The High Stile Ridge

30th January 2011

This walk took on a whole new meaning on my ascent on the Scarth Gap Pass, for today my original plan was to retrace my steps slightly on the High Stile Ridge & peak High Crag, a summit I missed out on back in summer 2009 due to lack of time, as I was saying my walk today was to be pretty straight forward & due to a slight chest infection & general wheeziness I thought it best to keep this walk simple, so the plan was to summit High Crag & return via Gamlin End, summit Haystacks & take in Inominate Tarn then take on Fleetwith Pike via Dubbs Bottom & then a steep descent back to Gatescarth Farm.

That was the plan & not normal for me I might add, was that I changed the whole route with in half an hour into the walk, ‘What if Paul you do the High Stile Ridge?’ not the whole ridge because that would include both Fleetwith Pike & Haystacks, but if I slightly cheat & call this ‘The High Stile Ridge’ & not the ‘Whole High Stile Ridge’ as its commonly know as I’d be taking in three new Wainwrights, butterflies proceeded & the rest is history.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Western Fells
No mountain range in Lakeland is more dramatically impressive than this, no other more spectacularly sculptured, no other more worth climbing and exploring. Here the scenery assumes truly Alpine characteristics, yet without sacrifice of the intimate charms, the romantic atmosphere, found in Lakeland and nowhere else.

Ascent: 2,950 Feet, 899.1 Meters
Wainwrights: 5,  High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike, Starling Dodd & Great Borne
Weather: Overcast & Gusts On Tops,  High Cloud,  Highs Of  1 °    Lows Of  0 ° , Some Snow Flurrys
Parking: Gatescarth  Farm
Area: Western
Miles: 11.9
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Fleetwith Pike from Gates Scarth Farm, the car park was reasonably empty, only about four cars in all, the chances of knowing anyone while out on the Fells are pretty slim but I actually knew the occupiers of one of the cars as I had met them on an ascent on Skiddaw last year & became friends via my Facebook page.


Haystacks from Scarth Gap Pass, it was right about here I changed my mind on the route, High Crag is just on my right out of shot & is separated by the col top right.


The huge mass that is Fleetwith Pike & Warnscale Bottom.


Ahead is the col linking Haystacks (L,) My route will take me right at the wall & up towards Gamlin End & High Crag.


Haystacks looking over Seat, the fells in the background left to right are Brandreth, Green Gable, Great Gable & Kirk Fell.


High Crag summit cairn with Pillar in the background. On my ascent up High Stile I was joined by a fellow walker in the name of Andy, we were more or less doing the same route only I was to carry on to Great Borne & Andy was to descend Red Pike via Dodd & back to his car parked back at Gatescarth Farm, as for first time meets, me & Andy got on really well, we covered most subjects on & off the fells & found we shared very similar interests, its not very often this happens, its normally pleasantry Hi’s & Hello’s  & off you go but today I was more than happy for us two blokes to put the world to rights as we walked along the ridge.


Classic ridge walking as we walked towards Burtness Combe & High Stile.


Burst of light nearing the summit of High Stile.


High Stile summit cairn with hazy views towards Ennerdale.


The distinctive peak of Red Pike from just below High Stile’s summit, although not as prominent in today’s light the final steep section of the path is in actual fact red in colour caused by Syenite in the subsoil thus producing the red colouring of the fell. Although it appears Red Pike marks the end of the ridge the path drops just behind the summit & continues towards Starling Dodd & Great Borne & finally into the Ennerdale Valley.


Bleaberry Tarn, Red Pike & Dodd (Andy’s descent route)


Looking back along the ridge towards High Stile, the weather had remained dry & the cloud stayed high but obscuring the distant fells, I kind of got the feeling although the weather gods had got the forecast slightly wrong, this small section of the Western Fells was staying cloud free for the rest of the duration.


Red Pike summit cairn & shelter with High Stile in the background, it was time to say farewell to Andy as I wanted to keep going in good stead for the rest of the walk, we swapped email addresses & I left Andy in the comfort of the shelter brew in hand.


The haze continues over looking Crummock Water, Mellbreak, Rannerdale Knotts & Grasmore.


I’ve now lost quite a bit of descent as I head for Little Starling Dodd (the first of three peaks you see on the ridge) The wind continued to give the left side of my body a battering, again it was the chill effect this time making for some strange reason my arse incredibly cold!


Lingcombe Edge from my descent off Red Pike.


Starling Dodd summit cairn with Great Borne behind, I’ve really enjoyed the walk in between Red Pike & here but what I also noticed was just how incredibly lonely this place feels, the feeling of isolation was for me a startling reminder of just how remote this section of the ridge is.



Looking back along the ridge towards Starling Dodd, Red Pike  & Dodd, the first two summits I peaked earlier on in the morning are way out of sight by now.

The rocky strewn summit of Great Borne, it was a nice to be here albeit bone chillingly cold, my ridge walk was complete & now all I had to do was find my way off the summit & descend to Floutern Tarn, navigation at this point needed some concentration as there was no real paths to follow & I could have easily ended up in the wrong valley, so out came the GPS & even with guidance & no real familiarities of my surroundings I still managed to miss the path, my GPS however was telling me I was directly on the path, sometimes you’ve got to put the damn thing down & get back to thinking for yourself


Thinking for myself, the small prominent crest towards the right of the picture is where I knew I should be, I don’t mind admitting if I was on or off the path, but I knew I was heading in the right direction at least, being unfamiliar with the part of Lakeland what I didn’t expect next was this..


As I took a good look down the gully I could see on the right hand side that the grass in sections had been worn down & was obviously used as a path so at least it was  navigable, yes it was a steep descent but I have been in this type of gradeante before & I knew what to expect, so for the start of the descent I zig zagged my way down but found this difficult as there was so many large boulders to negotiate, so I made the most of my hands & feet & shimmied down backwards with my body weight firm towards the rock, standing up straight & losing your balance here would be pretty near fatal.


An entertaining shot upside down & through the legs of my view down.


Looking back up Steel Brow.


Floutern Tarn with the two peaks of Red Pike & Starling Dodd in the background.


Time to enjoy the walk out the valley of upper Mosedale, again sections of the path along here  were near non existent & I was glad the ground under foot was still frozen, this didn’t stop me reflecting just how great this walk had turned out.


If you are looking for peace & quite look no further than White Oak Moss, Bliss.


Mosedale & the ‘back’ of Mellbreak.


Sitting for a while as I cross Scales beck.


Rannerdale Knotts with Whiteless Pike & Wandope in the background.


My first real break of the day, for one reason or another my body sees fit its ritual to only feed after the walk & nearly back at the car, well I was still a good 1.5 miles away from the car at this point here resting just a short walk from Scales Bridge & I guess I couldn’t take any more, I needed to rest & get some food inside me, why the hell my body behaves this way I have no idea but I never have an appetite on the fells, here I slumped on this huge rock eating my thick cut ham & cheese spread sandwiches & finishing off the coffee in my flask, as I packed everything back up I held in my hand a curly wurly nabbed from the fridge at home that morning, right at this point a couple walked by & I got the impression ‘that guys having a picnic, snigger type of look’

Only I knew what I’d done that day.


Fleetwith Pike through Burtness Wood.

I’m wondering if this is a sign of things to come, me doing quite a bit of planning the week proceeding then just to throw it all away on the fell side & make my own route for the day, I think I’m liking the new me, plan yes, be safe paramount, enjoy the fells at your own leisure, hell yes.


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