Where is this walk?


June 10, 2023

Haystacks is a rugged mountain (not particularly high) sitting between Buttermere and the upper end of Ennerdale. The summit area is an area of rocky knolls, hidden tarns and stupendous views, give yourself plenty of time when climbing Haystacks.

The Walk

1900′. Haystacks and Wainwright go together like Everest and Mallory. I have very little to add to his various eulogies concerning his favourite mountain. Wainwright describes the fell as a ‘shaggy terrier amongst hounds’ and it is clear to see why. It is smaller than its immediate neighbours but the mile or so of summit plateau is an exciting mix of rocky outcrops, tranquil tarns and hidden hollows. The area is generally rocky. The scramble from Scarth Gap is classed as an easy scramble, great for those wanting a little bit of hands on practice.

I am not sure why Wainwright suggests the walks in his guide books should start from Gatesgarth. I prefer adding the extra mile along the shores of Buttermere. The well constructed path on its far side is a beautiful approach prior to the climb towards Scarth Gap.


If you have the energy after traversing the rugged summit area of Haystacks I would suggest carrying on beyond the normal descent to Warnscale Bottom and continue up the quarry road to the slate mines of Fleetwith Pike and its vertigo inducing summit. Rarely is there such a feeling of being perched on the precipice of a valley.

Haystacks is one of my 25 favourite Lake District walks.

Navigation Tips Haystacks

The path crossing the summit area of Haystacks is straightforward but leaving the path near Innominate Tarn in the mist would be rough and lead to some difficult navigation. Cross the stream at the head of Warnscale and follow the northern bridlepath to the valley bottom, not the footpath to the south/your left.

  • Richard Green says:

    I don’t know the Lake District well as I’ve lived in Ireland for 42 years. We decided to go in May 2022 & did some wonderful walks including Haystacks, coming back down to the car park via Fleetwith Pike, quite a steep (but safe) descent, beautiful walk. Please note the car park fee is £4 and they only take coins. We had to drive a few miles to buy something from a shop to get some change. Please bring lots of £1/£2 coins, you’re sure to find other people who will be looking for change!

  • Brian says:

    Love hiking

  • Mountain Mike from Stockton On Tees says:

    Its the 7th Of September and the weather is superb Im taking my mate Gav to the top of Haystacks so he can bag another Wainwright,in fact Wainwrights faveroute.No wind and the paths are dry,before we know it we are half way up Haystacks and taking a photo for a guy doing the coast to coast,and a few good pics for ourselves,when we get to the top Im giving Gav some useful information as to why this place is so important.After some food and drink we head down the back way to Scarth Gap still conditions and some more photographs taken,we are soon back at Gatesgarth Farm and back to the Hotel in Keswick a nice day was had by al.l

  • Mountain Mike from Stockton On Tees says:

    Its the 21st of May and today is a solo attempt on Red Pike and High Stile on the way down,parked at Gatesgarth Farm,25 minute walk to the bottomom of the path at the end of Buttermere,
    Rain starts conditions are very wet,and its just me,all the waterproofs are on,hard going but a steady pace brings me to a wondefull site of the waterfall coming down from Bleaberry Tarn,the rain is lashing down.
    A bit further on and Im by Bleaberry Tar a wonderfull sight two flowing streams letting water out.
    Drink break and a look up to the top,of Red Pike,easy to see why they call it this name but I would say its a deep rusty colour,within twenty minutes I come across a 100 metre gully en route to the summit,this looks very steep and dangerous but it keeps you from having a sharp drop on your left side back down the valley.
    I collect my thoughts and go for it,its time to really concentrate and get good hand and foot holds bearing in mind the wind has now got upto 40 mph and the rain is still lashing down I push on and suddenly Im on the top getting into the laid stone shelter as soon as I could pity the cloud has come down I cannot see a thing.Time two hours and twenty minutes from Gatesgarth Farm not bad.
    After a quick break food and drink I make my way towards High Stile,conditions are treacherous and you guessed Im the only one up hear ……….oh joy,after an hour Im on my way back down High Stile wet weary but very fulfilled,this not for beginners.

  • Mountain Mike from Stockton On Tees says:

    Today we head for the top of Haystacks,its Allisons first time to get to the top of one of Wainrights favorite Mountains,conditions are dry,not much wind,and there are lots of people on the way.
    After a good strenuous walk to Scarth Gap we set of for the top,great scramble and we are sat next to the Tarn at the top of Haystacks,quick break and we set of down the back path to Scarth Gap,when back at the Cairn we hear that there has been an incident near Red Pike and the G/N Air Ambulance is in attendance hope all is well,great day on the Fells.

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