BB1626 : The BOOTiful BOOTboys of Buttermere

Wednesday 13th July 2016

As we walked along the side of the lake, we discussed the tale of the Fair Maid of Buttermere, Mary Robinson, who in 1792, as a 15 year old, was discovered by Joseph Budworh, an early precursor of Alfred Wainwright.

So taken was he with her beauty “.....with full eyes and lips as sweet as vermilion”, she became a tourist attraction following his publications plus a mention by Wordsworth.

Ten years later Colonel Alexamder Hope M.P. came along, wooed and married her.

She thought she had touched lucky and that he was the brother of Lord Hopetoun.  Sadly that was not the case.  The charlatan, properly named James Hatfield, had a trail of unpaid bills and when caught was hanged for forgery.

Fortunately for Mary and her child, the tale ends happily with her marriage to Richard Harrison with whom she ran the local inn.

Two centuries later, The Maid of Buttermere became the subject of a novel by Melvyn Bragg.


Across Buttermere to Rannerdale Knotts.....


..... and to Fleetwith Pike

By now we, the BOOTiful BOOTboys of Buttermere. had neared the end of the lake and were glad that we were not attempting what looked like a terrifying ascent of Fleetwith Pike (though its descent is magnificent- see BB1021). Instead we were heading right, up the Scarth Gap Pass with the intent of completing the High Stile range.

The climb up to High Crag from the col was brutal though not quite as bad as it first seemed.  You could see a path zigzagging along a steep scree slope and there was nothing to suggest that the path itself wasn’t scree.


The ascent of .....


..... High Crag

Actually, it soon became clear that the zig zag path comprised rocks laid to make a safe staircase.  I have previously been critical of some of the Fix-the-Fells efforts but in this instance they have done a magnificent job, turning what would otherwise have been an energy and possibly motivation sapping, climb into something manageable, albeit still requiring a high degree of effort.

From High Crag onwards was comparatively easy, with magnificent views, but unfortunately on reaching HIgh Stile the weather deteriorated.  Cloud swirled around us, sometimes offering tantalising glimpses of the Lakeland panorama, sometimes reducing visibility to a hundred yards or so.  Never dangerous but disappointing. What was worse was the cold.  The wind was quite strong and I have never been as chilled on the Lakeland hills in mid-summer(?) than today.


Looking back to High Crag


Glimpses of Crummock Water and Buttermere

Bryan was in charge so, although navigation was little tricky at times, we were safely led along the tops.  

Somewhere between High Stile and Red Pike!


Bleaberry Tarn

Crummock Water


Ennerdale Water

Bryan checks his compass

At Red Pike we had the option to abort or continue to Starling Dodd.  The weather had improved so onward we pressed which was important as it would be Terry’s 100th Wainwright.

Starling Dodd summit

Once again we had a decision to make.  Do we abort or continue to Great Borne?  I have to confess that had it been solely down to me (and I suspect Stan also) I would have copped out.  It looked a long way off and quite a steep climb but again John, Terry and Robin were keen to press on, so we did.

In fact, it had been an illusion and it was nowhere near as far or as big a climb as I had feared.

On to Starling Dodd, Great Borne behind

Comitibus: Great Borne

However, I had a little problem.  My camera also disliked the weather and at critical moments, the lens misted up internally, hence the lack of clarity in some of the shots, especially the Comitibus photo on Great Borne.

We come off by the northerly route.  Although it is a steep descent to Flouten Pass, there was no real difficulty but it did involve a long, long passage across the considerably boggy area that is the source of Mosedale Beck.  On the other hand we had a good look at Hen Comb and  Melbreak, anticipating the joy of having to cross that bog on a future occasion when those two tops are added to the tally.

In the distance we could see the Mosedale Holly Tree.  This is, as far as I am aware, the only tree marked on the whole of the UK 1:25k set of maps

Can you see the Mosedale Holly Tree?

Once out of the bog, it was a  pleasant descent to Buttermere in a now sunny afternoon offering fine views of Crummock Water, Buttermere and beyond.

Crummock Water, Buttermere and up to Fleetwith Pike

The local inn that the Fair Maid of Buttermere had run was the Fish but the BOOTiful BOOTboys had opted to stay at the Bridge Hotel instead where we received a very warm welcome from all the staff.  

Sadly Stan and Bryan had only got a one day pass so after a pint they left us to our own devices.  

This involved an excellent bar meal (I do like belly pork) and a modest number more of drinks.  Then Robin persuaded us to hit the whisky.

Bridge Hotel

However, to his disappointment, we wisely concluded that more than one would jeopardise Day 2 so the BOOTiful BOOTboys of Buttermere retired to our virtuous pits.

I have to say that mine was rather fine with a most comfortable double bed which I look forward to sharing with my own fair maid, Margaret, one day in the not too distant future- possibly at bluebell time when the nearby Rannerdale is said to put on a spectacular display.

 Don, Wednesday 13th July 2016
..... to be continued in our next:

Buttermere Church

Buttermere Village Hall





Wednesday 13th July 2016

Distance in miles:

13.9 (Garmin)

Height climbed in feet:

4,120 (Memory Map)


High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike, Starling Dodd, Great Borne


Bryan, Don, John, Robin, Stan, Terry


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1626 .

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be that up to date - or for the totals of   the mileages and heights (ditto) see the Excel file: BB Log.

You can navigate to the required report via the Home Page

Photos have been gleaned from many sources
although mostly from me and other
boys. Likewise written comment.

I apologise if I have failed to acknowledge properly the source or infringed
copyright.  Please let me know and I will do my best to put things right.

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A reference back to this website would be appreciated.


To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see Which Wainwright When? This may or may not be up to date!

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.
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BOOTboys 2016


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