Yet more photo’s posted

If you’re interested, I’ve added some more pickies : there are now photo’s attached to the following walks diaries :-

  • 20080618_Mellbreak from Buttermere Village
  • 20080619_Fleetwith Pike – Haystacks (just a few towards the end at the moment … more to follow)
  • 20080620_Great Gable
  • 20080621_Castle Crag – Borrowdale
  • 20080813_SWCP_St.Keverne to Gwendreath
  • 20080920_Short walk to the Ricoh

Hope they add to the interest.


Even more photo’s added

This time on my Great Gable walk …. I especially like the picture of Styhead Tarn from Windy Gap … The path heading up to Sprinkling Tarn and beyond is just so inviting … If you look carefully you can make out a couple of walkers just in front of Styhead tarn, which gives a bit of scale to the whole thing … I’ve left this one in higher resolution so it looks quite sharp when clicked on (opens in Flickr).

Anyway, I hope you think the pickies add something to the text. Bye for now, Gary.

20080920_Short walk to the Ricoh


20080920 Sort walk to the Ricoh
When : 20 September 2008
Who : Me and Craig
Where : Coventry, England
Approx distance : A bit of a stroll
Significant height : None
Maps used : None
Parking : Side road off the Foleshill Road
Public Transport : I believe bus routes do exist but we didn’t use them.

 I’m maybe pushing the bounds of credibility here, but it’s a bit of an uphill struggle being a Coventry City supporter sometimes ( I think it’s probably a bit of a struggle being in the team itself or being the manager or anything to do with the club as well a lot of the time). I’m using the uphill bit as an excuse for this rather flippant entry into my country walking blog ! … it also gives a chance to mention Coventry’s Sowe Valley Footpath which might interest someone, although personally I can think of more scenic places to walk.

Still, it’s early in the season and my Son and I were going up to the Ricoh Arena for the first time of the 2008/09 season and hopes were high for a Sky Blues home win against money bags QPR (and ex-city manager Iain Dowie).


We parked-up just off the Foleshill road in a side street (with no parking restrictions) and early enough to avoid having to pay in one of the match-day parking areas. After a short stretch of road walking, we turned into what is labelled “Longford Community Nature Park” … in reality it’s just a sliver of ground that’s been allowed to pretty much grow wild, sandwiched between the Coventry Canal and some houses & industrial units. Still, there are some decent size trees, some reed beds, other undergrowth such as brambles, rose briars and lots of nettles, oh and there’s a little stream.


In fact this little non-descript stream, almost not worth a mention, is the early life of Coventry’s biggest river, The River Sowe, which even at it’s largest (approx 8-10 miles downstream?) is little more than a small tributary of the River Avon. Unfortunately, Coventry isn’t well blessed when it comes to rivers!


An urban greenway walk has been developed called “The Sowe Valley Footpath” and the following are extracts from a web-site that I’ve found that explains and promotes the route :-

“The Sowe Valley is a continuous riverside park stretching for 8½ miles from Hawkesbury Junction Conservation Area (Longford) in the north to Stonebridge Meadows Local Nature Reserve in the south. It links the countryside with the city and passes near to Aldermans Green, Wood End, Bell Green, Henley Green, Walsgrave, Clifford Park, Wyken, Ernesford Grange, Binley, Stoke, Willenhall and Whitley. Its character is constantly changing, some parts are green and rural, others are more built up, but all provide a place of escape from the noise and pressures of the City” ….. “The Sowe Valley is an area of Green Belt, important for its landscape, for quiet recreation, its history, educational and nature conservation value. It is there for you to use, enjoy and treat with respect” ….. “There is plenty to discover in the Sowe Valley. A riverside footpath runs along the length of the Valley to help you enjoy it and there are information panels at key sites” ….. “The Sowe Valley has a long history of farming, with crops such as wheat, rye, peas and oats being grown. As industries such as coal mining increased, the working farm became a thing of the past. Today Henley Mill Farm is one of only two traditional working farms now remaining in Sowe Valley” ….. “At Hawkesbury Junction the footpath links into The Centenary Way, the Oxford Canal Walk and the Coventry Canal Art Trail, which gives an opportunity for future interesting walks.”

Anyway, that’s, by the by really, as our very little walk went through the nature reserve, crossing “The Sowe” by means of a metal footbridge; then up a rise to cross over the Coventry Canal, on a brick built bridge, from where you can see newly built flats over-looking the cut in a modern take on urban living.

Soon afterwards we crossed over the Coventry to Nuneaton railway line by means of a modern and pretty-ugly metal brige construction. [ Don’t you love the English language, how can you have a pretty-ugly anything, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?, but I guess you all know what I mean ].

