Walking the Wainwrights in 30 Walks Walk 15 - Fleetwith Pike to Great Borne

28th May 2016

Todays walk in one of four Linear walks that I had planned within my Wainwright project were the use of two cars is required to complete the walk, with this it had been arranged to leave one car in Buttermere and the other car at the top of Honister Pass from where the walk begins.

This route takes in the whole High Stile ridge starting with Fleetwith Pike whereafter a short yet steep pull the first summit of the day is collected rather easily. Had the views not have been hindered by thick haze we should have been able to view the whole ridge walk from Fleetwith Pike but as we found out this wasn't to be the case. From Fleetwith Pike we would descend into Dubs Bottom passing the newly renovated Dubs Hut before crossing Warnscale Beck where views soon opened up over Blackbeck Tarn.

Under a humid early morning sun Innominate Tarn was soon reached where a few moments were spent taking in our peaceful surroundings before continuing towards the second summit of Hay Stacks before descending over the top of the Scarth Gap Pass first ascending steeply over Seat, then Gamlin End collecting High Crag our third summit.

It's from High Crag do you really get that ridge feel as we traverse over the top of Burtness Comb from where High Stile is summitted after a steady haul. Red Pike is our next summit along the ridge, this is where the rock scenery changes into the smooth grassy ridge that forms Starling and Dodd and lastly, the isolated summit of Great Borne. We kinda got our heads together during our ascent on Great Borne and changed our descent plans where instead of descending into Whiteoak Moss via Steel Edge we opted to descend via Red Gill as views opened up over Mosedale right about the time the heat from a hot afternoon sun started to take its toll on tiring limbs.

This is were Rod came to the rescue but more on that later.

Wainwright Guide Book Seven
The Western Fells

-High Crag

The summit commands a glorious view of mountainous country, a deserved reward for it is neither easily attained nor easily left, its defence of battlemented crags and hostile stones being breached only by the narrow ridge connected with High Stile, a mountain with difficulties of its own.

Ascent: 4,500 Feet - 1,373 Meters
Wainwrights: 7, Fleetwith Pike - Hay Stacks - High Crag - High Stile - Red Pike (Buttermere) - Starling Dodd - Great Borne
Weather: Sunny Spells, Mostly Overcast and Very Hazy. Highs of 18°C Lows of 12°C
Parking Using x2 Cars The top of Honister Pass - Parking Spaces, The Fish Inn Buttermere
Area: Western
Miles: 13.5
Walking With: David Hall and Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 8 Hours 45 Minutes - 07:45am to 16:30pm
Route: Top of Honister Pass - Honister Mines - Fleetwith Pike - Dubs Bottom - Blackbeck Tarn - Innominate Tarn - Hay Stacks - Top of Scarth Gap Pass - Seat - Gamlin End - High Crag - High Stile - Red Pike (Buttermere) - Little Dodd - Starling Dodd - Great Borne - Top of Red Gill - Whiteoak Moss - Scales Force - Buttermere Dubbs - The Fish Inn, Buttermere

Map and Photo Gallery


Skiddaw through the morning haze taken from the Landing Stages at Ashness Bridge, Derwent Water 06:45am
I had plenty of time to kill as it was arranged to meet David and Rod at Honister between 07:30 - 07:45 so I stopped off at Ashness Jetty on route. As it was still quite early I didn't give the haze much thought thinking it would lift as the day progresses, how wrong I was.

Derwent Water.
Down by the waters edge Derwent Water looking like a mill pond this morning.

Parking Spaces close to Honister Mine/Hause Gill 07:34am

Despite stopping off at Asness Jetty I soon arrived at the parking spaces just behind Honister Mine around 07:15 leaving plenty of time to spare before David and Rod would arrive, now what to do while I'm waiting...I know I'll tidy my boot oh and my walking poles are looking rather grubby I'll give them a swill in Hause Gill, that'll kill some time.

From the Seatoller side of the Pass a runner approaches and mornings are shared and after the runner, a young guy on a bike. Once the runner had reached the Mine he turned around and started to head back down the Pass yet instead of using the road he diverted on along the original course of Honsiter Pass soon disappearing, this was not the case of the cyclist who I watched struggle to the top of the Pass then disappear down the other side.

