Mountain Running Lake District
Since entering (and somehow finishing) the 21km mountain race at L'Ocaive in Pedreguer, Spain, I've been running a bit more often again. Mostly these runs have been on good trails and undulating rather than mountainous and it's been fun...I think!
We're really lucky where we live there are great walks and runs from the doorstep and a couple that have become regular for me are a circuit of Loughrigg (sometimes including the summit), and Wansfell Pike. Whilst Wansfell Pike is loads steeper, I think it's overall an easy run because I have to walk most of the steep uphills. Stretching the legs on the grassy slopes heading back down towards Windermere is a delight and pretty easy on the knees with all that soft grass.
There's been a few trips into Langdale too, to try combining scrambling with running and this has been fun. Stickle Ghyll scramble quickly gains height then over to Tarn crag for a fun grade 3 route followed by a run over grassy slopes to Stickle tarn to link up with the classic Jack's Rake to the top of Pavey Ark. This is such a brilliant route whether walking or running.
What I have found is that fell shoes that are good on grass and mud, they are completely rubbish on rock and treacherous on wet rock. I'm sure there is a shoe out there that can cope with both, but hey, this sort of footwear can be mighty expensive and due to being so light, doesn't last long.
So today I approached things differently, taking 2 pairs of footwear. A dedicated fell running shoe, the Mud Claw from Inov 8 - these are unbelievably good on wet grass / mud and feel super secure. In my backpack were a pair of 5.10 Tennies with the stickiest rubber around. The combination worked a treat and I'll definitely be doing this again. Perfect for Mountain Running Lake District.
Starting from The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Langdale I ran along the wide track through Mickleden and across the bottom of Rossett Ghyll before ascending to Angle tarn. Once at Angle tarn I knew the bulk of ascent was behind me and relaxed into a steady pace to Esk Hause.
A few walkers were enjoying a break in the shelter there. I continued on to the Hause proper and descended on the Western side of The Tongue, following Calfcove Gill. This was pretty rough and what I should have done was descend on the Eastern side of The Tongue where there is a better path. Never mind, at least this allowed me quick access onto my chosen scramble.
Cockley Pike Ridge - one of the longest continuous scrambles in the Lake District and the setting alone should merit 3 stars. Set high above Upper Eskdale and The Great Moss, with views over to Scafell, Slight Side, Esk Pike, and Crinkle Crags, it's pretty fantastic.
I changed into the 5.10's and set off. This scramble is a mix of broken rocks and small buttresses, it's easy to vary the route to make it more difficult or easier. Today I stuck with some midway ground, so felt about grade 1.
By now it was raining quite a lot and freezing cold in the breeze (well I only had shorts & T-shirt on)! Without rushing but going at a steady and controlled pace it was about 25 minutes to reach the top. Over too quickly for sure, but I had covered a big distance in that short time, apparently about 300m of height gain. My legs were trying to tell me this but I hadn't been listening!!
The scramble terminates at a big cairn by the summit of Ill Crag. At 930m above sea level it's one of the big Lakeland tops. By now the mist was think and the rain persistent, so pretty chilly. I did a quick shoe change and considered putting a lightweight jacket on, but didn't bother. Then it was a dash across the plateau to find the main path back to Esk Hause.
Back in fell shoes and being initially off-path felt hugely insecure and I did take a tumble. Thankfully, once on the well used path leading to/from Scafell Pike the rocks are cleaner and offer more traction, so no more falls.
The run back to Langdale was pleasant, easy, and fast. Oh and loads of fun. The weather improved too, with blue sky making a reappearance.
So was this a fell running, mountaineering, scrambling, or sky running day? I'm not sure, but if only able to pick one I suppose it has to be mountaineering. That's certainly what it felt like.
For guided walks, scrambles, rock climbing, abseiling, gorge scrambling, and a host of other activities please do give us a call to discuss your plans. We're always happy to offer advice and guidance, and simply happy to chat about the Lakes and share what we know with you.
Thanks for reading