climbing in buttermere
You'll have to invest a little time in getting there, but these are crags that weave history, exposure, quality rock and route-finding into a magic that somehow places them apart from their Lakeland brethren. There are arguably few better locations in the UK for long mountaineering expeditions.
The climbing is split by how energetic you may feel: Roadside, Less Than 30 minute Walk, or The Full Mountain Experience and we've described each crag, given basic approach information and recommended some top routes. Beyond that we recommend you buy the appropriate guidebook for each area, published by the Fell & Rock Climbing Club and available in most outdoor shops.
Sorry - you have to go that bit further to take on the crags of Buttermere!
Less than a 30 minute walk
Buckstone How (GR 223143)
Sunny due to its south-west orientation and popular due to ease of access, Buckstone How boasts some excellent middle-grade multi pitch routes on good rock.
Access: From Honister Pass summit take the old quarry track NNW, then descend across slate spoil to the crag base.
Recommended routes: Sinister Grooves (VS), Honister Wall (HS), Alexas (HVS), Encroacher (E1), Cleopatra (HVS), Groove Two (HVS)
Moss Crag (GR 212147)
Not mossy at all, Moss Crag is a steep, compact crag that turns out to be a lot better than it looks. Routes are single pitch on good rock.
Access: Situated on the right above the first bridge crossed when approaching Honister Pass from Gatesgarth, the crag is ten minutes from the road.
Recommended routes: The Highlander (MS), Myopic Buttress (E1), Beyond Therapy (E3), Flake Out (E1), Arrest Arete (E2), Buttermere Crack (HS).
The full mountain experience
Green Crag (GR 201132)
Situated at the head of Wharnscale Bottom, Green Crag is a big lump of rock offering multi-pitch routes in a great setting. The better routes are in the centre of the crag.
Access: From Gatesgarth take the path southwards into Wharnscale Bottom, eventually striking off right up steep ground to the base of the crag.
Recommended routes: Saraband (E1), The Wray (E1), Matador (HVS), Ala Verde (HVS), Paper Tiger (VS), Green Crag Buttress (E1), Thorgrim (HVS).
High Crag (GR 183145)
The centrepiece of Buttermere climbing, High Crag offers open climbing on excellent rock in a fantastic position. The only down side is that its north east aspect can be chilly, so choose your day carefully.
Access: From Gatesgarth head southwest to pick up the Scarth Gap path, quitting this after the first zig-zags to follow a minor track up to the crag.
Recommended routes: Foul Play (HVS), The Executioner's Song (E3), Artefact (MVS), Samson (HVS), The Philistine (E1), Lost Colonies (E3), Psycho (E1), High Crag Buttress (HVS), Nebuchanezzar's Dream (E1), Gethsemane (E1), Delilah (VS).
Eagle Crag (GR 172145)
Another contender for top Buttermere crag, Eagle Crag combines long mountaineering routes with modern classics - the only common denominator is the difficulty in approaching and identifying your chosen route. The crag is split into several buttresses.
Access: From Gatesgarth head southwest, cross the Scarth Gap path, continue round into Birkness Combe and pick your way up to the crag.
Recommended routes: Harlequin (HVS), Easter Buttress (VS), Fifth Avenue/Central Chimney (VS), Carnival (E1), Deimos (E3), Shape of Things to Come (E3), A Wing and a Prayer (E3), Eagle Front (VS).
Grey Crag (GR 172148)
Another Birkness Combe inhabitant, Grey Crag is effectively three buttresses that can be linked in a series of pitches to the top of the crag. Great rock, great positions and moderate route grades combine to offer excellent mountaineering expeditions.
Access: From Gatesgarth head southwest and cross the Scarth Gap path, continue round into Birkness Combe, head past Eagle Crag then up scree on the right.
Recommended routes: Mitre Arete (MVS), Mitre Buttress Direct (VD), Harrow Buttress (D), Spider Wall, Slabs West Route (HS), Suaviter (S), Oxford and Cambridge Direct (MS), Dexter Wall (VS).