"The best fell-top of all" according to fell-walking legend and Lake District cartographer Alfred Wainwright. The illustrious fell-walker did so enjoy the summit of Haystacks that his last wish was to have his ashes sprinkled here.

It’s easy to see why Wainwright was such a fan. The rugged wilderness of the summit, complete with its own tarn (body of water) and views over Buttermere is unrivalled.

This is a long walk, so leave plenty of time to complete it, and be prepared for some scrambling.

The Route

Ennerdale and Crummock Waters from Haystacks

Ennerdale and Crummock Waters from Haystacks

Go through the farm via the gate at Grid Ref NY 194 149 and follow this path over the bridge at the southern end of Buttermere. After the bridge at Grid Ref NY 188 147, you can turn right to go around Buttermere, but instead continue straight onto a path through the trees.

Turn left onto Scarth Gap Pass at Grid Ref NY 187 147. Follow this pass, which is fairly well maintained, up to the crossroads at Grid Ref NY 189 133. Turn left at these crossroads and this path will lead you to the summit at Grid Ref NY 192 132. The path is very steep in places, and some scrambling over rocks is required.

The summit is marked by an outcrop of rock with a cairn on top. Continue straight over, passing Innominate Tarn, which is a great spot for a picnic, and Blackbeck Tarn. Veer left at Grid Ref NY 205 132. The rocky, windy path continues down with great views out towards Buttermere and Crummock Water throughout, before eventually leading back to Gatesgarth Farm.

Useful Information

Parking: There is pay and display parking available at Gatesgarth Farm, at the south-eastern end of Buttermere, accessed via the B5289 from the village - Grid Ref NY 195 150; During the summer months you can also get an ice cream here as a reward

Start Point: Grid Ref NY 194 149; Opposite the car park there is a gate onto a path through the farm, adjacent to a post box

Summit: Grid Ref NY 192 132; 597 metres above sea level

Distance: Approximately 5 miles

Terrain: Rocky paths, often steep with loose stones, some scrambling over rocks in places

Total Time (Ascent & Descent): 5 hours

Suitable For: Adults with moderate fitness; Older children


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