Grey Knotts stands above Honister Mine at the top of the pass between Borrowdale and Buttermere. As the name suggests its top is a collection of rocky knolls, grey in colour from the weathered Borrowdale Volcanic rock with a scattering of small tarns. Brandreth lies just 3/4km away south-west, and is easily gained by following a fence line almost to its summit. In days gone by the fence went to the top, now a few old posts and a cairn mark the spot.
Rather than taking the direct line up from the mine to the summit of Grey Knotts this relaxed walk climbs first to the ruins of the old drum house foundations in the middle of a tramway, and then using a short section of the path to Great Gable before finding an easy grassy rake to the summit area. Consequently there are no difficulties and no need to handle rock if you don't wish. You will need a little confidence in your navigation though, and not just to Grey Knotts, as some of the other paths are faint or intermittent too. So this walk is not recommended in poor visibility.
Around Honister there is much evidence of the centuries of mining and quarrying activity, from remains of the incline on Yew Crag, to the mine and quarries on the south side of the pass still worked today. In Dubs quarry is an old quarryman's bothy, Dubs Hut, which is open to all who seek refuge, either from the weather or just a place to eat lunch. Built of slate it is well camouflaged from the spoil that surrounds it.
There are a number of car parking options available. The mines "Wainwrights and Walkers" car park, the National Trust car park just behind the Youth Hostel, or you could pay the visitors car park fee. The Honister Rambler bus (77/77A) from Keswick stops at the mine but is a seasonal service.
If you need accommodation we have details of 12 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From outside the shop bear right to the mine road heading up to Honister Crag and Fleetwith Pike. At the signpost "Great Gable" and "Haystacks" bear left onto the rough path climbing quite steeply. Going around a craggy fenced off area the path joins the old tramway with wooden sleepers still embedded in parts of the track bed. Just before reaching the remaining foundations of the drum house at the top of the track, now something of a crossroads, bear left to join a cairned path.
The turning off this path is indistinct. So follow the Great Gable path for approx 400m (440 yards) then bear away left. If you are lucky a small cairn can be found ahead marking the way. Continue on that line for a while until a grassy gap through the crags can be identified to the left. Climb through the gap to the summit area.
The highest point of Grey Knotts is the cairn to the right.
From Grey Knotts head south west along the fence. You need to end up on the east side of the fence - the Gillercombe side, rather than Ennerdale side as the fence just misses Brandreth's summit. There is a hurdle at the fence corner just east of Grey Knotts summit or a step-stile in the middle of the fence between the two summits.
The fence is very close to one ridgeline tarn, but with care you can just make it alongside the fence and keep dry feet.
As the fence bears away right, keep ahead to the summit of Brandreth.
From the summit of Brandreth turn right, heading NNW. There's a few old fence posts in a line, and a cairn, but the main thing is to pick up the relatively new stock fence and bear left to follow alongside. As the fence turns right keep with it. Drop down a slightly boggy grassy bank alongside the fence. A number of paths cross yours, keep ahead alongside the fence.
As you drop down further, ahead you can see the fence turn left, cross over the fence to the other side via a step stile. The fence is now on your left. Continue to the fence corner and bear slightly left to pick up a narrow but reasonable clear path dropping down to the left hand side of Great Round How. This is quite indistinct from above, only as you approach it and go below will it become clear.
Below Great Round How, continue on down to the clear path from Haystacks towards Dubs Quarry. Reaching the path turn right.
Follow it round to the left and shortly after bear right up towards Dubs Quarry, passing below Little Round How, and then down to ford Warnscale Beck which drains Dubs Bottom. Cross the beck, bear left and then right up to the quarry workings and buildings.
One of the buildings is Dubs Hut.
Continue following the mine track for barely 100m (110 yards), and then bear off right onto a minor looking path well below the quarry workings.
This is the other end of the tramway although initially at least it isn't so obviously straight level. Follow the path back up to the drum house and continue over to descend back to Honister.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via the Corridor Route||1.7km (1.0 miles) away|
|Base Brown, Green Gable, Great Gable and Seathwaite Fell||1.7km (1.0 miles) away|
|The Glaramara Wainwrights||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Fleetwith Pike via Fleetwith Edge||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Haystacks||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Castle Crag - Borrowdale||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Millican Dalton's Cave - Castle Crag, Borrowdale||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Dock Tarn, Great Crag, and Watendlath, from Rosthwaite||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|Eagle Crag, Sergeant's Crag and Ullscarf||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|Skinny Dipping in Blackmoss Pot||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|A Short Walk to The Bowder Stone||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Lodore Falls, Watendlath, Grange Fell, and the Bowder Stone circular||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011