Once over the railway we emerged into the car parking areas of the home of Coventry City Football Club … The Ricoh Arena … a very new and modern stadium that is very different from the old Highfield road site.


There were hardly any other fans making their way as we went, but I put that down to being a tad early, but it was very quiet outside the stadium as well and with about 1/2 hour to kick off that didn’t bode well for a good crowd …. it turned out the official gate was published at 16,718 … making the ground only about 1/2 full.

  • perhaps the credit crunch is biting deep into peoples pockets ?
  • perhaps the long suffering fans of CCFC need some good, entertaining and winning football to watch before the crowds start flooding back again ?
  • perhaps the stupid cashless payment system inside the stadium, for a drink or a pie or whatever, is putting people off (just another way to rip us off, I and others think?) …. it certainly stopped me buying a pint for me and a cola for my son.
  • perhaps after such a poor summer, people were just out and about doing other things in the sunshine – we havn’t seen too much of it this year really have we?

One point that’s just got to be made :- The railway passes only a matter of yards from the stadium, but there still isn’t a station provided for match-day supporters (or concert goers when the stadium is given over to the likes of Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, etc.) … in this day-and-age of so called integrated public transport and green politics you’d have thought this would be an obvious solution to move lots of people in and out quickly and efficiently, but it seems not in Coventry …

perhaps if we were in an East-end suburb of London we’d have overground and underground train links; a mono-rail; trams; multiple bus routes; a handful of bicycle lanes and maybe even a ski-lift by now ….

but no, Coventry isn’t particularly fashionable and it isn’t hosting the 2012 games, so I can’t see any funds coming our way … Network rail and central government need to get their act into gear and support cities not in the south-east corner of England !!! If you agree don’t lobby me, lobby your MP !!! Sorry, soap box moment and moan over …


Anyway, the route back after the match was much slower, as there was a real “log-jam” as hundreds of people tried to squeeze across both the railway and canal bridges … the main reason for the slow progress, was at the canal bridge, where some anti-bike barriers were only allowing one, maybe two people through at a time. Still it was all good humoured (helped by the decent weather) and fans all around chatted about the game whilst patiently waiting for the queue to shuffle forwards.

Once back into the “nature reserve” we branched off from the main flow of the crowd and jogged back to the Foleshill Road and thence on to the car along the road. I know it’s only a footy match, but your team winning does bring a bounce to your step.

Oh, if you’re interested the match ended Cov’ City-1, Queens Park Rangers-0 … Hurray !

End of an odd post, but hey, it was a walk … of sorts … well almost !

Next walk … maybe the Malvern Hills next week-end … A proper place to walk.

Hurray … 1st proper photo postings !

Hurray, I’ve worked out how to :-

  • Upload to Flickr ….
  • Post to the blog ….
  • Edit into the post where I want them … in this case my “20080620_Castle Crag – Borrowdale” diary.

Just to prove it, here’s one now (it’s got me on it, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing).

As these are diary pages, I have compressed the photo file size (for filing space efficiency), so they might not look just as sharp as they might, but they are as they are to illustrate the walk as I did it.

Still, in the unlikely event that you really want a copy of the master photo’ just go to the “contact me” page and send me a comment, or you could copy my email address into your browser and ask me that way.

20080621_Castle Crag – Borrowdale Walk

20080621 : Castle Crag Circular – Borrowdale Walk
When :
21 June 2008
Who : Just me
Where : Lake District – England
Approx distance : 8 km 5 miles
Significant height : 200 m
Parking : Car Parks in various places in Borrowdale – As the walk is a circular, just choose the best position for you.
Public Transport : Yes, Buses run up and down Borrowdale calling at villages in the valley.

Route Summary : Longthwaite – Borrowdale Youth Hostel ; River Derwent ; Seatoller ; Allerdale Ramble ; Castle Crag ; Low Hows Wood ; High Hows Wood ; River Derwent again.

This was scheduled as the fourth and final walk of my short break in The Lakes, although my wife had said I could stay over an extra day and another long walk did beckon …

I fancied taking the bus to Honister Hause, Climb up Dale Head and then a ridge walk northwards taking in High Spy, Maiden Moor and Cat Bells returning to Borrowdale Youth Hostel past Derwent Water.

However, the weather forecast was horrendous for the afternoon – Persistent heavy rain (potentially a couple of inches in a matter of hours), strong winds and poor visibility on the fells, not very nice at-all. The following day was not going to be much better either. I therefore decided that discretion was indeed the better part of valour and I decided not to spoil my break by staying longer than originally planned.

