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Buttermere East / 2 days / 13 miles (21km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 10 Feb 2005
Start / Finish: Buttermere. Free parking area above the church.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 4: English Lakes North West.

Day 1Robinson to Fleetwith Pike7 miles / 3760 feet (11.3km / 1146m)
Day 2Honister Crag & Haystacks6 miles / 960 feet (9.7km / 292m)

A circuit of the mountains to the East of Buttermere, including an exploration of the area around the recently promoted top Honister Crag.

Day 1 - Robinson to Fleetwith Pike

An obvious grassy path climbs the shoulder of the minor top of High Snockrigg and becomes less distinct as it curves around the wet expanse of Buttermere Moss, which was particularly squelchy today after the recent rain. Slanting up the slopes we attained the first mountain of the day Robinson and good if somewhat hazy views. The wind was getting really strong now as we tacked towards Littledale Edge and descended in the relative shelter of the lee slopes.

Knott Rigg & Coledale Fells
Knott Rigg & Coledale Fells (10 Feb 2005__09:44:47)
Coledale Fells from Robinson
Coledale Fells from Robinson (10 Feb 2005__10:58:00)

At the col the left fork of the path heads directly for the summit of Hindscarth which is set well back from the edge. Trying to stand still with difficulty and take in the views, all the fells were clear except the Scafells. Along Hindscarth Edge the wind began to cause some real concern for the pitch later, and approaching the small rocky outcrops we could barely stay upright, in fact we surmounted the top rocks on hands and knees. Arriving at the fine columnar cairn at the summit, the wind perversely decreased somewhat to the level of the previous summits. Taking the path southwards, the descent was in relative shelter in the lee of the NW blast and near the bottom we crossed the stile to the R side and walked down to Honister quarry.

High Spy ridge
High Spy ridge (10 Feb 2005__12:01:13)
View North from Dale Head
View North from Dale Head (10 Feb 2005__12:20:25)
High Spy ridge from Dale Head
High Spy ridge from Dale Head (10 Feb 2005__12:38:31)

For the ascent we followed the slaty line of the old tramway, collecting water at a small stream part way up, and just after it levels out we climbed R to join the main path to Fleetwith Pike (not marked on the OS map). At the summit there was the classic view of Buttermere and moody shafts of sunlight over the dark western mountains, but the wind was still too strong to pitch close by. A good path leads E and after a few minutes we found a fairly sheltered spot and made a good pitch near the edge.

Sunlight on Haystacks
Sunlight on Haystacks (10 Feb 2005__15:08:25)
Great Gable & Kirk Fell from Fleetwith Pike
Great Gable & Kirk Fell from Fleetwith Pike (10 Feb 2005__15:47:46)
Pitch near Honister Crag
Pitch near Honister Crag (10 Feb 2005__16:49:08)

Day 2 - Honister Crag & Haystacks

The next morning brought a very different atmosphere: not a breath of wind, a frost and a starry sky, with the mountain shapes and peaks black against the first faint trace of dawn light. This was to be another morning to remember, and setting off before sunrise along the edge, we climbed to the fine rocky top of Honister Crag on the brink of the huge drop to the valley. The emerging light and colours all around ensured a longer stay here than we had planned, these times must be savoured despite the rain which had been forecast for later in the day!.

Honister Crag joined the 2000' tops of England in 2004 when a survey showed the reascent to be 67'. The alternative name from the OS map is Black Star, but that doesn't sound right at all - it has been suggested that this is an OS typo and the real name should be Black Scar, which makes a lot more sense.

Honister Crag and dawn sky
Honister Crag and dawn sky (11 Feb 2005__07:31:47)
Sunrise from Honister Crag
Sunrise from Honister Crag (11 Feb 2005__07:58:11)
Fleetwith Pike and Buttermere from Honister Crag
Fleetwith Pike and Buttermere from Honister Crag (11 Feb 2005__08:02:35)

Eventually we retraced our steps past an attractive tarn decorated with icy patterns and slanted down to join the main path. This meanders gradually across the slopes and drops R to the access track of the quarry workings. Fording Warnscale Beck, the obvious main stony highway makes an easy climb through the crags to Blackbeck Tarn, looking very black today under the gathering clouds, and then Innominate Tarn which had a reflection of half of Pillar, the top half now shrouded in thick mist. Amazingly Great Gable was clear, this is normally one of the first to be capped.

Frozen tarn with Pillar
Frozen tarn with Pillar (11 Feb 2005__08:11:32)
Haystacks and High Crag from Warnscale Beck
Haystacks and High Crag from Warnscale Beck (11 Feb 2005__09:13:49)
Blackbeck Tarn & Great Gable
Blackbeck Tarn & Great Gable (11 Feb 2005__09:59:36)

At Haystacks the predicted weather stream had engulfed all, and it was falling as snow on the high tops and sleet at our level as we descended the eroded path around to Scarth Gap. We continued the descent N to the lake, where the shore path made an easy and pleasant return to Buttermere.