The High Stile Ridge including Great Borne.

Start. Buttermere.

Route. Buttermere - Burtness Wood - Horse Close - Low Wax Knott - Gamlin End - High Crag - High Stile Ridge - High Stile - Red Pike - Little Dodd - Starling Dodd - Great Borne - Steel Brow - Flountern Pass - Scale Force - Scales - Scale Bridge - Buttermere.

Notes. Once upon a time in the hills of Cumbria a group of young fell walkers would celebrate the coming of summer by attempting an epic hill walk, usually a traverse above the entire Langdale Valley, or maybe a mammoth trek around upper Eskdale, but more than likely an unreserved yomp across the Buttermere skyline was their choice, the date for these epic walks was always the first bank holiday of the year. With memories of early years in the hills swimming around in my head I found myself in Buttermere, a lot older, considerably wiser (some would question that), but no where near as fit, I was about to attempt a mini epic, if such a thing exists. High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike a classic Lakeland triptych rising to the west of Buttermere, if the legs, lungs and energy levels held out I intended to tag Starling Dodd and Great Borne onto the list, five tops over 2,000ft with stunning views to boot, not a bad way to spend a bank holiday Saturday.

Buttermere greeted me with grey skies, cloud danced around the high fells, the threat of rain hung in the air. I left the village striding out over the well walked shore path, passing through Burtness Wood before ascending the path to Scarth Gap, after crossing Low Wax Knott a dry stone wall marked a change in direction. With the wall to guide me I left the main trod, my way was the steep, straight up the fell side, heading directly for the impenetrable cliffs of Seat. At a wall corner my direction and gradient changed, a scree path carried me on and upwards to the saddle between High Crag and Seat where I joined the pitch path ascending Gamlin End. Steep and unforgiving this path wound it's way upwards, leaving the grassy lower slopes behind to cross scree and broken ground to gain access to the cairn marking the summit of High Crag, and the start of a stunning stretch of high level walking.

After a brew I traversed the High Stile Ridge, above the cliffs of Comb Crags and Eagle Crag to gain access to High Stile itself, a short descent followed before the crossing of Chapel Crag, then an easy ascent to the iron stained summit of Red Pike, oxidization of the rocks gives this hill it's distinct colour. I found myself descending guided by the remains of an old boundary fence, traversing boggy ground to reach the sculptured cairn on Little Dodd, then onwards to the 2,077ft summit of Starling Dodd. I eventually stumbled onto the rocky crown of Great Borne in desperate need of a pit stop, dinner and several cups of coffee followed as I delayed the inevitable, the steep descent of Steel Brow. Don't be put of by this descent, keeping the fence line to my right I wound my way down the hill, stopping every few paces to seek out the easier gradients, when steep was the only choice I utilized my trekking pole to wedge my leading foot against, needless to say I stepped onto Flountern Pass unscathed.

Before writing this I read Wainwright's observations on Flountern Pass, he hated the place, thanks Wainwright, you alone are probably responsible for making this one of the least visited passes in Lakeland, I love it. Yes it's lonely, the hills are featureless, well that depends on what you're looking for, without doubt it's wet under foot, and that I prized. At the end of a long day tired joints and aching feet I just love descending over soft ground, the squelch of water under my boot soles lifted my spirits as I drifted through this lonely desolate place, imagine my disappointment when I rounded the northern shoulder of Gale Fell to be greeted by the crowds admiring Scale Force, I waited in line for the obligatory photo shoot before making my way back to Buttermere, striding out over the wettest ground possible.

view route map.


Fleetwith Pike across Buttermere.

From Burtness Wood seen carving it's route between the cliffs of Dale Head and Fleetwith Pike the Pass of Honister.

Viewing Grasmoor and Robinson from the ascent to the Scarth Gap Pass.

Dominating the skyline, Green and Great Gable as seen from near the summit of High Crag.

Pillar across Ennerdale.

Soaking up the views from the summit of High Crag, Grey Knotts and Brandreth above Hay Stacks, with Great Gable closing the head of the Ennerdale valley.

Next on the agenda, High Stile, at 2,644ft the highest ground on this tremendous ridge walk.

Ennerdale Water and the Irish Sea coast seen from the High Stile Ridge.

Looking over Fleetwith Pike to Dale Head with the Dodds and Helvellyn across a bright horizon.

Dwarfed by the landscape little Bleaberry Tarn forever rests in the shadow of Red Pike.

Magical views over Ennerdale Water, the finger of cloud just adds to the atmosphere.

About to be wrapped in swirling cloud, a quick shot of Grasmoor before the view disappears.

High Stile as seen from the summit of Red Pike.

Capturing history, constructed out of the old boundary fence, this could be worth a fortune in the Tate Gallery, the summit Little Dodd looking to Starling Dodd.

Adorned with a crown of rock Great Borne.

Ascending Great Borne with stunning views to the east.

Some of the delectable heights of Lakeland, Red Pike and High Stile seen over Starling Dodd, it looks like rain falling across the head of Ennerdale.

Knock Murton and the Cumbria coastal plane seen from the approach to Steel Brow.

The great monster of Grasmoor looms above Mellbreak with a hint of sunlight on Hen Comb.

Drifting through Mosedale looking to Hen Comb.

Viewing Flountern Pass from the vast mires of Mosedale.

Desolate, lonely Mosedale sandwiched between Hen Comb and Mellbreak, on the skyline Darling Fell and Fallbarrow.

Scale Force a slender 170ft broken cascade just a mile from Buttermere.

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