Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Haystacks: I get it……I think!

It’s name may be Icelandic, but Haystacks is a pretty appropriate name in my mind. Climbing over the summit has a feel of clambering over the top of a stack of hay bails. Positioned at the South West corner of Buttermere, a highly picturesque Lakeland Lake, Haystacks is one of the lower Fells at 1959ft or 597m. It has quite a unique structure, very different to the more conventionally shaped peaks around it. And appropriately, the site of Alfred Wainwright’s ashes.

Parking in the village of Buttermere is pretty good. There are three car parks, one of them a National Trust car park. So members like myself park for free there.

I’ve already posted a walk around Buttermere Lake, an extremely picturesque location. More so than many of the larger lakes. A little gem.

The path up to Haystacks begins at the South West corner of Buttermere (the lake). The path is easily accessed after a pleasant walk along the Western banks of the lake. Fleetwith Pike, to the South, is a pretty dominant feature of the valley. Honnister pass runs up between Fleetwith Pike and it’s neighbour, Dale Head.

Haystacks has quite a unique profile, giving it a distinct character. This is made more dramatic by the time of day, the sun lying somewhere beyond the peak.

It’s worth having little stops to take in your surroundings as the views open up as you gain height, both above and below.

As you make your way onto the flanks of Haystacks itself you find that the path becomes evermore rocky. Footwork becomes more important, and care is needed. Some sections of the path are a fair scramble, and you have to watch footing. It may look challenging in places, but anyone used to this type of terrain should be okay. Remember, this walk description is from my perspective, so your needs or abilities may differ. I am not responsible for your abilities or choices. The old saying is ‘don’t climb up anything you can’t climb down’. If in doubt, find a different way, or an alternative fell. Some of the scrambles have paths nearby that can be walked up as alternatives. The choice is yours.

Once on the summit of Haystacks, the views are spectacular. The dominant features are Great Gable, Pillar and Fleetwith Pike. On the summit is the Innominate Tarn (the tarn with no name). It can be a difficult choice deciding where to sit for your break.

Innominate Tarn with Great Gable in the distance


Fleetwith Pike

Haystacks Summit

It’s also a popular summit, so finding help with a photograph isn’t an issue. Or finding a nice backdrop to the photograph.

The top of Haystacks is full of character and not as simplistic as many of the other fells. It is also the site of more than one Tarn. Blackbeck Tarn is the other Tarn on the summit feeding Black Beck.

My route off Haystacks was via the western flanks of Fleetwith Pike. As you work your way around to this path the views down the Buttermere valley are amazing, and worth a stop for.

Looking back to were I had come from, Haystacks is not my favourite Fell, but I think I may have an appreciation for why it was Wainwright’s. The approach to the fell is quite dramatic, but I found the Fleetwith Pike side to be very dramatic. It has a presence that was hard to put into words, almost ethereal. At the time of day I was on that side, the sun was behind the fell, god rays casting down through one of the Gullies, putting it’s stamp of authority on the place. Wainwright probably liked it for different reasons, but it certainly made me think, and appreciate the fell.

The path down the side of Fleetwith Pike is a standard rocky path, a potential for a sprained ankle. The usual care is needed.

Once in the valley bottom there is a nice path back along the Eastern side of Buttermere lake back to the village.

A last look back was worth stopping for. A mornings pleasurable walk in full view.

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