Route Map and Profile
Starting at Seathwaite and approximately 9 miles, the route I took is one of the more popular (another popular route starting from Wasdale Head). It’s a long climb all the way to the top with more technical sections at the top including one particularly difficult section.
Run, Walk, Crawl, Walk, Run
Climbing a mountain in the Lake District, or anywhere else for that matter can be rather hit ’n’ miss in terms of the type of weather you get. The weather at the base can quite often be different to the summit and quite often changes rapidly. Luckily for unplanned trip the weather was absolutely perfect with little wind, lots of sunshine which meant you could easily wear shorts and t-shirt right up to the summit.
The aim for the climb was to run as much as I could and hike the difficult parts. As this was more of a recreational run I didn’t want to burn myself out by overdoing it on the climbs so as soon as it would get a bit difficult I would make sure to slow down and walk.
My research for the ascent was limited so I wasn’t sure how much of it I would actually be able to run. Leaving Seathwaite the path is relatively flat all the way up to Stockley Bridge before the path forks and you can either climb steeply and approach the summit via Styhead Gill and the Corridor Route or you can head straight along the more popular route via Grains Gill.
Heading straight the path gets progressively steeper before turning into lots, and lots, and lots of steps. I quickly met my match ended up to power hike up the majority. In the distance is the summit of Great End which you need to navigate around. A selection of paths here take you in different directions, one leads to join the Corridor Route, others towards Esk Pike and Bow Fell. It’s easy to follow the crowd around Great End.
It was becoming increasingly difficult to run due to a combination of the incline and tough terrain. In parts the path starts to become nothing more than a giant pile of large boulders. The terrain didn’t seem to stop the more seasoned runners that made light work of hopping between the rocks.
It was difficult trying to figure out where the ‘path’ was and it was only on the way back down this section that I realised the ‘mini-cairns’ that were strategically placed on the rocks to form a pseudo-path for you to follow.
The summit didn’t appear too far away but you couldn’t see were the two ‘valleys’ you have to descend into and then climb back out of! On the course profile they don’t look all that big but they knock you back when you think you’re almost there.
Coming out of the last valley is perhaps the toughest climb. It’s a real scramble requiring you to grab on with your hands. This section was proving tricky for a couple of climbers and as I scaled the rocky outcrops I couldn’t think how much of a challenge it would be on the way back down.
At the top of the climb awaits an awe-inspiring view, particularly on the clear day that I was fortunate to have.
Heading back down the same route I ascended I walked the first difficult couple of miles before being able to run again for the majority of the way down. When reaching the steps at Grains Gill it became increasingly congested so I need to slow down. On reflection I wish I had gone back via the corridor route, both for a change of scenery and I suspect it would have been less congested.