The walk up to Bleaberry Tarn from the village of Buttermere is deservedly popular. The views of Buttermere, Crummock Water and surrounding fells, which open up once the trees are left behind, are simply magnificent. Continuing a little further on to Red Pike is well worth the effort on a clear day as many of the Lake District fells can be seen, as well as down into Ennerdale, and even to southern Scotland.
Red Pike (Buttermere) cannot be seen from the village as it is hidden behind Dodd (Buttermere). Only once at the tarn does it come into view and the reason for its name revealed. The final scree approach to the summit is stained a deep ruddy red from the syenite mineral in the rock and subsoils.
This is an energetic walk. Steep pitched paths take the walker to the col with Dodd and from then on to Red Pike the way is eroded, loose stones the size of marbles slide easily underfoot. Kicking steps in the deeper screes feels more like snow, an ice axe in the hand might feel more natural than a walking pole especially in descent. Care is obviously required. There are many tracks, and whilst it is up to the individual to choose, the higher of the paths is negotiable with little concern of exposure. If all else fails a slide wouldn't be catastrophic. Lower paths look a little exposed for the comfort of the author.
Whilst there is quite a bit of parking available in Buttermere at weekends it gets busy early. On the outskirts is the National Trust car park, or in the centre behind the dog friendly Bridge Hotel is the Lake District National Park Authority car park. Also there are some spaces on the verge above the Newlands Pass road junction. The Honister Rambler bus service No.77 operates April to October in both directions from Keswick.
If you need accommodation we have details of 18 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the village, take the lane beside the Bridge Hotel that goes round behind it. In front of The Fish Inn bear left into the fenced lane.
Follow this lane as it first turns left and goes through the gate. Then turns right to another gate. Continue to the end of the lane where there is another gate at the entrance to the National Trust field. Go through and turn right onto the path along the field edge. Cross the bridge and bear left to another footbridge and gate beyond.
Go straight ahead on the slanted crossroads on to a stone pitch path rising up the hillside at an angle through trees. Cross the path and continue climbing ahead.
Reaching the fence at the edge of the trees, go through the gate. The path goes right slightly and then a long left leg before climbing a set of zigzags.
At the top bear right in another long leg and join alongside Sour Milk Gill. Continue along the gill to the wall and bear left to follow an indistinct boggy rough path. Cross two streams to the tarn.
At the tarn bear right to climb the fell side. The path is stone pitched again, continue to the end of the pitching just above the col.
From here on the path is loose stone. Continue on and keep right whenever you have a choice.
A short easy gully appears on the sky line, climb it.
At the top bear right to the summit cairn and windshelters.
To return to the col and then Dodd, bear left just below the cairn at the top of the scree to the top of the gully again and descend. At the bottom of the scree bear left to cross the col. Go straight ahead and climb to the cairn at the top.
Return to the col once again, and bear left to rejoin the stone pitch path heading down to Bleaberry Tarn.
At the tarn bear left to cross the outfall and then turn left to keep the wall on your left. Return over the boggy rough section and nearing the end of the wall keep left to descend alongside the Gill again. Follow the path all the way back to Buttermere.
At the lake shore, go back through the gate and cross the National Trust field. Turn left through the gate and follow the lane back into the village.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|The Buttermere Edge||same start point|
|Around Buttermere||10m (11 yards) away|
|Bleaberry Tarn above Buttermere||14m (15 yards) away|
|A Journey from Buttermere to Keswick||28m (31 yards) away|
|Rannerdale Knotts||31m (34 yards) away|
|Grasmoor via Lad Howes ridge||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Knott Rigg and Ard Crags||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Moss Force on Newlands Hause||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Haystacks||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|Fleetwith Pike via Fleetwith Edge||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|The Grasmoor Six Wainwright Fells||4.2km (2.6 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