Buttermere, Crummock and the High Stile range

Sketch map will appear here

The valley of the river Cocker, which rises on the slopes of Brandreth high in the Great Gable massif, is unusual in that it contains three small lakes rather than a single large one. In fact the lie of the land suggests that there was originally a single lake (which we shall call Cockermere) but that parts of its bed silted up. The flat, fertile pastures between Buttermere and Crummock Water, the inner and middle of the three lakes, are prime supporting evidence. These two lakes, together with the High Stile ridge between Buttermere and Ennerdale, are the subject of this page.

Buttermere itself is about a mile long by 400 yards wide, and is undoubtedly the finest of Lakeland's smaller bodies of water. All views both of and from the lake are superb, surrounded as it is by the Robinson- Hindscarth ridge to the north, the High Stile ridge to the south and the shapely point of Fleetwith Pike at its sotheastern end. A footpath right around the lake, disappearing into tunnel below Hassness House on the north bank, is one of Lakeland's finest low-level walks. Crummock Water is rather more than twice Buttermere's size and, though its surrounds are less dramatic, it boasts the soaring slopes of  Grasmoor on its north shore.

The mountain ridge on Buttermere's south shore is one of Lakeland's finest; it consists of the triplet of Red Pike (2479ft), High Stile (2644ft) and High Crag (2443ft). While the ridge walk between the three is absolutely straightforward, all ascents of the ridge are steep and require a good deal of hard work. The classic traverse is to approach from Buttermere village via Burtness Wood and Bleaberry Tarn up to Red Pike, then along the ridge via High Stile to High Crag, descending via Gamlin End and then Scarth Gap Pass to Buttermere's southeastern corner.

Finally, I've included the little fell of Rannerdale Knotts on Crummock's north shore. It's only 1160ft high and can be climbed from Buttermere village in 45 minutes, but its rocky little summit and glorious views of Crummock Water, Buttermere and the surrounding fells are a reward out of all proportion to the effort of the climb.

Gallery Index

High Stile group, 3rd June 1982

The best route of my first fellwalking holiday

Buttermere, 31st May 1985

A walk around the shoreline of one of Cumbria's most beautiful lakes

High Stile group, 23rd May 1990

Another walk along this same ridge


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This page last updated 11th March 2006