Vivienne Crow joins the tops together for a western round which won’t appear on the usual lists: The Gatesgarth Round.

This route might not be on any lists of classic Lakeland rounds, but it takes in the ridges on both sides of Gatesgarthdale, so I reckon it qualifies. Horseshoe or not, it’s a cracking walk. So, Gatesgarthdale? Well, that’s the rugged little side valley you drive through on descending from Honister Pass to Buttermere. As impressive as it looks from the road, it’s far better when seen from the fells…

First tackle Fleetwith Edge, a series of rocky steps broken by easier, grassy interludes on a shoulder rising almost directly from Buttermere’s shores. Continue along the northern edge of Fleetwith Pike, high above the via ferrata, before dropping to Honister Pass. Hitting a road half-way through a fell walk might seem perverse, but it’s only a brief interruption. No sooner have your feet touched tarmac than you’re off again – climbing to Dale Head. Enjoying some of the most far-reaching outlooks in this part of the Lakes, including the Isle of Man on a clear day, a high and undulating ridge then leads to Robinson, the final summit of the day.

The Gatesgarth Round: route description

START/FINISH: Lake District pay-and-display car park in Buttermere village, GR NY173169 | MAPS: OS Explorer OL4 (1:25k), OS Landranger 89 (1:50k), Harvey 1:25,000 Superwalker Lake District North | DISTANCE: 15.6km/9.7 miles | ASCENT: 1226m/4021ft | DURATION: 6-7 hours

1. NY173169: From the entrance to the car park, go right along the B5289 and almost immediately right again along a track. Having passed between several buildings and out on to farmland, go through the pedestrian gate on the right. The trail swings left after descending bare rock. When another trail later drops right, keep left, soon walking with Buttermere on your right. Follow the shore path until you’re forced on to the asphalt. Continue south-east along the road, later passing Gatesgarth Farm.

Fleetwith Edge, left, and Hay Stacks reflected in Buttermere, as seen from the shore path at the start of the Gatesgarth Round

Fleetwith Edge, left, and Hay Stacks reflected in Buttermere, as seen from the shore path at the start of the route. Credit: Vivienne Crow

2. NY195149: Just after a cottage, the wall on your right ends. Turn right along a rough track a few metres beyond this. Immediately strike off left along an easy-to-miss path. This soon zig-zags its way up the northern flank of Fleetwith Edge to the top of Low Raven Crag. Before heading up the ridge, take a moment to savour the scene – the High Stile range, Hay Stacks, Buttermere… The ridge climb starts on grass, but there’s rock further up.

From Fleetwith Edge, looking down to Buttermere and across to the High Stile range_VCROW

From Fleetwith Edge, looking down to Buttermere and across to the High Stile range. Credit: Vivienne Crow

3. NY205141: The top of Fleetwith Edge is marked by a cairn. From here, follow a path roughly east. After 320m, bear left at two forks in quick succession, coming away from the main path but staying on the northern edge of the fell. Keep to this edge beyond the prominent rocks of Black Star, soon passing above quarry workings.

Looking beyond Hay Stacks to Pillar_DSCF1386

Looking beyond Hay Stacks to Pillar. Credit: Vivienne Crow

4. NY212140: A clearer path joins from the right. Ignore another branch to the right, which crosses a makeshift bridge. Bear left at a fork, later joining the quarry road 70m east of a large spoil heap. Turn left and walk along the road for about 150m. Just before it bends left, drop right on to a path that heads south for 180m to reach the remains of the old tramway’s Drum House.

From Honister Pass, the route follows a fence towards Dale Head_DSCF1737

From Honister Pass, the route follows a fence towards Dale Head. Credit: Vivienne Crow

5. NY215134: Turn left along the old tramway. Go right on rejoining the quarry road. From Honister Slate Mine’s vehicle entrance, turn right along the B5289. In 80m, you draw level with the western end of the hostel. As you do so, head up the slope on your left, beside the fence. When the fence ends, simply continue north on the trail.

6. NY223153: As you reach the large cairn on Dale Head’s summit, it’s all change… Suddenly, to the north, you can look down the u-shaped dale with Skiddaw perfectly framed beyond its far end. Walk heads west-north-west from here, along Hindscarth Edge.

Gatesgarth Round - The ridge path on Hindscarth Edge, between wp6 and wp7_DSCF9704

The ridge path on Hindscarth Edge. Credit: Vivienne Crow

7. NY214157: Drop to a grassy saddle and ignore a trail peeling off right to Hindscarth. Beyond Littledale Edge, the path climbs again and veers away from the fence for the last pull up to Robinson’s summit rocks.

Gatesgarth round - High Stile from Robinson_7535

High Stile from Robinson. Credit: Vivienne Crow

8. NY201168: Walk north for about 90m to locate a path that descends west, soon veering south-west. From the base of the slope, the route cuts across boggy Buttermere Moss – initially west-north-west. After a particularly soggy dip, it climbs again. Ignore a faint trail on the right here but, in another 140m, bear right (north-west) at an easy-to-miss split.

Crummock Water puts in an appearance from High Snockrigg_DSCF5460

Crummock Water puts in an appearance from High Snockrigg. Credit: Vivienne Crow

9. NY188171: On reaching the drier ground of High Snockrigg, you join a path from the left. A few strides further on, follow the main path round a sharp left bend, ignoring the narrower trail continuing north-east along the high ground. This old peat road descends west-south-west at first but then uses a series of switch-backs further down. The scene is now dominated by the tremendous north-facing corries of High Stile and its neighbours. Turn left when you reach the road and then fork right. Walk down towards Buttermere village, and the car park entrance is on the left 110m beyond the church.

Further information

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Bus 77/77A from Keswick (end of March to November),


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