The forecast for the morning was not too bad though; dry with low cloud, with the heavy rain to arrive around about lunch time. I’d poured over my map looking for a short morning walk, which proved to be quite problematic. The problem was that Borrowdale almost has a surplus of low level walks, and choosing which to do was quite difficult and I narrowed it down to a handful of options including :-

  • Up the valley to Seathwaite to Taylor Gill Force (waterfall).
  • Up the valley via Stonethwaite, toward Langstrath, to Galleny Force (falls).
  • Over to the National Trust Tea Rooms at Watendlath via Puddingstone Bank – very tempting – and back via Lodore Falls.
  • Grange Fell including Joppelty How and Cummatatta Wood (Great names don’t you agree?), perhaps taking in The Bowder Stone on the return.
  • A whole bunch of other options suggested themselves as well.

Such a choice! What to do ? …. In the end I settled on none of the above, sorting out a nice little circular starting at the youth hostel. [ ]

Following the river upstream (south) to pick up the higher level route of the Allerdale Ramble just above Seatoller, swinging round to head northwards under the lower flanks of the Dale Head/High Spy massive, a quick blast up Castle Crag in the Jaws of Borrowdale, then onwards into the woods south of Grange-In-Borrowdale, then swinging south again following the river path upstream to the Hostel. I figured this was possible to do before lunch time, and hopefully before the weather turned for the worse.

I had started early, after a good Hostel breakfast, trying to beat the weather and I was on my way before 9:00 am but not before saying farewell to my three friends of the day before. By complete contrast to the day before, this walk started extremely gently, really a bit of a stroll by the side of the river. As with all low level routes, good concentration was needed on the map reading, just to ensure I was on the right track, it wasn’t particularly difficult but it could have been easy to branch off onto an unwanted path. After the hard craggy landscapes of the day before, the soft, river and woodland terrain was a lovely contrast and very easy going until near the back of The Glaramara Hotel, where upon there was a short pull up, out of the valley bottom to join the bridle way above Seatoller.

The weather was dry, but low clouds over the fells glowered down and felt just a little ominous. Never-the-less I was enjoying the morning and up until now I hadn’t seen another person out apart from a lone mountain cyclist that had crossed my path.

I know it takes all-sorts, but tearing about very rocky terrain on a push-bike just isn’t for me. It looks very jarring and you can’t possibly fully appreciate the scenery being passed through whilst concentrating on the boulders immediately ahead. As it happened a couple of off-roaders that I spoke to volunteered that the path was a little rougher than they’d anticipated and maybe, in hindsight, they wouldn’t have chosen that particular route. Still, each to their own and all I spoke to were very friendly including a kind gent who alighted to take a photo of me, saving me the very awkward process of finding a flat and level rock to take a self-timed snap with Castle Crag in the distance.

The very obvious bridle path northwards away from Seatoller (Labelled Allerdale Ramble on the OS map) was pretty easy going despite its rocky nature, being generally downhill. However, the aspect was quite open and felt much more remote and higher than it actually is. The footbridge crossing of Tongue Gill, on it’s rapid descent from Rigghead Quarries, made a decent short refreshment stop before I continued on down to Castle Crag. This little slate knoll standing proudly in the narrowest part of Borrowdale is dwarfed really by the flanks of Low Scawdel, but it maintains it’s own unique attraction. In fact just looking at the OS map you could quite easily miss the significance of this little crag … it’s position is all … and belies it’s lowly height.

The stiff little climb zig-zagging through the slate screes from past mining activities, brings you out onto a top with superb views northwards over Grange-in-Borrowdale and Derwent Water to the Skiddaw / Blencathra mountains.

Pease take a moment to read the memorial plaque set into a vertical piece of rock-face at the top and remember those gave their lives for our great country ….. Oh, and I can’t go on without mentioning my disgust at the person (Carole if I remember rightly) that had defaced the plaque by scratching her name into the metal underneath the names of our fallen heroes… it’s obscene really, I just can’t understand why ! … there’s no rhyme nor reason to doing things like that, especially after she’d made the effort to climb up there in the first place. Please accept my apologies for my little diatribe but it made my blood boil … perhaps I’ve become a little immune to the antics of those in our towns and cities, but seeing such wanton vandalism in such a lovely place got under my skin this time.

Anyway, the clouds had darkened further and the first heavy spots of rain prompted me to move on. I didn’t fancy the steep descent on wet slate scree, so I reluctantly left the viewpoint. The drop down the zig-zaggy path was quite straight forward, the hardest part being the number of fellow walkers coming up in the opposite direction, in what was becoming a steady stream of people climbing this very popular crag. It was now just after 10:30 a.m. and the rain was becoming more persistent already … unfortunately it had arrived earlier than forecast.

