Tuesday 17 March 2015. The drive to today’s walk was “interesting” to say the least. Leaving Portinscale we headed towards Buttermere on what would have been a very narrow and twisting road. We hadn’t gone more than a couple of miles before discovering that the intended road through Stair and across the Newlands Beck was closed and we had to divert via Little Town. This took us down an ever narrowing lane before coming to a bridge which barely looked wide enough to accommodate my car. It was so narrow that Jacqui had to get out of the car and see me across the bridge so as to avoid scraping the side of my car on some very solid stone walls. It came as something of a relief when we finally picked up our intended route to Buttermere although this was little better than the roads that we had already encountered. Needless to say we didn’t come back this way after our walk and took the relatively safer route up the HonisterPass and back to Keswick along Borrowdale.
The walk started from Gatesgarth Farm where we were lucky enough to see a flock of Herdwick sheep being brought down from the hill. This was a nice coincidence as Jacqui and I went yesterday to see an exhibition of photographs featuring the Herdy’s and the countryside that they are reared upon. We walked across the head of Buttermere before starting the steady climb up to Hay Stacks via Scarth Gap. This section of the walk involved a climb of about 1,000ft to Scarth Gap where we stopped for coffee. This was needed as we then had to face a further climb/scramble of 400ft to the top of Hay Stacks where we had lunch looking across to Great Gable.
We made the obligatory visit to Innominate Tarn where AW’s ashes were scattered before heading for the Dubs Bothy and another climb of 600ft to Fleetwith Pike, enabling me to tick-off another Wainwright.
The descent (1,800ft) from Fleetwith Pike back to the car wasn’t too bad I to start with but much of it was on a very steep and rocky path which made for slow going. It took us the best part of 2 hours to come down and complete this 7.15 mile walk with a total ascent of nearly 2,500ft. The guide that we were using suggested that this walk could be completed in 3hrs 27min. I don’t know how they came up with this figure as it took us a total of 6hrs. We didn’t hang around or have any extended stops and although it was a relatively short walk, the ups & downs and rocky terrain meant that a minimum of 5hrs would be a more reasonable figure.