Beautiful Buttermere

Walk Date -18th October 2017

Distance – 4.75 miles

Weather – sunny and mild, breezy


 The early morning cloud cover thinned out by mid morning and, quite unexpectedly, we found we had a sunny day on our hands with no prior plans for a walk today. It looked to be set fair for a while and after days and days of cloud, rain and strong wind, including ex hurricane Ophelia, we didn’t fancy venturing onto any more soggy fells until things have had a chance to dry out, so we fell back on an old stand by and took a walk around Buttermere instead.


Buttermere – Buttermere Dubs – Burtness Wood – Horse Close – Peggy’s Bridge – Gatesgarth – Hassness – Buttermere

A view of High Snockrigg as we walk down into Buttermere from the pay and display car park above the village, where one car was just leaving as we arrived so we nipped into the empty space sharpish. Buttermere was very busy today and parking was at a premium. Of course setting out mid morning plus a long diversion en route didn’t help matters so there was nothing for it but to stump up the cash. Never mind, its turned into a lovely late morning with plenty of blue sky and sunshine so let’s just enjoy it.

We decided to walk round the water in clockwise direction so we made our way through the Syke Farm Cafe yard and out onto the lakeshore path beyond it, from where we could see plenty of water rushing down Sour Milk Gill over there between High Stile, on the left, and Dodd on the right. Behind Dodd and not visible at the moment is Red Pike.

A look back at Buttermere village nestling below the trees as we make our way over to the lakeshore path. Bits of cloud activity here and there but nothing to worry about.

Lovely gentle sunlight through the trees as we begin to approach the water.

Further round the bend one of the trees had fallen victim to the ferocious winds which came along with storm Ophelia …..

….. and here’s where branches and trunk had parted company during the storm.

The silhouette of Haystacks at the far end of the water.

A look back along the water with Mellbreak at the far end of it. There are still a surprising number of leaves left on the trees even after all the recent gales.

There was a bit of a to-do at the far end of the rock tunnel where a small group of walkers were having a dither about going through it. We waited a while for them to come to a decision and when no-one started to come along we set off. Of course by the time we were halfway along sod’s law came into operation and they also began to make their way through. It was only a small party of four people plus a guide with a torch. Its not a wide tunnel, as you can see, so of course it was something of a squeeze when we all met up. Sod’s law also decreed that our rendezvous point just happened to be sited where the biggest and deepest puddle happened to be so we squashed ourselves against the walls and waited for them to walk by. The guide’s torch illuminated the puddle which caused more consternation amongst the four walkers and a bit more dithering ensued. I happened to be in front so, along with their guide, I offered a steadying hand to help them across the dark and watery depths!

Emerging into the sunshine again and wondering why anyone would need a guide to walk around Buttermere.

Another look back as we reach the gravelly shoreline …..

….. and a look ahead at the silhouettes of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks. An artist had set up on the little spit which juts out into the water …..

….. and this was the view, of Goat Crag on the left with part of Littledale Edge on the right, that he was painting. He was working on quite a large canvas and it looked to be quite impressive. We didn’t go over to have a look but we could see how it looked since the sun was directly behind the canvas and the light filtering through it was showing the shapes and colours very clearly. I hope it was securely fastened to the easel because it there was quite a bit of breeze around.

A couple of walkers at the far end of the shoreline as I take another look back, and plenty more behind and to the side of me. A good number of dogs were very busy fetching sticks out of the water and waiting for them to be thrown back in again and, true to form, the humans tired of the game before the dogs did.

We pass below Muddock Crags as we head on towards Gatesgarth with another walker admiring the view across the water.

Sunlight filtering through the Buttermere pines and the lively breeze ruffling the water.

We leave the lakeshore path temporarily for a short stretch of road walking from where we now begin to get some better views of the fells on the western side of the water, High Stile first of all, then just the very top of Red Pike and below that the diminutive Dodd.

