The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Red Pike, High Stile and Mellbreak

Red Pike (NY161155; 755m), High Stile (NY170148; 805m) and Mellbreak (NY148186; 512m)

imageWhat a fantastic day I have again had! Being greeted by clear skies as I looked outside this morning (quite an easy thing to do, as I’d slept with the skylight window and blind open), I made haste as much as was possible with chores to perform such as removal of ramps and hook-up cable, and the emptying of the toilet. Over Honister Pass I went, glad to be without any other traffic as I crawled my way down the other side, to park in the popular parking area at Buttermere*.

The most notable feature of today’s ‘circuit with arms’ (both of my Marilyn tops were out-and-back detours from the circuit) was the three steep climbs, which made it a harder walk than any I’ve done in Cumbria on this trip so far. The first climb, as far as Bleaberry Tarn was also notable for bearing a stone staircase almost its entire distance from the end of the lake of Buttermere – quite a feat of engineering, and one that made me glad to be ascending not descending.

Bleaberry Tarn with High Stile behind. I was to walk that ridge from right to left as shown in the snap.

The pull up to Red Pike (a bonus Wainwright in my day) doesn’t bear a stone staircase, but could do with one; it’s steep and awfully eroded. I’d intended to make it to the top before pausing for second breakfast, but the hunger and the sweatiness got too much a short distance below.

View along Crummock Water from High Stile

High Stile has two summits, not too far apart and with only a metre of height difference between them, but (a little ridiculously) they appear as separate entries on the hill lists, as the slightly lower top is the Wainwright summit and the higher is the Marilyn summit, so two ticks for no additional effort.

I’d passed one (denim-clad) chap bearing a camera at Bleaberry Tarn, and seen another chap up on the ridge to High Stile as I’d feasted on my hot cross bun below Red Pike. The next people I passed were a couple and a group of three as I made my way down Scale Beck (over 550m of height lost – sob!). Aside from another couple I saw from a distance descending Mellbreak, they were the only people I saw on the hills all day. Buttermere village was a different matter: heaving!

Scale Force - a high fall, but without much 'force', perhaps because of the recent dry spell

The clouds hadn’t started to fill the sky until I was up on Red Pike, but by the time I paused for a bite to eat alongside Scale Beck the cover was complete and one particular cloud was looking ominous. Cutting short first-lunch I made haste onwards, completing my descent before re-ascending via Scale Knott to Mellbreak. The pull up to Mellbreak was another steep one, but being on cropped, firm grass, the going was pleasant.

Looking along both Crummock Water and Buttermere from Scale Knott (I think). Mucho haze making the lumpy bumps around look far less prominent.

Happily, the clouds had started to clear by the top, so a pause was had to dispatch my second sandwich and a bit of chocolate and, for the first time in a week, I had to don my fleece, albeit only for the time I was stopped. Moving again, and back out of the breeze, I was soon glowing once more.

Some of tomorrow's hills, as seen from my second-lunch spot

My outing was completed by a stroll along Crummock Water which brought me back to my start point with 10.3 miles walked involving in the region of 4000’ of ascent.  The only negative in the whole outing was the haze, which has made my photos even less illustrative than they usually are, but even through the haze I’d enjoyed those views immensely.

(*three other vehicles were already present when I got there. By the time I looked back from the top of Red Pike I could see parked cars snaking up the road. Visiting the National Park car park later, on my way back to Colin, I saw that the charge there was £8 for stays of more than 4 hours (and to add insult to injury, there’s a 20p charge to use the toilets there), making it unsurprising that people park for free just up the road. In my view an £8 payment to the National Park Authority to enjoy a day on the hill isn’t too bad – if your visits are infrequent (i.e. not daily) and there are at least two people in the car. For a singleton visiting hills every day, £8 per day to go walking feels, to me, to be excessive. Still, in eight days I’m yet to pay for parking (beyond a couple of charitable donations in honesty boxes, but I consider those to be donations rather than parking fees) so I can’t really complain.)


  1. Read it to Mum. She was mightily impressed - as was I.

  2. Brilliant round of hills. Well done Gayle. £8 far too much but typical NPA.

  3. Great stuff, Gayle, but a shame about the haze. We had some huge evening thunderstorms in the Manchester area.