Despite its lowly stature compared to its neighbours Haystacks was a favourite of Wainwright's. So much so that as he requested his ashes were scattered at Innominate Tarn near the summit. So watch out for that bit of grit that finds its way into your boot!
This walk starts near the head of Buttermere, at Gatesgarth Farm. There is a small car park here and there's often an ice cream van selling refreshments when you come off the hill. It climbs Scarth Gap, described by Wainwright as "one of the pleasantest of foot-passes", to the col between High Crag on the right and Haystacks to the left. Then taking the zigzag path up the face of Haystacks it climbs to the summit and uplands beyond. Dropping down to cross Warnscale Beck, and the despoiled area around the Honister slate quarries which is nevertheless an interesting place. The tramway here, where the Drum House remains can be found at the high point, was once the straightest mile in Lakeland. Fleetwith Pike is then a short walk through the workings. From its top the views over Buttermere are stunningly beautiful. From there it takes a quiet little path back past the quarries to follow alongside the beck down to Warnscale Bottom.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Honister Crag, Haystacks (Buttermere), and Fleetwith Pike; and includes 2 Wainwrights, 3 Birketts, 2 Nuttalls, 1 Dodd, 1 Hewitt, 1 Dewey, and 1 HuMP.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
The car park at Gatesgarth Farm is ideally placed, cross the road and go through the gate next to the farmyard entrance. It's signposted Buttermere and Ennerdale. Follow the path through the fields, over Peggy's bridge, and climb the steep path alongside the trees. When you reach the wide Scarth Gap path above, turn left. This rough mountain path climbs steadily to a wall, go through the gap and continue straight ahead. The way becomes steep, and marked by cairns.
At the top of the pass, at the cairn marking the crossroads, turn left and head for the engineered steps going up. At this point although steep, the path is obvious and with no difficulties. Higher up the path deteriorates and in places hands on rock are required. If anything looks a bit tricky search around left and right as no technical moves are required, just a hand here and there to either steady, or help pull yourself up. Natural ramps and clefts in the rock are often used. Look for the well worn foot placements, and in early spring crampon scratches from the winter climbers may still be evident. There are a few handy cairns marking the path too when it gets a little 'hidden'.
Continue following the mountain path ever upwards, don't forget to take the odd breather to look around. Finally the summit is reached. The top consists of two short ridges with a small tarn between them. It is the left most, far, cairn with the old fence post sticking up that is considered the real summit. Although there doesn't appear to be much in it.
Bear right and cross the summit area to locate the top of the the paths beyond heading south east. There are two, the lower path can be a little boggy, but they both join back up at Inominate Tarn. Continue on to reach Black Beck Tarn. From here either go straight over the grass bank ahead, or bear left and ascend the steps on to Green Crag. The views are worth the latter. Rejoin the wide path from Black Beck Tarn and bear left. The path soon turns left and is joined by another coming in from Brandreth. Very shortly after, approx 100m (110 yards), a large flat rock bars the way ahead. The left side path drops steeply down, instead turn right here and follow the path as it bears right and passes close to a rocky knoll then descends towards the river. Dubs quarry is now straight ahead. Continue on the path, descending, and cross the river by the stepping stones.
Bear right on to the quarry road above. Soon a path bears right and appears rather straight. This is the dismantled tramway. Follow it to the remains of the Drum House. Turn left go across the grass to join the quarry road where you turn left again. Continue through the standing stones for approx 200m (220 yards) and bear right at a small cairn set slightly back. This wide grass path is not always easy to follow, but as long as you head up and left you will eventually find the main path from the slate mine. Between the minor top of Black Star on Honister Crag and the summit of Fleetwith Pike are a number of small tarns.
From the summit, retrace your steps for perhaps 10m (11 yards) and look down bearing right. A small path can be traced heading for what appears to be somewhere between the two quarries and the col between Fleetwith Pike and Fleetwith. Follow it as best as you can, although less frequently trod it is not too difficult. On reaching the upper quarry, turn right and head downhill, another wider path soon bears right again, still descending.
Now above Dubs Quarry, bear left and drop down to the road beside Dubs hut. Turn right and then bear off left to find the path down to Warnscale Bottom.
Do not cross the river, or drop into the ghyll. This path although easy, is occasionally quite steep, and mainly covered in loose gravel which requires careful foot placement. On reaching the road above the cottage, turn left to return to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Haystacks||same start point|
|Fleetwith Pike via Fleetwith Edge||63m (69 yards) away|
|Knott Rigg and Ard Crags||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Moss Force on Newlands Hause||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Around Buttermere||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|A Journey from Buttermere to Keswick||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|Bleaberry Tarn, Red Pike, and Dodd||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|The Buttermere Edge||2.7km (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 (2.8 miles) away|
|Scafell Pike from Seathwaite via the Corridor Route||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
|Base Brown, Green Gable, Great Gable and Seathwaite Fell||5.0km (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