A High Level Circuit of Honister Pass

9th May 2023

I have a week off work this week, and as such, I like to plan walks that go that extra mile. Admittedly, this walk isn't high on miles and comes in at just under 4,000 feet of ascent. The kick in this walk owes itself to the direct ascent of Robinson via Hassnesshow Beck. I first heard about the route some years ago, and even though many years have passed, I've never forgotten about it. Last weekend, whilst on the Bretherdale fells, I asked David which would he recommend: ascending or descending Hassnesshow Beck. David replied, "Definitley ascend, Paul; it's so steep that walkers are known to grab the wire fence in an effort to help them up." Well, that's cleared that up.

It was important that I didn't burn myself out, after all, I'm a little closer to 50 now than I was this time last week! that said, I do like to push myself. From Robinson, it's a case of following the ridge south easterly gaining Hindscarth via Littledale Edge and Dale Head via Hindscarth Edge, With Dale Head reached, it's a simple descent and fuel stop before passing through Honister Slate Mine ready for the final ascent onto Fleetwith Pike, it was during this ascent that the sun came out, which caused me to de-layer and enjoy the last couple of hours in glorious sunshine.

Wainwright Guide Books Six & Seven
The North Western - Western Fells
Dale Head has interest for the geologist, for beneath the carpet of grass there is a fusion of the Skiddaw slates and the volcanic rock of Central Lakeland, some evidences of the joint can be seen on the actual summit.

Ascent: 3,825 Feet - Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Robinson - Hindscarth - Dale Head - Fleetwith Pike
Visiting: Black Star (Honister Crag)
Weather: Spells of Sunshine Between The Cloud, Turning Brighter Into The Afternoon. Highs of 18°C Lows of 16°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Folders Wood, Buttermere
Area: North Western - Western
Miles: 8
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 6 Hours
Route: Folders Wood - Hassesshow Beck - Robinson - Littledale Edge - Hindscarth - Hindscarth Edge - Dale Head - Yewcrag Quarry Path - Honister Slate Mine - Honister Quarries - Black Star (Honister Crag) - Fleetwith Pike - Fleetwith Edge - Gatescarth - Folderswood

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA13 9XA
Grid Reference: NY 187 158


Map and Photo Gallery


Goat Crag from the bottom of Hassnesshow Beck, Buttermere 11:40am 16°C

It had rained during the morning, and to allow for the rain to push through, I timed my arrival for 11:30am. Given that there's only room for three or four well parked cars, it didn't go unnoticed that there was still ample parking back at Gatescarth Farm. Luckily, I arrived first at the layby flanked by Folders Wood on the other side of the stone wall. 

Through gaps in the trees, I could see the steep sided cliffs of Goat Crag, cliffs that I'd seen so many times from High Crag on the other side of Buttermere Lake. It's mild, but the mountain forecast predicted freezing level at summit height, so I slide my Alpkit softshell over the top of a technical T shirt ready for the promised sunshine later. I was eager to get boot on to fell and I'm laced up within minutes.

Feeling like I'd forgotten to do something, a quick pat down confirmed I had everything I thought I needed. With the car locked, I passed over a sty and joined the narrow path through Folders Wood, flanked by Hassnesshow Beck to my left and a stone wall to my right. The path steadily rises into sunlight, where Goat Crag dominated the view ahead. 

Views beyond Folders Wood and Buttermere Lake towards High Stile, Dodd, Red Pike (Buttermere) and finally Hen Comb.
It's mild and sunny for now, and just twenty minutes in, I'm starting to overheat. I could have blamed my stubbornness for not delayering but the truth was I had found good pace and didn't want to ruin it by stopping.

The wider view.
Including High Crag to form the High Stile ridge.

Goat Crag and Goat Gills.
While over to the right in an area known as Goat Gills where four streams converge to form Hassnesshow Beck. You can see why these crags are often referred to as the 'heart-shaped crags'

Continuing ascent.
A steep singular path ascends alongside the now ravined Hassnesshow Beck before arriving at a stone wall, where access is gained via a staired gate. By now my lungs were having the workout of a lifetime. The ground was so steep that my walking pole handles were at head height. It is here that I was reminded of how David had said that walkers used the wire fence to pull them up. I hadn't seen any evidence of that yet but I soon will.