Picking up the main path again, I dropped quite quickly into the woods to the north of the Crag. There were many walkers now, making the climb up towards Castle Crag which looks much more prominent and imposing coming to it from the North, rather than the southerly direction I’d approached from. I suspect most had made the walk from Grange-In-Borrowdale, about a mile to the north. Perhaps the BBC’s recent Wainwright Walks TV programme with Julia Bradbury [ ]had inspired some of these walkers, but there again perhaps not … Castle Crag has always been popular.


The rain was becoming quite heavy now, but being in the trees didn’t bother me too much, and I only donned my cag’ deciding, as I was low level and warm, to allow my trousers to get wet … which they did quite rapidly … perhaps it was a bad choice not to put on my over trousers as walking became quite uncomfortable. The last couple of miles upstream through Low Hows and High Hows Woods, would have been a charming easy stroll in half-decent conditions, but with the rain splashing straight down, I just pressed on, head down, just to finish off the walk, although I did take a brief detour on a side path to have a quick look at some old quarry caves.

The path rejoined the river and as I continued, I smiled at the antics of a large party of people enjoying a set of stepping stones traversing the river close to Rosthwaite village. I suppose if you’re wet already, playing around getting a bit wetter doesn’t really matter too much, although I didn’t see anyone fall off the stepping stones there were plenty of near-misses with the necessary accompanying raucous laughter, proving you can indeed have fun in the rain.

Soon after I arrived back at Borrowdale Youth Hostel and my little Fiat Punto was waiting patiently in the now very persistent rain. Errmm, using fairly polite vernacular, it was fairly “Hissing down” … I’ll let you, the reader, change the capital letter for a slightly more crude phrase that might describe conditions more succinctly.

Apart from the rain, the plan had pretty much worked; I’d arrived back at the Hostel at around noon. I’d got wet, but hey this was The Lake District, what else could I have expected! A change of clothes from the boot of the car, a bite to eat from my rucksack, and I set off for the M6 (and home) with the car blowers on full blast to clear the widows steaming up from the damp. I think going home was the correct decision.

All in all, a good four days in one of my most favourite places anywhere – The English Lake District. A bit of coastal walking was anticipated as the next walk at the other end of the country, on The Lizard in Cornwall. Anyway, I resolved to get more active again and promised myself the Lakeland tops would be revisited as soon as possible.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

As it happened I did indeed do a walk in Cornwall, and I’ve already posted a diary of it :-
Next walk = 20080813_South West Coast Path, St. Keverne to Gwendreath … Link =




20080620_Great Gable Walk

20080620 : Honister Hause to Great Gable Walk and return
When : 20 June 2008
Who : Just me
Where : Lake District – England
Approx distance : 8 km 5 miles
Significant height : 1400 m
Parking : Car Parks top of Honister Pass – National Trust/Quarry’s own.
Public Transport : Yes but limited times… from both Buttermere or Borrowdale

Route Summary : Honister Hause – Grey Knotts – Brandreth – Gillercomb Head – Green Gable – Windy Gap – Great Gable … reversed for return.

This was the third of my walks of my short break in the lakes. My post “20080618-21 Lake District – 4 Day break” gives some back-ground and includes a bit about enforced accommodation changes etc. You can go and read that first if you really want to, but it’s not essential for the following diary post to make sense. In summary though, I’d been due to stay at Black Sail Youth Hostel but it’d been temporarily closed, at very short notice, and my nights stay had been switched to Honister Hause Youth Hostel. See the links below if you want to know more about the hostels …



( ). ( ).

Because of this enforced change to my accommodation, the walks I had planned had been rendered obsolete (at least for this trip). The problem was, I now had to decide what walk to do and I’d poured over my map the night before in the common room of Honister Hause Youth Hostel where I’d ended up.


Not that being at Honister Hause Y.H. was a problem, in fact I really like the hostel with it’s superb setting, good food and friendly staff & fellow guests (oh and no stairs to climb to the dorm’!). All in all, it felt homely and to my mind just like a traditional youth hostel should …. No, the problem was deciding what kind of walk suited me, especially as I hadn’t moved particularly quickly on the previous two days. My preference would be to:-




  1. Not move the car,
  2. Stay on high ground for as long as possible during the day,
  3. Do a circular route,
  4. Get a decent day of weather (out of my control unfortunately).

