Friday, 26 August 2011

Buttermere Fells - Fleetwith Pike to Haystacks

Here is part one of a walk Claire and I undertook recently tackling some of the fabulous fells that tower over Buttermere. Part two coming very soon.

Fleetwith Pike from the farm
This grand tour of Buttermere took us from Gatesgarth farm over five fells before returning via the scenic Lake shore. This ended up being a much harder walk than I expected, with three steep slopes to contend with and a lot of scree to slide up and down. Getting to the fells is an adventure in itself, at times driving in first gear around some of the corners of the Newlands Pass. We managed to grab the last parking space at Gatesgarth Farm and we were soon on our way.

memorial cross to Fanny Mercer
The ascent of Fleetwith Pike starts as it means to go on - straight up and not let up until the summit. There is no half a mile of gentle ascent here, you start right off on the steep path upwards, following the ridge of the fell.

looking back down Fleetwith Edge
It isn't until the last minute that you actually see the top of the fell, there being 3 other false summits on the way to the top. At times the ridge gets very narrow offering impressive sheer drops on either side.

looking back over Buttermere from the first false summit

But the walk is a real pleasure as every time you stop for breath you can turn around and enjoy the Buttermere panorama as it opens up.

Haystacks from the walk up Fleetwith Pike

As you gain height you draw level with the summit of Haystacks and this gives the confidence to push on. A few short scrambles are necessary but they are good natured ones.

Soon enough you find yourself on the summit plain, which comes entirely unexpected when you approach from the Buttermere side.

Haystacks and a distant Pillar from Fleetwith Pike summit
From here it is a nice walk over to Haystacks. You also have a great view of some of the highest peaks of Lakeland with the Scafell massif looming beyond Great Gable.

Great Gable andh the distant Scafell range

Heading down the south of Fleetwith Pike for Dubs Quarry you descend a few hundred feet coming to cross Warnscale Beck. The walk starts going back up as you start on the approach to Haystacks.

old mining buildings at Dubs Quarry
Having already walked up Haystacks a couple of years ago once this became familiar territory as we passed some familiar scenery. The walk is very varied and interesting as you swing back and forth behind crags, at times having views ofver the majestic fells of Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar, before coming round Green Crag and moving to the fromt face of the crags for a short section offering great views from the head of Buttermere.

Green and Great Gable rising behind Innominate Tarn
You pass Blackbeck tarn and shortly before reaching the summit you reach Innominate Tarn, Wainwright's final resting place. A brief pause to enjoy the atmosphere and takin in the views over the water to the giants of the Western Fells and a few minutes later we were on the ridge that is the summit of Haystacks. A great place to be.

Haystacks summit

From here the walk took us upwards towards High Rise - to be continued next week....

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