Haystacks (and bluebells), from the path to Scarth Gap

Height: The OS have finally decided that the height is 1959 feet above sea level, and this is now recorded in the second edition (after the first edition noted that sometimes the height was cited as low as 1750′).

Volume: Book 7 (The Western Fells).

Date climbedFirst visit: 26th April 2010 (walk 13). Second visit: 13th May 2019 (walk 162).

Innominate Tarn

Innominate Tarn. The horizon is comprised of (l-r) Brandreth, Green Gable, Great Gable and Kirk Fell.

Bagged as numberFirst round: 45 out of 330. [ << Fleetwith Pike (44)  (46) Brandreth >> ]

Second round: 200 [fanfare…] of 330. [ << Fleetwith Pike (199)  (201) Gray Crag >> ]

Route of ascent and descent: First visit: Came off Fleetwith Pike down to Dubs Quarry and ascended from there. Left “round the back” of Innominate and Blackbeck Tarns and then followed the fence up to Brandreth.

Second visit: Came onto the fell the same way. Descended to Scarth Gap and then Buttermere.

What Mr Wainwright says (from page 10 of his chapter): “Haystacks fails to qualify for inclusion in the author’s ‘best half dozen’ only because of inferior height, a deficiency in vertical measurement. Another thousand feet would have made all the difference.


View of Haystacks from Little Round How

“But 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 – a place of great charm and fairyland attractiveness. Seen from a distance, these qualities are not suspected…. it is dark and sombre even when the sun sparkles the waters of its many tarns… There are fierce crags and rough screes and outcrops that will be grittier still when the author’s ashes are scattered here.

Yet the combination of features, of tarn and tor, of cliff and cove, the labyrinth of corners and recesses, the maze of old sheepwalks and paths, form a design, or a lack of design, of singular appeal and absorbing interest. One can forget even a raging toothache on Haystacks.”

View from Haystacks summit

View from Haystacks summit, showing the summit tarn. High Crag is the peak in the background.

What I say: It is well known that Haystacks was Wainwright’s favourite fell. There has been a debate about renaming Innominate Tarn as Wainwright Tarn, as it was the specific spot where AW’s ashes were scattered, as he hinted at in the passage above. This may well have happened by now. Certainly that was an idyllic place.  As for the fell as a whole, the crags are certainly dramatic, the situation and views impressive, and the summit very interesting. I think anyone would enjoy this fell and it clearly would gain from intimate exploration, as well as ascent up the front face, direct from Buttermere, via Warnscale Bottom, rather than coming at it round the side as I did (both times).

[ << Haycock      Helm Crag >> ]


One Response to “Haystacks”

  1. […] walking in Lakeland can be found, and walk 162 did not disappoint. It bagged me Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, two very fine fells with plenty of interest not just in walking terms but also for the quarries, […]

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