Lakeland 3000 Footers

5 01 2013

(Photos all taken on different days)
Quite a few years ago now, I did another sponsored challenge in aid of my favourite cause – humane research, i.e. medical research not conducted on animals. For this I decided to do the Lakeland 3000 footers and managed to raise £500. Now, when I say I did the Lakeland 3000 footers, I don’t mean in the traditional way where you have to walk in between them making it a 45 mile walk and 11,000 feet of ascent. My own version, with my Mum driving me between the peaks in her car and acting as backup, still entailed a distance of 25 miles and 9,400 feet of ascent.

I knew I could do the distance and was pretty sure I could do 3 of the 4 hills but was a bit uncertain whether I could manage the 4th… I saw the challenge as being more psychological than physical really as, when you normally get down from a major hillwalk (which the two Scafells at the start constitute), your mind and body expect you to go to the pub and have the rest of the day off.

I picked a day towards the middle of summer as I’d need the long daylight hours – I didn’t fancy having to do any of it in the dark. My Dad originally was going to accompany me on the two Scafells as I was a bit nervous about the bit in between them but, in the end, I decided I wanted to really crack on at that stage and thought it wasn’t really fair to expect him to do them at speed.

So, when the time came, the day before the walk, my mother and I drove round to Wasdale for the night. She was to stay at Wasdale Hall, the Youth Hostel, and I planned to camp at Nether Wasdale in my Dad’s canvas ‘Blacks Guinea Tent’ – dating from around the 1930s I believe. We later found I’d definitely picked the best option!

xYHA-Wasdale Hall
Wasdale Hall YHA

My Mum had called at the Youth Hostel first and made her bed up – the only way to officially bag a bed in Youth Hostels – and then drove me round to Nether Wasdale to the campsite. The campsite was a really beautiful spot with hillocks, hummocks and bushes everywhere so you could get a really secluded spot to yourself. This turned out to be lucky as, it was so warm during the night, I slept on top of my sleeping bag with the tent-doors tied back and the flaps tied up all round the base of the tent – these are great tents for warm conditions.

My mother arrived back at the hostel around 2230 and got herself a bedtime drink and then went off up to the dorm. She arrived at her bed by torchlight to find… another girl sleeping in it! Now, I’d have tipped her out unceremoniously (or maybe got in alongside her for a laugh and maximum shock value 😮 ) but, for some reason, my mother didn’t and ended up having to make up the top bunk. She did make sure she made maximum movement during the night though, especially when turning over, just to ensure the bed-thief below did NOT have a good night!

Consequently, as I am a lazy so-and-so in a morning, and my Mum had a bad night (partly due to lying there fuming for quite a while), I was pretty late getting going in the morning. It was at least 10 am before I hit the start of the path up Brown Tongue en-route to Scafell Pike. At this point it was hot, sticky and sunny…

xScafells fm Wasdale
Scafell Pike (left with the obvious route blazing up below it) & Scafell (right)

I stormed up to Hollowstones below the two Scafells and then turned left for the path up to Scafell Pike (3210 feet).

xLingmell from the col
Lingmell from Scafell Pike path start

xIll Crag fm Scafell Pike South Summit
Ill Crag from Scafell Pike South Summit

To get from the Pike to the second Scafell, I descended to Mickledoor (the col between the two mountains) and then descended down the scree-chute at the back to get to the narrow, rocky gully which heads back up to Foxes Tarn.

xBroad Stand across Mickledore

xFoxes Tarn route & Broad Stand
Route to Scafell goes up the narrow gully just left of centre

There were some scramblers tackling the very difficult route up Broad Stand as I passed…

xBroad Stand

I’d been down ‘Foxes Gully’ before and found going up it this time was much easier and more pleasant than the previous descent had been as some of it is quite loose and made it a bit worrying. Foxes Tarn is no more than a puddle and scarcely merits being given a name but, as it’s a permanent feature, it was named. From the tarn, there is a steep but brief stone-pitched section up to the main summit of Scafell (3162 feet).

