Fleetwith Pike Sunset

2nd June 2021

I'm a huge fan of sunset walks but getting one just right is extremely rare. If your the sort of person who wants it right every time sunset walks are not for you as the forecast is usually completely different to what you actually get. I've walked well over a dozen sunset walks and have had just two which have been perfect, you've just gotta keep going at it if you want the results I guess.

For two solid days the forecast for Buttermere had been bright sunshine up until 9pm only for the forecast to change during the drive up - it's at moments like this your stomach drops and you start to think 'here we go again' and more often than not, you're not going to get that sunset but if you're a real lover of the Lakeland fells not getting the perfect sunset won't matter because for me it's also about being on the hill when the day is preparing to end.

It's easy to get complacent walking the Lakeland fells during the day but at dusk the fells feel different, they grip at your heart strings and you start to notice things you normally wouldn't like the length of a shadow, the wildlife seems tamer too as I experienced this evening sheep were grazing just feet away from me, bird song is reduced to silence as the evening light begins to fade. From these moments on it's just you and your surroundings and no matter the light you can't help but feel enriched as you soak up the last remnants of the day.

Wainwright Guide Book Seven
The Western Fells


Fleetwith Pike

The view in retrospect is superb. There are no problems of route selection and no risk of going astray, a beautiful climb. Do It!


Ascent: 1,160 Feet - 354 Metres
Wainwrights: Fleetwith Pike
Visting: Black Star (Honister Crag)
Weather: A Bright Start Turning Overcast & Hazy. Windy Across The Summits. Highs of 23°C Lows of 18°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Below Honister Mine
Area: Western
Miles: 4
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 3 Hours
Route: Honister Pass - Honister Mine - Mine Track - Black Star (Honister Crag) - Fleetwith Pike - Mine Track - Honister Mine - Honister Pass

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA12 5XW
Grid Reference: NY 230 136


Map and Photo Gallery


Parking spaces, Honister Pass, below Honister Mine 19:00pm 23°C

I timed to arrive below Honister Pass around 19:00pm arriving slightly earlier around 18:40pm. Despite this being a Wednesday evening given how warm and sunny Lakeland has been this week I was nervous I wouldn't be able to park but there was no such problem. I had a couple of menial things to do around the car which soaked up my spare time before lacing up behind my car as the evening wind whipped up dust clouds across the parking spaces.

A camper van arrives and a Liverpudlian couple get out and smiles were exchanged over the roof of my car. Moments later a car arrives who's driver quickly sets off up the pass wearing shorts, T-shirt and a beanie hat. While I finish kitting up I watched him disappear over the top of the pass. A VW Golf draws up and the bloke in the passenger seat asks for directions for Honister Mine "it's just at the top of the pass mate" Sound" he replies.

I'm good to go wearing just shorts and T-shirt myself I pack my new Alpkit Soft Shell then set off taking in the steep incline of the pass in my stride. I have two hours to reach Fleetwith Pike summit which is more than enough so it's small steps for now.

Passing the access Road (buses only) to Honister Pass National Trust Car Park with Grey Knotts behind.
At 350m the National Trust car park here at Honister is the trusts highest car park which also gives access to the footpath for Grey Knotts, although I could pass through the NT car park I head right here towards the top of the pass.

Reaching the top of Honister Pass.

It didn't take long to reach Honister Mine which was still busy(ish) with folk returning from the Via-Ferrata via the Honister bus which had just descended the old mine track seen ahead. I plan to use the same track to reach Black Star (Honister Crag) seen as the pointy crag in the right of the photo. The occupants of the VW Golf are also on the track who I suspect may either be wild camping on Fleetwith Pike or staying at Dubs Hut or Warnscale Bothy.

Early signs of cloud building up can be seen overhead but I remain optimistic for now.

Amazing slate sculpture of Ambleside's Bridge House.
Bulit by Edward Robinson.

Sculptured by Terry Hawkins in recognition of the endurance and strength of the many cyclists who complete the arduous climb up the Honister Pass.

The view down Honister Pass towards Gatesgarth with Robinson and Hindscath seen in the distance.

'The Honister Osprey'
Another amazing slate sculpture by Terry Hawkins.

Looking back at Honister Mine.
Above the mine and to the right the summit of Glaramara appears.

Dale Head and the remains of the Yew Crag incline.

Honister mine track.
This mine track is still in use today exporting slate from Honister Quarry to the workings below.

Almost at the top of the track now.
It hadn't taken me long to reach the top of the track (Honister Quarry) where those tell tale signs were confirmed with fading light and thick cloud gathering above.

Fleetwith Pike, High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike, Mellbreak, Buttermere, Crummock Water, Rannerdale Knotts and the Loweswater Fells from Black Star (Honister Crag) summit.
My fears were quickly confirmed by the time I had summited Black Star that I wouldn't be getting the perfect sunset but with that aside I would settle for this dramatic sky any day.


Green Gable, Great Gable, Sca Fell and Kirk Fell from Fleetwith Pike.
While in the foreground Brandreth can be seen (L) Great Round How (C) and the area around Blackbeck Tarn (R)

20:20pm settling in...

The two guys who had stopped me earlier in the VW Golf had set up a wild camp just below the summit but by now the wind was getting stronger making set up difficult. In the end they took everything down and moved further down the fell side towards a broad grassy shelf beyond which, Fleetwith Edge fell below.

From my hollowed perch just below the summit cairn I de-shouldered my back and added my Soft Shell jacket if only to take the edge off. Inside my pack I had a Chicken triple sandwich and a flap jack to enjoy while I gazed down on the Buttermere valley.

The High Stile ridge from Fleetwith Pike summit cairn.

After I had something to eat I had a quick wander about but with the wind strengthening it got cold quick so I returned to base camp and added a pair of gloves and a beanie.

Just over 24hrs ago I was complaining my head was going to explode because of the heat now I'm complaining it's too cold!

Sitting and watching.
As the minutes passed you naturally begin to take in your surroundings. By now it wasn't the sunset I was staring at but Kirk Fell and Pillar, two Lakeland giants settling in for the night.

Dramatic light.
By now the light was fading ever deeper only the afterglow of the sunset accompanied by the swaying of the grass as the wind howled above my sheltered perch. I am soon joined by two Herdies who appear from below who advance and graze until they are just feet away from my boots, surely they know I'm here but I don't make a sound I just watch until they steer around me.

Slowly intensifying.

Until the sun sets lower.

Into a wall of haze.


By 21:10pm the sun was starting to sink lower although it hadn't entirely set as the wall of haze made it look that way. There was still large pockets of light further east whose cloud was penetrated by what was left of the afterglow. It was time to leave while I still had reasonable light so I packed up and made my way back towards the summit cairn. Taking one last look back my heart performed one huge thump and I turned my back on the sunset and made my way back towards Black Star where two figures appeared wearing just shorts and vest, it was two young female fell runners making their way towards the summit and by time we passed it was too late for me to hastily remove my gloves and beanie, I'd been outdone by two local fell runners wearing nowt but shorts and vest.

In the fading light I continued my descent and arrived back at the mine track where I added my head torch. The light was more than enough to descend by yet I won't switch it on until I reached the top of the pass. I was soon bearing down on the car park at Honister Slate Mine and couldn't understand why at 21:45pm on a Wednesday evening people were arriving and double parking? I soon got my answer when I spotted what appeared to be an outdoor cinema on the NT car park were people sat in neat rows while watching Top Gun! The soundtrack to Top Gun accompanied me down the pass which felt strangely odd but it was nice to see so many people sat enjoying Maverick and Goose surrounded by the giants of Lakeland.


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