Leaving the car where it was, was easy, the warden at the hostel had said I could leave my car where it was, for free, just outside the building and off the road in the very small YHA parking area … what a nice chap! … However, a circular route from here would have meant dropping quite significant heights before rising back up to Honister Pass in the afternoon. I decided against this, as, doubting my fitness levels, I didn’t fancy a stiff climb at the end of the day. Also, I really didn’t want to start the day in the car, because any driving (down towards Buttermere or down towards Borrowdale) would loose all the height I had, already being at the top of Honister pass.

In the end, I decided to stay high and do a short walk, taking in four named tops (and NO, I’m not going to call them Wainwright’s!, they were named long before he’d mapped them in his guides, and I especially dislike the recent apparent Wainwright-isation of everything to do with walking in the Lake-District!). The main goal, weather permitting, was to be Great Gable via Grey Knotts, Brandreth and Green Gable. The forecast was mixed but a little more favourable than the previous two days and my hope was for the cloud base to be high and broken enough to give some decent views. Very unusually, I decided on the same route out and return, in fact pretty much a straight line there and back, with just a bit of a dogs leg in the general direction. I took a gamble – shorts were to be worn to give my legs an airing and I hoped any fellow walkers would have sun-glasses to protect themselves from the glare.

Walking out of the hostel, there was no pre-amble to loosen up the slightly stiff muscles from the previous couple of days exertions. The walk started straight-up from the corner of the National Trust car park, heading directly for Grey Knotts. It didn’t take long for the steep slope to slow me down. Mountain walking is really quite different to Warwickshire rambles and uses different muscles and techniques, and my legs were telling me so! My heart felt good though and I was in high spirits as I was joined on the climb by three gentlemen who’d been fellow guests at the hostel the night before (as it happens they too should have been at Black Sail at the same time as me). They were heading to Borrowdale Youth Hostel that evening, another coincidence as that was my destination as well. Their route was the same as mine as far as Great Gable, where upon they were to branch away and walk down into Borrowdale. They became informal walking colleagues at various times all the way to Great Gable. A short sharp shower didn’t have much effect really and with some good humoured chat, Grey Knotts was attained. It felt good, very good! views had opened up, the rain had blown over, only the higher tops were shrouded in cloud …. Absolutely wonderful!

With views viewed and photo’s snapped and after the exertions of the earlier climb, the route ahead to Brandreth was to be easy going and I looked forward to opening up my stride, although a boggy section ahead with some standing pools of water meant a decision had to be made: LH side of the fence stretching ahead or the RH side? I chose the left, my new friends the right and for now we parted company as I strode out ahead, my 6′-4″ height and long legs helping to do this. The non-descript top of Brandreth reached, I stopped and found a little hollow to sit in for some refreshment, taking in the views over Base Brown and beyond – Lovely. If you’ve never walked up high … do it! … It really is worth it; even a mile or so from the road can get you into the most fantastic places.




The drop, pretty much due south, over the stony broad slope of Brandreth was a little taxing on the ankles, but it didn’t last long as the wide saddle of Gillercomb Head was reached and the steady climb up to Green Gable began.

The wind had picked up quite considerably, blowing chillily across from the Kirk Fell area, so I reluctantly hid my legs away under my waterproof / windproof / breathable over-trousers (fellow walkers on the path might have been relieved that they no longer needed their sun-glasses, but they were far too polite to say so). Remarkably, the O/trousers were quite comfy directly against my skin – well done Berghaus!

By the top of Green Gable the wind was quite strong and I really began to wonder what Windy Gap and the top of Great Gable (some 100m higher) were going to be like. I had visions of crawling, caterpillar style, over the top of Great Gable, just to say I’d reached the summit.



Oddly, Windy Gap wasn’t! For once it wasn’t living up to its name at-all. The climb up Great Gable was very calm indeed, the route being sheltered by its own massive bulk.

As it happened, it was only mildly breezy on the summit. The Steep, rocky, bouldery, climb up Great Gable was slow (legs, fitness, mountain terrain, etc, again), but the Gods were obviously smiling on me, because, as the sun came out, expansive views could be seen in a fantastic 360-degree panorama.

I could list a whole host of tops etc. that could be seen, but I won’t, suffice to say the views were brill’; the highlight was watching the clouds lift off Skafell and Skafell Pike, revealing England’s very highest places.

Visibility was good enough to make out The Isle of man, out in The Irish Sea and Scotland in the far distance. Looking inland, all the tops were free of cloud. The vistas in all directions competed against each other for my attention … Wow; I’d certainly been away from these tops for too long … how had that happened!

