After two days of near constant rain, good weather was forecast so our leader Julian planned a walk all along the ridge on the far side of Buttermere opposite our base, Hassness House. Water levels in the lake had risen and paths there were partially flooded, but on reaching Sour Milk Gill and starting our climb we virtually said goodbye to moisture underfoot. Good path through the wood, with no drips! After the treeline the great views began, and they really do improve as you get higher: so many different shades of green. Some heather was just beginning to bloom and everything looked so clean. Stones were damp but not slippery, and we zigzagged up to Bleaberry Tarn, out of which water gushed out down the hillside.
As a team we successfully negotiated the stream. A farmer out on the hillsides was shouting hoarsely to his dogs, and sheep appeared to be stampeding wildly at breakneck speed. Onwards and upwards to Red Pike: the difficult bit of scree is at the top, but not looking down or backwards is good advice and we hauled ourselves to the summit.
Shorts and t-shirt were enough as the delightful easy promenade took us south-east along the ridge to High Stile, where we ate our packed lunch (with Paula’s to-die-for flapjack – recipe available on request!), enjoying fabulous vistas in every direction. Next stop was High Crag, where a peregrine uttered its high alarm call then swooped above the cliff edge before us as we ventured on to Seat. The views were tremendous: over the mountains which aficionados recognise and name, out over the Solway Firth where the ocean turbines stand sentinel, and down to the valleys ringed by neat fields, woods and everywhere white rushing streams – but no water on the tops!
There were some demanding descents from the peaks but, with care, time, and help from Julian, these were all accomplished without incident. At Scarth Gap some descended to the distant ice-cream van, while others went for the ‘full monty’ of Haystacks. It proved to be an enjoyable scramble, rather than difficult, taking us to the peaceful serenity of the wonderfully-named, Innominate Tarn, Wainwright’s final resting place. Not a breath of wind, but the sky gradually darkening… the final path down alongside a rushing beck felt a little like a race against the threatening elements, and sure enough 20 minutes from home cagoules were donned; but this did nothing to diminish the sense of satisfaction of the returning wanderers.