Looking down on Goat Crag.
And down into Hassnesshow Beck.

Despite all the hard work.
The views were breathtaking and came in great reward.

The view over Goat Crag...
...towards High Snockrigg, Whiteless Pike, Wandope and Grasmoor.

The ascent continues alongside the wire fence, which in places had been streched back in an effort to aid walkers, I was guilty of it too, sometimes you just didn't have the choice, not helped by the ground conditions being soft and clay-like, which often gave way when pressured. With the head of Hassnesshow Beck over to my left, the path narrows into a short gully before arriving onto soft, level grass underfoot.

Robinson ahead.
There's still the matter of ascending 650ft over half a mile before Robinson summit is reached which was a welcome break after the steepness of Hassnesshow Beck.

Looking back on ground covered.
Not only is it clouding over but the temperature has took a nosedive too. Come back sunshine!

Approaching Robinson summit.
As the same time as four elderly gents arrived (two out of shot)

Robinson summit.

When the elderly gentleman's two other friends arrived, we struck up a conversation about our routes; when asked where I had ascended from, I replied "Hassnesshow Beck," to which the gentleman laughed and said, "My book tells me not to come up that way," to which I replied, "Your book is correct!"

I was then asked about my Peak Design camera clip, which I fasten to the left strap of my pack. "Handy kit," I replied. "They're great." Anyway, guys, I'm going to head on. "Where too?" Hindscarth next, I replied, and with that, I bid the gents to enjoy the rest of their walk.

Dale Head and the top of Honister Pass from Littledale Edge.
I left the four gentlemen and began my descent, taking long gulps from my bite valve as I prepared for Litteldale Edge and my ascent on Hindscarth via the path over on the left which I'll soon link up with.

The High Stile ridge seen beyond Littledale Edge and Robinson.
I was back in great spirits and fighting fit as I crossed Littledale Edge all that was missing was the sunshine.

Fleetwith Pike, Hay Stacks, Kirk Fell, Red Pike (Wasdale) Pillar, High Crag and High Stile from Hindscarth summit shelter.
I'd seen a few walkers come and go and wondered if I'd get the summit to myself, turns out I did but I didn't hang around too long with two summits down and still two to go.

From Hindscarth summit...
...I took in the view beyond Littledale towards Knott Rigg, Ard Crags, Sail, Scar Crags, Crag Hill, Wandope, Grasmoor, Grisedale Pike and finally Causey Pike.

Dale Head and Fat Tongue Gill (left)
From Hindscarth summit I began a pathless descent crossing over the top of Hindscarth Crags before joining the path bound for Hindscarth Edge, it's from here I believe you get the best view of Dale Head.

Seen from Hindscarth Edge.

Looking down on Honister Pass flanked by Fleetwith Pike.
With long distant views of Hay Stacks, Seat, Pillar, The High Stile Edge and Buttermere Lake.

Looking back along Hindscarth Edge towards Hindscarth and Littledale Edge towards Robinson.
I felt I was making good progress even though Fleetwith Pike was winking at me from the other side of the pass. My only regret at this point was that I'd forgotten to bring a packet of fruit pastels to help with the sugary boost. I guess I'm going to have go old school and dig deep.

Hindscarth is viewed as I near Dale Head summit.
With Big Tongue Gill in the foreground.

Maiden Moor and High Spy from Dale Head summit.
With long distant and somewhat hazy views towards the Skiddaw group and Blencathra.

Newlands from Dale Head summit.
I was lucky enough to have the summit to myself for at least the time it took me to absorb the views and take some photos before a chap arrived from the direction of the Yewcrag Quarry path. I passed on a 'hi' and he mumbled something back, which was my queue to leave, but before I do, I de-shoulder my pack and grab a quick bite to eat.

Beginning my descent towards Honister.
By the time I'd re-shouldered my pack, I looked around to see that the chap had gone, in which direction I didn't know. While scoffing down a sandwich, I began my descent under what was now becoming a lovely, warm, sunny afternoon.

Fleetwith Pike and Black Star (Honister Crag) from Yewcrag Quarries.
It was a quick descent passing a couple just above the quarries where 'hi's' where shared.