Any minute now David and Rod are going to arrive....yep, any minute now...

Ten minutes later I caught sight of Davids car as he drove down the Pass by which time I had since returned to Hause Gill and found myself a nice perch from where I thought I spotted a coin on the river-bed but it turned out to be a round, flat pebble, I'm guessing Tony Robinson would have thought the same.

It wasn't the fact that David and Rod were late, just the fact that I was excessively early which saw boredom set in quite quickly for me, yes it was magical to be here but I guess I just wanted to get underway. If you are wondering why David hadn't updated his website in recent weeks it's because he's had a fortnight off galavanting on the sea's and as you could imagine the first topics of conversation were, how was Pillar Rock and how was the hoilday ??

With Rods car parked back at the Fish Inn Buttermere and mine and David's here at Honister it was time to get the walk underway, that's if we could get a word in mind...The haze up until this point wasn't spoke about, we were just thankful it was warm, dry and sunny, so off we went ascending back up the Pass slightly until we reached Honister Mine.

Bell Crags and Black Star from Honister Mine visitor car park.

We had soon reached Honister Mine by which time the morning air was starting to get warm and indeed very muggy causing the body to over heat almost from the start. We walked through the visitor car park and was surprised to see it so empty, especially on a weekend with a good forecast set to last well into next week. Leaving the car-park behind we picked up the dusty road which rises steadily, then steeply through zig-zags first towards the Via Ferrata tour which would continue straight ahead, here we hook a left towards the spoil heaps from where a hazy view opened out over the Gables, Kirk Fell and the High Stile ridge, most of which was difficult to define as the haze was so thick, oh well, if this haze doesn't lift soon photography today is going to kept pretty limited.

Tonka Truck.

All of a sudden conversation swiftly changes to childhood toys and what we did to destroy them and which action figure we could cram into the drivers seat of our Army Jeeps and Tonka Trucks.

You'll never take the child out of a man, good times as we press on towards Fleetwith Pike summit.

Buttermere from Fleetwith Pike summit.
We soon reached Fleetwith Pike summit not before passing to young lads who it looked like they had rough camped the previous night judging by their laiden packs. We didn't need to reach the summit to see how thick the haze was as it was affecting our view even as close as half a mile away, despite our views being limited we were still thankful that it was warm, a bit too muggy though but we're not complaining, well not yet anyway.

Hazy views towards Brandreth, Green Gable, Great Gable and Kirk Fell

Pillar, Green Crag, HayStacks, Seat, Gamlin End and High Crag from Dubs Bottom.

We turned heel from our first summit and started to descend towards Dubs Bottom and negotiated the wet ground underfoot along the way, with no real views to speak of due to the ever increasing haze we get back into conversation like the topic of the guest speaker from David's Holiday, the time the other week Rod witnessed a shop lifter being arrested right outside his office window and the time I saw a fleet of unmarked Police cars fly pass me in the outside lane last week.

You know...man stuff.

Dubs Hut.

The two young chaps we had seen back at the summit of Fleetwith Pike were standing outside Dubs Hut drinking from water bottles, there heavy packs lying on the ground. With the recent renovation of Dubs Hut Rod went to investigate inside but only managed a look from the window after he thought there was someone inside...

Oh and there was a hoover inside too, which I guess even if there was no plug on the end of it was a subtle hint to tidy up after you had left.

Great Gable and Kirk Fell seen as we approach Blackbeck Tarn.

Blackbeck Tarn with Green Gable and Great Gable in the distance.
Note the surface of the water break as the fish rise.

Views over Warnscale Bottom towards Robinson, High Snockrigg Buttermere, High Crag, Rannerdale Knotts and Grasmoor.
We had passed a chap who we had seen from Dubs Bottom soon pausing to take in the view from the deep sided ravines on route to Innominate Tarn. We all agreed that it was such a shame about the haze.

Pillar from Innominate Tarn.
Innominate Tarn was soon reached and not a ripple broke its surface, on the other side of the Tarn reed grasses deep in colour grew at the waters edge and trained the eye away from the haze. Beyond Pillar, and the mighty Pillar Rock, I'm sure both Rod and myself wanted to go through the Slab and Notch route on which we had ascended just weeks earlier, the trouble was it was just so difficult to define so we held off.

