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Warnscale Head Bothy visit

Lake District bothies

There are four Lake District bothies: Warnscale Head bothy, Dubs Hut, Mosedale and Black Sail. The latter is owned and operated by the YHA, the others by the Mountain Bothies Association (or MBA).

Unlike Black Sail, the MBA bothies are free to use. All the MBA ask in return is that some basic rules are followed. For more details, as well as how to donate to this very worthwhile organisation, feel free to visit their website.

Warnscale Head Bothy location

To date I have visited Warnscale Head Bothy and nearby Dubs Hut a number of times. I have never stayed in either but they are still interesting places to explore. Plus they are in stunning locations.

Dubs Hut Bothy is easy to find as it occupies the plateau behind Fleetwith Pike’s summit. Also it is next to the main path cutting across the head of the Warnscale Valley and can be seen from some distance away. For reference though its grid reference is NY209134.

Finding Warnscale Head Bothy is a much tougher challenge though, if you don’t know exactly where it is. The shortest route to it involves parking at Gatesgarth Farm at the head of the Buttermere Valley. From there walk up the Warnscale Bottom path, sticking to the eastern side of Warnscale Beck. The path gets steeper and eventually takes a sharp left turn above the beck, now in a ravine on the right. Not far after this turn the bothy can be seen on the far side of the gully.

As it is built from the local slate it is very well disguised! In case you need help spotting it, the bothy is in the top left quarter of the above photo.

To get to it continue up the path and not far beyond the head of the ravine look out for a ford in Warnscale Beck. A path leads down to the beck and up the other side, eventually leading to the bothy. In case it helps, Warnscale Head Bothy’s grid reference is NY205133.

Inside Warnscale Head Bothy

I have visited Warnscale Bothy a number of times and it seems the MBA are spending time and money on improving it. One thing that hasn’t been improved is the access for tall people like myself though. The door is tiny! The 18th century miners who bult it must have been very short.

Warnscale Head Bothy entrance door
The small door into Warnscale Bothy

At least it keeps the rain and most of the wind at bay though.

A couple of years ago Warnscale Bothy was just a shell. It had a fireplace that couldn’t really be used and just about nothing else. Even so it still served as a decent shelter, especially during the winter, The most obvious addition since is a bench that has been installed along two of the four walls. One end of it can be seen in the following photo.

Warnscale Bothy interior fireplace
The interior of Warnscale Bothy

Over the years people have been leaving a few useful bits and bats. There are a few oil lanterns, candles, a broom, camping beds, plenty of wine bottles (all empty, not due to me!) and a guestbook to sign. All someone needs to stay there the night is bedding, some food and a stove.

The photos of the interior are actually out of date now as they were taken in early June 2016. A couple of weeks after that visit a local group of volunteers installed a nice new stove so visitors don’t need to bring one any more. How plush is this place going to get?! Plus the wine bottles have been cleared away. I did consider postponing publishing this blog until I had got some more up to date photos but I’m guessing they would soon be out of date soon too.

To allow people to keep up to date with the ongoing work at this bothy the owner (who lives down at nearby Gatesgarth Farm) updates a blog dedicated to Warnscale Head Bothy.

Outside Warnscale Head Bothy

There are two things that will never change though.

Having taken a set of photos of the inside of the bothy I rather stupidly left a few bits of my tripod there. It was only when on a fell a few days later that I realised my cock-up! By a process of elimination I sussed out where I had left them so returned to the bothy a week later. I needn’t have worried as they were where I had left them on the windowsill. Either no one had stayed there that week or bothy folk are eminently trustworthy. I’d like to think it was the latter.

Secondly the view of the Buttermere Valley from behind the bothy always has been and always will be superb. In the end I was thankful of my forgetfulness as the return visit that evening allowed me to settle myself down on a crag behind the bothy to watch sunset. As my tripod was now complete again I also took the opportunity to take the following photo.

shafts of light over Buttermere from Warnscale Bothy
Buttermere from Warnscale Bothy

Another addition to my Buttermere photo collection. I’m sure I’ll take many others here and hopefully I’ll spend the night at some point too.

September 2016 update: Warnscale Bothy fire!

In September, three months after my previous visit, I spent a night camping on Haystacks. The morning after I was in no rush so took a circuitous route back down, calling in at the bothy on my way. Changes have indeed been made: gone are all the empty bottles but to compensate for this a new woodburning stove has indeed been installed.

Warnscale Bothy woodburning stove
The new woodburning stove in Warnscale Bothy

Nice job!

Warnscale Head Bothy visit was last modified: November 20th, 2016 by Gavin Dronfield