High Stile and Red Pike

Link to map for walk up High Stile and Red PikeThis is a spectacular walk, but really one for experienced fell walkers only, including as it does the steep climb up the front of High Stile from Burtness Comb. At no point did my route come close to sudden drops, but the climb from the comb to the summit is steep all the way, so be warned!

With that in mind this is one of the most impressive walks possible from Buttermere. Burtness Comb is a rocky wilderness, overlooked by dramatic crags, and there is a great feeling of achievement that comes from climbing High Stile by such an apparently difficult route.

Ascent: 2,600ft
Length: 6.5 miles
Map: The English Lakes - North Western Area (OS Explorer Map Active) (OS Explorer Map Active)
Last Walked: July 2010

We start on the bridge in Buttermere, next to the Bridge Hotel

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Head into the centre of the village. Pass to the left of the Fish Hotel and follow the track as it turns left, right then left again on its way towards the lake shore. In the field next to the lake turn right and head towards the bridge over Buttermere Dubs, the stream that links Buttermere to Crummock Water.
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Cross this first bridge then head up to the footbridge at the foot of Sourmill Gill. Cross this bridge and pass through the gate that leads into the woods. There are two main paths through these woods - the lakeshore path and our current path. Stay on our current path, North Face of High Cragwhich runs parallel to the lower path, but higher in the trees. Ignore any path that drops down to the lake, and the stone stairs that head off to the right (heading for Red Pike).

Entrance to Burtness CombAfter about half a mile this path splits in two. Take the fainter right hand path, and follow it as it climbs out of the woods. Above the trees the path continues to run parallel to the woods. At the far end of Burtness Wood the path reaches a stone wall and turns right to follow the wall as it curves around into the entrance to Burtness Comb.

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The Floor of Burtness Comb Eventually the wall curves around to the left to head across the mouth of the Comb. At this point the path leaves the wall and continues to climb up towards the entrance to the comb, before splitting in two. The right hand branch is the public right of way up the front of High Stile, while the left hand path heads into the comb. Take the left hand path, which climbs up towards the rocky lip of Burtness Comb.

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The view down Burtness CombInside the comb a minor ridge climbs up between the flanks of High Stile and Comb Beck, taking us into the heart of the comb, and the base of the scree slopes on High Stile. Follow this rocky ridge until it comes to an end, then turn View north from High Stileright and head across the slope, ideally staying just below the base of the scree slope coming down from High Stile. This should bring you back to the footpath we left at the end of step three -turn left onto this path and follow it as it climbs up onto the summit ridge of High Stile, getting steeper towards the end.
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High Crag from High StileWe are now at the first summit of High Stile. Head across the small dip to the second summit, then turn right to follow the path that drops down to Red Pike.
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High Stile from the WestThere are two options on from Red Pike. The quickest route is to follow the path that runs down the front of the fell, down the saddle, then along the path past Bleaberry Tarn, and down Old Burtness back to the bridge over Buttermere Dubs.

Ennerdale from Red PikeThe longer, and more interesting alternative, takes us along Lingcombe Edge, towards Scale Force. Turn left (from our original line of ascent), and follow the path that runs down the western slopes of Red Pike (with the crags of Lingcombe Edge just to the right). A short distance down the fell this path splits in two - take the right-hand branch, which continues along the Edge (the other path heads towards Starling Dodd).

There are several different paths from Lingcombe Edge to Scale Force. Here we are going to take the path that runs across Blea Crag. Follow the main path as it runs along the top of the edge. Where the path splits in two take the right-hand branch, which runs on towards the end of the ridge. This path then runs down towards the northern end of the ridge, before splitting again - this time take the main left-hand path, and follow it all the way down to Scale Beck.

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Close-up view of Scale ForceOur path reaches the Beck just above the waterfall. Turn right onto the path running alongside the beck, then follow it as it drops down some rocky stairs towards the water fall. At the bottom of these steps our route onwards passes through a gate and heads to the right, running along the base of Blea Crag, but it is well worth taking the time to head left to visit Scale Force. After visiting the waterfall in its impressive gorge take the path onwards (through the gate). This path runs across some wet ground before eventually being joined by a second path from the left. The combined paths then run on to Scale Bridge.
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Cross Scale Bridge, then follow the track as it turns right, then left to cross the flat ground between Buttermere and Crummock Water. This eventually brings us back to the lane between Buttermere village and lake - turn left here and retrace your steps back to the village.

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