Fleetwith Edge rises sharply from the pastoral scenery of Gatesgarth at the south eastern end of Buttermere, its narrow ridge and dark crags forming an intimidating sight. Low Raven Crag near the bottom presents walkers with a seemingly insurmountable cliff. However, appearances can be deceptive. A steep path sneaks around on the left hand side of the crag then zigzags to the top bypassing any difficulties. The ridge line beckons onward. A succession of rocky steps adds some easy scrambling interest on the upper reaches of this airy ridge. Active walkers will have little problem making the ascent.
A prominent white cross perched on the face of Low Raven Crag is a memorial to Fanny Mercer who slipped and fell whilst descending the ridge. Killed where the cross is now placed. A reminder, perhaps, not to stray from the path and to take care.
Reaching the summit of Fleetwith Pike a small beehive cairn stands at the head of the Edge. From here the view back over Buttermere, Crummock Water, and beyond, is possibly the best in Lakeland. Continuing on, the little top of Black Star above Honister Crag is another fine viewpoint. Skirting the scattered quarries of Honister Slate Mines the walk heads first for Dubs Hut - a small bothy now improved and run by the Mountain Bothies Association. Then, having crossed Warnscale Beck, we take a quiet, lesser trod path under Warnscale Head past another bothy, before dropping steeply and somewhat roughly down to Warnscale Bottom. Re-crossing Warnscale Beck via a footbridge and joining a surfaced track, the car park is just a stroll away.
Parking is available at Gatesgarth Farm for a small fee, which in 2016 was £4.
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
Leave the car park and turn left towards Honister. In a few metres, just after the last house on the right, turn right beside the signpost, and then almost immediately left on a path through summer bracken.
Keep left of Low Raven Crag with the noticeable white cross - Fanny Mercer's memorial. The path gets steeper, and zigzags up the fellside behind the crag.
Reaching the small cairn at the top of the crag, to the right is a fantastic view out over Buttermere already and to the left is the ridge line and the path to continue upwards.
After admiring the view take the ridge line path behind you. Don't stray from the obvious path.
It's not long before short rocky steps need to be clambered up. Bracken gradually makes way for heather and bilberry.
On rock the passage of shoes and boots can be seen with tell tale worn footholds, and occasional crampon scratches left over from winter ascents. Overall only one or two rocky steps had Jessie looking around for the best way up. Alternatives to the direct line usually exist to either left or right, but beware of straying far.
A false summit at about
From the summit cairn of Fleetwith Pike bear slightly left, heading generally eastwards, towards the little rocky top of Black Star visible across the boggy plateau. Reaching a junction bear left otherwise you'll start descending to Warnscale Beck. At an appropriate point climb the small rocky top. Honister slate mine can just be seen at the top of the pass.
Drop down from the rocky top the same way to pick up the wide path heading south east. In 200m (220 yards) turn right onto a track, cross the beck via the metal beams and continue ahead. The track fades a little but you can see it below a little further down. Meeting a gravel track bear left, and then before reaching Hopper Quarry (still being worked occasionally) bear right to another gravel track below. This just cuts off a corner. On the lower track bear right to continue descending.
Drop down to Dubs Hut at the entrance to Dubs Quarry. This is run by the MBA on the owner's behalf. Please keep it tidy.
From Dubs Hut you can descend on a good path on the current, north, side of Warnscale Beck, down to Warnscale Bottom. However, If you're up for a bit more adventure stick with the route described to visit another bothy with fantastic outlook over Buttermere.
Leave Dubs Hut heading south west, picking up a ramp and then path to cross Warnscale Beck at the ford. Take the path towards Little Round Howe but in only 50m (55 yards) turn right on a faint path with the gorge containing Warnscale Beck not far on your right hand side. Keep right when the path splits. In approx 200m (220 yards) look out to your left for a building tucked almost hidden amongst spoil and rocks. This is Warnscale Head Bothy. Its only window looks out to Buttermere, Crummock Water, and the fells either side. This too has been renovated by the MBA.
Return to the path and keep descending. This soon becomes very rough and sweeps left, and then right to cross a beck coming down from Green Crag. Keep to the path as it returns alongside Warnscale Beck, and at the bottom cross at the wooden footbridge. Continue ahead to join a wide farm track, bearing left to traverse above Warnscale Bottom and then right under Low Raven Crag back to the road, and car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike||63m (69 yards) away|
|Haystacks||63m (69 yards) away|
|Moss Force on Newlands Hause||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Knott Rigg and Ard Crags||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Around Buttermere||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|A Journey from Buttermere to Keswick||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Bleaberry Tarn, Red Pike, and Dodd||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|The Buttermere Edge||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Bleaberry Tarn above Buttermere||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Rannerdale Knotts||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Grey Knotts and Brandreth circular from Honister||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Grasmoor via Lad Howes ridge||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via the Corridor Route||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Base Brown, Green Gable, Great Gable and Seathwaite Fell||4.9km (3.1 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