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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Wainwright's Way - Haystacks and Honister

Sunday 10th November and Monday 11th November 2019

Sunday - Honister/Haystacks/ Buttermere

Monday - Rosthwaite/Honister


Forecast good for Sunday and poor Monday therefore do the grand finale Haystacks finish in good weather on Sunday and fill in Rosthwaite to Honister on Monday after staying overnight in the Glaramara Hotel in Seatoller.


There was an added complication for me to this schedule. On Monday we needed to walk from Rosthwaite and ascend steeply to Honister Pass summit a distance of about three miles in time for me to drive back home for the meeting of my book club back in Arnside at 2:00 pm.

To maximise time available on Monday morning at 7:30 am we took both cars to Honister summit leaving one and returning to the Glaramara Hotel for 7:50 so we could do the cereal part of breakfast prior to the official 8:00 am breakfast starting time. We then drove to Rosthwaite left the car and walked in strong wind and rain for most of the way to Honister. There was an excellent fix-the-fells- path come staircase to gain height quickly taking us onto the old unsurfaced road and a gentle ascent from there on to Honister summit. In the wet conditions I only took one photo: the Glaramara hotel as we passed back behind it on the way to the Honister footpath. A quick drive back to Rosthwaite and I was back home for 12:15 in time for a hot bath and a snack before my meeting.

On Sunday we had planned to rendezvous at our Buttermere finishing point at 9:00 am. I arrived first and was taken aback as I arrived from Newlands to find cars parked parked precariously all the way back for about quarter of a mile from the junction with the main Buttermere road. The car park down past the Fish Hotel was also full, but BC is a member of the National Trust and we used their car park a few hundred yards further up the road out of Buttermere. We never found out why there were so many cars parked so early but it may have been due to a fell race.

When we arrived at Honister although we were aware it was Remembrance Sunday we had forgotten about the annual service held on Great Gable by the Fell and Rock Climbing Club. There were around two hundred cars parked on the huge slate mines car park and we had some difficulty in finding a spot - free parking had been declared for the day.

We walked up the slate mine road before joining the path that lead us to Haystacks. I looked across the Honister road to Yew Crag with some sadness. I climbed with Tony for six or seven years before he died from illness in 2003 - Tony always lead and I followed, usually up to HVS (Hard Very Severe) standard. Tony was very competent and so safe -  I followed in my less than elegant fashion and always managed except for the one occasion on that Yew Crag across the valley on a climb called Cleopatra where I couldn't even get off the ground after Tony had lead the first pitch. Finally we had to give up and Tony had to abseil off leaving a sling behind which he was not too happy about - ah well.

We had cloudless blue sky and almost no wind giving us a magnificent day to finish what has been an excellent walk throughout. Innominate Tarn where Wainwright's ashes were scattered was at its best...

"All I ask for at the end is a last resting place by the side of Innominate Tarn on Haystacks where the water gently laps the gravely shore and the heather blooms and Pillar and Gable keep unfailing watch. A quiet place, a lonely place. I shall go to it, for the last time and be carried, somone who knew me in life will take me and empty me out of a little box and leave me there alone.

And if you dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me..."

...and we pressed on to Haystacks summit - I caught a patch of sunlight on distant Pillar bringing back more climbing memories. 

I have been up and down the Haystacks to Scarth Gap scramble before treating it I guess with pleasant anticipation and then enjoyment. Today as I saw the steep start dropping off vertically it was more with trepidation and I found it pretty challenging and bringing into focus that such sections previously done without a care now need to be given serious consideration.

We opted to walk back up the  more pleasant elevated path on the western side of Buttermere lake - Nick Burton's route goes on the eastern side near the road.

We had hoped to round off the day by paying homage to the Wainwright memorial window in the little church at Buttermere but as we arrived outside the door we hear a cornet solo being played for the remembrance service that was being held.

The Glaramara Hotel in Seatoller gave us a most friendly welcome. We had a long chat with the proprietor - this is an excellent hotel, with a particularly comfortable ambience.

These last two days had provided a superb finish to what is an excellently devised route keeping alive the exploits of Alfred Wainwright for which I seem to gain ever more respect contrasting with a kind of dismissal back in the days of my youth when rock climbing took precedence over walking.

This and below - cars parked at Honister Pass for ascent to Great Gable and the Fell and Rock Club Remembrance Day service held annually there

Our route went up the old slate working road above the cars

Yew Crag, scene of my failed attempt with Tony on the climb Cleopatra. The crag is central to left of top of scree

Looking back down Honister Pass. The main road is well below the quarry road in the centre.

Looking back at the Honister slate quarry workings and all the parked cars

Mountain bothies Association bothy on the way to Haystacks, and below

Buttermere and Crummack Water

Blackbeck Tarn - and below

Sunlight on Pillar

Innominate Tarn where Wainwright's ashes were scattered.

Buttermere and Crummack Water.
This is the start of the scramble descent going down the rocks in the foreground

At the bottom of the scramble down to Scarth Gap - others going up

The scramble down to Scarth Gap

Fleetwith Pike from the southern end of Buttermere

Fleetwith Pike again

Glaramara Hotel where we stayed. Glaramara is peeping up at horizon with snow


  1. An excellent finish and choice - i bet you were in 'transports of delight' at getting up into the high encircling hills again on this expedition : good tactics to seize the weather day (I wondered if you would have made the finish on Saturday or Sunday in one push from Rosthwaite - easy at 19 but a little less at a few times removed.
    As ever, I have thoroughly enjoyed, vicariously, this splendid route and your enticing descriptions of its delights and sights.
    Good one.

