Lake District


North Yorkshire

North Wales



About Summiteer

~Dale Head~

20th April 2013

Walk two of the Braithwaite camping trip. I chose a direct ascent of Dale Head from the campsite, walking pretty much the full length of Newlands Beck. After the summit, I wandered off to Buttermere and then found a way back to the campsite. Just two summits today, see if you can guess which would be No.2 as you read through the report.

Dale Head Summit

Dale Head Summit

Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk....

Scotgate Sunrise Spring Lambs
Sunrise at Scotgate Campsite
Local Lamb

The sunrise photo was taken at 06:30hrs and there was optimism for a fine day ahead. The walk started at 07:15hrs and from the campsite, walkers can gain access to a footpath which follows the conclusion of Coledale Beck to its confluence with Newlands Beck.

Newlands Beck New Little Braithwaite Bridge
Newlands Beck
"New" Little Braithwaite Bridge

The "new" bridge replaces one which was lost in the floods of November 2009. Prior to that extreme event, both sides of the river were heavily vegetated.

Dale Head and Hindscarth

Dale Head and Neighbours

On the left is Looking Crag, part of the spur off the Cat Bells / Maiden Moor ridge. Dale Head has a little snow near the summit; Hindscarth is guarded by Scope End and Robinson peeps over the trees on the right. Believe it or not, interested or not, this is my first walk in Newlands.



The shadow of Scope End lands in Scope Beck; High Snab Bank is in bright sunlight; Robinson looks grand from here.

Sheep and Lambs


Little Town

Little Town, Newlands

Wainwright's suggested ascent of Dale Head from Little Town starts here (unsurprisingly). In his own words, of this direction of approach he says : "This is a mountaineering must".

Newlands Beck

Newlands Beck

It is now 08:30 and much of the beck is still in shadow, the primary target is dead ahead.

Dalehead Crags

Dalehead Crags

Wainwright suggests following a route up the footpath on the right. This path then crosses the crags along a grassy shelf before reaching the snow and then the summit. I wanted to follow the beck a little further (left, out of shot) before choosing a final approach route.

Boulders in Newlands Ravine
Boulders in Newlands Beck
"An Amazing Ravine"

You'll have to get Book Six out and turn to Dale Head 6 for a fuller explanation of the scene.

Gable Crag

Gable Crag

I chose to take a look at the situation in the gully at the top of the scree - top right of the crag.

Gable Crag

Gully on Gable Crag

It's not for the feint-hearted and I don't recommend this as a sensible way of climbing Dale Head.

High Spy from Dale Head

High Spy from Dale Head

Dale Head Snow

Dale Head

Just the final three hundred feet of ascent to the summit, maybe I'll meet other walkers for the first time today.

Dale Head Summit

Dale Head Summit 2473ft asl

No surprises here. Maybe if I ask them to move, they'll oblige. I have earned the right to take in the following view, one of the best summit views in Lakeland, with the knowledge that I have walked just about all the way up Newlands Beck.

Newlands from Dale Head


The other summiteers have arrived from Honister Pass and I'd like to quote Wainwright again: "No other summit of like altitude is reached so quickly and easily from a motor road. Indeed, if a car is used to the top of the pass, a man of conscience must feel he is cheating the mountain." I suppose it's no cheat to ascend 1,300ft to take in the view, only to claim to have "climbed Dale Head" in this way.

Hindscarth Dale Head Summit
Dale Head Summit
To Honister Fleetwith Pike
To Honister
Fleetwith Pike

With time on my side, I had to decide where to go next. One great advantage of walking in this area is the Rambler bus service, so as I was armed with the timetable, I could plan to end up in Buttermere and get the bus back to Braithwaite. After having my sandwich at Honister, I decided to walk down Gatesgarthdale Beck to Buttermere.

Honister Pass


If this was a walled farmer's track and not surfaced, loads of walkers would enjoy this dale. As it is, it's still worth the occasional ramble and for much of the way, you can walk off the road. The mountain scenery of Fleetwith Pike (left) and Hindscarth (right) is impressive.

Buttermere Fells

High Stile

The High Stile range comes into view. Gatesgarth, at the foot of this dale, has a car park and usually an ice cream van. But I'm going to press on and take any breaks closer to, or in the village of, Buttermere.

Buttermere Lake


Generally I walk alongside lakes in the rain, so this is a pleasant experience! I chose the eastern side so as to avoid the pushchairs and dawdlers that plague the western shoreline. Mellbreak is further away.


Five Minutes

Chaffinch Whiteless Pike
Whiteless Pike
Fish Hotel Croft House Cafe
The Fish
Croft House Cafe

I knew that there was a bus back to Braithwaite at 14:35. I ordered an ice cream at the cafe and sat down for a think. Still numerous options, one of which would be to walk the length of Crummock Water and then up Gasgill and over into Coledale; another would be to go up and over Whiteless Pike. After due consideration, I opted for a walk up Mill Beck / Sail Beck. The bus would have returned me back to tent unfeasibly early.

Mill Beck

Mill Beck

Knott Rigg draws the eye on the first part of the walk up to Sail Pass.

Third Gill

Third Gill

The walk up Mill Gill, which becomes Sail Beck, climbs steadily and contours into three gills. The second of these three gills is Third Gill.

Addacomb Beck

Addacomb Beck

Just out of sight to the left is Addacomb Beck and I wondered about climbing the steep breast adjacent to the beck for an ascent of Wandope. But thought better of it and carried on, looking for the diversion to Sail Pass.

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel

I missed the diversion and hence had to tramp through heather on feint sheep tracks. The bonus of such was seeing one of these, which are not a common sight (so my birdy mates tell me).

Lakeland Ridges

Lakeland Ridges

Enthusiatic fellwalkers can try and name as many of those mountains as possible - thus saving me a job. Over Sail Pass and Outerside comes into view. It would seem a small count of just one summit to put alongside the walk length, when I put the data into my spreadsheet containing such detail, so Outerside will be summit No.2.


Outerside (centre)

Outerside Summit To Braithwaite
Outerside Summit 1863ft asl
To Braithwaite

Braithwaite Roadsign

Walk Complete

Walkers: Just Me

Time taken: 10hrs 15mins over a distance of about 18.5 miles.

Route: Scotgate Campsite, Little Braithwaite, Stair, Little Town, Newlands Beck, Gable Crag, Dale Head, Honister Pass, Gatesgarthdale Beck, Buttermere, Mill Beck, Sail Beck, Sail Pass, Outerside, Braithwaite, Campsite.

Weather and Conditions: Sunny and generally warm - breezy on the top of Dale Head.

Greetings Count: The first other walkers were encountered on the top of Dale Head, after that it was a busy day in Lakeland.

Richard's Refreshment Review: Ice Cream at Croft House Farm Cafe in Buttermere village.

All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2013 ©

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