Valley and Low-level Walks
Buttermere - 4.5 miles
head of Buttermere and its western skyline is dramatic. The walk round the
lake offers one of the Lake District's finest treats.
Park in Buttermere village. Starting the walk from the square in the
village between the Bridge Hotel and the Fish Hotel, a track leads
lake-wards on the left-hand side of the Fish. Go down the track which soon
turns left, between fences. Go through the kissing-gate. Ignore the
signposted path to Scale Force. After the kissing-gate go right between
fences. Ahead is the long string of a waterfall on the fell side. This is
Sourmilk Gill. After heavy rain its name seems appropriate. The stream
flows out of a little tarn between the peaks of High Stile, left, and Red
come to a gate and stile. Go through either. After this turn right,
following the fence. From this point now you can see right up the lake to
Fleetwith Pike, the more dominant peak, above Honister. Cross the
footbridge and go forward on the path beyond. Go over some rough cobbles,
bearing left. Cross the beck by the plank bridge and go over the tall
ladder-stile. You now turn left: but if you wish to have a closer look at
the foot of Sourmilk Gill go up the bank and over the next ladderstile
first, and then return. (The fall foot is probably only worth looking at
after wet weather.) Go on the lake shore path. After a short time this
rises to a slightly higher level, into woodlands. The path joins a wider
track. Cross a little footbridge and go through a gateway across a little
beck into a larch plantation. The path goes to the lake shore again.
Cross another little footbridge, and then there are wet sections. You then
pass alongside a spruce plantation. The path comes to a little bay, and
there is a stream to cross. You have a choice at this point. You can
continue along the lake shore on a rather rough, wet path; or you can go
up to a better path on a higher level. The two paths link up farther
along, after the lake shore one goes over an awkward stile. The
higher-level one only needs description.
From this little bay go upwards to the right. Go up some rocky steps.
Follow the path on through the tree gap. There is a short wet section and
the path rises soon to a plain track. Turn left along it. The track rises
a little and then flattens out. You leave the wood by a wicket gate. The
crag soaring up on the right is High Crag. As you go forward there are
trees over a wall left. Cross a slate bridge and the path continues at a
higher level with the bracken below. You look forward into the dramatic
valley head with the heights of Hay Stacks on the right, and Fleetwith
Pike on the left.
The path now turns left through a gate and you go on over a footbridge.
From here there is a beautiful view down the lake. There is a wet section
before the next gate. Follow the fence. Go through a gateway and on with
the fence. Follow the fence on the right, towards the farmyard (Gatesgarth).
Go through the gates, on through the farmyard., and then onto the road.
Go left. Soon a view of the fells over the lake opens up. A comb opposite
(a hollow between two craggy peaks) was scooped out by a glacier in the
ice age. This is Burtness Comb, a popular climbing ground. The peak on its
left is High Crag, and the one on the other side of the comb is High Side
(2,644 feet.) Beyond that is another comb out of which flows Sourmilk
Gill, and on the right of it is Red Pike, a pointed peak of 2,479 feet.
The road goes alongside the lake. Close to the shore the ground is boggy
however and you will need to continue on the grass verge by the road. Soon
though you will see two stone gate posts on the left and a track leading
from this point towards the lake shore. Go left down here. Go over the
stile by the gate (poor) and continue left close to the lake. There is no
clear path on the grass here - you just go along the shore. Go round the
end of the wall under the ash tree. You then reach a fine promontory
covered in pine and beech. This is another excellent and much photographed
view. This is Shingle Point.
From here go on across a little footbridge and along a terrace path and
over a stile. The path goes through a tunnel cut through the rock. At the
far end of the tunnel go over a stile, and continue on the lake shore. Go
through an iron wicket gate and then the path rises a little from the lake
shore. There is a good specimen of another sweet chestnut soon.
Cross a stile and continue on by the path just above the shore. Go across
another stile at the end. Now follow the fence on the right, go over a
little slate bridge and go right, with a beck. After a short distance cut
the corner left towards a large stone slab. At this go up the rock steps
and through a wooden wicket gate and then go up right with the fence. A
track is joined, turn left. Go through a gate and on through the farmyard.
You are then back in the village.