Fleetwith Pike is a very busy location in the Lake District. It is the home of the Honister Slate Mine and their via ferrata courses. But all this happens on the eastern side of the mountain. On it’s western side is Fleetwith Edge. I spotted this from Haystacks last year and vowed to return to go up it. In May I did just that, but it wasn’t quite what it seemed.
From the side the ridge that forms Fleetwith Edge looks quite narrow and exposed, but this is quite deceptive. I thought that it would offer a serious scramble, but up close and personal things changed.
|A montage of two photographs of Fleetwith Edge|
Situated at the eastern end of Buttermere Lake, I chose to approach Fleetwith Pike from Buttermere village. I parked in the National trust Car Park near Crag Houses. The walk to the foot of Fleetwith Edge is pretty straight forward on either side of Buttermere, both eventually leading to Gatesgarth Farm. One hundred meters or so past the farm, walking up the B5289 (Honister Pass road) you come to a track on your right which leads onto the footpath up Fleetwith Edge.
The very first crag on the edge, known as Low Raven Crag, is also the home of a memorial cross and a reminder of how perilous walking and scrambling can be. It marks the place where a young girl, named Fanny Mercer, while out walking with the family she was a servant girl to, jumped down from a ledge, stumbled and fell. The girl suffered fatal injuries and died shortly after.
There is a path that leads past Low Raven Crag and up past High Raven Crag. At this point there is little in the way of scrambling, but the going is fairly steep at times. There are some really nice spots to make a stop and take in the views.
And even at this low point in the ascent the views are pretty amazing. Looking out over Buttermere and you are starting to see one of the quintessential Lakeland views.
Around three quarters of the way up the edge and it starts to get rockier. I have to admit that if you follow the well trodden route you find that you never have to put hand to rock.
There are however opportunities to if you want to by straying slightly off track. I would be cautious as to how far off track you go, there are some steep drops off to the sides in places.
At this point you are able to see some of the areas well known peaks, Dale Head, Haystacks and Pillar.
But once onto the harder terrain it doesn’t seem to take long before you look up and see a cairn on the summit coming into view.
Up on the summit and the view out across Buttermere has become quite spectacular.
It was while I was looking round on the summit that I heard the familiar sound of a helicopter. The sound was coming from the direction of Pillar where I spotted a yellow Sea King helicopter carrying out a rescue. I’d seen an orange smoke flare going off on Pillar, but I have no idea whether it was a real rescue or a practise. But which ever it was the pilot was doing a good job in the strong wind that was blowing.
From the summit of Fleetwith Pike I followed the path that heads down to the Bothy at Dubs Quarry. It’s important to be careful here, especially if visibility is low that you don’t miss the path, or get your direction wrong as there is Striddle Crag to the south of the summit. The correct direction from the summit is to the south east. This brings you to a point a couple of hundred meters to the east of Dubs Bothy.
I was a bit pushed for time as I had gone straight to Buttermere from home, around 130 miles and needed to get to the campsite where I intended to stay before the forecast rain started. So I headed down the path leading down to Warnscale Bottom. It’s worth taking a couple of minutes to have a look at the waterfalls on Warnscale Beck. And where I could see the waterfall I also spotted Striddle Crag on Fleetwith Pike, possibly the site of a future scramble.
Heading back down the path and Buttermere comes back into view and my route back to the car. I had had a good morning out, but didn’t find the Edge quite as much of a challenge as I had hoped. It certainly tests the lungs, but isn’t quite so technical. But for the views, it is more than worth it.
And back at the village, the Double Jersey Cram Ice Cream went down a treat.