It was so good in fact, that I sat in a warm little hollow under the summit rocks and I phoned my Mum and Dad just to tease them a little, as they would have loved to have been there with me (that’s another story completely, not to be told right now!). Anyway my tease fell a little flat, as they weren’t in! … I had to suffice with leaving a message on their answer phone. I was in good company, loads of people were getting their mobiles out – it was the first place since arriving in The Lakes that I’d got a signal. One young lady close by was talking about uploading a photo to her face-book account or similar. Depending on your point of view (small pun there considering where I was) you can say how wonderful modern technology is …. or, maybe a little intrusive perhaps? I decided that this proud mountain and the surrounding fells were perhaps diminished somehow and I put the phone away, but only after a call to my lovely wife. She said I had to stay over an extra night if it was as good as my obviously enthused voice imparted. I returned to the views and lost myself in the expanse of crags, streams, lakes and sky. In fact I must have stayed a full 1-½ hours on the top of Great Gable. During this time my three “friends” moved off south-eastwards towards Sty Head, where their route was to take in Sprinkling Tarn, Grains Gill and Seathwaite before reaching Borrowdale Youth Hostel.


It was quite busy on the top of Great Gable, with parties, some quite sizeable, appearing from various directions, and there must have been over a score of people at times milling around before moving off on their own routes. My route back was a complete reversal of the outward trip and I reluctantly dragged myself back to walking mode. The descent off Great Gable was easier than anticipated, although concentration was needed to ensure good foot placement etc. The short climb up to Green Gable again brought me into a mini gale, but the breeze dropped once back towards Gillercomb Head and the over trousers came off (and sun glasses were required again should anyone suffer dazzle).

It’s worth noting an iron gate sat all alone on the broad saddle of Gillercomb Head. It’s quite surreal seeing this rusty but still working gate, with no fence to go with it. I think it’s the remains of an old boundary fence, as the boundary posts (BP on the OS map), can still be seen stretching away over the fells. Great navigation aids in mist! The climb up Brandreth was much easier than the earlier stony descent – I picked a better, less stony route.


Grey Knotts was quickly reached afterwards, and this time, I spent a little more time on its rocky outcrops before the really quite knee jarring descent back to the car at Honister Hause.

A short walk, little more than a half-dayer really, but I’d pretty much filled a whole day somehow. A super day and very much more satisfying than what I’d allowed myself to anticipate that morning.

The short drive down Little Gatesgarth left Honister pass behind and brought me through Seatoller. Then just after Strands Bridge, nearing Borrowdale Youth Hostel, I spotted my three “friends” last seen leaving Great Gable, and looking just a little weary. I offered them a lift, not really expecting them to accept … I was right, they didn’t. I‘d been settled in for a while when they arrived themselves and being a nice kind of chap, I brewed up four mugs of coffee for us all. This was later repaid by a glass of organic red wine at dinner, which went down very well with my trout. Youth hostels have changed, sometimes for the worse, but in this case for the better, great grub Borrowdale Youth Hostel, excellent! Anyways-up, it was a much civilised end to a good days walking in the Great Outdoors of the English Lake District.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk = 20080621, Castle Crag circular in Borrowdale, link =


20080619_Fleetwith Pike – Haystacks Walk

20080619 : Fleetwith Pike – Haystacks Walk
When : 19 June 2008
Who : Just me
Where : Lake District – England
Approx distance : 15 km 9-1/2 miles
Significant height : 875 m (mostly up, but some downs included)
Parking : Car Parks in village or side of road above chapel.
Public Transport : Yes but limited times

Route Summary : Buttermere Village ; Buttermere Lake south shore ; Gatesgarth ; Fleetwith Edge ; Fleetwith Pike ; Dubs Bottom ; Haystacks ; Scarth Gap ; Buttermere Lake north shore.

This is the second of four walks of my short break of 4-days in the North West area of the Lake District. My post “20080618-21 Lake District – 4 Day Beak” gives a bit of background, but it’s not essential to what follows here. This walk was by far the longest and most strenuous of the 4 days.

I parked by the side of the road, just above the chapel on the outskirts of Buttermere Village (there’s no charge here, but space is limited which wasn’t a problem for me as I was up and about quite early). A small area is set aside for visitors to the chapel, so please respect this if you use this area for parking. There is parking in the village as well but I’d image there’d be a charge here.

This walk has a superb variety of terrain and pretty much encapsulates almost everything you could want from a Lakeland walk, including :- Lakeside woods; tumbling becks; a steep climb on an airy ridge; working quarries; fell top tarns and craggy hummocks to explore. All the time there are superb views and there’s even a tunnel the footpath negotiates.

