Haystacks and the High Stile Ridge

Haystacks Summit

The Western Lake District is one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the Lakes in my view. Its quieter and less touristy than Keswick, Ambleside and Grasmere. Buttermere and Wasdale are the main villages in these areas and great bases for several magnificent walks in this area.

Buttermere Panorama

As you leave Keswick on the B5289 passing Derwent Water on your right you cross Honister Pass and drop down into Buttermere Village. The aim of my walk today was to ascend Haystacks from Buttermere. I parked up at Gatesgarth Farm and headed across the road and into the valley.

Warnscale Bottom

Warnscale Bottom nestled below Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks. It has to be said you can start the ascent of Haystacks from Honister Slate Mine at the top of Honister Pass, this saving you a fair amount of ascent and time as I did on the previous Great Gable walk.

The path weaves its way up out of Warnscale along Warnscale Beck with Green Crag above.

The terrain here is a testament to the industrial past from the Honister Slate mines. There are broken slates everywhere and nestled in among all that slate is this lovely remote Bothy. Its real name is Warnscale Bothy but I termed it the Mining Hut and this particular scene below has proven to be very popular.

Mining Hut Lake District by James Bell

Many other local photographers have asked for the location of this shot and when I present this Lake District Print to various art gallery in the area it does generate a lot of interest, it’s a unique print.

The inside of the Bothy is pretty basic, since I took these shots I’ve had several website visitors email me suggesting they’ve spent the night in this Hut. One guy spent his Wedding Night in there, with his wife as well can you believe.

Mining Hut 360

The Hut must have one of the finest views in the whole of the Lake District though, if you can see past the cobwebs.

View of Haystacks from the Mining Hut

As you make the last ascent in this area you appear on a flat ridge that takes you right to Haystacks and left to Dubs Quarry and Honister Slate mine or straight over to Brandreth and onto Great Gable.

Blackbeck Tarn, Haystacks

The lead up to Haystacks summit has a generous collection of small Tarns, the first one of any size is Blackbeck Tarn moving on from here and round Green Crag, you get another glimpse of Buttermere from this great vantage point below. this delightful path brings you out to probably one of the most famous Tarns in the Lake District.

Innominate Tarn, Haystacks

Innominate Tarn, the final resting place of Alfred Wainwright who if your not aware has inspired many a generation of walkers with his Lake District Guide Books that can only be described as works of art in there own right. Innominate Tarn is a lovely spot and well worth a short stay, there are some fine views to be seen here, Great Gable at the top of the Ennerdale Valley and Pillar opposite to name a few. Haystacks summit is not far from here.

Haystacks Summit

After a brief lunch stop I ascended down into Scarth Gap. I had made good time so far and the thought of going back to the car and leaving it there seemed a shame, so I turned back from High Wax Knott and ascended what can only be described as my worst ever ascent. I missed the easy path across from Haystacks and took a less popular route round under Seat towards Gamlin End and High Crag, this section is very steep and uneasy, no real path to speak of just very loose gravel making ascending very tricky. The image below shows the path I took. Never again will I walk that same route.

High Crag over Haystacks

This image below is taken from about 1/3rd of the way up High Crag looking back down over Seat and Haystacks. Great Gable is visible to the right with Fleetwith Pike to the left.

Ascending High Crag below.

On reaching the summit of High Crag the weather was beginning to turn. My plan was to walk across High Crag, High Stile to Red Pike then descent to Bleaberry Tarn and Sourmilk Gill to Buttermere, along the path and back to the car at Gatesgarth.

High Crag

Indeed this is the route I took and on the summit of High Stile the cloud came in and visibility had completely gone.

High Stile in Cloud

You could just about make out ghostly figures of other walkers and extreme care was needed. I met one lady with 3 kids who were totally disorientated not knowing which way was down. A Sat Nav device is a godsend in situations like this.

Red Pike Buttermere

On reaching Red Pike the cloud began to lift revealing Buttermere below. You can see where the name Red Pike comes from in this shot.

Buttermere black & white

Once down at Buttermere a gentle scroll along the waters edge and back to the car was a pleasant end to a full days walk.

Things I learnt from this experience are to plan ahead and prepare for all eventualities, weather wise, food wise, water wise, blister wise and plan your route and I always like to have an escape route so if things take a turn for the worse you can cut your walk short and get back to base.

Here you can see more of my Lake District Landscape Photography.

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Haystacks and the High Stile Ridge

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