Buttermere Lake

Buttermere (lake) :


Buttermere lake, famous for its beautiful setting among the northern fells, is correctly called just ‘Buttermere’. This means ‘the lake by the dairy pastures’. It is 1.24 miles (2 km) long, 620 yards (570 m) wide and 75 feet (23 m) deep.

The classic combination of lakes and mountains has made this popular with visitors since the beginning of tourism in the Lake District. A visit to Buttermere is principally for its natural attractions – as the area offers some of the best walking country in Lakeland. There is a footpath running round the perimeter of the lake, and lovely walks to the summits of Haystacks and Red Pike.

image of Buttermere lake
Buttermere and Fleetwith Pike. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

In the little Church of St James, is a stone tablet set into the windowsill of a south window as a memorial to Alfred Wainwright, the famous walker and author of guidebooks. The window looks out on his favourite place to walk, Haystacks, where at his wish his ashes were scattered.

The lake is owned by the National Trust.

image of aerial view of Buttermere lake
Buttermere, with Crummock Water (centre), and Loweswater (top). Photo by Simon Ledingham

A walk around Buttermere lake

 – by Peter Donaghy.

This is a very accessible lake and makes for a pleasant family stroll in two to three hours. Set out by going to the left of the Fish Hotel and follow the broad path that leads to Buttermere lake. Keep to the lakeside path as it winds its way to the far end.

You can usually enjoy some welcome refreshments at the mobile outlet at Gatesgarth Farm (hours as yet unknown owing to the pandemic). There is a short section on the road before you rejoin the lakeside path, followed by the need to make your way carefully over some rocks. Thereafter the going is easy again with the added adventure of passing through a short tunnel.

As you approach the end of the lake, take the higher path at a junction to bring you through Syke Farm. The tearoom here gives a pleasant indoor opportunity for refreshments and locally made ice cream at the end of your walk. (This is open now following pandemic restrictions being lifted).

Details of St James’s Church, Buttermere, together with a more ambitious walk through the Rannerdale Valley, can be found in ‘Lakeland Church Walks’ by Peter Donaghy and John Laidler.

image of Buttermere village and lake, from Rannerdale Knotts
Buttermere village and lake, from Rannerdale Knotts. Photo by Ann Bowker

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Grid Ref: NY 180160