I started off in good dry conditions which was pretty amazing given the sweeping rain that had blasted up the valley the evening before. From the chapel I dropped into the village of Buttermere and crossed the flat meadows between Buttermere Lake and Crummock Water, taking the more easterly of the two bridle tracks down to the shoreline of Buttermere Lake.


I crossed the footbridge over Buttermere Dubs as it flows out of the lake (on its way to Crummock Water) and immediately took time out to have a look at the spectacular torrent of Sourmilk Gill, swollen from the previous day’s rain. After a short while, I headed off on the well made path through Burtness wood. I decided to ignore the path that closely follows the shoreline, instead choosing the wide well made path set back and a little higher in the woods. This is a great start to a walk, pretty much level on good paths allowing legs to be stretched out and it was just what I needed to walk off a bit of stiffness from the previous day’s exertions.

The views across the lake to the surrounding fells framed by the trees are super, especially with a little brightness occasionally glinting off the crags and slopes. I wasn’t moving as easily or as quickly as maybe I’d have liked, but this gave the opportunity to soak up the Lakeland atmosphere. Despite a covering of low cloud I could see the top of Fleetwith Pike, the highest point of the walk ahead.


After a while, the path leaves Burtness Wood onto open fell and soon after, crosses the tumbling Comb Beck cascading down from Burtness Comb under the imposing heights of the High Stile ridge. (From across the other side of the lake, Comb Beck and its sister Sourmilk Gill, mentioned earlier, appear as thin ribbons of white against the dark fell side. It’s quite surprising how much noise these cascades make especially after heavy rain).


At the southernmost corner of Buttermere Lake, I ignored the path angling up towards Scarth Gap. Instead, staying low, I soon turned left to cross Peggy’s Bridge and the flat meadowland to Gatesgarth Farm to emerge out onto the B5289 Honister Pass road. Turing right along the road, the route starts its first and by far the hardest climb of the day.

There is charged parking at Gatesgarth Farm, and as the route passes through the farm (twice the way I walked it) this would allow the walk to be shortened by approx. 3-1/2 to 4 miles, but this would entail missing out on the considerable charms of the lakeside paths.


Leaving the road after a very short while, the path branches right onto the fell side and soon begins its steep climb up Fleetwith Edge and soon after the path passes close to a memorial cross set just below one of the lower crags. You’ll need to make a small detour to get a close up view and read the inscription. I didn’t get close enough to be able to read it myself, but according to various other web-sites, the memorial commemorates Fanny Mercer who was accidentally killed here in 1887. I suppose there’s a lesson for us some 121 years later that care is needed on these rugged fells.

There followed a pretty much unrelenting steep climb up the imposing Fleetwith Edge for the best part of a mile and although the path was easy to follow, I certainly slowed considerably. However, because of its fantastic position at the head of the valley and the steepness of ascent, superb views quickly opened up all around and my frequent breather stops facilitated being able to turn around and take in the full spectacle as it unfurled.


My only concern was the strong blustery wind that kept gusting across the ridge. At times I felt quite vulnerable, my 6′-4″ frame actually being a disadvantage for a change and I had to crouch down low to the ground a couple of times whilst I waited for the worst of the buffeting to subside. Oddly the higher I went, the less windy it became and as I found my climbing legs, the final reaches of the ascent were nicely achieved.

The familiar feelings on reaching the summit flooded over me and I drank in the views all around. The most obvious pull on the eyes was the classic view down the Buttermere and Crummock Water valley, stretched out towards the coast. However, the mountains all about fought for my attention, the heavy moody clouds on the tops adding a drama to the scene.


In particular swirls of cloud drifted and spiralled up and out from the depths of Gatesgarth Dale immediately below (on its way to the Honister Hause Pass). It was very atmospheric with the steep flanks of Hindscarth and Dale Head behind, appearing to be little more than a stones throw away. It was a superb backdrop to the ever changing patterns in the ethereal mists.

[Please click on the link below to see a 360 degree panorama from the summit of Fleetwith Pike]

With the highest point of the walk accomplished, I set off again, staying as high as possible following the path to Black Star crags, above Honister Crag, and then dropped quite quickly towards the Honister Quarries. Before descending too far, I turned south, taking care as I crossed some of the quarry workings and roadways and I swung more westerly for the drop to Dubs Quarry. The slate workings are not what you’d call pretty but added a certain interest and variety to the walk, especially with the heavy mine vehicles trundling back and forth.


