Friday, June 21, 2013

Lakes 10 Peaks - recce's

A few weeks ago, in a fit of impulsivity, I entered the Lakes 10 Peaks race. This runs over the 10 highest peaks in The Lake District, covering approximately 73 kilometres with over 5,600 metres of ascent. It looked mental enough for me!

The peaks are Helvellyn (951m), Bowfell (902m), Great End (910m), Ill Crag (935m), Broad Crag (934m), Scafell Pike (978m), Scafell (965m), Great Gable (899m), Pillar (892m), and finally Skiddaw (931m)

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

I’ve only been up Helvellyn, Bowfell and Scafell Pike previously so I have been up to the Lakes for a couple of recce’s recently.


A couple of weeks ago, I checked out the route from Thirlmere (at the bottom of Helvellyn), through the bogs (not too bad), up over High Raise and on to Angle Tarn at the base of Bowfell. I had intended to go up to the Scafell plateau but the cloud had dropped down to around 700m and this was forecast to remain all day, along with heavy rain. As I don’t know the area very well at all, I decided to stay lower and just have a nice day out. A bit light weight, I know, but these days my safety threshold is lower.

Up from Thirlmere
High Raise
.......and downwards
I carried on to Sty Head and then down to Wasdale. There I picked up the Lakeland 100 route over Black Sail Pass towards Buttermere, where I had a great slice of carrot cake and a hot chocolate with all the trimmings. 
Then it was onward to Braithwaite and Keswick where I got the trusty bus back to my car at Wythburn on the south shore of Thirlmere.

A thoroughly enjoyable day out; 29 miles, 2500m of ascent. The weather had definitely been better below 700m or so; dry(ish) with reasonable visibility.

Part 2:

Last week I spent another couple of days in the Lakes. I drove up on Monday evening so that I could start early and from my overnight at Borrowdale Youth  Hostel

I left the YH in clear skies at 06:15 and climbed up towards Esk Hause.

 I soon was on top of Scafell Pike (via Great End, Ill Crag, and Broad Crag).
Great End
Ill Crag
Scafell Pike from Broad Crag
Scafell Pike
The Lake District on a sunny day - beautiful
Having descended into Mickledore, I knew that there were 2 possible routes up Sca Fell, Lord’s Rake or via Foxes Tarn. An inability to find the former, narrowed my choice! The climb up to Foxes Tarn is relatively short but tough. At the summit I decided to see if I could find Lords Rake from the top. I couldn’t. I ended up coming too far down towards Wasdale and had to hack across fell and then climb back up towards Mickledore, before picking up the corridor route.
Looking back at Scafell Pike from the top of Sca Fell
The corridor route towards Styhead Tarn
I then made my way back to Sty Head and rapidly climbed up Great Gable. On top I had a quick rest, a chat and a huge slab of flapjack from the youth hostel.
Looking back at Great Gable
From here, the route goes down to Beckhead Tarn then around Kirk Fell under Boat How crags, finally reaching Black Sail Pass and on to Pillar before returning all the way to Beck Head. 

Somehow, I found myself on top of Kirk Fell and bagged myself a bonus Wainwright due to poor navigation! Back on course, I reached the top of Pillar 
I retraced my steps, via the correct route to Beck Head, and then easily followed the route to Honister before making my way back to Borrowdale YH.

A lot of the day had been relatively unrunnable due to technical ascents and descents and the terrain. I was out on the fells for over 11 hours and had a great (but tiring) day out in perfect weather. Gorgeous sunshine with superb visibility. The perfect recce.

After a splendid pub meal including ice cream of course, I was treated to a magnificent sunset over Derwentwater. I retired early, ready for an early start.
Just gorgeous
Dawn broke and in blue skies again, I drove up to Honister with the plan to run the route to Keswick and then perhaps do Skiddaw, return to Keswick and catch the bus back to Honister.

From Honister, I climbed up towards Dale Head before cutting across some boggy ground to Dalehead Tarn. Here some wild campers were just getting up. I commented on what a great spot they had. From here it was all the way down to Little Town; the path at the top was not particularly clear but essentially followed the gill. Lower down it became hard-packed and was perfect for some good running.

From Little Town it was a short run to Skelgill, before picking up the Cumbria Way back to Keswick. I then made my way across farmland and along country lanes to Millbeck at the foot of Skiddaw. By now, my legs were feeling the effects of the previous day and looking upwards, I decided to give Skiddaw a miss. From all accounts, the Skiddaw loop is a bit of a motorway and a ‘long drag’.
Back towards Keswick and some of the previous day's route
I made my way to the back of Latrigg and picked up the last couple of miles of the route along the Cumbria Way to Keswick. The bus to Honister wasn’t for 45 minutes, and given my dislike of queuing (there were already several people waiting), I got the Borrowdale bus to Seatoller, from where it was one last climb up the road to Honister.
Just how fast are these little animals?
A very useful few hours out. It amuses me that these days 15 miles feels like a short run!

I’m really pleased that I have done these recce’s. Some of the route is a bit tricky to follow and there are a few route choices to make. The sheer quantity of ascent/descent and also the terrain, promise to make this a very tough endeavour.

In fact, it’s going to be brutal

There’ll be no racing for me; a finisher’s medal is all that’s required.

1 comment:

Colin Fitzjohn Ultra Runner said... [Reply to comment]

I've been up to the Lakes over the past 2 weeks. It's been great with the weather recently. I think the recce’s are needed on this one. Going up again this Sunday to do the middle 15 miles. Really looking forward to this one.

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