  2. gimmer - yes, we both agreed that tagging those two together even with favourable weather would have spoilt the enjoyment. You are of course right in assuming my joy at being back in proper hills after a longish absence. BC is a master of logistics for this kind of thing as well as devising ingenious solutions on lowland walks combining public transport and double stays at overnight locations.

  3. That’s living a Conrad. I particularly liked the fact that you returned home for your book club meeting.

  4. afoot - do you think "Living a Conrad" is going to go into The Oxford Book of Phrases if there is such a publicastion?

    1. Regrettably, I meant to type “That’s living, Conrad”. All the same, the original does have a certain ring to it.

  5. Of course I should also have said that I thoroughly enjoyed your account of both days on the fells and your excellent photos. Cumbria’ magazine arrived yesterday too, so it was all Lake District reading over coffee.Ideal for a miserable wet day.

  6. An excellent couple of days.
    Your scrambling red dots could have come all the way down from the summit cone of Haystacks.
    By the way, Cleopatra etc are on Buckstone How

  7. BC - Thanks for that. I see that first pitch is only 4c which is supposedly normal VS rather than HVS (the overall grade of the climb) - the description doesn't seem to register with me but I am sure it was that climb.

  8. I've mentioned this before. Pre-war, only educated climbers climbed; or at least only educated climbers got to christen the climbs they'd done. And when I say "educated" I'm not referring to such modern qualifications as physics and astronomy; in those days education meant only one thing - the grandly if vaguely named "classics".

    And where a classical allusion didn't come easily to hand these gilded chaps (they were nearly always chaps) sought to wave their educated banner by adding syllables. The tarn where Wainwright's ashes were scattered is - for those whose language is less lofty - Unnamed Tarn. But that wouldn't do for these "clever" men. They went for something more obscure. Which means it's not only hard to spell it's hard to pronounce (there's a crack somewhere which uses the same adjective). Wainwright even manages to make two spelling errors in it which suggests he couldn't pronounce it either.

    The core to this word is the French noun nom. I see you got it right in the caption.

  9. RR - Mea culpa. Corrections have been made. I think the Wainwright error was probably mine. The quote was protected against copying and I had to type it myself.

    W was not classically educated but I would be surprised if he had made that spelling error. I don't have his book that includes it so can't check at the moment. W excelled at secondary school in Blackburn then went on to qualify as an accountant via night-school.

  10. i'm going to parade my five terms of misery to assert that surely the modern western root is nomen, derived from the greek (transliterated) ónoma, and from which came nom, Name, name etc etc :
    before that there were other similar sounds in Sanscrit, Aramaic, and so on, back to more basic prehistorical sounds forming the first languages - probably out of Afric - I met a man at a party who studies the origins of language, proving unequivocally that human language evolved from sounds made by african monkeys in mutual grooming millennia past. Now holds an Oxford chair, unsurprisingly.
    I prefer Innominate - sounds much nicer than Unnamed - even Tarn of No Name is better than that - it actually sounds like a name, not an invitation to naming it - all of which reminds me of how the apparent magic of Gaelic mountain names vanishes when translated into their direct English versions: glen of the black mud or hill of the bare stones don't quite stir the same emotion !

  11. gimmer - Whilst I reckon your comment is aimed at RR I accepted your first paragraph as an admissible theory.

    As I read the second paragraph I was beginning to wonder if the date was 1st. April.

    As for the Scottish (Gaelic) geographic nomenclature, I have always had difficulty with the pronunciation despite trying to learn from on-line tutorials, but I agree wholeheartedly with what you say.

  12. Isn't Sanskrit spelt with a k? Rhetorically that is.

  13. No idea - the transliteration is vague enough let alone deciphering how the ancients' spoke - although I understand that the main Indian tongues do derive from it, but that there are several thousand variations, hence the continued dominance of English, despite the JNP's efforts. So how they write and speak the cr or kr sounds seems to be a subject not dissimilar to the neither or neether issue (argument about the latter has divided many promising personal unions so why not nations having similar schisms!)
    Para 2 - all true - could give his name and that of the seminal tome but for conventional third person ascription . . .

  14. In that case let me point out I said "core" - which is surely inarguable - and not "root".

  15. can we keep this up for 100 ?
    high time for another marathon - though
    somehow i suspect this has no impetus other than for a gathering of angels on a pin-head -but am willing to be shown to be wrong

  16. Alan R - Thanks for your comment.

    Gimmer - I'll leave you two to it (sounds like an owl.)

  17. Gimmer: I prefer the initial cap - the crag agrees with me too, it seems.

    "No impetus", forsooth. You're too pessimistic, too prescriptive. The last couplet represents an open door to a wide-ranging analysis of the nature of argument. The exact point at which weaselling is introduced; where civilised exchanges go out of the window and all that is left is the will to win. Just in case you imagine I've surlily gone all West Riding, I am referring to my response, nothing you've said. Contumaciousness (note how the syllables multiply), what is thy true name and are you into inter-galactic domination? The world at least is our conversational oyster.

    But perhaps you're right. Silence, if not golden, is high up on the periodic table.

  18. You've lost me already - except the bits about the periodic table and outer space (The Periodic Table - an apposite reference, seeing this year is the 150th Anniversary of its publication and thus, of course, subject to wild global - if not to say cosmic - rejoicings and commemorations) - 'Silence' must sit between hydrogen and helium, I suspect - poof and it's gone - amidst the clangour of Group 8 metals, naturally.
    One reads of the deep silence of space - but now it seems it may be quite noisy, assuming one has the ears to hear. Almost by definition, the Big Bang must have been noisy - certainly created a lot of clamorous debate here on Earth.