Northern England – Haystacks, Cumbria
Distance: 14km/9 miles
Type: Remote fells and valleys
Where: Circular walk from Wasdale Head via Black Sail YHA in the Lake District.
Start/End: The Wasdale Head Inn (NY186088).
Terrain: Clear, grassy fell paths and open sections with boulder scree, some scrambling and steep descent to end.
Maps: OS Explorer OL4 and 6; Landranger 89.
Haystacks may not be the highest Lakeland peak, but its sheer diversity and ability to reveal new charms on subsequent walks made it the favourite of Alfred Wainwright. This year marks 80 years since Wainwright first set out to explore the Lakes, that eventually led to his best-selling collection of Pictorial Guides. The circular walk from Wasdale is a more taxing, remote walk and, as such, offers a more challenging alternative to the traditional ascents from Honister or Buttermere. Wainwright would, no doubt, approve. Some of the scrambling sections, notably the west ridge of Haystacks and the steep descent from Beck Head, will take some walkers out of their comfort zone. In return, however, the reward is drop-yourbutties views down both Ennerdale and Buttermere Valleys, plus a chance to marvel at Windy Gap and the north face of Great Gable. For Wainwright devotees, however, the real highlight is to sit and contemplate at Innominate Tarn, just below the summit of Haystacks, where his ashes are scattered. As always, be properly equipped and remember that conditions on the tops can be very different from those in the valley below. Check the weather before you set out.
Click below to see a route profile and view the route on an Ordnance Survey map