This walk combines a complete circuit of Buttermere with an ascent of Haystacks, famously Wainwright's favourite fell. As a result the central section of the walk has a very different feel to the start and end.
Haystacks itself may not be the highest of Lakeland peaks, but its location makes it a perfect viewpoint, especially for Pillar and Great Gable. The summit itself is one of the most interesting in the Lakes, with a scattering of tarns, most famously Innominate Tarn.
Length: 8.7 miles
Map: Explorer 004 English Lakes North West
Last Walked: 12 August 2005
We start from the National Trust car park just west of the village of Buttermere.
Turn right out of the NT car park and head downhill into Buttermere village. Just after the road crosses over Mill Beck turn right, onto the road that leads towards the National Park car park.
Just short of this car park the road splits and passes on both sides of a large building. The right hand branch goes to the car park, while our route takes the left hand branch, which leads down to Buttermere.
This track soon turns through ninety degrees to the left, then turns right and splits in two. Here take the left hand branch and follow it down to the lake shore.
When the track reaches the lake, turn right and head towards the stream that connects Buttermere and Crummock Water (Buttermere Dubs). Cross this stream on the well made footbridge, then follow the path as it curves around to the left and enters the woods on the southern shore of Buttermere. The best path through the woods is the one that runs closest to the lake shore.
This path emerges from the woods two thirds of the way down the lake shore. We continue along this path along the open hillside, until close to the end of a lake a path leaves to the right, and climbs diagonally up the hillside heading for Scarth Gap. Take this path, and follow it for the next mile, as it heads due south towards the path.
At the top of the pass our path crosses another path than runs along the ridge line from High Crags to Haystacks. Turn left, and follow this path as it climbs up the western face of the mountain. Although this climb soon turns into a bit of a scramble, the route onwards is always obvious underfoot, and brings us to the highest point on the summit plateau of Haystacks, at its western end.
Set some time apart to explore the summit of Haystacks - this is a miniature mountain landscape, complete with a series of small tarns as well as the famous Innominate Tarn. The southern side of the plateau provides excellent views across Ennerdale, and up Pillar and Great Gable.
Our route follows the main path along the summit of the fell, passing to the left of Innominate Tarn before dropping down to Blackbeck Tarn.
Our route off Haystacks follows the path past Blackbeck Tarn and towards Warnscale Beck. This beck runs down into Warnscale Bottom at the upper end of Buttermere, with paths down both sides. We want the path of the far side of the beck, which curves around the lower slopes of Fleetwith Pike, and gives great views back towards Haystacks.
Follow the path past Blackbeck Tarn for about a quarter of a mile. The path then splits in two - the left hand path follows a minor ravine and leads to the path down the near side of Warnscale Beck, so take the right hand path, which climbs up and over Little Round How and then brings us to the beck.
Cross the beck and then turn left onto the path that follows the northern side of the beck. After about half a mile our path turns back and to the right, then curves around the lower slopes of Fleetwith Pike, below Striddle Crag, and drops down to the flat valley bottom. At the bottom of the slope follow the path as it curves left around the edge of the valley bottom, and all the way to the road at Gatesgarth.