Tuesday 21 June 2016. My former work colleague John Horner and his wife Linda are staying in Keswick for the same 2 weeks as me and we had arranged to do some walking together during this holiday. John fancied doing Red Pike and High Stile which tower above Buttermere. I’d done them both a few years ago but didn’t mind doing them again so we set off for the National Trust car park which is situated just a couple of hundred yards to the north of Butttermere village.
The walk started with a gentle stroll to the end of the lake at Buttermere before the climbing began in earnest. We had a climb of over 2,000ft to the top of Red Pike (2,477ft). There were stone steps for the first part of the walk to Bleaberry Tarn where we stopped for coffee having done about 1,300ft of the climb. The last 700ft to the top of Red Pike was much as I had remembered it being a loose scree covered path where the use of walking poles greatly aided our ascent. We met a guy coming down the way the we were going up; rather him than me although we could see a little later that he had made it safely to the bottom.
We had been fairly sheltered on the Red Pike climb but having made it to the top we then had to contend with a very stiff breeze for the next section which was an undulating walk down and then up again to the twin summits of High Stile at 2,647ft. By now we had been out for over 3 hours and had only covered 3.3 miles, nevertheless it was time for lunch with an excellent view down to Buttermere and Crummock Water with the Scottish hills on the other side of the Solway Firth visible in the far distance. A little later on we were able to see the Isle of Man away to our west.
Our walk then took us along Coombe Crags to the minor summit of High Crag (2,440ft). This marked the start of the very steep descent down Gamlin End the first half of which was a loose zig-zag track where again walking poles came into their own. The bottom section had been engineered with a series of stone steps and made the going a little easier. At the bottom of Gamlin End we were faced with a choice of routes. We could have made another climb over Seat to join the Scarth Gap Pass or we could follow a very rocky descending path to pick up the Scarth Gap Pass a little further down. I was just about knackered by now and John felt the same so the idea of further climbing was quickly dismissed and we opted for the descending route. This was the worst part of the walk and although it was less than a third of a mile in length we descended almost 650ft.
The rest of the Scarth Gap Pass down to the shores of Buttermere was relatively easy going leaving us with just under 2 miles back to the car. It had been a “good walk” which had taken us nearly 7 hours to walk 8 miles. I wasn’t surprised to discover that the total ascent worked out as 3,479ft. This was a serious walk and wasn’t far short of the 3,900ft of ascent that is involved in going up and down Scafell Pike.
John & Linda invited me back to theirs for dinner and whilst this meant missing some of the Euro 2016 football it was a small price to pay for a very enjoyable meal and a good end to the day.