xScafell-Pisgah & Pinnacle
Scafell Pinnacle and Deep Ghyll

I didn’t hang around but immediately set off down the West Ridge. Somewhere around the Black Crags area, I peeped over the side of the very long ridge and decided to take a short-cut down the scree to re-join the Brown Tongue route. I clattered uncontrollably down the scree, sliding slowly but completely unable to stop as I approached the beck at the bottom. A small crowd of people waited expectantly… I didn’t disappoint them – despite clawing with my hands and trying to dig my heels in hard, I was dumped unceremoniously in the beck by the scree chute. Oh well, it was still a nice, hot day and I could do with a cool-down…

I decided to have a drink from the beck and took a few good mouthfuls… just after I did that, I glanced upstream and saw, lying spread out all over the beck, a very green, dead sheep! I didn’t suffer any ill-effects though so she can’t have died of any virulent disease or anything…

By now, I was so hot, I’d stripped down to my bra (don’t worry, it wasn’t a see-through one – I always wear ones which are similar to bikini-tops on the hill so I can peel off without embarrassing folks). Now, normally it doesn’t bother me one jot strolling around the hills in my undies but, as I reached the narrow gate through the fell-wall, I walked smack-bang into a large group of soldiers out on exercise! Luckily I was already hot so, if I did blush, it wouldn’t have been noticeable. They were perfect gentlemen and lined up and held the gate open for me… all the better to get a good look no doubt! Oh well, possibly made their day.

I rushed on down to the waiting car complete with mother, cool drinks and raspberries from her garden – lovely. I was pretty thirsty as I’d been fairly quick over the two mountains and it was a very warm day so, when we drove round to Skiddaw, we stopped at The Castle Inn near Bassenthwaite for some tonic water. I noticed it was starting to cloud over…

Skiddaw in Various Moods

xSkiddaw Mists from Hazel Bank Bedrooms (zoomed)

xSnowy Skiddaw&Cloud

xSnowdy Skiddaw fm The Coledale

By the time we came out of the pub and reached the foot of Skiddaw (3054 feet) by Mirehouse, it was drizzling with rain. I quickly marched up the forest road west of Skiddaw Dodd to the Long Doors col. I’d recce’d this route in the past and knew it was the easiest and quickest route up the fell.

From the col, a good little path takes a stile over the fence and rakes across scree, rising up to White Stones on Carlside. From there it’s an almightily steep slog up to the summit of Carlside and then, after a short descent to the tarn on the col, an even steeper one up the last 700 feet of scree to the south summit. At this stage, I was just wearing a vest top and shorts and found the cool drizzle very refreshing – this enabled me to set a cracking pace. I was soon taking the old zig-zag up the final 700 foot scree cone.

I went right along the ridge to the north summit at the far end as that’s how I believe Skiddaw should be done – it’s a lovely promenade with great views on a nice day, unfortunately this day it had none. I then came back along to the south summit and shot back down to Carlside and straight down to Millbeck at its foot where I was to meet my mother.

I’d sent her into Keswick to get some batteries for my headtorch while I’d been up Skiddaw as I was by now running fairly short of daylight and still had Helvellyn to do. I was surprised to see her just pulling into the carpark after my three hours on the hill. Apparently, when heading into town, she got caught up in some severe roadworks and ended up going round and round but not able to get to the town centre for ages. She was surprised to see me already and asked if I’d turned back – I informed her I’d completed the peak okay – she said I must have been very quick…

We reached the foot of Helvellyn (3117 feet) at Thirlspot above Thirlmere at 7pm – I really didn’t want to be up there in the dark, headtorch or not, so that meant I had two hours to do my last peak. The weather was worsening and the cloud had come right down…

xRaven Crag - Helvellyn
Helvellyn with my route obvious up the front

I shot gamely off up the zig-zags, ascending as fast as I could and made it to the summit mists in one hour 10 – a pretty good time! I stopped no longer than it took to touch the cairn and set off running back down. Despite a fall on the way back down, I made it back in 50 minutes just as it dropped dark – I’d done it!

