Parking: Large car park in Buttermere village
Start Point: Dalegarth campsite
Region: North Western Fells
Route length: 6.0 miles (9.6 km)
Time taken: 02:32
Average speed: 2.3mph
Wainwrights on this walk:
Rannerdale Knotts (355m)
Additional summits: None
Other points of interest: Rannerdale Valley
Route: Dalegarth, Pike Rigg, Buttermere, Wood House, Rannerdale Knotts, Low Bank, Grassgarth Coppice, Buttermere, Buttermere lakeside, Buttermere, Pike Rigg, Dalegarth
The small, unassuming fell of Rannerdale Knotts, surrounded on all sides by fells of much higher significance and elevation, has a claim that makes it one of the more remarkable fells of Lakeland, let along Buttermere where it is located. On first glance, the slow rising ridge appears little more than an offshoot of the lower slopes of Whiteless Pike, however, on closer topographic inspection, the little fell commands an idyllic location, thrust out into the valley and commanding an uninterrupted view of both Buttermere and Crummock Water. The perfect vantage point, it would seem, to set an ambush.
The secret valley of Rannerdale, tucked away from prying eyes, was supposedly the location of the Lake District's one and only battle; The Battle of Rannerdale Knotts. Let us momentarily set the scene; according to legend and folklore, there was a fortified homestead on the site of what is now Wood House, the white building that holds a prominent position at the head of Crummock. This white building was the home of Earl Jarl Boethar.
|Rannerdale Knotts and the white Wood House, supposed stronghold of Earl Boethar|
His stronghold had been a closely guarded secret until friends of his were captured, brutally tortured and his Buttermere hideaway was revealed. It is said that the Normans planned an attack from the rear, from the direction of Cockermouth. To make sure of their victory, the Norman's brought a heavily armoured troop that would ultimately be their downfall. Fortunately for Boethar, his own spies had brought news of this attack, and he laid his own trap in the small valley of Rannerdale. He hid his fighting men in the once thickly wooded sides of the Rannerdale valley and managed to lure the Norman soldiers in. The trap was well and truly set.
The word was given and the struggling Norman soldiers, weighed down by their weapons and armour, were easily cut down by the swift fighting men under Boethar's command. The entire Norman troop was massacred.
The above story is thought to be a romanticised tale of native Britons resisting the forces of the invaders, penned by the late historian Nicholas Size in a 1930 novel titled 'The Secret Valley'. There is little actual historical evidence to support this version of events, however, the Buttermere area does not appear in the Domesday Book, which indicates that this part of Cumbria was not under Norman control in 1086. The central area of the Lake District is known to have been populated by the earlier Norse invaders in the early 10th century, and the word 'dale' is etymologically Norse. Perhaps there is truth in the tale after all?
|The 1930 novel by Nicholas Size|
Rannerdale Knotts lies a short walk from Buttermere village which, in turn, lies a short walk along the banks of the lake from our campsite at Dalegarth. Sara and I had always intended to climb Rannerdale Knotts in the afternoon after arriving and, in a fortunate consequence of timing, our good friend arrived just as we were readying to depart, keen to stretch off the weariness of a significant drive from the Midlands.
A very pleasant stroll along the lakeside path Pike Rigg, beneath the watchful eye of the towering High Stile range, leads you into the village of Buttermere before a bit of road negotiating takes you to the shores of Crummock Water and the footings of Rannerdale Knotts.
|Hay Stacks and the Scarth Gap Pass|
|High Stile with Red Pike poking its head up|
|Fleetwith Pike and Hay Stacks over the clear Buttermere waters|
|The distant path begins the climb up Rannerdale Knotts|
|Crummock and the High Stile range|
|Looking up to Rannerdale Knotts|
|The fells surrounding Buttermere|
|Sara negotiates the grassy bank|
|A cairn marks the beginning of the steps|
|Mellbreak over Crummock Water|
|Sara pauses for a breather|
|Crummock Water and Low Fell|
|The final section of climb|
|Grasmoor makes an appearance|
|Whiteless Pike over the Rannerdale valley|
|The final obstacle before the summit|
|The sumptuous views from our platform|
|The head of Buttermere|
|The Scarth Gap|
|Green Gable & Great Gable|
|The summit of Rannerdale Knotts|
|Sara and I at the summit!|
|The knobbly ridge of Rannerdale Knotts|
|Looking back to the summit of Rannerdale Knotts|
|Rannerdale Knotts, Rannerdale, Whiteless Pike and Grasmoor|
|Sara above Buttemere|
|Fleetwith Pike from the lakeside|
|The afternoon sun lights up the trees|