could hardly get lost, and soon I picked it up again. Still easy walking, with about 100m of ascent, and a bit of a final pull up to the summit.

Image20200918-151725. Here's looking back south east along the line of the ridge, with the ever-present Great Gable showing to the right of it. Plus another take on still life: day sac with agent orange fleece :roll: .

Image20200918-153543. Now there was just the long walk back to the car; and after a good drink and a sandwich, I headed off slightly to the North of the route I'd just come along, in a yomp across the rough. My aim was to hit the Scale Beck valley some way above Scale Force, with the idea of taking a look at the waterfall. I knew absolutely nothing about it, but my eye had been drawn to it when planning the walk by the tight contours - means: should be interesting!

Image20200918-160345. The start of the drop into the Scale Beck valley.

Image20200918-160917. It's very rough: fairly dense heather concealing many many football-sized rocks. I took it very slowly!

Image20200918-162153. Initially the path runs alongside the beck. But the valley turns into a deep gorge, that seems to get deeper and deeper and the sides more and more precipitous, so that the bottom is invisible from the path, which runs at an increasingly high level relative to the beck. I heard the sound of falling water all along, and tried several times to get a view; but failed miserably.

Image20200918-163259. By the time I got to the bottom and crossed the beck at a footbridge, I eventually saw at least some falling water...

ImageLooking it up when I got home, this is apparently what I should have seen if I'd been determined enough in my exploration!!! (Not my pic).

Image20200918-165037. Once beyond the falls, the path is broad, and, with one short stretch of unavoidable bog in which I got wet feet for the first time on the day, is very easy going. I love this view, looking straight along the line of Fleetwith Pike in the background, with Crummock Water to the left.

Image20200918-170516. Pano from the path, the hills to the north east of Crummock Water making a final showing: from righ to left: Fleetwith Pike, Robinson, Whiteless Pike, and Grasmoor (I think - but I'll stand corrected...).

I reached the car at about 17.20, and ended proceedings with a can of cold Brew Dog Nanny State, sat on a stone absorbing the setting sun, and reflecting on what a fabulous day it had been. I learnt this cool beer trick from Dr Frank on our last walk: pack your drink in a cool bag with cooling elements, and it'll stay cool the entire day long :D :wink: .

There is actually an establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction in Buttermere, but it was crowded I didn't fancy covid-defined queuing; and anyway alcohol doesn't really go well with my current medication. Whereas a cold Nanny State in the afternoon sun just goes perfectly :D .


Image3D view of route.

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Comments: 5

Coniston Old Man and 5 neighbours

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man, Dow Crag, Grey Friar, Swirl How, Wetherlam
Hewitts: Black Sails, Dow Crag, Grey Friar, Swirl How, The Old Man of Coniston, Wetherlam
Date walked: 10/09/2020
Distance: 21km
Ascent: 1677m
Comments: 4
Views: 102

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Attachment(s) Munros: Driesh, Mayar
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Ascent: 916m
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Views: 448

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Attachment(s) Hewitts: Cross Fell
Date walked: 24/08/2020
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Ascent: 709m
Comments: 7
Views: 225

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Attachment(s) Date walked: 15/08/2020
Distance: 9.1km
Ascent: 742m
Comments: 9
Views: 298

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Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Branstree, Grey Crag, Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Kentmere Pike, Tarn Crag (Far Eastern Fells)
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Views: 356

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Attachment(s) Hewitts: High Seat, Little Fell (Dales), Swarth Fell, Wild Boar Fell
Date walked: 24/06/2020
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Ascent: 1072m
Comments: 3
Views: 301

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Date walked: 09/06/2020
Distance: 33.3km
Ascent: 1685m
Comments: 5
Views: 412

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Attachment(s) Hewitts: Calf Top, Gragareth, Great Coum
Date walked: 28/05/2020
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Ascent: 1149m
Comments: 4
Views: 383

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Attachment(s) Hewitts: Pen Pumlumon Arwystli, Pen Pumlumon Llygad-bychan, Plynlimon (Pumlumon Fawr), Y Garn (Plynlimon)
Date walked: 23/03/2020
Distance: 24.7km
Ascent: 1028m
Comments: 6
Views: 724


User avatar
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)
Activity: Scrambler
Pub: The Bell, Trysull
Mountain: Cuillin Ridge
Place: Glen Brittle
Gear: Compass
Member: None
Ideal day out: Heavy ridge walk with plenty of scrambling and height gain - eg Welsh 3000ers, Wastwater Circuit, Cuillin Ridge

Munros: 169
Corbetts: 29
Wainwrights: 100
Hewitts: 237

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