The Lakeland 3000's

This route takes in Skiddaw, Scafell Pike, Scafell and Helvellyn, starting and finishing at Moot Hall Keswick. Perahps Ill Crags and Broad Crag should be included too as they are peaks in their own right (over 3000ft). However their ascent is optional on the round. If you want to be drawn into the technicalities I think there's another one or two on Helvellyn, such as Helvellyn Low Man. It is usually done within 24 hours as a walk (typically takes 20 hours), and running it in around 15 hours (or much less). The optimal distance is 45 miles (about 10 of that on the flat), and the ascent around 11000-13000ft depending on routes taken.

Walking the Lakeland 3000's

As a walk we tried it in June 2004, the weather being favourable although a bit hot in the day time (which meant that we spent some time sleeping at Wythburn).

We set off at 8.45pm, and climbed Skiddaw up the usual motorway. It was dark when we reached the top and very quiet (in fact there was no sound at all). We then descended to Portinscale via the west side of Skiddaw and took then took the road to the right of the Derwent (a bit of uphill but no cars). Upon reaching Grange I would certainly favour the path past Castle Crag and Rosthwaite. A full moon meant that route finding was easy and we didn't need head torches.

After Seathwaite, the climbing gets more serious again. We reached Sty Head around 4am, and it was now getting light. We weren't the only ones around as there where head torches visible on the distant Scafell Pike (most likely on the 3 peak round), although we had the tarn to ourselves. We then climbed to Sprinkling Tarn and Esk Hause, well actually we where aiming for the Corridor route but when we realised we where too high we couldn't be bothered to descend back to it.

Scafell Pike was reached at 5-6am and we had it too ourselves, with the sun just rising. It was then a key decision time on how to climb Scafell. The least technical route is via Foxes tarn but it requires 1000ft of climbing, Lords Rake is next at about 600ft of ascent but a large boulder blocking the route has made this unsafe. This leaves the quickest way: "Broad Stand." A few days before I read a Victorian guide on how to climb Broad Stand (in fact I've never been to Broad Stand before but was aware of its notoriety) and it mentions the climb as difficult. Actually today most guides would put it at moderate (a Grade 3 scramble). Luckily I had an experienced climbing friend with me and it wasn't too intimidating. We didn't use a rope, but I remember getting a bunk up the crucial step. (I was less flexible because I had a rucksack weighed down with about 20 bars of chocolate.) To locate the climb from the pass of Mickeldore, you pass through a thin cleft in the rock (where you'll need to take off the rucksack) and then ascend a few rock steps. You are then faced with a 7-10 ft high rock step, with highly polished holds on the left of it (closest to the vertical drop!). This is the crucial step. The ascent of the bad step required a blind upheave and then some faith in finding the next set of hand holds - and there is scope for things to go wrong, especially when greasy. The resulting drop towards Eskdale is significant (about 100ft). After this the rest of the ascent is ok (in dry conditions) as you climb up shorter scrambly rock steps to gain the main route to Scafell summit.

A closer view of Broad Stand. The rock cleft is clearly visible at the base. Pass through this and then gain a 10 ft rock step by traversing left up easy (but slightly exposed) holds. Then gain the difficult rock step by your favourite means!

Rather than back track over Scafell Pike, we descended into Eskdale. This is certainly a quiet and attractive place, although there were lots of wild campers. On climbing the ravine to Esk Hause, there where two back-packers ahead going at reasonable pace, and we just managed to level with them at Esk Hause (it was now getting hot climbing up). We exchanged the usual "hello", and the "you're out early..." kind of remark. We then made a bee-line for an obvious rock to sit and rest on, and then there was a shout: "you're not sitting there!", they said, "that's our rock to sit on,...we deserve it!" We couldn't contain our words, and had to say that we'd spent the last 11 hours getting here via Skiddaw and Scafell. I think we took turns sitting on the rock in the end, and they did have big rucksacks.

We continued over Rosset Pike, then over Raise. We chatted briefly to someone who'd wild camped at Sprinkling tarn looking for solitude. Apparently he was the only one there when he pitched the tent, but woke to a surrounding of about twenty other tents (those doing the D of E no doubt). The Wythburn bog (something like "The Bog" as marked on maps) goes on forever. The climb up Helvellyn wasn't as bad as we thought, and we had time to spare. We did take the road all the way back to Keswick, and what I gather is traditional, the last mile to Moot Hall was taken at a sprint finish (arriving at 6.40pm - just under 22 hours). The other tradition was to have fish and chips.

Running the Lakeland 3000's

I tried this in April 2006 (solo attempt). In the end taking just under 16 hours from Moot Hall, Keswick and back. I started at 11pm, and reached Skiddaw around 12.30am. There was a strong and biting wind, but luckily no rain or mist. The motorway path also seemed to vanish in the darkness (no moon). I descended by the same route and made my way along the the western side of Derwent Water to Borrowdale (as in the walk previous), and eventually to Stockley Bridge arriving at 4.15am (daylight slowly emerging at this point). The route to Scafell Pike was via Grains Gill, and Ill Crags. The route to Scafell this time was via Foxes Tarn (which added on extra ascent). Descended again to Eskdale and stopped at the canonical rock at Esk Hause, 8am (which I had to myself this time). The route to High Raise and Wythburn is always harder than expected, especially as I ran out of food at this point (had to survive on 4 Eccles cakes for the journey remainder). Helvellyn was reached at 12noon, where the hordes had now gathered. (After leaving Keswick I'd basically not seen any people until 9am that day.) The top of Helvellyn was misty, with snow cornices present on the eastern face.

Snow on Helvellyn, a week following the 3000's run.

The descent was direct to Legburthwaite, and then following the path through St John's in-the-vale (avoiding the road). Usual sprint finish to Keswick, arriving at 2.50pm.

With diversions and extra ascent the route was 50 miles and 13500ft. Quicker times could certainly be achieved by taking the road all the way from Keswick to Borrowdale (along the east of Derwent). The fastest way to Scafell Pike is via Sty Head and the Corridor route, similarly (for exposed scrambling) Broad Stand is the fastest way to Scafell, possibly doing this before the Pike. This saves about 1500-2000ft over the above route. Similarly the road to Keswick from Helvellyn is also fastest. Additionally there is no need to start at night, for example a 4-5am start would be sufficient. Also, don't underestimate how much food you'll need. Being around Easter I took 6 hot cross buns (with honey), 4 Eccles cakes, energy drinks, and chocolate. I could have done with slightly more. Water can be taken from streams, although the water sources only appear to be good once you get passed Stockley bridge and into the higher fells.

Back to main page.