The pines still filtering the sunlight and Gatesgarth Beck flowing swiftly into Buttermere. Every beck we saw today was full and fast flowing thanks to all the rain we’ve been having just lately.

High Crag and High Stile on the skyline with the bowl shape of Burtness Comb between them.

Did I mention it was busy today and that the beck was running quickly?

We’ve reached the head of Buttermere so we turn off to the right just over the bridge to make for the path on the other side of the water. We treated ourselves to a coffee from the refreshment van parked by the farm, out of shot on the right. We hadn’t packed a lunch and were starting to feel hungry so we asked the lad behind the counter if sandwiches were on offer but none were. Apparently the good weather had taken him by surprise too this morning and he wanted to get here to open up the van so he hadn’t had the time to go and get more supplies in. He also mentioned that in a couple of weeks time he won’t be here at all as he will have closed up for the winter. Nothing for it then but to wait until we got back to the village and get something to eat there.

Coffee break over we crossed the fields from the farm with this view of Fleetwith Pike on our left …..

….. and looking the other way for a view of Goat Crag with High Snockrigg behind it …..

….. while ahead of us is High Stile with the lakeshore footpath visible below it. There were no takers today for the path leading up to Haystacks.

Looking along Buttermere and at the crystal clear water in Warnscale Beck as we cross Peggy’s Bridge …..

….. then turning around and looking along Warnscale Bottom for this view of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks.

The recent high waters and flooding have deposited mounds of grassy debris across the bridge and the fence. The flooding wasn’t as bad or as extensive as it was following Storm Desmond but there was plenty of localised flooding, and once again the beck running out of Red Tarn down to Glenridding has brought down tons of rocks which are being cleared away from beneath the road bridge in the village.

The view ahead of us as we start the return leg of our walk. We will be in the shade for a while along here as the sun hasn’t quite managed to rise high enough above High Crag to provide sunshine on this side of the lake.

Gatesgarth Farm, to the right, across the fields with Littledale Edge and Hindscarth Edge on the skyline.

Rannerdale Knotts and Grasmoor begin to appear at the far end of the water as we make our way along.

High Stile towers above us with gallons of water gushing noisily down Comb Beck.

Further along the path we come across another Ophelia casualty with a couple of ladies on the other side about to make their way around it.

More of the north western fells begin to appear across the water. Rannerdale Knotts on the left, then Whiteside, Grasmoor, Whiteless Pike, Crag Hill, Wandope and finally Sail.

A look back towards Dale Head, to the right, with Fleetwith Pike over on the right. The breeze has picked up a bit more as the water shows.

Across the water is High Snockrigg with Robinson beyond it to the right.

Its those north western fells again looking very appealing in the afternoon sunlight.

A little less appealing is the forlorn sight of the gate at the foot of Buttermere, where Sour Milk Gill flows into it. Another Ophelia casuality. The water level is higher than it normally is at this point and from what we could see had been even higher previously.

Crossing the bridge over Buttermere Dubs, the fields, out of shot to the right, still holding onto the water from the rains and the flooding.

Buttermer Dubs and Buttermere from the bridge.

Fleetwith Pike’s steep north western ridge which we will have to have another go at one of these days. Its a few years ago now since we got halfway up it only to have heavy rain and low cloud to close in on us and beat us back down again.

The lakeshore path is behind us now as we pick up the lane from it which leads back into the village. We were still meeting plenty of walkers coming out for an afternoon stroll around the water.

A final look back towards High Snockrigg and Fleetwith Pike as we enter the village. The cloud is beginning to build and by the time we came out of Croft House Farm Cafe, after wrapping ourselves around a plateful of sandwiches, the blue sky and sunshine had disappeared and we were back to the all too familiar, and utterly dispiriting, view of  unending grey and gloomy cloud above us once again. The weather forecast for the coming weekend is equally dismal, apparently we have Storm Brian to look forward to! Is this dreariness ever going to let up?