Lake District Walks
High Stile & Red Pike
Date: 24th June 2006
Distance: 7.8 miles
Ascent: 3145 feet
Time: 4 hours 50 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY173169
A wet and cloudy day spoiled our walk along the High Stile ridge.
Route Summary: Buttermere - Burtness Wood - Scarth Gap - Seat - High Crag - High Stile - Red Pike - Dodd - Bleaberry Tarn - Burtness Wood - Buttermere.
1. Buttermere and Fleetwith Pike
2. Lisa climbing Seat
3. Ennerdale from Seat
4. High Crag from Seat
5. Looking back to Seat and Haystacks
6. High Stile
7. A glimpse of Buttermere
8. On Red Pike
9. Dodd from Red Pike
10. Bleaberry Tarn from Red Pike
11. The view of Buttermere on the descent from Bleaberry Tarn
Walk Detail: What a difference a day can make!! The glorious sunshine that we'd enjoyed the previous evening on Rannderdale Knotts had transformed overnight into a drab drizzly day. We waited until late morning before commencing the walk with the fell forecast at the National Trust car park promising an improving picture.
The walk along the lakeside was very pleasant and the climb towards Scarth Gap was not as steep as I thought it might be. Once we detoured off the Scarth Gap route to follow the wall up to the Seat / High Crag col the path became steeper and rockier.
Seat itself was a pleasant little top and we had the summit cairn to ourselves as we had something to eat while we watched High Crag disappear in and out of the cloud. After a brief look at the slightly disappointing Seat tarns we began climbing Gamlin End. This looked very steep but the zig zag path was surprisingly easy (going up at least) and we seemed to reach the top of High Crag quite quickly.
Unfortunately we didn’t have any views so after only a short break we continued along the ridge. The connecting ridge between High Crag and High Stile is quite narrow in places and even in low cloud offers dramatic views of the drop into the Buttermere valley. Certainly this was the best section of the walk and a dramatic clearing of cloud over High Stile promised much. Sadly this was a cruel hoax and in fact the weather was to get worse with the cloud getting thicker and dropping a couple of hundred metres in height.
From High Stile to Red Pike there was almost nothing to see and I was glad of Wainwright’s advice to follow the fence posts. The only worry was choosing the right moment to leave the safety of the latter and strike out for the top of Red Pike. Fortunately I chose the correct place which was a relief and after pausing only to take a couple of pictures in the gloom we began our descent.
What followed has to go down as probably the least pleasant descent off any mountain, fell or hill I have yet had. The rocky red path was very steep and slippery in places and Lisa in particular did not like it, we were both relieved to reach the grassy path for the short easy pull on to Dodd.
From there though we got a taster of things to come with a paved footpath down to Bleaberry Tarn. By this time it was raining quite heavily and the paved steps were very difficult to walk on. We had little choice though to make our tortuous way down another 500 metres of it. When we entered the woods the path became if anything more treacherous to walk on and this section in particular seems to have gone on forever.
Even if we’d had the previous days weather this would have been a tedious descent and both Lisa and I agreed it was not a route we would like to repeat in either direction. Still I would like to visit the ridge again as it clearly offers more than we were able to enjoy on the day.