Thursday, 6 August 2015

Red Pike with Stile on a High

There are two fells with the name Red Pike in the Lake District. One resides by Buttermere, while the other sits on the opposite side of Pillar, near Wast Water. The Red Pike I’m covering in this post is the one near Buttermere. I’d spotted Comb Crags, part of the ridge that is formed by the three peaks of Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag the year before while on my way up Haystacks. This intrigued me and I had to have a look. I’d been told that you can see the Isle of Man from up there and was looking forward to some good views. Unfortunately the Lake District weather had other ideas.

My walk started at the National Trust car park just on the edge of the village of Buttermere. This car park can fill up quickly and is free if you are a National Trust member. From the car park you go down through the village and along the path heading south west to Scale Bridge.

The path then edges north west along the southern part of Crummock Water. It’s worth watching out for the foot bridge that takes you across Scale Beck. The bridge is off to your left and takes you onto Scale Beck’s northern bank where you will find the path that runs slightly uphill along the side of Scale Beck.
I was lucky at this point to have a visitor. I had taken the photograph of the bridge and was just in time to get a shot of a passing C-135 Hercules transport. The plane, to my surprise, flew down Crummock Water, over Buttermere and then banked over slightly and flew up Honister Pass. It almost looked as though they were about to run into Fleetwith Pike. An amazing piece of flying and I imagine quite an experience for anyone driving down Honister Pass.
A couple of hundred meters up the Beck and a quick trip through some Gorse and you find the foot bridge that will take you back to the southern bank of Scale Beck and up to Scale Force waterfall.
Initially it’s hard to spot the path that travels up above Scale Force due to tree cover and the angle of view. The path rise up along the left side of the waterfall and gives you an early clue to Red Pike’s name.
Once the path starts to level and has left the tree cover behind you end up in a small valley, an area called Bield on the map that to me was like being transported home to the Peak District.
There are several routes up onto Lingcomb Edge at this point. I stuck to the main route which is very clear to follow but quite an uphill slog. What I noticed at this point was the amount of cloud cover forming ahead, not good. From Lingcomg Edge I had a fleeting glimpse down onto the village of Buttermere.
But every cloud has a silver lining, corny maybe, but so true at times. I think I was very fortunate to experience Red Pike coming out from the cloud. An awesome but eerie experience, all at the same time.

On the path up Red Pike more evidence for the name.
Unfortunately at this point I was heading into pretty much a total white out. But I always seem to be lucky and find a friendly fellow walker to take my photograph on the top.
The next target was High Stile. At this point it became obvious that some very strict use of the map was needed. Finding High Stile was fairly straight forward. High Stile loomed out of the cloud ahead.
From High Stile you have to be a little careful with your navigation. Make sure you check your bearing and that you are heading in a south easterly direction. The path can get a little vague in low cloud but if on the path that follows the edge you should be okay, just watch that edge. I’d love to have been able to see down into Burtness Comb, but no such luck. The summit of High Crag was fairly unremarkable and I’m sure there were fantastic views somewhere in the murk. Oh well.

The path off High Crag, down Gamlin End, is fairly steep and the surface quite loose. So I would advise taking some care on this section and not rushing it. Especially when you are being distracted by the views of Haystacks clear below with Great Gable pushing up through the cloud in the background.
At the col between High Crag and Seat I took a turn left and towards High and Low Wax Knotts. This section of path is formed from larger rocks and makes the walking interesting.
Once down to the main Haystacks path that passes between the two Knotts you can head north and down towards Buttermere and the village itself.

I plan to do either this walk or something similar again in the future with better weather. I think a walk directly up High Stile could be called for, and hopefully get those views. I hope this doesn’t become my Lake District version of The Roaches.

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