My First Solo Hike in The Lake District
Updated: Mar 21
Location - Warnscale Bothy, Haystacks (597m) and Fleetwith Pike (648m)
Distance - 10km
Hours - 4-5 hours
Ascent - 849m
Route Map GPX (For OS Maps) Download:
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It only took a few solo hikes to realise I wanted to go out on a Wild Camp. I loved solo hiking so much that I wanted nothing more than to hike and spend the night on a mountain. So, after watching numerous YouTube videos on Wild Camping (and then thinking I was an expert 😊), I decided that the Lake District would be the best place to start.
(I must point out that Wild Camping is illegal in England and Wales. However, it is possible with permission from the landowner or following certain rules, and it seems tolerated. A blog post about this is coming soon.)
I wanted to hike to do a recce to find a good spot for my first camp. I had heard so much about Haystacks as it was Alfred Wainwrights' favourite fell in The Lake District and his final resting place, so I thought that must be worth a shot. So I marked out a route (as above) on my OS Maps. It came out at about 10km and included Warnscale Bothy, Haystacks and then back to Fleetwith Pike.
There is a good-sized car park with a pay and display machine (it wasn't working when I was there) just at the bottom of Honister Pass. The walk steadily starts along the base of Fleetwith Pike, following the stream. Once you get around the corner, you face numerous waterfalls and a steep ascent. Two people had already passed me, and I was only walking on the flat 😊, making me very self-conscious. However, I continued up the steep ascent and enjoyed admiring the beautiful waterfalls with the occasional stop. Once you are heading up, the path is quite hard to follow as it's very rocky. So the way isn't always obvious, but I found that heading in roughly the right direction was ok as it wasn't very technical. However, I felt a bit nervous navigating a mountain like this as I had never done it before.
I eventually found Warnscale Bothy; you don't see it until you are on it, and it is a treat, if for no other reason than to have a well-earned rest. It's a gorgeous little building; bear in mind that you must bend down to get in, though. It's just one room with two sleeping areas, a little fireplace and a cooking table, and a little window with a view to die for. I sat there for a while, had my soup, and took photos; all that hard work had paid off.
When you leave the Bothy, you only have a slight climb to get up to what I would call a plateau where you pass Blackbeck Tarn and then finally Innominate Tarn before you hit the top. Innominate Tarn is a gorgeous little tarn with mountains in the distance, the odd duck and the occasional person passing by; it's so tranquil, somewhere you could sit for ages. It's only a short walk to the cairn (a pile of rocks) at the top of Haystacks; you get a fantastic view down over Buttermere, and on a clear day, you can see for miles. The route I chose takes you back along the way you have come, which I wouldn't normally do, but I wanted to go down Fleetwith Pike. It's so gorgeous that it doesn't matter that you are retracing your steps, as it just doesn't look the same. Once you are onto the new route, you hit Dubs Hut, another gorgeous little Bothy but not in a beautiful location like Warnscale. This area is a disused quarry, so there is still some leftover debris, which is good to have a little explore around.
After the hut, you head towards another quarry, still in use, as there was some large machinery around. I found navigating the quarry quite tricky; it seemed like the paths had moved 😊. However, I eventually found the top of Fleetwith Pike, and wow, what an imposing mountain that is; it has a peak like you would draw when you're a kid. However, I timed it well, as some Paragliders were launching themselves off the edge. It was amazing to watch, but I wondered how much effort they had to put in for one jump! The very steep descent down Fleetwith is not for the faint-hearted. It involves getting on your bum to get down some drops, but I enjoyed it; my thighs were like jelly once I got down.
I have to say this was a fantastic hike, I was fortunate with the weather, and even though I'm not sure I could have picked a steeper route up, I loved it. Yes, it was hard, but the steep ascent paid off as you get to see Warnscale and the way down is a bit of an adventure. This hike made me realise that you don't have to go abroad to be surrounded by stunning scenery and to have an experience. You may have to get in the car and drive for an hour or so, the length of a film on Netflix; you can do that anytime. And if you are wondering if I did my first wild camp on Haystacks, you'll have to wait and see. (See my first wild camp blog post here)
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See The Beginners Guide to Wild Camping here
If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read, please contact me here
If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download the GPX route from above straight into it. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction.
Please check the weather before heading out; I use The Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) and look on The Met Office. As I'm out on my own, I always leave a map of my route with loved ones at home, and I check in throughout the day. I also use a Garmin Mini so they can contact and track me if I don't have a phone signal. I also always carry a paper map and compass and use GPS apps on my phone.
Disclaimer: At the time of this walk, all the rights of way were open, and the terrain was easy to navigate, I followed all rights of way as per the OS maps, but things can change. Please be aware that the weather/farmers etc., can change things and therefore, the route may not be as possible as it was for me. Please make your checks beforehand. Please get in touch with me if any information that I have included has now changed.