Haystacks in the Lake District -Breakthecage

Haystacks (or Hay Stacks)

OS Explorer Map OL4(1:25,000) & OS Landranger Map  90 (1:50,000)

This is another classic, and spectacular, Lakeland climb.  It wasn’t until Book 7 (The Western Fells) of his ‘Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells’ that the legendary author Alfred Wainwright writes about this wonderful mountain, describing it as ‘a shaggy terrier in the company of foxhounds’.  That’ll be a shaggy terrier with a huge personality then!  This is another of my favourite walks and the effort to scramble to the top is rewarded with more than breath-taking views, indeed it was on Haystacks that Alfred Wainwright chose to lie for eternity choosing to have his ashes scattered by the beautiful Innominate Tarn near the summit.

This walk starts in the stunning Buttermere Valley at the car park at Gatesgarth Farm at grid NY192150. From here it is a simple ramble along a track heading South West to a footbridge called ‘Peggy’s Bridge’ at grid NY189147. Cross over Warnscale Beck and follow the path up to and around the triangle wooded feature at the start of the ascent (grid NY188147).  The clearly defined path now leads in a southernly direction up towards Scarth Gap and the Pass.  To your front you can see Haystacks on the left and the fairly steep ascent to Seat on the right. The Buttermere Fells range continues past Seat, right to left as you look at it, with High Crag (744m), High Stile (807m) and Red Pike (755m).  These make a great walk in themselves and the first time I climbed Haystacks from Gatesgarth I actually continued along these features dropping down into the Ennerdale Forest by Low Gillerthwaite Lodge, but we’ll keep that for another day!

View of Buttermere from Haystacks in the Lake District

View of Buttermere from the Haystacks vantage point

600m or so after leaving the triangle woods you come to a little corridor provided by High and Low Wax Knott then head straight on for another 600m of ascent along Scarth Gap Pass until you hit the track junction at grid NY189133.  Turn left for Haystacks and the well-trodden route up should be fairly obvious although I not sure if this is exactly the same at what the map shows! This is a really fun scramble that offers stunning views over the Buttermere Valley.  My (then 9 year old) daughter loved this part, although not the fact I made her wear a helmet (I wore one too to set an example – most people don’t).

A bit of a scramble later and you hit the summit (582ms at grid NY195131).

Haystacks in the Lake District way up breakthecage

Enjoying the way up!

For me though this isn’t the best part and a short distance over the rocks to the north will bring you to a wonderful vantage point (and a Geocache) which overlooks Buttermere and the surrounding Fells.  A great spot for lunch! From here head south until you pick up the track running slightly to the south east and follow it down to the unmissable and beautiful previously mentioned Innominate Tarn (grid NY198129), a great spot for a second lunch!  From here on a good day you can look south towards Great Gable and Scafell Pike.

Continue to follow the path in a south east direction for 500m to Blackbeck Tarn where to path turns to the north east passing Green Crag on your left and Little Round How on your right to a prominent track junction at grid NY208134.  Turn left here and the well-defined Miners track, contouring the base of Fleetwith Pike, will lead you back to Gatesgarth Farm.

View from Haystacks Summit in the Lake District

A panoramic view from the summit of Haystacks with the stunning Buttermere Valley in the left and Great Gable and Scafell and Scafell Pike in the right. Half right is Innominate Tarn.


Haystacks Summit in the Lake District

Another view from the summit of Haystacks – Panoramic from Fleetwith Pike to Great Gable