The small pool found close to Haystacks summit.

After leaving Innominate Tarn we ascended towards the summit taking in the rocky outcrops on route, from a distance a walker is sighted standing at the summit who we would soon pass as he heads towards Innominate Tarn, he keeps his head down as we pass.

With our second summit reached and tapped by my walking pole we descend from the rocky ledge towards this small pool which I have always held a fondness for since my first visits here some years ago, after a quick photo we head around the waters edge where we pick up our descent path, it's a bit craggy with some scrambly bits thrown in, it should be good fun.

Seat, Gamlin End and High Crag from our Hay Stacks descent.

By now we had started to pass walkers on route towards the summit and with more on the way up from the Scarth Gap Pass Hay Stacks is going to get quite busy later.

We drifted over to how we would approach Gamlin End but in the backs of our minds we all knew that the Seat approach was favoured, nevertheless we breached on the subject on the alternative path seen to the far right which despite being direct, looks to be much more hard work which I could confirm after using it on an earlier visit to High Crag some years ago.

Buttermere, High Snockrigg, Whiteless Pike, Rannerdale Knotts, Wandope and Eel Crag (Crag Hill) from Seat.
We hit the ascent of Seat in great stead passing a couple who we had sighted from the base of the path on route, we stopped for conversation and a quick breather before wishing them a good day as thoughts were now starting to turn to the steep ascent on High Crag via Gamlin End.

Fleetwith Pike over Warnscale Bottom from Seat.

High Stile from High Crag.

Soon taking in the slight descent from Seat the mass of Gamlin End presented itself before us, ahead and in descent three walkers are making their way through the steep zig-zags who make good ground passing them as we start the viciously steep ascent.

For me to take the mind away from the ascent I have always tried to time myself, the last time I ascended High Crag via Gamlin End I did it in twenty two minutes which I was quite proud of, today, and just for fun I was going to see if I could beat my old record. We all hit the ascent hard covering the stone steps quickly and swiftly, I lead and put thought over braun into the ascent not stopping until the half way point where I knew Rod and David were just behind, I pause to take a photograph and Rod passes uttering the words 'don't stop just keep going' with my camera clipped in I followed Rod's boot heels until he starts to get a edge on me and breaks away at least four steps ahead, I look at my watch and we are doing well at the twelve minute but how we threw ourselves into the approach soon takes its toll as the path steepens and steps start to become closer together.

Rod reached the top of the path at eighteen minutes closely followed by myself and David at nineteen minutes, it took a few moments to pick the fun out of that!

It is with sad regret that I will be retiring from the Gamlin End games from now on, phew... that was hard work, the humidity of course making it feel much harder.

With all the huffing and puffing I had completely forgotton to take a photo of the summit cairn only reasling when we had passed and it looked too far back to go back, oh well never mind.

Looking back across the ridge towards High Crag over Burtness Comb, while on the left, Fleetwith Pike and the right, Green Gable, Great Gable and Kirk Fell.

Red Pike (Buttermere) Dodd and Bleaberry Tarn from High Stile.

High Crag was summited and with limited views we saw no reason to hang around as by now Pillar and the Gables could only be viewed as a black outline to the south and west. The summit of High Stile was starting to get busy with walkers mostly ascending from the direction of Red Pike while down there at Bleaberry Tarn a large group had congregated at the waters edge.

We make a quick descent from High Crag with sporadic sunlight on our backs, lets hope the sun is going to be out for the foreseeable because when it's hidden by cloud, coupled with the haze it almost looks like someone has turned the lights off.

Red Pike (Buttermere) from Chapel Crags.

High Stile from Red Crags (Buttermere) summit.
We had passed quite a lot of walkers who had just left Red Pike summit on route to High Stile by which time the sun had retreated behind cloud again and the temperature had dipped into single figures, especially when coupled with the summit breeze. It was closing in on midday and with most of the hard work behind us we decided to break for lunch but not quite here, we need to dip down and get out of these winds slightly.

Little Dodd, Starling Dodd and Great Borne, all the while the haze is leaving its mark over the Ennerdale Valley.

