Wild Camping On Haystacks

Posted in Wild Camping on Haystacks on September 3rd, 2013 by David Murphy




On the 31st August 2013
I set off to meet Michelle in a pub at Buttermere to do some Wildcamping on Haystacks. After a drink we headed off, the weather was fair only a slight shower on the way up. We stopped off at Warnscale Head Bothy where I have previously stayed with Paul themuss and was happy to see my entry in the logbook from Feb 2011 was still there and reading Paul’s Chris and Alex’s entry having a smile on my face reading them made my day.
Arriving on haystacks passing bleaberry tarn first then onto Innomite tarn where Wainwrights ashes were scattered,


we debated about pitching here and left the option open but I wanted to continue to the summit. Just down from the summit tarn here we pitched and I started up daveswildcamping kitchen, two angus burgers, onions and whole tomatoes.
We seen an amazing sunset which was over as quickest as it appeared due to the usual band of low cloud on the horizon.


The temperature was dropping and a chilly wind was blowing pretty strong so we decided to head for the tents. I lay in my Akto with the door open an hour or two keeping an eye outside for any signs of clear skies and stars but the cloud didn’t budge all night but the winds did and we had a very dry and calm night with some winds passing over the top of us.
We were up at around 07:30 I had my bacon and eggs, we packed up and started hiking again.

We hiked up the Seat and onto High Crag then it was High Stiles we met a couple who seem lost and then another guy whom judging by what he was saying had been walking in circles, the clag was thick in places and I had to refer to my Satmap at times even though Michelle was good with her paper map a gps fix was very helpful. The last hill of the day was Red Pike then it was off back to the cars.
Great fun and plenty exercise on this camp, thanks for reading watch my video below.

All Images are the property of Daveswildcamping, so no stealing, larger size of these images cans be found here.

Elevation 597 m (1,959 ft)
Prominence c. 92 m
Listing Wainwright
Location Cumbria, England
Range Lake District, Western Fells
OS grid NY193131
Topo map OS Landrangers 89, 90, Explorer, OL4

Haystacks, or Hay Stacks, is a hill in England's Lake District, situated at the south-eastern end of the Buttermere Valley. Although not of any great elevation (597 m, 1,958 ft), Haystacks has become one of the most popular fells in the area. This fame is partly due to the writings of Alfred Wainwright, who espoused its attractions and chose it as the place where he wanted his ashes scattered.[1][2] Its summit is full of interest and contains a number of attractive rock formations and tarns.

Topography[edit source | edit]

The Western Fells occupy a triangular sector of the Lake District, bordered by the River Cocker to the north east and Wasdale to the south east. Westwards the hills diminish toward the coastal plain of Cumberland. At the central hub of the high country are Great Gable and its satellites, while two principal ridges fan out on either flank of Ennerdale, the western fells in effect being a great horseshoe around this long wild valley.[1] Although lower than its neighbours, Haystacks provides the connection between the Great Gable group and the northern branch of the horseshoe. Immediately to the south east are Brandreth, Green Gable and Great Gable, forming the head of Ennerdale. North west are the well known trio of Buttermere fells, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike.

The Buttermere- Ennerdale watershed descending from Brandreth is initially indistinct, running north west across a broad plateau. After half a mile it reaches the rocky protuberance of Great Round How (1,817 ft) and then its character changes completely. The watershed narrows to fine ridge, steep enough on the Ennerdale side and rimmed by crags throughout above the head of Buttermere. The beauty of the scene is completed by a succession of rocky tops and nestling tarns, until the high point is reached at the western end. A sharp descent over rock now follows, leading to Scarth Gap (1,460 ft), a walkers' pass between the two valleys. Beyond the ridge rises again to High Crag, a steep climb on scree.

The northern face of Haystacks is topped by crags which giving a soaring curved profile from the settlement of Gatesgarth at their base. On the left in this view is Green Crag, while the highest section, unnamed on Ordnance Survey maps is called Big Stack by Wainwright.[1] Warnscale Beck, one of the feeder streams of Buttermere, runs down beneath Green Crag from its source near Great Round How. There are the remains of extensive quarries on the upper slopes of Warnscale, including Dubs, once served by a tramway from the summit of Honister Pass. Across Warnscale is Fleetwith Pike, a satellite of Grey Knotts.

The summit of Haystacks has a number of tarns. The highest is just below the top, generally referred to as the summit tarn but officially unnamed. Halfway along the ridge is Innominate Tarn, a popular beauty spot with an indented rocky shore and a line of tiny islets. At the eastern end is Blackbeck Tarn, a long slender pool which overflows through a cleft in the crags.[3]

Geology[edit source | edit]

The summit area is composed of flow banded andesite lavas, the Haystacks Member. A minor intrusion of quartz-feldspar-phyric microgranite runs along the crest of the ridge. To the west the Round Hows are examples of bedded breccias sandstone and tuffs.[4]

Summit and view[edit source | edit]

The summit sits on a short rocky spine, set at right angles to the ridge. Both ends of the ridge have cairns, that at the northern end being the accepted summit. A lower parallel ridge lies just to the east. The view is excellent, the high points being Gable Crag on Great Gable and the western panorama of Ennerdale Water and High Crag. Crummock Water and Buttermere are also well seen. The foreground picture revolves around Innominate Tarn, lying in full view to the east.[1]

Summit of Haystacks with High Crag behind

Ascents[edit source | edit]

Haystacks is most often climbed from Buttermere, either via the Scarth Gap Pass to the west, or Warnscale in the east. These can be combined to give a fine circuit. A longer variation of the Warnscale route via Dubs Quarry is also possible. Dubs can also be reached from the summit of Honister via the Drum House, significantly reducing the ascent required. Scarth Gap can be reached from Ennerdale to the south, particularly if staying at Black Sail Youth Hostel.[1] Longer outings take in Haystacks indirectly from Brandreth or High Crag.[5]

Name[edit source | edit]

Haystacks derives from the appearance of the summit cliffs. According to Wainwright, the name comes from the Icelandic stack meaning 'a columnar rock' and the correct translation of this should be High Rocks.[1]

Wainwright[edit source | edit]

Haystacks was the favourite summit of influential guidebook author Alfred Wainwright. He neglected to name the fell as a whole in his "best half-dozen" at the end of the Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells because of inferior height, but stated that for beauty, variety and interesting detail, for sheer fascination and unique individuality, the summit area of Haystacks is supreme. This is in fact the best fell-top of all..[1] Wainwright's ashes were scattered by his wife Betty near the shores of Innominate Tarn. In Buttermere church there is a memorial to Wainwright, and one can look out of the window to Haystacks.[2]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Alfred Wainwright: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Volume 7 The Western Fells: Westmorland Gazette (1966): ISBN 0-7112-2460-9
  2. ^ a b Hunter Davies: Wainwright: The biography: Michael Joseph (1995): ISBN 0-7181-3909-7
  3. ^ Blair, Don: Exploring Lakeland Tarns: Lakeland Manor Press (2003): ISBN 0-9543904-1-5
  4. ^ British Geological Survey: 1:50,000 series maps, England & Wales Sheets 29 and 38: BGS (1999) and (1998)
  5. ^ Bill Birkett:Complete Lakeland Fells: Collins Willow (1994): ISBN 0-00-713629-3