High Stile ridge

This is probably a walk that I have looked at for 5 years or more now, each time I’ve put it off and gone elsewhere. I’ve added parts to it and then taken them away, I’ve even changed my starting point at the last minute. Originally this was going to be a walk out of the Bowness Knott car park, up to Great Borne and along the ridge, down at Scarth Gap and back along the Ennerdale Valley. However as we tend to stay in Keswick, more often than not, I thought that a shorter drive to Buttermere could be helpful in saving an hour in the car. This would mean a longer walk out to Great Borne via Floutern Pass, but I’d done parts of this before when I did Mellbreak to Hen Comb and really loved it. Now the week running up to Easter was very dry in Lakes, however it had become a bit hazy. This can be very irritating for those who like long distance views, however it also gives a lovely grey layering to the fells at certain times, which can add to photos as well. The other part of this walk was the wind, or the lack of it. As I walked up to, and past Scale Force there was no sound, nothing. The odd woodpecker and an occasional lamb but this was glorious walking, peaceful, lonely and on a new route. one which I was not 100% certain of, at least the early parts up to Great Borne. The ridge itself gets better as you walk from this end, Red Pike to High Stile is superb, and again from High Stile to High Crag. Then there is Gamlin End. My word is it brutal, I wouldn’t walk up it, not at all. It’s steep, very steep. Certainly the steepest I’ve come across in the Lakes (still to do the nose of Kirk Fell). I’d checked the map and there was a short cut left, which cut out another ascent to Seat, I took it and reached the Scarth Gap path, the descent off Gamlin End had left my legs a bit like jelly, but the Scarth Gap path is gentle, and guides you back to Buttermere and the water. A lovely flat walk along the lake side helps to gain some strength, I then found the bridge was washed out at the end of the lake and a 600 metre detour. I don’t think so, Across the rocky weir outflow and back to the car for me at St James’ Church. A walk I would repeat in a heart beat, I loved the Red Pike section but the highlight for me was from Buttermere itself to Floutern Tarn at 8-9am in the morning, peaceful and beautiful.

Start – Buttermere
Route – Scale Force – Floutern Pass – Floutern Tarn – Great Borne – Starling Dodd – Red Dodd – High Stile – High Crag – Scarth Pass – Buttermere Lake path – Buttermere
Distance – 11.5 miles    Start time – 8.20am    Time taken – 8hrs  Highest Point – High Stile 807 metres
Weather – Dry, no wind, hazy, cool on tops

© Crown copyright 2019 Ordnance Survey FL 2019 SF

Classic view up Buttermere with Fleetwith Pike at the far end

Starting out to Scale Force and looking along Crummock Water. Mellbreak on the left and Rannerdale Knotts to the right

The sun is trying to break through over High Snockrigg with Fleetwith Pike to the right

Scale Force is a short detour off the path. Its a lovely spot and well worth coming to see

Heading up to Floutern Pass, the air was still and there was not a sound around in this area. It was stunning. Looking back to Crummock Water.

The other way with Great Borne up to the left. Hen Comb to the right and Floutern Cop is the pointy summit in the centre. I’m heading roughly for that, following the path

Looking back out of Floutern Pass

My first look at Floutern Tarn, Starling Dodd and Red Pike are in the distance. On the hill beyond Floutern Tarn, in line with Starling Dodd is a guy that I would meet on Great Borne. He’d taken a more direct route to Great Borne, but one I’d only seen once I got here.

At the top of Floutern Pass and what a view out. Robinson is above High Snockrigg in the centre ish and Grasmoor is back left

Having come the way I did, I had the steep climb alongside the fence. Looking back to Gavel Fell and Blake Fell as I rest on the climb

Great Borne summit and plenty of hazy fells behind. Grasmoor is the highest

The way I will be going with Red Pike on the left and Pillar on the right from Great Borne summit

As I start to descend you see the valley better to the right and the ridge ahead with Starling Dodd backed by Red Pike

Hen Comb and Mellbreak with Low Fell in between the two

The iron works of Starling Dodd, this was the last fell that Wainwright documented on his 214 peak guides. Pillar looks huge here to the right. Red Pike and High Stile to the left

This dip forms the stream which flows over Scale Force, with Mellbreak above the dip, a small piece of Crummock Water and Grasmoor up above that.

I wasn’t expecting this view,. Sometimes its this sort of view which creates the memory for the walk. The whole of Crummock Water laid out below. The bulk of Grasmoor back right and Mellbreak on the left of the water. A fine view.

That’s Dodd below with the paths criss crossing it. Buttermere is the water with layers of North Western fells beyond

The ridge to High Stile, with Pillar back right

Bleaberry Tarn with Dodd above to the left as I make my way around to High Stile

If anything the skies darkened as I reached High Stile, Red Pike sticks out on the left with Crummock Water in the distance. I really enjoyed this summit, there was plenty to explore and the views were jaw dropping.

I had a different minds eye view of this view. down to Ennerdale Water. I think its the haze that has messed with my version. Great Borne and Starling Dodd are to the right

The ridge to High Crag is as good as it looks from here. Pillar is back right, the patches of snow still on Pillar are easily seen here

I had a sit here looking down to Warnscale and the steep nose up to Fleetwith Pike. Great spot for a sandwich

All along this ridge there are drops to the valley floor

High Crag with Great Gable the high point beyond

Pillar from High Crag. The haze had got thicker if anything, so my view of Pillar Rock wasn’t clear enough

Now even with the haze this is an impressive drop. Haystacks is beyond Seat on my ridge. With Great Gable the high point at the back. The head of Ennerdale to the right

I’ve dropped down Gamlin End now having stowed the camera away for the duration. It is very steep. The scree to start is the hard part. After that it is stepped mainly to this point. I didn’t fancy Seat in front of me which would then take me to Scarth Gap. I instead headed left here to the path which cuts the corner. Haystacks, beyond Seat will be my last Wainwright I reckon.

I’m dropping down now on the shortcut path. The further down you go the more rugged the terrain becomes. That’s Warnscale between Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike

Looking back up Gamlin End. This place needs to be seen to appreciate the gradient

Scarth Gap path down to Buttermere

Warnscale Bottom with Fleetwith Pike left and Haystacks right. Grey Knotts beyond.

Buttermere path around the lake

A classic view to Fleetwith Pike, come on a blue sky day in winter and enjoy the mirror reflections in the lake

Back at the head of the lake. The bridge was out but the detour was a bit too much for me, so I jumped across the rocks on the outflow and walked the short route to the car. An absolute classic Lakes walk this one and well worth a day to complete it.


4 thoughts on “High Stile ridge

  1. That looks a really good walk. I’ve been thinking about a variant of this myself but possibly in reverse – I don’t mind steep ascents but hate steep descents particularly if scree is involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gamlin End has plenty of scree and it was tough at the end of the walk. I couldn’t face the climb up it though, it looks brutal, plus there is a fair pull up to Great Borne at the end. I’d recommend Floutern Pass not as boggy as I expected and the descent off Great Borne along the fence is good. It is a great walk though

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not walked that ridge for many years and never from the far west end. We always used to enjoy the scramble up Sourmilk Gill. One of the best high level ridge walks in the UK. Great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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