The climb onto the main ridge of the High Stile Range is a bit on the steep side but once you get onto the ridge the walk along its craggy and boulder strewn crest is superb. The setting is magnificent with wide ranging views across Ennerdale to Pillar and Great Gable and across Buttermere to the great sweep of the northwest fells. You take in the fine summits of Red Pike and High Crag en route, then on the descent a brief pull over the subsidiary peak, Seat, leads to the top of Scarth Gap Pass. This fine old packhorse track can then be followed down to the shores of Buttermere, after which a pleasant walk along a bridleway, through the trees of Burtness Wood will deliver you straight back to the fine pubs in Buttermere village.
1. From Buttermere village follow the bridleway southwest past the hotels and easily round the farm lane to a bridge at the outlet of Buttermere. At this point there is some confusion as several tracks and paths meet; you should follow around the corner of the lake and pick up the bridleway that climbs steeply up through the woods onto the open fell side of Old Burtness. Impressively constructed the track zig-zags up the hill side; follow it as it contours west and meets Sourmilk Gill. From here it takes the course of the gill. Continue along it as it first follows above the gill on left bank, crosses it then follows above the gill on the right bank until it emerges from Bleaberry Tarn (crossing the gill is easy as it runs beneath boulders in its upper reaches).
2. At Bleaberry Tarn the track can clearly be seen (red scree) as it climbs steeply up the right side of the corrie wall to The Saddle and then through some crags to the summit of Red Pike. Follow it but take care amongst the crags as there are numerous routes some of which climb through chimneys and over exposed steps.
3. The ridge extends southeast for 4km over High Stile to High Crag and is easy to follow requiring only a few detours around crags and gully heads. In bad weather however navigation can be a bit more of a problem as various paths lead out onto subsidiary ridges and ultimately towards crags. The simplest approach is to head southeast (always taking the right fork) and avoid paths heading northeast.
4. From High Crag a steep descent southeast leads to a broad col - cross the col still heading southeast and make the short ascent to Seat. From the summit of Seat head southeast then turn east to make the short but steep descent to the Scarth Gap Pass. Turn left and follow the bridleway that descends north to a junction of bridleways and the valley floor.
5. Turn left and take the higher of the two tracks above the lake shore through the woods. This leads easily back to the bridge crossed at the start of the route, and then on into Buttermere village.
|Time/Effort:||3 out of 5|
|Navigation:||3 out of 5|
|Technicality:||3 out of 5|
|Height gain/loss (metres):||838metres (2,749feet)|
|OS map:||OS Landranger 89, OS Outdoor Leisure 4|
- Start point: NY 122307 (near Cockermouth)