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Buttermere, Floutern Tarn, Great Borne, Starling Dodd, Red Pike, Cumbria.
[ 15.4 km] Wed 08 Feb 2012

NY 1766 1707
I was later than normal setting off due to a mix up in my diary. I thought I was supposed to be somewhere else today, then found out I wasnít, so set off to do this walk. It was cold and clear when I walked down the road into Buttermere but I was soon in shadow as I reached Scales Bridge.

Newlands Hause warning - the road was clear!

The Old School House, Buttermere

wide view of Crummock Water

The path along the fell side to Scale Force I usually very wet but today is frozen solid. This was good in most places but large areas were sloping sheet ice and had to be by-passed by going up or down the fell side. My ice studs were in my pack but I didnít want to put them on yet as I still had a long way to go. Scale Force waterfall is in a deep ravine so was in shade. I went to have a look before crossing the wooden footbridge and continuing along the path to the west. I reached the sunshine but the ground was still frozen solid with large areas of ice. The views were very nice but Floutern Tarn was my next objective and still out of sight. Itís a while since I was in this area and I wanted to re-acquaint myself with the tarn as a possible camp for the future.

Scale Force

Looking back from Floutern Tarn

Great Borne summit trig point

There isnít a path leading directly to the tarn and it is necessary to climb high above and to the north to get access. It turned out to have no mobile phone signal so I dropped it from my future camp list. My next objective was Great Borne; up the side of Red Gill or by the popular route up Steel Brow. As Red Gill was in shade I went for the Steel Brow route as it has better views. I reached the fence at the base of the climb then followed it up the steep section to the level area of Herdus. The area was covered in frozen snow and I had some faint footprints to follow. The Ordnance Survey trig post gives impressive views across to the surrounding fells and also out to sea to the west. Douglas on the Isle of Man is 85 km away to the SW but not visible today. The descent to Scaw Well to the SE was a bit icy in places but crossing to Starling Dodd was much easier on the level ground. I met my first person of the day as he came along in the opposite direction.

Fence below Starling Dodd

Starling Dodd summit viewer

Starling Dodd was a bit of a trudge up the steep frozen snow and I had to try and find as many areas of clear ground as I could to get up. On the summit I met my second walker of the day. He was taking his time and having a good look through his binoculars at the distant mountains. The descent to Little Dodd was steep frozen snow so I had no option but to fit the ice studs to my boots and set off down. I looked back and the walker hade gone. He was nowhere to be seen and must have descended the other side of the mountain. I crunched my way across towards Red Pike and started up the steepening climb. The early clear sky was now overcast and the light starting to fade. On Red Pike summit I had the whole place to myself. I looked down the steep snow and ice descent and set off with some trepidation. The first part was quite exposed but when I reached the gully I felt more comfortable as the drop wasnít as severe. Below Dodd the path has been rebuilt in stone blocks but these were all covered in ice. I met my third person of the day coming up. He was young man, ill equipped with ordinary light weight walking boots and no ice equipment of any kind.

Icy descent to Buttermere

He continued up and I continued down. I kept looking back to check on his progress and hoping he didnít try and get to the summit in these dangerous conditions. Thankfully he eventually recognised the difficult situation and turned round to start his descent. My descent was still difficult as large areas of the path were completely covered in sheet ice. I had no option but to make large detours across rough ground of snow and heather. Eventually I reached Burtness Wood and could continue my descent in comfort and without ice studs. Buttermere looked very picturesque as I passed and Buttermere village was deserted as I returned to the car.

Buttermere in reflective mood