Oak Cottage - Loweswater

Retreat to the quiet of the Western Lakes

The Cottage, and  the view up the Buttermere Valley
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Date : Saturday 26th February 2005. 10am start from Gatesgarth ( Map ref: NY 194 049)

Occasion : A Wainwright Society Walk to Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike, at the head of Buttermere Valley in Cumbria, Uk.

Walk details : A leisurely 5 miles, with 2500 ft of ascent, 5hr 50 min including lunch, chat and one or two photo stops.

Weather : Grey, damp and breezy, cool with snow flurries, but the forecast was for an improvement.

At an AGM in Kendal the idea of guided (or led) walks for members was suggested.

This was my first walk as leader but it was the secondof twelve walks for the The Wainwright Society that have been planned for 2005

We started at Gatesgarth Farm car park and crossed the flat valley bottom to Peggy's Bridge. The Buttermere Pines at the head of the lake are looking a little more depleted as the latest storm in January has damaged or toppled several of them.

The group was made up of nine people, several of whom had not met before, so it became a very sociable day.

Haystacks and Scarth Gap, our first objective.

The top was reached without too much problem, though the changeable weather, occasional light blustery showers and the variable effort of the climb, meant clothing requirements were always changing.


The weather had been overcast, grey and generally disappointing in that we have been having cold damp conditions, but missed out on the snows of the North East.

The temperatures, however, had been low enough to turn standing water into ice, and Bethan ( our fast growing puppy ) was experiencing its slippery characteristics for the first time as we climbed the Pass.

The hills had what appeared to be a heavy dusting of snow, and the cloud level was down to 2000 feet, giving the whole scene a rather cold look.


Before we left, I had received good wishes for the walk from Dave McConnell, who suggested that I diverted slightly to this rock outcrop for some fine views.

100 ft down he said, but that meant a several hundred feet sideways diversion, but it certainly was a fine vantage point.

( These are for you Dave )

The view south west down Ennerdale

Pillar Rock is the dark vertical feature high on the left. Crag Hill is the high point down by the lake.

Looking up the to the Gables and Kirk Fell, but views were not improved by the low cloud hiding the tops.

Black Sail Hostel is situated where the trees end, in the bottom of the valley.

David H suitably dressed to cope with a passing snow shower.

Behind him Pillar had a fine covering of white, bit some of it would probably be icy rather than soft snow.

Nearing the top of Haystacks, a rest stop for some reason or was it just another photo opportunity ?

David, Ann and Keith.

Crossing back to the Buttermere side of Haystacks the ridge of High Crag / High Stile looked imposing.

The view was still grey, but set to improve as the cloud base slowly lifted.

Care was needed, but the path was not as difficult as it looked

as we ascended the last of the climb.

Summit Tarn - a study in black and white - due to lack of colour, not through any processing !

The weather had not been sufficiently cold to freeze the water totally . There was evidence of several rises and falls in temperature from the interesting colours and contours of the central watery section.


A small snowdrift as the wind had curved round the top crags.

It must have been all of a foot deep !


A lot of the snow was probably frozen sleet or re-frozen snow. The paths were icy but the worst was easily avoided with care and the conditions were delightful.



Ian reaches the summit cairn.


Beyond can be seen the undulating top of Haystacks and our next objective Innominate Tarn.


Again not totally frozen, Innominate looked grey but magnificent.

We diverted around the far side of the tarn and found a small discrete plaque dedicated to AW from two "grateful fell walkers". A nice touch and not at all intrusive, so not spoiling the beauty of the place.

Group photo - Innominate Tarn.

Myself, Geoff, Jill R, David R, Keith, Ian, David H, Andrew and Ann.

Bethan is in full flight to see why no-one is pressing the shutter !

Blackbeck Tarn

Sheltered from the north easterly, we stopped for a bite of lunch . . .

and lo and behold the sun came out.

The weather forecast was turning out to be more accurate than expected.

Jill and David

The view from the outflow of Black Beck, looking down into Buttermere.

Grasmoor is the higher peat with a good covering of snow.

Leaving Haystacks, we crossed to the mountain bothy at Dubbs Quarry.

The hut is permanently open and a good refuge for an emergency or even a planned overnight stay.

Big Cat - Small dog !

One of the heavy machines in the Honister Quarry fleet.

Heavy skies and a gap under the cloud gave us views of Clough Head and the Dodds on the far side of the Thirlmere Valley.

Helvellyn in the distance was obscured by the weather.

Black Scar, Honister Crags.

We diverted up through the quarry workings to the highest point on the ridge to see down into the valley.

For those peak-baggers amongst you this is now a "required fell" as it has recently been redefined as a new Nuttall, a peak over two thousand feet which is separated by a drop of at least 50m from any other high ground.

I just liked the view.

Fleetwith Summit and the view over Black Sail Pass to distant Yewbarrow in the Wasdale Valley.

The steep descent into the valley became a reality as we left Fleetwith Pike summit

The Blue team cascade their way down the steeper crags on the face of Fleetwith Pike.

With care again this route was not as bad as it looked . . .

. . . in fact it was the easier sections that caused Jill to take a closer look at the grass !


The walk was taking its toll on tired puppies too !

On this last part of the descent, and despite a revitalising lunch at Blackbeck Tarn, the little one was stopping for an occasional rest as the rest of us slowly descended the fell.



Journeys end in sight.

Afternoon sunlight in the valley illuminates the final cairn on the descent of Fleetwith Pike.

- - - ooo - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon IXUS 400 Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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