Lake District
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Distance: 8.1km
Elevation: 505m
Time: 2.5-4h

Difficulty Rating:

This is one of the gems in the Lake District and has a unique feel compared to most of the other walks in the area. It is noted as one of the favourite places for Lakes pioneer Alfred Wainwright.

Getting there

Get yourself to Buttermere and then head SE to Gatesgarth farm, where there is paid parking. Be aware, the roads to get to Buttermere are narrow and can be very steep.


When to do

When Dry, no fog

Backcountry Campsites




Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels

Moderate to High

Route Type



Detailed Description

This is a wonderful walk that could be great for families with young children, if not for the need to use your hands on the way up. If going with kids you can do the walk in reverse and walk up to Haystacks and back the same way, avoiding the challenging bits. These sections are not extreme and we have seen a couple take their three Dachshunds up with them, lifting them up over scrambly areas.

This is a wonderful walk and gives truly unique scenery in the Lakes. From the car park across from Gatesgarth Farm, cross the street and continue down the path to the right of the barn and through two gates onto a large track to the left of a hedge. Pass another gate at 275m and continue ahead before passing yet another gate in 275m and heading on a path uphill.

At the top of a set of stone stairs turn left and continue uphill. Starting in mid-May you will start to see occasional bluebells while you ascend. Bluebells reach their peak later in the summer. You pass yet another gate and continue ahead. You’re aiming for Scarth Gap which is ahead on the right-hand mini saddle.

After passing a stream (that could result in getting your feet wet after rain), pass through a stonewall and continue uphill, reaching Scarth Gap after 2.4km (2.4km from the start). From here, continue uphill to the left on a well-defined path. As you head uphill there are a few sections requiring use of hands. This scrambly section can be challenging if the trail is wet, however we have seen people take small dogs up this route.

As you pass over Haystacks the views unfold, and at 3.5km (3.5km from the start) you reach the stunning Innominate Tarn. As you walk downhill you get great views in all directions.

410m later you cross the stream that comes out of Black Beck Tarn and the left-hand path heading back uphill. After 450m ignore a path going off to the right and when the path splits in two 90m later, take the right-hand path in the direction of an old stone building on other side of valley. The left-hand path also takes you back down the valley but isn’t as scenic.

320m later you will need to cross a stream where poles can come in handy after lots of rain. From here on follow the well-worn path back down to Gatesgarth farm where you started.

Insider Hints

  • This path can be extended by starting in Buttermere and heading up Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag.

  • If you are driving, consider driving out of the beautiful Honister Pass road. Later in the day, when traffic is light this is a wonderful drive.

  • You can get to Buttermere from Keswick on the Honister Ramber Bus.

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