Warnscale Bothy Hike – Ultimate Guide

Warnscale Bothy, Buttermere

If you’re familiar with the Lake District, then you would have absolutely seen the famous shot out of the Warnscale Bothy window looking out over Buttermere lake.

I remember seeing this picture a few years ago and knew that I’d have to find and replicate it myself as the view was absolutely unreal.

One of only three bothies in the Lake District, most of the UK’s bothies being north of the border in Scotland. Visiting the Warnscale bothy is a must-do if you’re in the lake district.

Located near the wonderful Buttermere, the bothy is not too much of a challenge to find, but rewarded with incredible views and a beautiful place to rest your head for the night should you so wish.

Quick Facts about the Warnscale Bothy Hike

  • Distance: Less than 5km out and back, but many routes are available
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Best travel time: For sunset over buttermere
  • Difficulty: Not too difficult, some elevation gain but nothing serious
  • Parking: Honnister Slate mine or Gatesgarth
Picture perfect frame from Warnscale Bothy

High Points of the Warnscale Bothy

  • The ‘Picture perfect’ window in the Lake District
  • Beautiful view over Buttermere and Crummock Water
  • Incredible bothy you can stay at, for free!
  • Superb spot for Sunset.

Low Points of the Warnscale Bothy

  • Luck will decide if you have it to yourself, or if you share!
The view down to buttermere

How to get to the Warnscale Bothy

Officially there are a few ways to get through to the Warnscale Bothy but for the purpose of this guide, I’ll walk you through the route from Gatesgarth.

You can get here from the Honnister slate mine, and I think it *could* be an easier walk/hike. Depends on what you want out of your day in the lake district!

There’s also the option to tag a few Wainwrights on to the hike too, and really make a day for it. Adding the haystacks onto the hike would make it a nice circular and a good day out in the fells.

I chose to park near Gatesgarth. There’s a paid car park there, and there is also some road parking if it isn’t too busy.

From Gategarth, walk back up Honnister road and you’ll see a trail off to your right that is well-worn and easy to follow.

From here, the trail is really easy to follow and it’s not hard to navigate.

As you start to climb, there’s a small bridge or the choice to choose to continue on the path that goes left. I took the bridge and headed up the path to the right of the river and continue to follow it all the way up.

There are some incredible pools on this trail and had it been better weather when I went, there’s absolutely zero chance I’d have missed getting in for a dip!

Once you follow the trail up and it starts to get a little thinner and less worn, you’ll have to cross the small river crossing and then the bothy should be above you.

Thankfully it is tagged on google maps, and all maps, are so easy to find when you’re here.

Mind your head!

My Experience of the Warnscale Bothy

Having seen the ‘picture perfect’ window many years ago, this had been on my list to do for a long time.

Visiting the Lake District is not always something on my priority list, given that Snowdonia is always my go-to. However, one weekend I decided enough was enough and I had to tick a few things off of the list.

The walk to the bothy is surprisingly nice. Following the river up the mountain, reveals many of its secret pools and bathing spots. Shout out to those dipping in the cold English winter. If it wasn’t already inverted, I’d have joined in!

The bothy itself offers nothing of visual appeal. From the outside, it looks like a small, rundown cottage, and on the inside nothing more than a fire and two wooden beds.

But the view from the window.


It is perfectly framed over Buttermere Lake and Crummock water and offers incredible views down the valley. Watching the sunset from here was one of the best moments of 2022 for me and it’s somewhere I’ll definitely head back to. This time I’ll pack some hot chocolate and more snacks though!

The picture perfect frame

Can you sleep in the Warnscale Bothy?

Yes, you absolutely can.

Offering two wooden beds, and some floor space. Many people spend the night in the wonderful bothy perched high above Buttermere.

It is first come, first serve and if you’re going solo, don’t be upset if you manage to have company for the night.

I can’t imagine anything better than sitting around the fire with a good feed, watching the sunset through the idyllic window, and then settling down for the night high in the fells.

If you want to find out more about bothies in general, you can find more information here.

Sleepy sheep on the slopes of Warnscale

Perfectly framed window

If you’ve any questions about finding the Warnscale Bothy in the Lake District then drop them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help.

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2 Replies to “Warnscale Bothy Hike – Ultimate Guide”

  1. Frans Vossenberg says: Reply

    Hello Lou Brierley,
    Thanks for your post outlining a visit to Warnscale Bothy. Can we reach it by walking north from the C2C path via a track marked on OS maps around the west side of Great Round How? Do you know the conditions and intensity of this path?
    Thank you for any help or guidance that you can provide!
    Frans Vossenberg
    Fredericksburg, Virginia

    1. Hello, Frans! Sorry I cannot answer that, as it isn’t a path I am familiar with, nor have I done. Good luck!

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