Haystacks : The Lake District

by | Feb 12, 2020 | Go Outside, The Lake District, Walking

Route Information

An out-and-return circular walk

Route Difficulty: Medium

Distance: 7.08 km (4.43 miles)

Route Elevation: 597 m

Route Ascent: 430 m

Route Time: 3-4 hrs

Start and Finish: National Trust Car Park, Honister Pass, Seatoller, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5XN

Depending on the featured walk and especially in mountainous areas, you may need to Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in to your own pace.


There are toilets at Honister Slate Mine Cafe

There is a cafe at Honister Slate Mine. You can drive to Buttermere where there are a few pubs and a cafe but Keswick is the nearest town with variety of choices for food and beverages. For more information have a look at the TripAdvisor Website 


Very few hazards along this route

The Urban Ranger Website cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent, and to be able to read a map and use a compass. Plan your route properly with the latest advice from the AdventureSmart website

Public Transport

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Weather Forecast

MWIS Lake District Mountain Weather


A great family walk that provides amazing views of Buttermere and the resting place of Wainwright’s ashes at Innominate Tarn.

In May of 2019 i spent four days in the Borrowdale region of the lakes, and had planned 3 days of intensive multiple mountain walks that would see me summit at least 5 peaks per day and on average covering 25-30K in length. The weather was great and i was out on the fells from morning until the early evening. For me trips like this mean days without depression and anxiety so i tend to overindulge on ecotherapy and who can blame me.

On the fourth day i had planned to cover a walk that was short and sweet but provided everything you could hope for whilst visiting the Lake District. A mountain walk that the whole family can do which is packed with amazing views and steeped in history and most important it is not to strenuous.

Haystacks from Honister Pass is a great walk and one i enjoyed just as much as some of the big walks i tend to do. Covering just 7 kilometres there and back, this walk can be done in a morning or an afternoon which makes it perfect if you don’t have the full day or time to spend on the fells. It’s safe and great start for your first experience of walking in the Lakes.

Innominate Tarn is a small tarn in the northern Lake District National Park. It is situated at 520 metres above sea level, near the summit of Haystacks. The name innominate means “without a name”.

Haystacks, or Hay Stacks, is a hill in the Lake District, situated at the south-eastern end of the Buttermere Valley. Although not of any great elevation (597 m, 1,958 ft), Haystacks has become one of the most popular fells in the area.

This fame is partly due to the writings of Alfred Wainwright, who espoused its attractions and chose it as the place where he wanted his ashes scattered. Its large, undulating summit, containing many hidden recesses, is interesting and contains a number of attractive rock formations and tarns.

To access this walk you can park at Honister Slate Mine for a fee or park further down Honister Pass back in the direction of Seatoller, where there are some free parking areas. You can also park behind YHA Honister for a fee if the free areas are full. I parked in the free areas and walked up to the slate mines which is only a couple of hundred yards.

Honister Slate Mines have a cafe so if you enjoy a bite to eat and drink after you have finished your walk then this place could not be better positioned. The mine is still in operation so it can get busy at times with vehicles moving around.

Walk across the car park and begin your walk by following the well-marked path which will immediately take you up a stone path adjacent to the dirt road that leads up to the mines. The path is steep until it eventually levels out where you will then walk a level path where the old tram line used to be on Fleetwith Moor. Continue along this path until you come to Dubs disused quarry & Dubs Bothy. The walk to this point is visually pleasing to the eye in a panoramic style with great views of Pillar and High Stile.

Once at Dubs Bothy the path will lead you down to a stream, once across the stream the path starts to climb again weaving through a rocky landscape with superb views of Buttermere to your right. As you continue to climb you will soon reach Blackbeck Tarn on your left, which is a great stopping point for a little mindfulness. As you continue you will eventually reach Innominate Tarn, the place where Wainwright asked for his ashes to be scattered.

In his memoirs he said All i ask for, at the end, is a last long resting place by the side of Innominate Tarn, on Haystacks. Where the water gently laps the gravelly shore and the heather blooms and Pillar and Gable keep unfailing watch. A quiet place, a lonely place. I shall go to it, for the last time.

Innominate Tarn is one of the most visited places in Lakeland given the significance of what is there, and you will often see people having a peaceful moment to reflect upon Alfred and possibly people who they may have lost themselves.

From the Northern shore of the tarn you will then make your way up to the summit of Haystacks and there are different routes you can sample. I chose to scramble the rocks but there is also a path that navigates the rocks for those who like things a little more even underfoot. There is a small tarn with great views across to Pillar and the top of Haystacks has two metal poles which can be chosen as the summit.

The views from Haystacks to the West provide great views of High Crag, High Stile and the ridges with Buttermere and Crummock water below and Grasmoor massif as a backdrop. If you look the opposite way you have the majestic Great Gable, Scafell Pike and even Helvellyn on a good day.

Whilst at the summit of Haystacks having something to eat, i came across Trev Bailey and his dog Alfie. We got talking and he informed me that Alfie has completed all the Wainwrights and has since done 40 more again. That is an impressive feat for Alfie the Border Collie, and has got me thinking about getting a dog myself to enjoy the beautiful walks i do with.

I promised i would give Alfie a mention and he rightly deserves a place in my pictures below. Hopefully i may get chance to bump into Trev and Alfie in the future. Well done to both of them.

From Haystacks the return journey back to Honister is by exactly the same route you came. Final thoughts on this walk, I really enjoyed this walk and it is totally accessible for all ages and abilities and gives you some amazing views that most walkers only get from the higher peaks. This makes Haystacks a great family walk and even the most hardened walkers/hikers would be hard pressed to find fault with this route. I you have not yet visited Haystacks then put it on your priority list.

Click bottom image for gallery

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