xHelvellyn Lower Man
Helvellyn Lower Man from summit

The whole walk had taken more or less eleven hours. I wasn’t really tired as such but I had been right in that the challenge had been very hard psychologically. To get back to the car each time after doing quite hard hills only to have to set off for another 3000-footer got harder as the day went on. I never saw a soul on either Skiddaw or Helvellyn and that made it even harder. Rather than elated, I felt rather wrung-out afterwards and so we went off to one of the Grasmere pubs for me to re-hydrate with more tonic water, recuperate and cheer up a bit chatting to my mother.

I did feel good about it the next day though, and even better when I’d collected the money for my good cause!




17 responses

26 02 2013
Scotlands Mountains

10am start …lazy bugger 🙂


28 02 2013

It’s not an unusual time for me – I’m definitely not a morning person! 😉 It was a tad late for a challenge walk though!


10 01 2013

Happy, Inspiring and Prosperous 2013 to you and your family!:-)


10 01 2013

Thanks 🙂 Just had a look at your latest post on your blog and you’re certainly not struggling for inspiration! 🙂


7 01 2013

Some great Photos Carol. I’ve been up all four summits in the past but would never think of linking them together. I’m usually very adept at avoiding challenges like that. I never get a good nights sleep in mountain huts or hostels which is the main reason why I like tents and bothies. That and the price.
Well done to you and your mum.


8 01 2013

Yeah certainly well done to my Mum ‘cos, without her, it would have been very hard indeed!

I never get a good night’s sleep in youth hostels either and probably wouldn’t with a group in a mountain hut as I find groups are always more about getting drunk and staying up all night whereas I’m just really serious about my hill the next day!. I sleep better in bothies too – I haven’t slept in a tent for a few years now – I’d be okay in the tent on a warm night but I found in Africa that the cold on Mt. Kenya more or less stopped me sleeping all week :-(.


6 01 2013

It would be something to aim for. For me (at the moment at least) I think I would need to split it over 4 days, however. Now should I make some New Year’s Resolutions….?
Great story – it’s nice to look back on epic days like those.


8 01 2013

Actually, I’m pondering whether I’m up to the ‘real Lakeland 3000s’ where you link them together and have started planning routes! 🙂


8 01 2013

Fabulous – look forward to hearing about that at some point then. (:


6 01 2013

Enjoyed that. Great story. Not so sure about the green-sheep-flavoured water though. That sort of thing’s always at the back of your mind when taking a drink from a stream.
Cheers, Alen


8 01 2013

I don’t normally think about things like that when I drink from becks – even now! It tasted okay actually 😉


6 01 2013

Who says you have to do a challenge in exactly the same way as everyone else anyway? I quite like making my own stuff up!
For some strange reason, although I’ve done Scafell Pike several times, I’ve never actually done Scafell. Need to remedy that.


8 01 2013

In my opinion, the absolute best way up Scafell is from Eskdale. I’d recommend taking the ‘terrace route’ which Wainwright refers to which sets off from Wha House. It’s a long and gentle route but scenic and pleasant. And then you can come back down via Cam Spout and Upper Eskdale (or do the whole thing the other way round). A really great day out.


5 01 2013

Even your shorter route is an achievement 🙂

Less car travelling than the Three Peaks and a couple more miles walked than the Yorkshire Three Peaks!


6 01 2013

Actually, I didn’t know until I looked it up as I wrote this post how ‘short’ the full route was – I thought it was over 50 miles and thought it had to be much more climbing than 11000 feet as there’s lots of stuff in between to go over if you do a continuous round.


5 01 2013
Paul Shorrock

Great post Carol, with the usual ‘adventures’ that we have come to expect 😀


6 01 2013

Thanks Paul 🙂 I keep wondering now, since I wrote it up, whether I could actually do the full version – but that one was around 15-20 years ago now I think and I must be getting less fit and able by now!


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