I was absolutely overjoyed to be back in the beautiful Buttermere for this month's MDB walk. The last time I was in the area I climbed the mighty Haystacks and time before I was just down the road ascending Rannerdale Knotts. The lure of catching another Wainwright was exciting, but to take three in the day was a dream. I love this little area of Lakeland and as I drove over the Honister Pass and dropped down into Buttermere a broad smile filled my face. Buttermere is a lovely little Lakeland village that has its population significantly increased by the number of visitors it receives on a daily basis so get there in plenty of time to bag a parking space or you won't be bagging anything else. I arrived in light drizzle with low cloud hanging over the fells. As I had driven in from Yorkshire I wasn't going to be put off, I proceeded to brew up and boot up. While checking over my OL4 and my AW Pictorial Guide 7 the weather started to dry and brighten. My original wet weather plan to only bag Red Pike if the weather was really ropey, and come back on another day for the other two was fast fading.... Whoopee It was going to be a triple AW day!
The weather continued to improve..... As I walked out of Buttermere village, off to the left of The Fish pub, and down a lane that crosses over the lovely pastoral slice of land that separates Crummock Water and Buttermere the sun shone. I kept looking to my right towards the stunning cascade of Sour Milk Gill, one of three with same name in Lakeland. There are also two Red Pikes.
Sour Milk Gill is a striking feature snaking through the trees. As I passed through the gate and took a right I walked toward this figurehead.
At the end of the path I crossed over the lovely Buttermere Dubs and headed towards the base of Sour Milk Gill.
I originally intended to take the path that runs through Burtness Wood and up Old Burtness but curiosity caught this cat and as I was investigating Sour Milk Gill, following the line of the drystone wall I looked back to realise I had climbed a fair way, so I decided to continue this route between the Gill and the Wall. AW mentions this route as a variation scarcely worth considering as it is beset with trees and boulders, is steep, rough, greasy and spidery. I completely agree and would add a haven for hungry midges too. I would say, this way up is not suitable for everyone, and to take extreme caution if ascending this non prescribed way. At one point I had to climb over a fallen larch (Larix decidua) and the proper AW Burtness Wood route is far more appropriate for most. But the cascades are beautiful! Another statement made by AW that I heartily agree with; they were!
Not only were the cascades beautiful but the views were knock out too....
Knott Rigg, Newlands Hause, High Snockrigg (l-r) and Grizedale Pike in the distance.
High Snockrigg and Robinson over Buttermere.
Grasmoor, summit in cloud, Whiteless Pike in front beside Crummock Water.
I finally rejoined the proper route up.
The landscape soon levelled out and I picked my way across an area of rocks and grass towards the head of Sour Milk Gill, which I easily forded.
The beautiful Bleaberry Tarn opened up in front of me.... tea at the tarn time I thought, as I rested MDB I looked up to see a train full of folk descending Red Pike summit.
Just before I set off I heard a rustle behind me and as I turned round.... "Hello Ewe!"
The crowd coming off Red Pike were getting ever closer so off I go I thought. Looking behind as I ascended the view over Bleaberry Tarn I could see a slice of Buttermere below.
The view over Crummock Water, Grassmoor being the largest fell in sight then Whiteless Pike and little Rannerdale. The paths over Dodd were clear from up here too.
The path up Red Pike was unmistakingly 'Red'.... As AW notes the Syenite in the rock and subsoil gives it this rich hue.
Last summer I circumnavigated Crummock Water and for a large stretch of that walk the immense Mellbreak overshadowed me, but from up here it looks much smaller.... Perspective eh?!
The final scramble to the summit leaves its mark on you in more ways than one.
From the summit of Red Pike 755m (2,477ft), my first Wainwright of the day, you can easily see five 'waters'.... Ennerdale Water, Loweswater, Crummock Water, Bleaberry Tarn and Buttermere. Here is Ennerdale at the top end of its namesake valley.
MDB covered in Red Pike.... Looking towards my next ascent, High Stile.
Loweswater, Mellbreak and Crummock Water.
Crossing over this brilliant ridge route towards High Stile.
Looking over Bleaberry Tarn towards High Snockrigg.
The dramatic and rugged High Stile rock face and ascent route.
Red Pike, Loweswater, Mellbreak, Dodd, Crummock Water, a tiny slice of Buttermere and Bleaberry Tarn. (l-r)
High Stile, my second Wainwright summit, is the higher of the three summits standing at 807m (2,648ft) and AW notes that the best, exciting and darkly mysterious side to all three is shown on the Buttermere side of the ridge.
The other side of the ridge faces towards Ennerdale Valley offering it's 'plain and dull side'. Fortunately I got the view down into the beautifully wooded and remote Ennerdale Valley from the ridge.
This ridge route continues to join up the next summit, High Crag, but the journey to that summit is somewhat further.
The views of Robinson are spectacular from High Crag 744m (2,441ft) my third and final Wainwright summit.
Before I started to descend I took in the views over Seat towards Haystacks. Warnscale to the left and the River Liza valley to the right and Brandreth in the distance.
The great Fleetwith Pike, which shape, from this angle reminds me of a Big Purple Quality Street chocolate.... Perhaps with thoughts like that I needed a sweet treat before heading on.
Once I had drunk in the high fell views it was time for me to descend via the zig-zagging path of Gamlin End.
The steep rocky path was somewhat of a knee tester. I continued until the path joined the Haystacks ascent route.
The stunning views of Buttermere and Gatesgarth were in sight.
The path eventually reached the level Buttermere circular route.
Passing Comb Beck.... Another beautiful cascade.
The route leads into the mainly coniferous Burtness Woods.
The path skirts a number of lovely little beaches.... Perfect for dipping your toe and taking in the views across Buttermere.
Back over the Buttermere Dubs bridge.
Back at the village end of Buttermere the views over to High Snockrigg, Dale Head and Fleetwith Pike are striking.
I spent a little time admiring this lovely parkland end of Buttermere and contemplating the enormous sweeping views over the water. My mind was also busy trying to picture a better day in these fells and it was impossible; like the weather it was superb and three was definitely the magic number!
Till next time.... Tight laces. MDB x
Another truly astounding recommendation Phil, a perfect day and to Claire for your brilliant hospitality.... Thank you both so much!