The top of Honister Pass.
At what felt like the furthest point from the car but technically, that was back on Dale Head summit.

Dale Head.
With Yewcrag Quarries seen below.

Ascent on Fleetwith Pike via the Hopper slate mine track.
Honister Mine was busy with visitors not to mention the huge 'Tonka' truck escorted by a Honister pick up that had just ascended the mine track no doubt heading towards the Hopper Slate Mine on Fleetwith Pike. I was on the last leg now under warm late afternoon sunshine where despite a cooling wind, I delayer to my T shirt.

Looking down on Honister Slate Mine.
As I wind my way up the track whilst being passed by a young female walker heading back down to Honister carrying no pack or hydration. This is the 'quick way' up to Fleetwith Pike but on a day like today I'd always carry some form of hydration with me.

The view over towards Grey Knotts.
Where I spotted half a dozen walkers heading back to the mine from the direction of Moses Trod.

Looking back on Black Star (Honister Crag)
I took in the zigzagged mine track where I had to notch it down a gear before arriving at Hopper Slate Mine, where I could hear the voices of the workmen over the sound of machinery. Two paths traverse across the shoulder of Fleetwith Pike now, and I took the nearest as opposed to the second path, which flanks the spoil heap. A huge cloud had blotted out the sunshine but had slowly moved on by the time I topped out on Black Star, leaving warm sunshine as I made my way towards the summit.

Fleetwith Pike summit comes into view.

Looking South West.
Towards Green Gable, Great Gable, Scafell Pike, Kirk Fell and Red Pike (Wasdale)

Views over towards Glaramara, Grey Knotts, Brandreth, the Gables, Great End and Scafell Pike.
Seen beyond Dubbs Bottom and Great Round How.

Great End, the Gables, Scafell Pike, Kirk Fell and Red Pike (Wasdale) from Fleetwith Pike summit.
With Fleetwith Pike summit reached it was time for my first proper stop of the day so I pick a nice boulder, de-shouldered my pack and enjoyed the views.

High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike, Mellbreak, the Loweswater Fells, Buttermere and Crummock Water from Fleetwith Pike summit.
Enjoying the second half of my lunch whilst taking in some of the best views Lakeland has to offer.

Descent via Fleetwith Edge.
With my late lunch over I re-shoulder and begin my descent of Fleetwith Edge taking my time over the sometimes narrow path, rock steps and craggy outcrops.

Outstanding views as I continue with my descent.
Fleetwith Edge can be enjoyed in both ascent and descent the latter just requires a little concentration especially when legs are getting tired.

The view over Honister Pass.
Towards Littledale Edge, Robinson, High Snockrigg, Grasmoor, Rannerdale Knotts, Mellbreak and the Loweswater Fells.


Views over Warnscale Bottom.
Towards Green Crag, Hay Stacks, the top of Scarth Gap Pass, and Seat.

Gatescarth Cottage.
With the descent of Fleetwith Edge almost over I passed over Low Raven Crag and skirted below the Fanny Mercer Memorial cross in its gleaming white paint. The gradient eased onto grassy pasture after which I joined the tarmac of Honister Pass.

Goat Crag comes into view as I round the South Eastern end of Buttermere lake.

Pausing to look back on Hay Stacks, the top of Scarth Gap Pass and Seat.

Fleetwith Pike, Warnscale Bottom and Hay Stacks.

It was closing in on twenty past five by the time I passed Gatescarth Cottage and the car park which was less than half full. The flow of Gatescarthdale Beck was the only noise disturbing the silence of the afternoon as I walked up the hill towards the tip of Buttermere Lake. The sun was hot now, and I sipped from my bite valve at free will while taking in the views of the sunlight as it glimmered across the lake.

Two or three times now I had kicked the backs of my heels into my boots, and the shift as always felt heavenly. I don't often get to experience Buttermere during the week under hot sunshine, but I relished that half-mile walk back, even nodding at the drivers whose cars forced me into the Gorse as they drove past. The views were relentless, the heat the same, knowing I only had a few minutes left before arriving back at my car, where despite the aching feet, my stomach dropped at the thought that the walk had come to an end.


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