With Katarina. We started at Little Bullocks b&b at Hope End Green as I had been staying there. If you're not a customer public parking is not so abundant but this walk can easily be started at Hatfield Broad Oak or Takely. From LIttle Bullocks a track - Oak Lane - heads across something called Cow Common. With these names you would expect therev to be a lot of beasts here but it ius mostly arable land and we met no livestock till after Hatfield Broad Oak. Very easy walking on sometimes slightly muddy paths took us there past Hellman's Cross, Aldbury's Farm, Taverner's Green. From here we followed the Three Forests Way downhill to a footbridge and then north up Pincey Brook, passing some very placid cattle, and on as far as Bridgefoot Farm. Here we took a left and follwoed a footpath over the fields and to the right of some houses to find a road and after going down it a bit a gate into Hatfield Forest. This would have been nice to explore more thoroughly but it was getting late and coming on to rain so we heeded fairly briskly north to reach the Flitch Way. Easily east along this as the light faded for about 3km till a footpath over fields past Runnel's Hey wood took us back to Little Bullocks.
I drove to Buttermere from Keswick over the Honister Pass. Just after the top I passed a man on a bicycle coming up the other side, looking utterly spent and worn out. Come on, old friend, you’re nearly there, I thought, and in a few more turns of his pedals so he would be. I parked at Gatesgarth (Pay and display - remember to bring cash, it's a long way to the nearest cashpoint) and put my boots on. A very tiny friendly black dog came out to inspect me. I took the path past the farm, over the fields and up towards Scarth Gap that separates High Crag from Haystack. Getting high up on this path with High Stile as objective you start to envy the people heading for Haystacks. They are nearly there, you aren’t. Both Wainwright and the Nuttalls advise leaving the main path a bit before the gap and following a wall that goes off top the right. So I did. After a bit it turns right and after a bit more another wall (in a very poor state) branches off to the left. Following the latter leads steeply and roughly to the gap between Seat and High Crag. I wasn’t in great shape today - after a criminally sedentary October - and from here it still seemed a good stiff climb to the top. The last few yards were very hard work as I was utterly spent and worn out. I remembered the Honister cyclist. Catching my breath on the summit I soon accepted it had been worth the pain. Conditions were utterly perfect. Cold, to be sure but very calm and sunny with blue skies all round. On I went over High Stile towards Red Pike. I could see everything - Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water, Grasmoor, Skiddaw, Blencathra. Helvellyn, Pendle Hill, Great Gable, Scafell Pike, Scafell, Pilllar, the Atlantic Ocean, the Isle of Man and quite a lot of SW Scotland. All glistening in the early winter sun, the highest peaks, including my own, lightly dusted with snow.
Approaching Red Pike the path down towards Dodd from its summit looked alarmingly steep and precarious. And indeed, on close acquaintance it was pretty unpleasant, very steep eroded scree but the worst bit was close to the top and short-lived. Halfway to the col I took a couple of minutes' break to chat to a friendly young couple heading up. Dodd was a very little thing, a tiny irregularity in the northern slopes of Red Pike, one of those Nuttalls that are not Wainwrights. But the top is a lovely spot. And so down to Bleaberry Tarn and on down all the way back to Buttermere. This latter descent I had been led to expect from the Nuttals would be tedious and interminable. It was indeed tedious and interminable. Finally getting back to the lakeside path, there wasn’t much light left so I didn’t hang about. When I was almost back at Peggy’s Bridge I met the same friendly young couple as before. They told me they had had to make some haste racing the failing light down the slopes of High Crag. They had done the same walk I had but anticlockwise and in roughly 50% of the time it had taken me! Slow as I had been I was pretty tired and grateful to get back to my car and drove over the pass to the Scafell Hotel for some Hunter’s chicken and sticky toffee pudding. It had been a great day. The High Stile hills are well defended by long steep slopes making for a tough slog up and a pretty tough slog down but the ridge walk along the top is hevenly and worth the pain.
I parked in a small car park opposite the church. A sign said I was welcome to do so except on a Sunday morning when it was reserved for churchgoers. So maybe don’t come here in a car on a Sunday morning (unless you are a churchgoer.) There is more than one path on the ground heading up to the top of this nice easy little Wainwright. One starts just by the youth centre. I followed it for a bit and soon got to the summit. Another starts a bit further on (to the west) along the road that has just turned to a dirt track by here just where there is a park bench. Coming down this was where I ended up. A nice little walk when you don’t have much time to play with.