#9 Haystacks & Fleetwith Pike

Date: 21-01-2017

Starting Point: Newlands Pass

Distance: 11.1 miles (17.9km)

Height: Haystacks 597m, Fleetwith Pike 648m


Not a great start…

Today’s trip was initially planned for Sunday 22nd Jan but with the forecast so much better today we made a last minute decision late Friday night and went for it. The 04:30am alarm ready for pickup at 05:00am wasn’t half as painful as anticipated, clear skies above and a crisp frost on the ground, things were looking good.

We headed for McDonald’s for a nutritional pre-walk breakfast, it was here the fun began…a bad feeling about the cars MOT being expired was correct…nice one Glen! Haha so off we went to Wallsend to swap cars.

At last, 45 minutes later than planned we were enroute to the lakes, this time in the trusty Transit (the one we were towed home in after a puncture). Not to worry, it’s still shaping up to be a cracking day!

The A69 then provided our next treat for the morning…thick, freezing, low lying fog between Hexham and the M6!! Nothing wakes you up in the morning better than surprise lorries!!


We were headed for Buttermere today, taking the Newlands Pass from Keswick through the Newlands Valley to park near the Fish Inn and walk Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike along with a full circle of Buttermere lake.


It was here the next twist in the tale came…

We reached the winding country road from Braithwaite through to Buttermere around 08:30am, the sky was still clear, the frost looked spectacular and the roads were very quiet. Just before reaching the carpark near High Snockrigg we got our biggest wakeup, black ice!! The van began to slow, wheels spinning. In complete silence me and Glen looked at eachother as it began to slide back down the 20% gradient road completely out of control. With a rather hefty drop into the valley to my left, the Mountain Goat put in his strongest effort yet to be renamed “The Stig” by throwing on full-lock and performing the best 80’s cop drama J-Turn I’ve ever witnessed…”we could’ve died” were our first words followed by “wish I’d filmed that!” Nevertheless we were safe, and after a few failed attempts to pass the black ice we decided to park up in the valley and reassess our plan for the day.


The van, the ice, and the moon over Moss Force…beautiful.

**Below is entitled: Defeat**


Looking back towards Keswick, the defeated van at the bottom and Blencathra in the distance.


We began the ascent up High Snockrigg towards a vantage point I’d wanted to visit for a while now; an overlook of Buttermere and High Stile.


The morning Sun made such a difference to the temperature once we reached it. A blessing we thought, however, by the end of the day we were sick of being blinded by it!


From here we planned to walk along to Robinson Crag and Hindscarth Edge before following the ridge around towards Catbells and Derwentwater but the way the low Winter Sun had illuminated the valley below drew us in like moths to a flame.


Here’s a GoPro “Behind the scenes”


And the final result…


“As the crow Flies!” – We quickly scrapped our new plans and reverted back to the original one, Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike. Seemed like a good idea!

Glen descends the steep sides of High Snockrigg with the village of Buttermere and Crummock Water far below.


This is becoming a reoccurring navigational tactic on our wanders, we aren’t the best at sticking to paths and often find ourselves off the beaten track heading straight to our destination – so off we went, straight down towards the shore of Buttermere.


As we descended the fields below looked stunning, still clinging onto their frosty covering. The best part of this section was the silence, everything was so still.


We reached the bottom of High Snockrigg, crossed the road and made our way to the water’s edge.


The road to Honister, nothing short of breathtaking!


High Stile, probably one of my favourite walks, if you’ve haven’t been up there before, go!

Once reaching the edge of Buttermere we stopped for a brief rest. I say rest…I climbed a dead tree while Glen played with the camera. Fun times!


Looking back up High Snockrigg, doesn’t seem as steep from this angle.



“The lone Buttermere tree” the best I could do with this famous view without filters or a tripod in direct sunlight, still pretty spectacular.


Despite visiting Buttermere numerous times, I hadn’t fully appreciated just how big Fleetwith Pike was. Carving the valley into two. Pretty epic view eh!


Walking along the south shore of Buttermere, the low Winter sunlight just reaching over Haystacks, left most of the valley in the shadows.


