In View THE HIGH STILE GROUP with Stan Leigh

One of the most popular fell walks from Buttermere Village is the classic High Stile Group featuring the Wainwright summits of Red Pike [2477 feet], High Stile [2644’] and High Crag [2442‘] – 7¼ miles with approximately 2700 feet of ascent. A hard walk but one that should be enjoyed with good preparation and planning beforehand.

In this article, I’d like to introduce you to four other summits that can be added to your exploration in this Group by adding short diversions to your route. They are the Birkett summits of Dodd [2103’] en route to Red Pike, Grey Crag [2648’] near High Stile, Seat [1840’] on the descent from High Crag and Gale Fell [1699’] on the Scale Force route to Red Pike.

The most popular route to reach these Wainwright summits from Buttermere, is via Bleaberry Tarn. Head for the foot of the Sourmilk Gill cascades from Buttermere Village by walking past the Fish Hotel on the lane and track. A path heads upwards through Burtness Wood, parting company with Sourmilk Gill almost straight away. The path is quite clear, steep in parts and weaves its way to a gate at the exit of the woodland at about 800 feet. Continue to Bleaberry Tarn via the paved zigzags - a nice location for a break at 1600 feet. More climbing to do – the path continues towards the shapely Red Pike. Look out for a path that heads to the Saddle to the right, leading to Dodd summit. Good views from here but to continue to Red Pike summit, it’s an about turn – and onwards and upwards to climb this last section. This ascent to Red Pike summit is hard but is a great achievement when you get there. I hope that you are blessed with good views – you will have deserved it.

Next, its High Stile [2644’] on a path, southwards for ¾ mile, 350 feet of ascent, via a line of marker cairns and a derelict iron fence’ and then on turf to the stony rise leading to the summit. Look out for Chapel Crags and the great views en route. There are two cairns at the summit. Make sure that you visit the most northerly of the two to view the dramatic view downwards to Bleaberry Tarn and the cairn at Grey Crag [2648’].


From High Stile to High Crag is 1 mile, SE, with 80 feet of ascent, there is no path at first but as the ridge narrows the path is clear. Follow the line of fence posts to High Crag summit. From here, Pillar and Ennerdale Water look magnificent and Great Gable, Kirk Fell and the Scafells’ are all part of the superb panorama. Descend Gamlin End alongside the fence posts on the ridge to Seat before reaching Scarth Gap. Turn left here and follow the bridleway. After 1 mile, at the woodland plantation, head for picturesque shore of Buttermere to return to the village.

High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike

If this circuit isn’t for you, and you would like a shorter, 6-mile walk to Red Pike, ascend via the Bleaberry Tarn route [as above] and then descend NW to Scale Force. Look out for Scale Beck and a grassy fell rising on your left side. Cross the beck and climb on a faint grassy path until you reach the summit of Gale Fell. It is only a short diversion but the views of Mosedale, Hen Comb and Mellbreak are quite unusual. The parent fell of Gale Fell is Starling Dodd to the SE but I suggest that this fell is walked with Great Bourne from Bowness Knott at Ennerdale – best left for another day.

Gale Fell

There are other routes from Buttermere, Gatesgarth and Ennerdale to the High Stile Group of fells. Use OS Explorer Maps OL4 [The English Lakes, North West Area], Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells – Book 7 [The Western Fells] to plan your route and have a look at this website for route assistance and additional photographs. 2.html

Preparation is all important for walking in this area. There are two Red Pikes – at Buttermere and Wasdale. Don’t attempt to walk the Wasdale one from Buttermere. If weather is poor, choose a lower level alternative, for example Rannerdale Knotts or a circuit of Buttermere. Save the High Stile group for a sunny day and enjoy the experience.

Gale Fell summit, Mosedale, Hen Comb and Mellbreak

Explore and discover! Stan

ISSUE 429 | 20 SEPTEMBER 2018 | 15

Crummock Water from Red Pike summit

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