top of page

Warnscale bothy

Panoramic view of amazing sunset at Warnscale Bothy in the Lake District National Park.

Warnscale Sunset Panoramic.

A panoramic view of Buttermere and Crummock Water from Warnscale Bothy on a stunning Summer evening.

A little bit of a treck to get to, albeit easier than a lot of Lakeland hikes; Warnscale Bothy sits secluded amongst the slate and stone rubble, near the top of Warnscale Head. Built from the local slate that surrounds it, the bothy offers stunning views of Buttermere and Crummock Water with surrounding fells such as Fleetwith Pike and High Stile. As the bothy looks out towards the Western Coast, this location is best suited for sunsets. Especially in the Summer months, when the sun sets towards its most North-Westerly direction; just behind Crummock Water in the above image. Winter scenes can look pretty great from here too, after a good downfall of snow. However, accessibility could be an issue as the Western Fells are amongst the most remote and challenging areas of the Lake District to get to.

In terms of photography, it can be quite difficult to capture anything which hasn't been seen before so far as the bothy is concerned. The location is in many ways a bit of a 'bucket list' spot. However this shouldn't stop anyone wanting to visit here for their first time, or indeed for that matter, any amount of repeat visits. At the end of the day, a landscape should never be abandoned, just because it has been 'over-shot'. The walk to get here is worth it on its own, as you pass through bundles of Lakeland mining history and encounter some absolutely stunning views. 

So, back to speaking about composition. There are two obvious angles to shoot the bothy, both with their own advantages and disadvantages. The most obvious, easiest and my favourite angle to shoot this beautiful slate bothy is from a kind of half way point between the middle and the right hand side of the main structure. It's probably more personal taste, but I feel the building stands out a lot more from this angle. Again, personal taste but I just feel it looks better with Buttermere/Crummock positioned in the top right of frame.

The other option is to shoot from the left side of the bothy. Dependant on the time of year, there is one big advantage to this angle over the other, and that is light! From late May - mid July, the sun manages to creep its way North at sunset. This means for this location, within the golden hour, providing you have a gap in the cloud, you should see some stunning golden light in the foreground. More importantly, the left exterior side of the bothy wall should catch the golden light too! Sadly, at any other time of year, the sun wouldn't come far enough past High Stile to get any foreground light within the Golden Hour. I find shooting from this side of the building to be a little trickier than the other side. Firstly, it's very hard even with a wide angle lens to fit the whole view into your frame without loosing all sense of perspective. You can do a wide-angle panorama, like the one at the top of this page but even then, I still feel it's harder to achieve a sense of balance throughout the scene. Another disadvantage in my opinion, especially when using a wide angle focal length, is that the bothy tends to blend itself into the surrounding slate, resulting in it getting lost in a bit of a chaotic foreground.

Warnscale Bothy at sunset. Buttermere, Lake District, UK.

Dusk At Warnscale Bothy.

Warm colours of dusk reflecting onto Warnscale Bothy at sunset.

Vibrant summer sunset at Warnscale Mountain Bothy in the Lake District with Buttermere in the distance.

Vibrant Summer Sunset.

Gorgeous golden light from the setting sun illuminating the foreground at Warnscale Bothy.

Again, this comes down to personal taste and will be more of a decision best made for and by yourself. 

If you are planning on going for a sunset here, it's worth arriving a few hours early. There are some great opportunities in the hours before sundown to capture fantastic light filtering through the clouds, illuminating the valleys of Buttermere and Crummock Water. It's a great location for dusting those cobwebs off the telephoto lens too; compressing the scene and really bringing out the beauty of the Buttermere Valley. If you're lucky enough to witness some late afternoon light breaking through the clouds, creating those 'god like' rays then you truly are in for a treat! Typically for this kind of shot, you want some presence of low/medium cloud cover with the absense of any thicker high cloud, which can block out the type of intense light needed.


It may just be a simple slate bothy but as the saying goes, you'll never see the exact same scene more than once!

Dark and moody clouds over Warnscale Bothy in the Lake District.

Moody Storm Clouds Above Buttermere.

Some late afternoon light breaking through the clouds with Warnscale Bothy in the foreground.

Light rays in mountains over Buttermere in the Lake District National Park, UK.

Golden Rays Of Light.

Using a telephoto lens, I managed to capture some fantastic light rays breaking through the clouds, illuminating the valley!

Getting Here

Finding the bothy for the first time is somewhat of a hard task. As I mentioned previously, the bothy is constructed from local slate which is scattered around the hillside where the bothy is located. From a distance, it's pretty hard to make out this little slate building. There are two main routes you can take. The first one, starting from the National Trust car park behind the Honister Slate Mine. The other, starting from Gatesgarth Farm at the head of the Buttermere Valley. I will only provide information on the first route, as the route from Gategarth farm I have found a little trickier to follow and have never actually made it to location via this way. There are a lot of detailed descriptions online for this route, but I highly suggest using the Honister Pass route detailed below.

Honister Pass National Trust Car Park Route.  Postcode: CA12 5XN

This route starts from the National Trust car park, which is located behind the YHA Youth Hostel, just before reaching the Honister Slate Mine. It's free to members and to non-members, there is a small charge. Out of the two routes, I'd say this route is the easiest, in terms of a smaller ascent and also finding the bothy. I'd recommend using an OS map, or at least memorising the route beforehand. Below is a brief description of the walk.

1. Look for a small wooden gate in the direction of the Slate Mine. Go through this gate and directly ahead you will see a metal gate, which leads through to the car park of Honister Slate Mine. Once through the second gate you will want to continue forward, passing the slate mine tourism offices on your left. You will then see a gravel road, which the slate mine uses to run buses up and down for their tours. Take this road, briefly until you see a sign post on your left, which reads 'Great Gable & Haystacks'. Take a left here and follow the reasonably well laid stone path.

2. You will follow this path for a while and it's the hardest part of the walk. After the initial 10 minutes of steep ascent, the path gradually loses its incline, until you reach the very top where the path flattens. Continue straight along this path for a good 15 minutes. You will find yourself back onto the gravel road. At this point, take a left and follow the road downhill until you pass Dubs Hut; another slate bothy. When you reach this point, you will want to look for a path in the left corner of the road that leads down to a crossing in the river.

3. Once at the river crossing, you want to carefully cross using the stepping stones. After heavy rainfall the river can fill up quite quickly, so always be aware of this and take extra care as necessary. Once on the other side, stick to the path that bends right around a corner, that very shortly leads to a set of other stepping stones that crosses a part of the path prone to flooding. 

4. Once over the second stepping stones, there is a trail which takes a right off the main path. This is very soon after the stepping stones and is a crucial part of the route. Take a bit of extra time to memorise this paragraph, as you don't want to be heading up Haystacks trying to find this place.

5. You want to carry on along this trail. You will come to a point where the path goes up a hill or straight ahead. Continue straight on, ignoring the path uphill which will now be on your left. Shortly you will come to an area, where various paths appear and everything starts to take the appearance of a bit of a maze. This is where the searching begins. From this point, you want to go downhill, slightly to your left and eventually you will spot the bothy. There will be a bit of trial and error here, as it is hard to make out the building amongst all the rubble. The only advise I can give is try not to go too far downhill. Take your time and really scan around, you're not far from the location but it can sometimes only be seen from certain points of the path.

How to get to warnscale bothy.
How to get to Warnscale Bothy.
How to get to Warnscale Bothy.
How to get to Warnscale Bothy.
bottom of page