A day off from authoring and up to the mountains again

path  and haystacks
The gentle walk towards Haystacks

The weather has been wonderfully warm again ( for the Lake District anyway, even though London has been basking in the 30’s) and my heart gets drawn to the mountains once more.  Nothing quite like walking and clambering up a mountain with the sun on your back, the air clear and the visibility amazing. It’s not always easy to judge the right place to go to get the best of the sun in the Lake District because little areas seem to have their own weather system despite weather forecasters trying their best with predictions.

After analysing all the various forecasts, Buttermere seemed to be a good bet and having not been there for quite some time and my wife never having been there it seemed like a good plan. I grabbed my Wainwright book and map, plus lunch and water and we headed off. Found a place to park and set off towards Haystacks; Wainwrights favourite mountain  I believe. His ashes are scattered by Innominate Tarn, not far from the summit. Getting to Buttermere meant driving along the Honister Pass, which was very narrow and steep in places but passing through some wonderful scenery.

We were not the only ones taking advantage of the lovely weather, we encountered numerous people heading in both directions. We lingered over some bird spotting( my wife’s more recent passion) as we encountered some birds not spotted by my wife before. We did have binoculars but not a bird book, so I endeavoured to get some close-up photos to clarify the species when we got home. As we climbed higher we could see Buttermere and higher still Crummock water came into view, very beautiful scenery.

Several old mines are in the area and we came across a bothy, (it would have been nice to be like a  ‘hutte’ that we used several times in the Alps last year and had beer and strudel to refresh us.) It looked like just an old abandoned cottage but part of it had a roof and glass in the window. Inside there were things to assist backpackers like camp beds, stove, pots and pans, large bottles not sure what was inside, table and a little cuddly marmot on the window sill. It smelt heavily of smoke so maybe the chimney to the stove/fire wasn’t that brilliant. I wonder how many people know it’s there, it obviously gets used,  but it’s quite a good walk to get to it.

Buttermere Lake
Nearing the summit, looking back towards Buttermere and Crummock Water beyond.

We continued our climb and ended up around the back of Haystacks ( from our direction anyway) and then we came across some tarns. The second tarn turned out to be Blackbeck tarn and we had lunch beside it thinking it was innominate tarn. It was lovely anyway, glad to take a longer rest, eat and drink. Maybe kit-kats weren’t such a good idea on such a hot day. The water was by then warmish as well. The steady trickle of walkers in both directions continued as we tried to get comfortable on the grass leaning against rocks that could have been a bit smoother for our comfort. There was a good view of the amazing fells and mountains around us, most of which I tried to identify and turned to Wainwright’s book to help with the ones I didn’t know.

Tarn and sky reflections
The beautiful little Innominate Tarn near the summit. Very still and reflecting the lovely summer sky.

After a suitable break we headed off for the summit and then we came to the innominate tarn- strange name for a tarn, it means a tarn without a name! It was only minutes away from where we had been sitting. It was very calm and tranquil and the sky reflected in the water making a beautiful image.

As we clambered down the gravelly path and then back up to the summit we passed several people (and dogs) we had already greeted going past us, while we rested for lunch. The stone and gravel that the conservationists  put on the well-trodden paths to try and prevent erosion, can be lethal on occasions. ‘Bit like walking on marbles’, someone commented. It can be very slippery especially when going down. My wife managed to slip over 4 times in all, once was admittedly while she was focussing on a bird flying overhead.

The last little climb was more of a scramble to a very rocky/lumpy summit. In fact all of Haystacks looks very lumpy and rocky really. The view from the top was amazing. Views towards Ennerdale as well as Buttermere, Crummock and beyond, to the very far distant mountains of Scotland. Also views towards  Eel Crag near Derwent Water, Scafell Pike and other mountains. We could also make out tiny little, coloured specks of walkers on various summits or walking up and down various slopes.

The tricky bit was then finding the route back down, as we didn’t want to retrace our steps. We found a path but not the actual one I was hoping to use. It was very gravelly and rocky so coming down can be almost as tricky as climbing up…sometimes worse. The trek back down was certainly faster than the ascent and it was good to be walking on fairly level ground when we reached the path beside Buttermere. It is possible to walk all around the lake on a level path and it is very scenic walk…but not necessarily after walking up and down Haystacks, maybe another day.



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