logo Walking Britain

Lake District Walk
Buttermere, Coledale and Newlands circuit

Nat Park - Lake District - Lake District North Western Fells

Wainwrights - Ard Crags, Knott Rigg, Rannerdale Knotts, Wandope, Whiteless Pike

County/Area - Cumbria

Author - Stephen Starkey

Length - 9.0 miles / 14.6 km

Ascent - 4160 feet / 1261 metres

Time - 8 hours 40 minutes

Grade - hard

Start - OS grid reference NY192176
Lat 54.547179 // Long -3.250602
Postcode CA13 9XA (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Buttermere, Coledale and Newlands circuit
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Buttermere, Coledale and Newlands are all synonymous with great walking. This Lake District walk aims to include some of the best views and ridges in all three areas in one long, but hugely enjoyable, day out.

There are 3 obvious possibilities for starting this route. One would be the small parking area at Hause Point (Grid Ref. NY162182). This option will replace the "out and back" to Rannerdale Knotts with a circular option, albeit a very steep ascent to start the day, but has the drawback of a long walk out from the last peak. Another option would be parking in Buttermere village (NY173169) - the best of the 3 options for those wanting to decamp straight in to a pub at the end of the walk, but this option involves a long, steep, knee-jarring descent at the end of the day.

The third option, and the one I used, was to park at Newlands Hause (Grid Ref NY192176) which gives the shortest, quickest descent at the end of the day. Based on parking at Newlands Hause, this route is involves 1,260m of ascent. Using either of the other start/finish options would increase both the length of the walk and the amount of ascent and descent.

Assuming you park at Newlands Hause start by following any of the clearly visible sheep tracks that contour around the slopes of Knott Rigg to intersect the clear grass path that leads down the shoulder of Knott Rigg. At some convenient point, drop down to Mill Beck, aiming for a point just NE of where a stream joins the beck at NY186178. Ford the beck and then traverse your way uphill to the uppermost of the obvious sheep tracks.

At the obvious intersection of a number of paths (Grid Ref NY179177), turn West to walk along the broad ridge over Low Bank and on to Rannerdale Knotts. Return by the same route and then turn to the North to start the ascent of Whiteless Pike, continuing to Wandope. On the route from Whiteless Pike towards Wandope, the OS Explorer map shows the main path bending round to Wandope with a minor track by passing Wandope to Crag Hill. However, on the ground, the main path by-passes Wandope with a minor grass path leading off to Wandope.

It is worth taking in the summit of Wandope in order to follow the path around the crest of Addacomb Hole with excellent views East of Crag Hill and the ridge to Causey Pike. Continue onto the summit of Crag Hill, from where you descend to the SE to follow the obvious path (part of the spectacular Coledale Horseshoe) across the exposed ridge of The Scar with fantastic views to both sides.

Continue over Sail, with wonderful views of Causey Pike ahead, and on to the col between Sail and Scar Crags. At the col, double back to the right descending on a clear path for approx. 50m until a clear, narrow grassy gully descends to the left (NY204204). On the OS map, the gully appears insignificant but it is much more prominent on the ground and much steeper than the map would have you think! Turn left to descend in the gully, which soon becomes a narrow scree gully, and continue the steep, exhilarating (but easy) descent of the gully until the head of the stream. From this point the left hand bank then offers the easiest descent to the valley below.

After fording Rigg Beck, make your way up the slopes of Ard Crags to the ridge. The ascent, though fairly steep, is nowhere near as difficult as it looks from the other side of the valley. A zig-zag route makes for a reasonable ascent, the direct route will test the legs and lungs after the earlier exploits. On reaching the ridge, Wainwright baggers may want to head East to get the summit of Ard Crags before returning West along the ridge to Knott Rigg. The ridge offers fantastic views of the Crag Hill - Sail - Scar Crag - Causey Pike ridge on the right and the amazingly steep drop in to Keskadale on the left.

From Knott Rigg take the fairly obvious path ahead for a knee jarringly steep descent - at which point you may be grateful for parking at Newlands Hause in order to halve the length of the final descent.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers.

Maps Ordnance Survey Logo Anquet Maps Logo

Ordnance Survey Explorer OL6Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer OL6Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 90Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 90Digital Map1:50kBUY

It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.

GPS files - right click or option-click the button and choose "Save As..." to download this file.

Recommended Books & eBooks

Walking in Cumbria's Eden Valley

Walking in Cumbria's Eden ValleyGuidebook to 30 graded walks in Cumbria's Eden Valley. The routes, which range from 3 to 15 miles and are best from bases such as Kirkby Stephen and Appleby, explore the region's diverse landscapes and offer dramatic views, either of the Pennines, Lake District or the Scottish hills. Linear routes link with the Settle-Carlisle railway.
More information

Great Mountain Days in the Lake District

Great Mountain Days in the Lake DistrictAn inspirational guidebook to 50 challenging walks on the high fells of the Lake District. The graded circular routes, between 4 and 14 miles in length, cover classic Lakeland summits like Fairfield, Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Blencathra, to the lesser-known High Spy, King's How and Brund Fell.
More information

Outdoor Photography

Outdoor PhotographyThis practical handbook covers digital outdoor photography and the whole range of outdoor activities including walking, running, cycling, water sports (in and on the water), as participant or spectator. Covers basic concepts, equipment and processing and optimising your images back at base.
More information

Social Media

Follow Walking Britain for the latest news.

Facebook Twitter

Walking - Covid 19 update

Regular updates on how Covid 19 will impact on walking in the UK More info.

Mountain Weather

Stay safe on the mountains with detailed weather forecasts - for iOS devices or for Android devices.

Digital Mapping Guide

Digital Mapping Guide - a simple guide of how to start using digital mapping. Includes advice and useful links.