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The Buttermere Ridge – High Stile to Haystacks

By Dave Chick   

on February 11, 2019    No ratings yet.

The Buttermere Ridge – High Stile to Haystacks

Further Details

Route Summary:

The rough, rocky ridge is a favourite among visitors to the Lake District. Make sure you save it for a good day.

This walk includes the 4 Wainwrights of Red Pike (Buttermere), High Crag (Buttermere), Haystacks (Buttermere), High Stile

This walk includes the 3 Hewitts of High Stile (Grey Crag – High Stile), Red Pike (Buttermere), High Crag (Buttermere)

This walk includes the 3 Nuttalls of High Stile (Grey Crag – High Stile), Red Pike (Buttermere), High Crag (Buttermere)

Route Start Location: Buttemere village

15.99 km 1161 m 8 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Hard Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Couple of pubs including the Bridge Hotel and The Fish Inn as well as tearooms in the village.

Keep an eye out for our complete guide to Buttermere – coming soon!


Steep scree on the ascent of Red Pike and the descent from High Stile

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking : CA13 9XA

There are numerous places to park in and around Buttermere. There is a National Trust pay and display (free for members) on the road in from Lorton Vale. A Lake District National Park Authority pay and display is located behind The Fish Inn and Bridge Hotel in the centre of the village. Additionally, there is a small parking area above the chapel on the Newlands Pass road.

Public Transport:

The Honister Rambler bus service No.77 operates from April to October in both directions from Keswick, stopping in the village, on a circular route taking in Portinscale, Catbells, Grange, Seatoller, Honister Slate Mine, Buttermere, Lorton and Whinlatter Forest – but runs in both directions. You’ll need to check the Stagecoach site for information to see if the buses are currently running as there are no timetables available online.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


The Buttermere Ridge – High Stile to Haystacks Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

The Buttermere Ridge – High Stile to Haystacks

The Buttermere Ridge is a Lake District classic – one to be savoured and saved for a fine day. The ridge route includes the high, rugged fells that stand between Buttermere and Ennerdale. While the ridge may be tackled in either direction, the more typical route is to follow a circuit anti-clockwise with Red Pike being the first fell of the day.

Both ends of the ridge have steep approaches but you will be treated to some sublime views across the Lake District and beyond while there is additional interest in the rock architecture of these fells, particularly the crags and coves above Buttermere. You’ll also get the chance to visit Haystacks, the favoured fell of Alfred Wainwright. Like many walks in the Lake District, this can be extended or reduced in length to suit your ability.

Buttermere Ridge – High Stile to Haystacks Route Description

1 – From Buttermere village, take the lane beside the Bridge Hotel then bear left at The Fish Inn onto a lane bounded by a wire fence. Pass the car park and follow this lane through a series of gates to the shore of Buttermere. Cross a footbridge over Buttermere Dubs and bear left to another footbridge with a gate a short distance beyond.

2 – A path branches off to the right up into the woods. Though steep, the path is well built and climbs all the way to Bleaberry Tarn. Once at the tarn, hug the northern shore and follow the path through a wall, upwards to The Saddle. Once on The Saddle, turn left to make the final climb up Red Pike. This final section is very steep, up an eroded slope. It emerges right on the summit.

3 – The ridge walk along the Red Pike – High Crag ridge is fairly straightforward. A path follows the crest of the ridge for its entire length. Additionally, there are the old metal boundary posts which used to mark the Ennerdale / Buttermere boundary that makes a useful aid if the weather is poor. The only thing to note is that the first ‘summit’ (NY 16740 14787) on High Stile is the one mentioned by Wainright, though it is not the highest point. The ‘true’ summit (all of 1m higher) stands a short distance out on a short rib (NY 17009 14817).

4 – After crossing the top of Comb Crags, you will eventually reach the summit of High Crag. Ahead is a pretty big descent to Scarth Gap, some 300m below. The descent down Gamlin End is very steep but has been improved in recent times with the construction of a stepped path. At the bottom of Gamlin End is the minor top of Seat, which the path skirts around the left-hand side. A further rocky descent drops to the Scarth Gap where you will find a cairn at the summit of the pass (NY 18931 13335)

5 – Here you have the option to cut the walk short by descending back to Buttermere, however, that would miss the delights of Haystacks, which looms ahead. The path heads directly up the rocky ramparts ahead of you, first following some stone steps. A combination of steep climbing and non-technical scrambling will get you up to the summit. The ‘true’ summit is marked by the cairn with a metal post sticking out of it and has a fine view towards Great Gable at the head of Ennerdale.

6 – From the summit cairn, bear right to find a path which leads down to Innominate Tarn (there are two paths, both lead to the same place). Keep following the path as it leads down to the larger Black Beck Tarn below Green Crag. Once past Black Beck Tarn, the path takes a left where you will encounter a large rock (NY 20573 13173). Bear right and descend towards the river (Warnscale Beck).

7 – Stepping stones will assist you across the river. The disused Dubs Quarry can be found here and is well worth a poke around. Once across the river, bear left though avoid entering the stream. The main path hugs the north side of the stream before becoming the gravel path above Warnscale Beck. This path is easy to follow though is steep in places. It will lead down to the road close to Gatesgarth Farm car park (NY 19570 14930).

8 – At the road, bear left and follow the road a short distance. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of pavement along this section so watch for approaching traffic. Round the corner where the road runs along the lakeshore to find a path on the left (NY 19124 15433). Leave the road to follow this path back to Buttermere village – you should have no trouble finding your way. Don’t be alarmed when you encounter a dark tunnel – this allows the path to pass beneath the crags of the Hassness Estate without straying from the shoreline.

Dave is our Lake District local expert, often found in the depths of Cumbria he's the author of his own part on the web, All the Gear but no Idea.

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