Buttermere ‘Three Peaks’
Staying for a few days in Buttermere made me particularly hope that, out of all the many excellent fell-walks in the area, I would be able to attempt for the second time the traverse of the 'Three Peaks', i.e., High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike. These three fells are very scenic in themselves, towering as they do above the whole of the south-east shore of Buttermere, but they also give rise, especially from the long ridge interconnecting them, to superb panoramas in all directions. The other objective I had in mind for this walk on this occasion was to attempt the ascent via 'Sheepbone Rake' on High Crag, whilst still hopefully fit enough to do so. This is a steep, long gully cut into one of the main summit prominences, Sheepbone Butress, and considered by Wainwright and Richards to be something of a challenge for the ordinary fell-walker. I am glad to be able to report I made it safely up, though I am of course definitely only among the most ordinary of walkers!The route went from Buttermere village, along the south shore of the lake, and then briefly up the Scarth Gap path, before soon turning right to go slantwise over to Low Crags and from there to the 'mouth' of Birkness Comb. I then entered this maginificent rock-chamber until I reached a point near the back of it at more-or-less the same height as the entrance to Sheepbone Rake. From here I duly contoured over leftwards to the gully mouth and clambered slowly up into it, sticking mainly to the left hand side, where there seemed to be slightly more turf and a little less rock. Eventually a more open and less steeply-sloping section appeared on the right, which I turned up, in due cousre arriving thankfully at the summit. Needless to say, the panoramas all the while down to Buttermere and beyond were stunning, making all the effort of this way up very well worthwhile.I then traversed the ridge connecting High Crag to High Stile and then Red Pike, sticking close to the northern rim and visiting all the main promontories. At this point, however, the cloud came down somewhat, and never really lifted from Ennerdale at all, thus preventing any really good views towards Pillar and Steeple, unfortunately. However, from time to time there were nevertheless brief, dramatic glimpses to the north and west all the way along, and by the time I arrived at Red Pike summit, summer weather conditions had thankfully returned!At this point I decided to eschew the direct route down (via Bleaberry Tarn), having acquainted myself with its roughness and steepness on a previous occasion, and even though much longer, chose instead to descend by Lingcomb Edge and Scale Force. This also had the advantage of bringing into view several perspectives which were new to me.So, as should by now be clear, this was an outing that provided all that is best in Lakeland walking, in spades!Highest point (High Stile): 807 m/2648 ft. Distance: 14.8 km/9.22 miles. Ascent: 948 m/3111 ft.FURTHER INFORMATIONFor further details of this walk, see the following:Richards, M. Lakeland Fellranger series - The Western Fells (2011). Cicerone. Wainwright, A. A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book 7: The Western Fells (1958). Westmorland Gazette/Frances Lincoln. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL4 (1: 25 000) The Lake District: NW Area [or equivalent].
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