Finding the room with a view…
Three friends and I set off from Wasdale Head in the Lake District for a two-day winter walk/ scramble. The plan was to find and stay in the Warnscale Head bothy – a rustic little bothy sometimes referred to as “The room with a view”. The Warnscale Head bothy isn’t easy to find, it’s camouflaged against the surrounding rocks, nestled on a steep hillside. The search for it makes it all the more rewarding though when somebody finally shouts “I see it”. Like many other bothies, this one is free of charge to stay/ shelter in, but the Mountain Bothy Association always welcome volunteers to help with maintenance. Note that there is no way of reserving a space at this bothy (commonly the case with bothies) so it’s worth having a backup plan. The Warnscale Head bothy’s origins appear to lie with the mining that once existed in the area.
Its grid reference is NY 205 133, which is just a little bit south of Fleetwith Pike on the slopes next to Warnscale Beck. On my paper OS 1:25,000 Explorer Map – The English Lakes North-western area (approx from 2008) a tiny rectangular structure marking the bothy can just about be picked out. I have noticed however that on my up to date digital version of the map the hillside at the location is plotted slightly differently and the rectangular structure is a bit clearer. Be careful not to get the bothy confused with the nearby Dubs Huts, a much larger bothy closer to the Honister Pass.
Inside the bothy
Once we’d found the bothy we excitedly opened the door and went in – it took a moment for our eyes to adjust to the relative darkness (it has two small windows and light was fading outside), but we soon settled in and got the fire going with the fuel we had carried.
The bothy is appointed with stone sleeping/ sitting benches across three of the four walls and has a fireplace in the middle of the other wall. The roof seemed in good condition with no leaks – you can hear the wind through the cracks though! There is no electricity, water, toilet or anything of that nature although water can be found a short walk away in the nearby streams (boiling it first is always advised). It looked like a bit of work had recently been going on to help improve the draw of the chimney. We did, however, have to fabricate a kind of extra cover over the fire to try and help the smoke up the chimney and not into the bothy – this cover was only a crude temporary fix though and wasn’t something we could safely leave in place.
Whilst cooking up a meal we speculated on what some of the items we found hanging in the bothy were doing there. It didn’t take Poirot to work out that somebody had stashed some equipment/ food in the bothy with the intention of returning to it at some point. Sure enough later on (about 10pm or so) a couple of weary mountaineers clattered in from out in the cold. They had taken longer than they had expected in their day’s activities and had had to return to/ find the bothy by night. Fortunately for them, the fire was still going (just) and there was enough space for them to settle in on the floor.
Update: Since my visit, I’m pleased to report a stove has been fitted – thanks and good job all those involved.
Overview of the bothy
Overall the Warnscale bothy has a very rustic feel and the views are fantastic. There’s enough sleeping space for four adults – six starts to get tight if you have lots of equipment. More would be possible in an emergency or if you know each other particularly well. According to the Mountain Bothy Association “Because of overcrowding and lack of facilities, large groups (6 or more) should not use a bothy nor camp near a bothy without first seeking permission from the owner.”. It’s also worth noting that they have the Warnscale Head bothy’s official status down as “very small – not suitable for overnight use”.
For all things bothy, you can visit the Mountain Bothy Association and remember to always leave a bothy in the same or better condition than you found it.
If you are new to visiting the Lake District here is a bit of the local lingo: beck (stream), dale (valley), gill (gorge), tarn (lake) and thwaite (clearing).
Oh, and one other thing: the door latch had a bit of a knack to it – one to learn before you need to go for a wee in the night!
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In the pictures are Andy, Steve and Dave – thanks for a great trip guys. If you happen to be getting married in the Lake District then definitely look up Dave at Dave Greaves Photography – he’s a fantastic wedding photographer based near Ulverston in Cumbria. We had fun shooting and talking shop on this trip!