Another shot of Fleetwith Pike, the lighting was just immense.


Warnscale plantation nestled deep in the valley overlooked by Haystacks. Here you can see one of the many winding paths up to the Honister quarry alongside Warnscale Beck.


The final stages of our ascent up Haystacks.


The summit tarn on Haystacks.


Haystacks, aptly named for its rugged terrain has many a damp spot to navigate around and some cracking views over towards Great Gable.


Gable Crag, quite high on 2017’s to do list.


Reflections of Great Gable on Innominate Tarn, Pillar to the right.


After Haystacks we made our way towards Fleetwith Pike, this panorama shows the view down the Warnscale Valley between Stack Ghyll and Green Crag.


Looking Northwest towards the Buttermere Fells, Whiteless Pike and Brackenthwaite Fell.


The lure of this was too much, it had to be climbed!


Crummock Water and Buttermere


A section of Honister slate mine

More epic lighting, this time on the Mountain Goat and some of the locals.


“This way the weather comes”…looking East towards the Helvellyn range we looked set to be engulfed in cloud but it never made it to us fortunately.


The summit of Fleetwith Pike, despite the spectacular view all I could think about here was how far away the bloody van was parked…


The obligatory GoPro shot on our descent.


Another panorama, Warnscale Valley to the left, Honister Pass to the right.

By this point our legs were beyond weary, a breakfast cereal bar saved me from wobblyness. As far as descents go, this one was brutal on the knees but the views kept us going.


Looking back up Fleetwith Pike, pretty steep going, I wouldn’t mind going back and climbing up this.

Descending into darkness…


Gatesgarth Farm.

Nearly on flat ground again!


Always been intrigued by this little cross so here’s the story behind it from the National Trust site..
“The white cross on the side of Fleetwith Pike and overlooking Buttermere marks the story of Fanny Mercer. She was a young servant girl who worked for Mr. Bowden Smith, a school teacher from Rugby, and accompanied his family on their summer vacation in the Lakes.
One fateful day in September 1887, the party were walking to the top of the crag above Honister Quarries and were descending down the steep ridge of Fleetwith Pike. Fanny
was not an accomplished walker and during this part of the journey she jumped down from a ledge and lost her balance. She fell a distance of around twenty feet amongst
rocks and rabble until she reached the bottom of the fell side. By the time the others had reached her, she was badly injured and taken to the nearby Gatesgarth Farm,
but sadly died before medical assistance could arrive. Her body was returned to Rugby where she was buried and the white cross erected in her memory in Buttermere. To
this day the symbol stands as a warning to walkers that the mountains of the Lake District can be perilous unless you are alert and mindful of the dangers.”


Looks a bit run down but what a place to live…


The road back to the lake.


A rare phone-shot converted to black and white on Instagram, I reckon it looks like it was taken years ago on film.


Well doesn’t this look ominous! On approach I wasn’t too sure if this was a dead end or not but there was light at the other end.


Buttermere village, the circuit of Buttermere lake was complete but we’re not done yet.

Still need to get over to the other side of the Newlands Pass to reach the van, and due to the pesky black ice the bloody road is closed…no chance of hitching a ride then 😦 one last climb.


And after what seemed like an eternity of burning muscle pain we reached the van. 8 hours after setting off, if only every 9 to 5 I did involved wandering the hills!

Time to refuel in Keswick before driving home. A brilliant day overall, our first real test of will power and determination to complete this circuit and it felt amazing to finish.

Until next time, stay cool!


4 thoughts on “#9 Haystacks & Fleetwith Pike

  1. Fabulous blog Callum .. I loved it. I love Buttermete. We’re planning an overnight camp at Bleaberry Tarn (need it after those blidy steps) then continue up to Red Pike, High Crag, Haystacks and then Fleetwith for another camp .. lazy wander. Your photos with Great Gable in the distance are fabulous, I think Great Gable is my favourite so far .. the views are stunning .. looking forward to seeing your professional pictures when you bag that one .. thanks for sharing


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