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
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
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.
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