Hay Stacks from Gatesgarth Farm.

Start. Gatesgarth Farm.

Route. Gatesgarth Farm - Peggys Bridge - Low Wax Knott - Scarth Gap - Hay Stacks - Innominate Tarn - Blackbeck Tarn - Dubs Bottom - Wanscale Bottom - Gatesgarth Farm.

Notes. Rising to the southeast end of the Buttermere valley, it's summit guarded by a wall of crumbling rock is Hay Stacks, for many fell walkers it will always be remembered for one thing, the final resting place of old Wainwright. It's not the highest piece of land on the Ennerdale Buttermere watershed, at under 2,000ft a good deal lower than the rest of the ridge, what it lacks in height it makes up for in charm and elegance backed by wonderful views. Unfortunately popularity is it's downfall, a combination of Wainwright pilgrims and Lakeland weather have left the paths in a sad state of repair to say the least, this walk is a real ankle breaker, stop to admire the views, watch where you tread.

With a whole bucket full of inclement weather over the horizon I took a chance and stepped into a weather window the forecasters said wouldn't last, this was an early start, the small pay and display car park at Gatesgarth Farm was deserted when I arrived. To the right of the farm buildings a finger-post points through a gate inviting the merry rambler to Buttermere, I followed this path across the mouth of Warnscale Bottom to access a gate leading onto the open fell. Ignoring the path to Buttermere on the right, I ascended in the shadow of a small cops, a short sharp clime saw me step onto another path, this was the Scarth Gap Pass, my route up the fell. A long easy climb followed, every step gaining a little more height, I soon passed Low Wax Knott before reaching a large cairn marking the summit of the pass. With the hill now rising abruptly to my left it was obvious I was going to have to work hard to gain the summit of Wainwright's beloved Hay Stacks.

Several easy scrambles followed before finding myself gazing across a delightful unnamed tarn guarding the summit cairn, I rounded the tarn to gain access to the summit, this was a rare occasion, I had the top to myself, just me the wind, a few mountain birds and the first spots of rain. Undaunted by the wet stuff falling from above I hung around savouring the moment before descending to the final resting place of AW, Innominate Tarn, another rare moment, no pilgrims just me, some ducks and lots of mountain frogs. After soaking up the atmosphere I started my descent, west through some stunning rock scenery, passing Blackbeck Tarn and Green Crag to reach Dubs Bottom. It was make my mind up time, ascend Fleetwith Pike or descend the old quarry track through Warnscale Bottom, my friend the weather made my mind up for me, it was the latter through Warnscale Bottom.

view route map.


High Crag over Gatesgarth Farm.

The notched skyline of Hay Stacks rising above Warnscale Bottom.

At the start of my ascent looking to Fleetwith Pike.

Ascending the Scarth Gap Pass looking back to High Snockrigg and Robinson.

Views taken from Low Wax Knott, the Grasmoor massif seen over Buttermere and High Snockrigg.

Looking to Grasmoor from the summit of the Scarth Gap Pass.

The grassy ridges on Hay Stacks provide fine view points down the Buttermere Valley.

Fleetwith Pike backed by Dale Head.

The sky reflects in the unnamed tarn under the summit of Hay Stacks, on the skyline Pillar.

The summit Hay Stacks.

Soaking up the views from the rocky summit, looking down the Ennerdale Valley.

A jewel in a mountain wilderness, Innominate Tarn.

Looking Stead and Pillar as seen from Innominate Tarn.

Closing the head of the Ennerdale Valley, great from any direction, Great Gable.

Stunning views down the Buttermere Valley taking centre stage, Buttermere and Crummock Water with mighty Grasmoor rising to the right and Mellbreak the left, on the skyline the Loweswater Fells, across the Solway just visible Criffel in Scotland.

Blackbeak Tarn over looked by Great and Green Gable.

Looking to the dramatic rock face of Hay Stacks, beyond that High Crag.

Through heavy Lakeland rain, Green Crag and Hay Stacks seen from the quarry track leading down to Wanscale Bottom.

Viewing Hay Stacks from the track into Warnscale Bottom.

Mellbreak towering above Buttermere.

back to top

back to list