Exploring the English Lake District: Outdoor Activities in the Buttermere Valley

The English Lake District looks beautiful when framed by a car window, but to really experience the splendor and majesty of the area it is necessary to leave the car behind and explore the Lake District under your own steam. The Buttermere Valley in the north west of the Lake District offers amongst other sports: walking; fell running; fishing; boating; and cycling.

Walking Routes in the Lake District, Buttermere

The most popular low level walk in the Buttermere Valley is to complete a circuit of Buttermere Lake. The complete circuit is four miles in length. It can be extended to take in Scale force. With a 120 foot vertical drop this is the Lake District’s biggest waterfall.

The circuit of Buttermere lake is best started at Buttermere Village. The walk from here to the lake and for the two miles along the south west of Buttermere is on a broad track, no stiles are encountered and it should be accessible for all. From the head of the lake a short stretch of road needs to be walked before a permissive footpath which hugs the lakeshore can be followed. Near Dalegarth the footpath goes through a short tunnel. On reaching the end of the circuit the footpath returns into Buttermere village through the yard of Syke Farm and the walker must decide whether to indulge in, or resist, the temptation of the homemade cakes and ice cream at the cafe here.

Rannerdale Knots at 1160 feet is a relatively small hill with the atmosphere of a mountain. The ascent from Buttermere Village is one and a half miles with 850 feet of ascent. Car parking can be found at the start of the route at the National Trust car park just outside Buttermere Village on the road to Cockermouth. In spring in particular it is well worth extending the return route by descending down the Rannerdale Valley which in April and May is carpeted with bluebells, then returning to the village along the shores of Crummock Water.

For longer walking routes the walker should consider the Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag Ridge or an ascent of Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike.

Boating in the Lake District, Buttermere

No motor boats or sailing boats are allowed on the Lake. Canoes, kayaks and rowing boats are permitted. There is a maximum of ten boats allowed on Buttermere at any one time. This is regulated by permit which is available from Woodhouse near Crummock Water. Woodhouse may be found approximately half a mile from Buttermere village on the road to Cockermouth.

Fishing in the Lake District, Buttermere

Brown Trout, Char, Pike, Salmon, Sea Trout are found in Buttermere. Fishing permits are available from Woodhouse as described above

Running Events in the Lake District, Buttermere

Fell Running Each May the Buttermere Sailbeck Horseshoe fell race takes place. The tough course climbs from the village to the summit of Knott Rigg, before traversing to Ard Crags. A steep drop to the Newlands Valley is followed by a hard ascent up to the summit of Causey Pike. The ridge is followed along to Scar Crags before a beautiful descent over Wandope back to Buttermere Village. The total route is nine and a half miles with 4650 feet of ascent and descent.

Road Running The Keswick Buttermere Road Race is hosted by local club Keswick AC. Starting in Keswick the 34km race runs the length of Borrowdale before climbing the Honister Pass and descending to Buttermere before returning to Keswick over the Newlands Pass.

Cycle Racing in the Lake District, Buttermere

The Fred Whitton Challenge held annually in May is a 112 mile route climbing all the Lake District passes. Starting from Coniston, the route descends the Honister Pass to Buttermere, and climbs out of the Buttermere Valley over the Newlands Pass.

Further Information for the Visitor to Buttermere

General information about travelling to Buttermere, accommodation in Buttermere and local sightseeing.

Walks on the fells surrounding Buttermere and the rest of the Lake District are well presented in the Fell and Rock Club of the English Lake District’s book the The Lakeland fells (Ernest Press, 1996). Some of the walks are available on line on the Fell and Rock Club’s website.


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