We re-shouldered and broke for lunch over looking our two remaining summits in Starling Dodd and Great Borne seen at the far end of the ridge. David asked about how we would descend onto Whiteoak Moss and I naturally answered by 'Steel Edge' why, have you got another idea, well...

A descent via Red Gill was challenged which we all agreed upon, but, we'll get a better look back over Red Gill as we ascend Great Borne, if it looks suitable what do you reckon we give it ago?

Aye why not.

Looking back on Red Pike (Buttermere)
Shall we head over Little Dodd on route to its grandeur cousin...aye might as well.

Starling Dodd from Little Dodd.
What Little Dodd lacks in height sure makes up with metal work, that cairn is a work of art!

Great Borne from Starling Dodd.
With only one summit remaining the heat and general mugginess started to take over and we were thankful the walk didn't start off so humid back at Honister, if it had it would have made an already tough walk much much more difficult.

Looking back along the ridge towards Starling Dodd and Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag are now out of view.
It was also the point we paused to master our descent route via Red Gill which the top of can be seen in the bottom left of the photo.

Starling Dodd and Red Pike from Great Borne.

We hit our last summit hard and followed each other successfully towards the boulder-some rocky summit plateau each describing in our own words how Great Borne has that isolated feel to it which is understandable as the summit defines the end of the High Stile ridge with nothing further beyond than a few miles of farmland which continues towards the Cumbrian Coast and the Irish Sea.

I could blame the haze for this out of focus shot, but it was me being too hasty whilst taking this summit photo.

Descending Red Gill with views of Floutern Tarn and Floutern Cop.
We left Great Borne and followed a wide track which descended steeply towards the top of Red Gill where we managed to trace the whole descent from our standing spot, it was agreed that we would descend with Red Gill to our left and follow the natural curve of the fell side all the way down to Whiteoak Moss. We left any traces of the path behind and started to blaze our own trail as the fell side began to get progressively steeper at which point we had no choice than to zig-zag our way down such the steepness of the descent.

Whiteoak Moss, Mosedale and Mellbreak as we break away from Red Gill.
We had initially spoke about aiming for the Sheepfold in Whiteoak Moss seen in the left of the photo but then changed this by opting to head further right from where we would be able to pick up the path, despite the lack of rain in recent days it's still looking pretty damp down there.

Intact skull.
We weren't too sure who or what this skull once belonged to but our guess was it could possibly be that of a dog? if so it's quite a sad find.

Mosedale seen with Mellbreak.
It had really started to heat up as we entered into late afternoon and with this the haze started to lift quite quickly which despite being eight hours too late we were able to enjoy those last few miles under a warm sun and distant fells seen.

Hen Comb and Mosedale from Whiteoak Moss.
Time spent travelling through Whiteoak Moss is always reflective time, it's very rare that you find yourself here after not having a long hard day on the fells.

Scale Force Waterfall.
As we were passing Scale Force Waterfall anyway we detoured to take a closer look, but we had to wait for a few minutes while two young girls took selfies from their mobile phones first before the need to 'get a closer' look got the better of me.

Scale Force Waterfall.

Once I had scrambled over wet rock I reached the upper tier were it quite difficult to stand due to the slim covered rock and deep pools. I couldn't but help think that from here the waterfall looks completely untouched by man and even has that Jurassic feel to it, my time spent here was just a few moments but it's definitely a place that I will return to knowing how beautiful the waterfall looks from the upper section.

Robinson from the shores of Crummock Water.

Refreshment time.

Under a hot afternoon soon we arrived back at a bustling Buttermere, the eight hours hard walking was etched across our sun burnt faces as we walked the last half mile surrounded by bleating lambs accompanied by the smell of slurry from a nearby field. Children played and adults drank at the beer garden at the Fish Inn which was when Rod asked Pint or Ice Cream, my treat! we all agreed on Ice Cream supplied by Syke Tea Room which at most points, had people queuing outside the door.

Opposite the Tea Room a family sat on a wooden bench and were just about to leave as we grabbed all our gear and quickly filled their places, ahhh...there's nothing like taking the weight off especially after a long day on the fells.

Rod emerged from the Tea Room holding three Ice Creams and a big grin across his face, all that was left was to eat our ice creams and watch the world go by, a superb way to end a long day on the fells.



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