Honister Pass

Honister Pass :

Buttermere / Borrowdale

Honister pass starts at Gatesgarth Farm, at the southern end of Buttermere. It connects the Buttermere valley with the eastern end of Borrowdale valley. Rising to 1,167 feet in height at the summit, it is one of Cumbria’s highest passes, with a gradient of 1 in 4. Flowing through the pass from the summit to Buttermere is Gatesgarthdale Beck.

image of a car coming down the Honister Pass in the Lake District
Photo by Tony Richards.

Today’s visitors use the summit, where you can find the Honister Slate Mine, as the start of a walk up to Great Gable or Dale Head (2,473 ft).

The pass cuts through the landscape of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group which consists mainly of andesitic lava flows and volcaniclastic rocks. The Honister Slate Mine still quarries the slate here: a fine-grained metamorphic rock derived from the original volcanic ash deposits. It has been used for centuries for roofing tiles, flooring, and other construction purposes, and now also for finer architectural pieces.

Here also is Honister Hause Youth Hostel, a 3* YHA hostel sleeping up to 26 people in a former quarry workers’ house. It is currently available to hire, in its entirety, for groups only.

Looking down on Honister Pass from the Via Ferrata.
Looking down on Honister Pass from the Via Ferrata.
Photo by Andrew Leaney.

The Honister Pass forms part of a beautiful circular scenic drive from Keswick that includes Newlands Pass, Buttermere and Crummock Water, areas that aren’t as dominated by visitors compared with other parts of the Lake District.

image of Honister Pass, the Slate Mine and Fleetwith Pike
Honister Pass, the Slate Mine and Fleetwith Pike

Behind the slate mine, Fleetwith Pike rises to 648 meters (2,126 feet). It is one of the fells included in the ridge walk known as the “Buttermere Round,” which includes other notable fells such as Haystacks and High Crag. The trail traditionally starts in Buttermere village.

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Grid Ref: NY 226135