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Boot to Buttermere

· 1 review · Hiking route · United Kingdom
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  • Wast Water.
    Wast Water.
    Photo: Iain Grant, Macs Adventure
m 600 500 400 300 200 100 -100 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km
A challenging walk rewarded with some of the finest scenery the Lake District has to offer.
Distance 19.8 km
6:30 h
964 m
912 m
547 m
66 m
The route climbs out of Eskdale over to Wastdale Head with fine views of Wast Water, Scafell Pike and Kirk Fell to name but a few. Through the walking & climbing centre of Wastdale Head the walk follows Mosedale before climbing out via Black Sails Pass and into the remote Ennerdale valley. Another short climb up Scarth Gap affords the first views of Buttermere before descending into the village.

Author’s recommendation

Magnificent views of some  of England's finest glacial scenery at Wast Water followed by the remote valleys of Mosedale and Ennerdale are undoubtedly the highlights of this walk. The ascents of Black Sails Pass and Scarth Gap, while strenuous in places are rewarded with stunning views of Buttermere and some of the Lake District's  iconic peaks.
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Iain Grant
Update: February 10, 2020
Highest point
547 m
Lowest point
66 m
Best time of year

Track types

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Safety information

Be careful when crossing steams and rivers along the trail, especially during/after heavy rainfall as the water levels can increase substantially.

Most of the paths are well defined and easy to follow. However due to the rocky nature of the terrain care is needed on some of the steep descents which can be slippery in wet conditions.

The open fell section on this day can get very boggy. Stick to the path as much as possible to avoid getting stuck! 

Tips and hints

Boot has two pubs and a shop at the start of the walk.This is a lengthy day so it's advisable to carry plenty of food and drink.

Wasdale Head has a pub,shop and toilets on route. Buttermere is a small hamlet with a cafe and two pubs serving evening meals. There is a bus service to a number of locations during the day, including Keswick.

Points of Interest.

Wast Water

England's deepest Lake contained in a fine U shaped glaciated valley. The steep sides covered in the famous Wast Water Scree slopes.

Wastdale Head 

A renowned Centre for walking and climbing and the starting point for many classic Lakeland peaks including Scafell Pike, Kirk Fell and Great Gable. The church of St Olaf's is one of the smallest in the country . The graveyard contains a number of memorials to climbers killed locally in accidents.



Eskdale Mill, Boot. (66 m)
OS Grid
NY 17635 01146
54.399099, -3.270197
54°23'56.8"N 3°16'12.7"W
30U 482458 6027960
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The stone bridge in Buttermere.

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km - Standing by the stone mill wheel on your left at the mill, go STRAIGHT ON up the rocky path and through the gate. BEAR RIGHT and continue a short distance up the hill before TURNING RIGHT through a wooden gate marked with a blue bridleway sign with the river below on your right.

0.50km - At the wooden gate carry STRAIGHT ON the stoney path over a stream and a number of fields going steadily uphill.

1.40km - At the last wooden gate, leave the fields for the open fell, going STRAIGHT ON crossing a small stream with stepping stones and following the piles of stones, (cairns) which mark the path. Scafell and Scafell Pike loom in the distance with Burnmoor Tarn coming into view. BEAR RIGHT downhill around the side of the Tarn.

3.50km - Cross the wooden footbridge and stepping stones at the head of the tarn and BEAR LEFT at the stone cairn, following the path over wet ground and another stream. Continue STRAIGHT ON uphill with the path becoming drier.

4.50km - Over the brow of the hill BEAR RIGHT keeping to the wide grassy track, gradually descending downhill with the mountains of Wast Water coming into view.

5.70km - Arriving at the gravel path by the stone wall and trees, TURN RIGHT downhill, passing ruined buildings,over a stone bridge and through a gate following the blue arrow signs.

7.00km - At the signpost TURN RIGHT towards Wastdale Head over the bridge and go STRAIGHT ON following the blue arrow signs along the lane and past the campsite.

7.50km - At the blue arrowed post BEAR LEFT over the gravel stream, marked by a stone cairn and carry STRAIGHT ON recrossing the stream by stepping stones.

8.10km - Go through the wooden gate and BEAR RIGHT on the tarmac road towards the Inn.

8.60km - Just before the shop TURN LEFT down the side of the Inn and BEAR RIGHT through the gate and continue STRAIGHT ON. Do not cross the stone bridge but keep the river to your left.

8.90km - At the blue arrowed posr BEAR LEFT up the stony path,through the wooden gates,still following the blue arrows into a broad glaciated valley with the river on your left. Go STRAIGHT ON along the well defined path.

10.50km - Near the head of the valley go through the gate in the stone wall and ascend the grassy path, generally BEARING RIGHT to the gap in the ridge. Cross the river and continue STRAIGHT ON up the gravel path up to the summit ridge.

12.20km - Reaching the summit cairn go STRAIGHT ON descending steeply down a rocky path with the stream on your right.

13.30km - Cross over the footbridge and BEAR LEFT continuing past Black Sails Youth Hostel. 

14.10km - Just before the wooden gate BEAR RIGHT up the rocky path to Scarth Gap, continuing STRAIGHT ON and descending steeply along the path with stone cairns to mark the way for nearly 2 kms. Buttermere comes into view.

16.00km - At the wooden gate and stile go STRAIGHT ON .

16.70km - At the footpath junction at the end of the fence line,BEAR RIGHT downhill towards the gate. On reaching the lower path TURN LEFT before the gate and continue STRAIGHT ON through the woods with the lake on your right for approximately 2.5kms.

19.20km - At the end of the wood, go through the gate and over the footbridges, continuing STRAIGHT ON  along the gravel path into the village.

20.00km - Arriving at the stone bridge over the river opposite the hotel you have reached the end of your walk.


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NY 17635 01146
54.399099, -3.270197
54°23'56.8"N 3°16'12.7"W
30U 482458 6027960
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


A good pair of boots are essential on this walk as there are a number of rocky ascents and descents. Walking poles may be useful on the descents and over the stepping stones and streams for balance. Waterproofs should also be carried due to the changeable nature of the weather in this area. Some of the paths are wet and muddy so gaiters and an extra pair of socks may be preferred.

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Richard Malik 
September 21, 2018 · Community
An excellent hike with beautiful views. We stopped at the Black Sails Hostel at about 14 km and prepared our own food. The hostel is a small solitary building in the landscape, but we met several hikers on the Coast to Coast trail and other hikers exploring the Lake District.
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When did you do this route? September 20, 2018

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19.8 km
6:30 h
964 m
912 m
Highest point
547 m
Lowest point
66 m
Scenic Linear route Geological highlights


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