Saturday, 28 May 2016

A Circuit of Buttermere

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Route: High House Crag, Buttermere, Buttermere Dubs, Burtness Wood, Horse Close, Peggy's Bridge, Gatesgarth Farm, Lower Gatesgarth, Crag Wood, Hassness, Pike Rigg, Buttermere

Date: 28/05/2016
From: Buttermere

Parking: Buttermere
Start Point: Buttermere
Region: Western Fells

Route length: 4.6 miles (7.4 km)
Time taken: 01:49
Average speed: 2.5 mph
Ascent: 176m
Descent: 190m

Summits: None

Other points of interest: Warnscale Bottom

A short walk around Buttermere would help us to avoid the worst of the crowds on a busy Bank Holiday weekend. After all, of the 3 days in the Bank Holiday, today's was the least impressive with a blanket of cloud hanging over the National Park for much of the day. Buttermere offers on the the finest 'round-the-lake' walks and is perfect for a morning or afternoon. The walk is relatively easy and level with a great 'reward for effort' ratio - always a good thing.

We parked in the National Trust car park close to High House Crag, exploiting our recently acquired membership. A short stroll down the road leads into the village of Buttermere itself, named after the lake. It is widely thought that Buttermere means "the lake by the dairy pastures" (from the Old English "butere mere").
In case there was any doubt
A bright but largely cloudy day
We opted to walk anti-clockwise, along the southern shores to begin with. After a brief walk along the fenced lanes between Buttermere and Crummock Water we entered Burtness Wood which grows on the slopes of Red Pike and High Stile and extends almost half way along the shore line. Needless to say, a wide and well maintained path leads right round the lake with only one exception, a short road hop at the eastern end.
Fleetwith Pike 
Fleetwith Pike
Buttermere Dubs

Reflections of  Whiteless Pike
Burtness Wodd
We exited the wood at Horse Close, crossing Comb Beck as we did. Sheepbone Butress dominates the skyline here, a large craggy ridge that emanates from High Crag. It is possible to scramble up from the lake side, something I intend to do in the near future.
Buttermere
Horse Close
Sheepbone Butress
Up ahead the view is dominated by the dramatic Fleetwith Edge, descending from Fleetwith Pike. Warnscale Bottom forms a huge bowl that draws the eye around Striddle Crag, Green Crag and the notable fell of Hay Stacks. A round of Warnscale Bottom would make a fine day out.
Sun shines into Warnscale Bottom
Goat Crag - part of Robinson
Fleetwith Pike
Buttermere from Peggy's Bridge
Hay Stacks
Fleetwith Edge
The mighty High Crag
Fleetwith Edge
We crossed Peggy's Bridge and made our way through Gatesgarth Farm. Here the short road section begins, leading around the bend at Lower Gatesgarth to the shore below Muddock Crags, a small outcrop on the lower slopes of Robinson. We paused for a moment on the shoreline for a quick snack and to savour our surroundings before starting back towards the village.
High Stile and Burtness Wood
Fleetwith Pike and Hay Stacks
The path on the northern shore squeezes below the campsite at Hassness where it passes through a tunnel carved through the rock, the only one of its kind in the Lake District. The tunnel was cut by employees of George Benson, a 19th-century Manchester mill owner who then owned the Hassness Estate, so that he could walk around the lake without straying too far from its shore.
The Buttermere tunnel
After emerging from the tunnel, we passed into the wooded pasture of Pike Rigg where a long gravel path leads back to the village - this is superlative strolling territory. We passed through the yard of Wilkinsyke Farm, a farm built in the 1600s which is still working today, caring for a commercial flock of Herdwick sheep as well as making their own ice creams.
A barn at Dalegarth
Pike Rigg
After another snack break at the cafe in Buttermere we returned to the car to make our way over the Newlands Pass for a drive around - largely to use the newly re-built A591 and visit some familiar faces down in Grasmere and Ambleside. As for this walk, it's an easy stroll which is perfect for days when you just don't fancy a big mountain day - there are few better places to relax and unwind than on the shores of Buttermere.