The clouds were becoming more ominous now and I increased my pace hoping to get to Dubs Quarry Mountaineering Hut before the impending squall hit me. Despite breaking into a bit of a jog (boots and rucksack don’t lend themselves to this really) I never-the-less failed in my quest by about 50 yards and I reached the hut’s porch-way half soaked.

Trying the doorway, it opened and I stepped in taking refuge for about ½ an hour dripping and steaming as I dried out. I made this a convenient lunch stop watching as other walkers trudged by in the downpour, I assume them not knowing about the huts basic but dry charms. If you do need to use Dubs Hut, please treat it with respect, leave nothing behind and close the door securely as you leave.



As the rain eased, and now fully “cagged-up”, I set off again finding the path down to where Dubs Bottom drops off steeply into Warnscale Bottom. There were a couple of little streams to cross near to Little Round How, which I did quite easily despite some walkers ahead of me seemingly finding it problematic to find a convenient crossing place. New views opened up down towards Buttermere again, framed perfectly by the crags.

The rugged but obvious path (now rising) passed near to the northern tip of Blackbeck Tarn, but as the rain had started up again I chose not to make the detour to take a closer look. However, despite the current downpour, the clouds had lifted somewhat and the silhouettes of Green Gable and Great Gable looked superb across the tarn and beyond the nearby hummocky crags.


 Soon afterwards after a little more height gained and now heading generally westwards I reached Innominate Tarn. This is a lovely welcome to the charms of Haystacks. Made famous by a certain Alfred Wainwright where he wrote “All I ask for, at the end, is a last long resting place by the side of Innominate Tarn, on Haystacks….And if you should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me”: AW 1966 [ passage borrowed from : ]

The main path skirts just to the north of the tarn, with its 3 little islands in a row, but as it’s such a lovely spot and the rain had eased almost to a stop, I decided to spend some time exploring the craggy hummocks and hollows as I made a small circuit around what is really little more than a large pool.

Rejoining the main path I quickly rose to the summits at the top of Haystacks. I say summits deliberately as there are several cairns and craggy tops all of which look higher than each other depending on where you happen to be standing. I’ve got to admit: I do like Haystacks, it’s got a certain magic about it, in its nooks and crannies, tarns and pools, crags and hollows the whole fell top is interesting to explore and the views all around are superb – Even if like today most of the higher tops were shrouded in cloud.

[Please click on the link below to see a 360 degree panorama from the summit area of Haystacks]

From the multiple summits, it was a steep rocky descent and quite hard work on the legs and concentration, but it didn’t last long before I reached the Scarth Gap Path and quite a major cross roads: to the left, the path drops into Ennerdale; straight on climbs to Seat and onwards to the High Crag / High Stile / Red Pike ridge; to the right, the path heads off towards Buttermere. This last option was my route for the day and I followed the rugged path, dropping quite quickly and it became gentler and easier as it lost its height. From the path I could see a good proportion of the route I’d completed, Fleetwith Edge’s profile in particular in fine view.

[Please click on the link below to see a 360 degree panorama from the Scarth Gap Path as it descends across Buttermere Fell]

Looking out over Buttermere Lake I could see the far bank where the last leg of the walk would bring the day to a very satisfying conclusion … Still that was to come, I pressed on and some blue sky started breaking through the cloud cover, welcoming me down and across Buttermere Fell … it’s amazing how a little brightness can bring a lift to your step. Upon reaching Peggy’s bridge for the second time in the day, I fairly bounced along the meadow track to Gatesgarth Farm as I reprised the morning’s outward route.

Upon reaching the B5289 instead of turning right as before, I headed left along the road until I reached the lakeside, where upon I picked up the permissive path along the north shore. The route all the way back to Buttermere village was quite straightforward and is a lovely stroll in its own right and although I thought tired legs would take the edge off the enjoyment, the views were stunning especially as the Sun finally decided to break through properly and the waters began to sparkle.



A highlight of this north shore permissive path is a short tunnel hewn through where Dalegarth’s grounds abruptly fall into the lake as a rocky crag.


From here onwards the feel is much more gentrified enhanced by the evening Sun warming me for the first time in the day, still better late than never!


Despite the at times very inclement weather I’d had a good days walking, although physically taxing in places it felt just like old times revisited … I’ll not leave it anyway near as long again, before I come back for more.

Quite a long diary entry this one, for which I’m not too sorry, the feelings of getting a good Lake District walk in again are too vivid to skip over quickly this time.

Oh and just to finish, I got a superb sunset from just across the road from the hostel, and it wasn’t the first time that had happened, what a simply wonderful place! 


Despite the length of prose, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = 20080620, Honister Hause to Great Gable and Return : link =