The High Stile ridge walk is definitely one of the tougher walks in the Lake District. The mileage is not big but the steep climb and rough, rocky paths make for a satisfying day . The views, if you get them, are fantastic.
The long imposing ridge of Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag, which divides Buttermere and the less popular Ennerdale, looks almost impossible to penetrate for the walker. A direct assault from Buttermere offers a mix of scree and heather. We recently tackled the direct route up Red Pike on a ‘typical’ English summer’s day passing the classical glaciated corrie of Bleaberry Tarn on route. The views are great. Even more spectacular during the shorter hours of autumn and winter when the ridge casts a deep shadow over the valley.
The climb is almost unremittingly steep. The excellent Fix the Fells team have however been hard at work and created an easier and more pleasant route, at least on to the tarn. The final few hundred feet are unfortunately still torturous. The ridge itself is typical of the west fells, being rough, largely pathless and somewhat confusing. However the best descent is to continue all the way to the col (Scarth Gap) with Haystacks. Hatstacks is seen splendidly, taking the mind off the rough path. It is only on the final walk along the lake where you can afford to walk without full concentration on where to put your feet!
There is no better example of the work done by ‘Fix the Fells‘ than the steep slopes of High Stile.
In the mist it is possible to become a little confused on the high ridge. I have sadly headed too far south and ended up with surprising views of the Ennerdale Forest. Much mirth from my companions until they realised they had to climb back up the tortuous slopes. This is particularly so just after the Red Pike summit. The High Stile summit is also off the compass bearing which is a little south of east.
Haystacks Summit is todays target all mountain tops are covered in snow Haystacks included,big push non stop to Scarth Gap and I push on for Wainwrights faveroute mountain summit.Afterr some nice scrambles I’m near the top and wish I had brought the crampons lol,after a few scary moments I’m at the top lol,more photographs and I’m speaking to a couple from Carlisle its there first time on here,a few bits of advice and I’m on my way back down the side to Scarth Gap they are off to Fleetwith Pike,the snow on the farside is two feet deep so its out with the ice axe lol.Shortly I’m back at the cross roads at the bottom speaking with a couple of Spanish ladies and a guy from Penrith they are going over the tops of High Crag to Red Pike I head off to get to the top of The Seat which pre empts High Crag this is a steep scramble to its top and as I reach the top I meet with a guy from The Midlands who has come over from Red Pike a qick chat and I’m off towards my short cut back down to Gatesgarth Car Park,as I come back onto the path going down I meet the guy from earlier he is on his way back to Buttermere we chew the day over and I cut off for Gatesgarth Car Park its another great day on the mountains.
Another trek up to Red Pike via High Crag High Stile and then down the mighty Red Pike,with Gav my mate from work,weather is fine but starting to spit,normal for the Lakes lol,short cut upto the foot of High Crag.Rain has started jackets on and were over the top and off towards High Stile wind is now around 30 mph and its cool.After a strong march we are at the top of Red Pike the wind is biting and around 30 mph not good we descend behind a group of lads doing there Duke of Edingbrough Award,
This is not funny waiting on this ledge after a good ten minutes they have dropped down so we can get off this steep slope,we pick our way down to Bleaberry Tarn as our new friends move off again,short break and we are off towards the lake and in one piece yippee.
27/6/2016 Today its High Stile from Buttermere,weather in the valley fine,but looks cloudy on the tops.Left the track and made my way beside the wall,when I came away from here the path is hard to follow and its getting cloudy where Im going.
Eventually following my noes I find the track,map checked and on I go,eventually I can see the top but there is some serious scrambling to do,I look back behnd me and well Im not going back that way,as I press on scrambling the rain starts but nothing to bad the wind is now blowing at 30 mph this is serious scrambling Im making my own way as the track vanishes in between scrambles.I press on and after a half an hour of climbing Im at the top visibility is 100 metres,I find a cairn and High Stile is in the bag quick drink and a biscuit and Im off to High Crag to get out of the wind,met some nice tourists on the way who tell me that they are going down the way I came up ……my advice was don’t do it.
On my short cut down to the path from High Crag I had a nice chat with a gentleman from Warrington he was going up on top,I advised to stay on the tops and maybe come down the way he came up,the weather now is superb waterproofs off lol maybe a tan lol,till the next time .ps thanks to the Australian couple who obliged by taking my photograph I reciprocated of course MM.
Having walked up Red Pile, did that descent today, down the front of High Stile, in poor visibility. It is indeed SERIOUS scrambling and not for the faint-hearted. Path appears from time to time, but then vanishes whenever one gets to rocks. Eventually, you come out onto the grass and ferns. No cairns or markers.
Yes the track directly off High Stile is very steep, better to head towards High Crag and the full ridge.
I attempted to get to the top of High Stile today,I left the footpath before Scarth Gap and scrambled through deep snow to the valley base of High Stile,schoolboy error I did not bring my crampons and ice axe.I was informed by locals that there was only a dusting of snow on the tops,I tried to make it too the top and spent an hour scambling to within a 100 yards from the top.A blizzard ensued and I retreated sliding down I was very disgruntled but still in one piece I bagged High Crag on the way down,I picked the wrong day with 40 mph winds to contend with as well.
This is a fantastic and challenging walk that will remain in my memory. it is a good example of why the North-west lakes is my favourite area!
The first section from Buttermere to Red Pike climbs steeply through a wooded area before being rewarded with the beautifully clear Bleaberry tarn. The final ascent to Red Pike is also tough.
On reaching Red Pike, it becomes (at least for a short time) a typical ridge walk along High Stile and High Crag and one gets some superb views of Buttermere below. The descent from High Crag into the pass is vicious (dropping around 250 metres within a few minutes). The ascent to Haystacks is also hard before the relaxing return to Buttermere. This is a fabulous walk and I can understand why Wainwright listed it as one of his favourites. Enjoy!
This is a cracking day out. Coming off High Crag is steep so take care. I had planned to take in Haystacks too but ran out of time. I’m returning to Buttermere this Autumn to pick off Haystacks and spend two nights at the famous Black Sail Youth Hostel in Ennerdale. It’s a great part of the Lakes and certainly a lot quieter than other areas. Get out there and enjoy! 🙂
This walk was a reminder for me of just how great the hill walks in the lakes are. A good stretch of the legs on a classic loop, with some spectacular views from the ridge, which were in some ways all the better for being occasionally revealed by gaps in the clouds. The pint in the pub by the car park at the end was most welcome!
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