The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Buttermere walks

Buttermere - 4.5 miles

The 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 Pike, right.

You 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.

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