This stunning walk is a Lake District classic. The edge comprises of the high fells standing over Buttermere and Ennerdale Water. Views along the edge range from as far as Scotland, to the dramatic cliffs of Eagle Crag, Grey Crag, Chapel Crags, and Birkness Combe below. It should be high on any walker's to-do list.
The Edge may be traversed in either direction, with starting points of Buttermere village, or Gatesgarth Farm. A decision had to be made and Buttermere, going clockwise, won.
So this walk starts in Buttermere village with a warm up along the shore line of Buttermere and climbing the old pack horse route to Scarth Gap. Stone pitched paths to Seat, and that on Gamlin End ease you onto the end of the ridge at High Crag with little difficulty. Gone are the rough eroded and loose scree terrors described in the guides of old. The ridge itself is an easy walk. Only the scree down from Red Pike to the saddle with Dodd may give walkers the occasional 'moment'. Even here the loose stone whilst prone to sliding away easily forms steps for any one used to kicking steps in snow. It is all too good to hurry, do so if you must, but the whole of a fine day is easily justified.
Parking in Buttermere village is extensive, but popular at weekends and holiday times. The National Trust pay and display is on the road in from Lorton Vale. A Lake District National Park Authority pay and display behind The Fish Inn and Bridge Hotel in the centre. And a small parking area above the chapel on the Newlands Pass road. The Honister Rambler bus service No.77 operates April to October in both directions from Keswick.
Note: The bridge over Buttermere Dubs near the start of the walk has been removed. Please follow the signed diversion, which adds approximately 1.2km (0.7 miles) to the walk.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Seat, Red Pike (Buttermere), High Stile, High Stile, High Crag (Buttermere), and Dodd (Buttermere); and includes 3 Wainwrights, 6 Birketts, 1 Dodd, 3 Hewitts, 4 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, 1 Dewey, and 1 HuMP.
If you need accommodation we have details of 14 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 centre of the village take the lane on the left hand side of The Bridge Hotel, to go behind. In front of The Fish Inn bear left into the fenced lane. Turn left, go through the gate, turn right, and through another gate. Proceed to the National Trust field which you enter by a third gate. Turn right to follow the field edge. Cross the footbridge and bear left to another footbridge and gate.
Bear left onto the shore line path. Follow it for 2.0km (1.2 miles), as you approach the end of Buttermere bear right onto the rising path.
Continue on this path as it takes a climbing traverse and through gaps in two broken walls.
Above the second wall the path enters an area of rough boulder strewn ground. Keep left and a line of cairns will be found to climb to the top of the Scarth Gap Pass.
At the cairn at the top of the pass turn sharp right.
Cross soft ground to the bottom of the stone pitch path at the base of the crags.
Bear left onto the path which climbs easily to just below the rocky summit of Seat. Keep watch if you want to bag it as you'll have to leave the path just before it starts dropping again and climb up to the cairn perched on rocks.
Return to the path, it descends to a col where a tarn can be found over to your left.
As the path starts to climb Gamlin End it is again stone pitched. Zigzag up the path. At the top is a short section of eroded, sometimes loose mountain path. Keeping right there are few issues and you are soon at the High Crag cairn.
Cross the summit plateau, and bear left to follow along the top of White Cove. Accompanying you will be the occasional very old iron fence post or two. A clear contiguous path will not now be found until the descent of Red Pike only snippets will be found amongst the broken ground of the ridge.
Continue above Combe Crags and bear right above Eagle Crag to the top of High Stile. The highest point is in some doubt: the top of the north east ridge, bear further right, is marked on the OS 25K maps as 807m (888 yards). What looks like the obvious summit cairn over to the left has no height recorded. The pedantic will visit both, just to be sure.
From High Stile drop down through rocky ground to the col with Red Pike. Just off the path to the left may be a soft boggy patch of ground with some clear water, for one's faithful friends.
Continue across the col and bear right to climb up through another short section of rocky ground to the summit of Red Pike.
From the summit of Red Pike turn right, a small cairn and obvious paths appear. Turn left down loose stones, zigzag down to and enter a gully. Drop down the gully and keep left through the plethora of paths to the top of the stone pitched path.
Bear left on grass to the col and climb the to the summit cairn on Dodd. Continuing on for a few metres is another cairn from where the whole of Crummock Water can be viewed.
Return back to the col and bear left to rejoin the stone pitched path. Follow it down to the dark waters of Bleaberry Tarn.
Bear left and cross the two streams, bear left again and cross boggy rough ground to the far end of the broken wall. Keep left, avoid the wide path bearing right. Pick up the top of the stone pitched path descending alongside Sour Milk Gill.
After dropping alongside the gill for a little way it bears right, zigzags, and then bears left. The pitching here is older, very steep and not always usefully aligned in places. Down-sloping steps can be quite slippery even on a dry day. Eventually reaching the fence and gate, go through and continue on more stone pitching all the way down to the shores of Buttermere.
Return to Buttermere village by bearing left through the gate, across the footbridge, bear left to another bridge, then back across the National Trust field on the left hand side to the gate. Go through and follow the lane all the way back to the village.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Bleaberry Tarn, Red Pike, and Dodd||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|
|Moss Force on Newlands Hause||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Knott Rigg and Ard Crags||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