/ Lake District 3000 challenge advice

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Last July, a friend and myself embarked on an attempt of the Lakeland 3000 challenge- the attempt of all four 3000ft peaks in 24 hrs. Sounds fairly straightforward, but it's actually 45 miles of tough hiking and road walking...

Unfortunately for us, the one day we had free turned out to be the hottest day of the year.
We were storming along having walked Skiddaw at night (glorious) under a full moon, walked Borrowdale until we saw dawn at Seathwaite and were up Scafell and Scafell Pike via the corridor route before the twelve hour mark.

After this, things went awry- partially due to the heat, partially due to explorer map paths not actually existing in reality. The worst cases in point being Eskdale (we won't be going down there next time - it'll be back down Lords Rake) and most annoyingly, the path off Raise to Thirlmere via Wythburn. This is a path less swamp with bad walker unfriendly fencing.
We eventually had to bail out at Thirlmere 20 hours after we'd set off, dehydrated with no chance of completing in under 24hrs.

Does any one offer any advice on alternative routes off High Raise to get to Thilmere or indeed even a detour up Langdale and round (seems a long detour)...? Why is there a path marked on the explorer map when it is obvious there is no realistically navigable path. It's a very long valley too.

We shall be having another crack at it next year- probably a little earlier in the season to avoid the heat...
Any advice would be massively appreciated.

Best wishes

richlan - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

Not really sure what you are talking about the non existent Explorer maps but with regards to Wythburn and the path from High Raise, its fine, its a bit boggy at the top but other than that, no issues really.

You could just reverse the BG route and drop of Steel Fell (which would be a knee wrecker) and go via Grizedale tarn and Dollywagon, that's the only other viable (but longer) option than the one you have tried.
Jack - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

You could stay high after high raise and head for calf crag, then steel fell and down to dunmail raise. From there, through the woods and up birk side or up raise beck and over dollywagon pike.

All on good paths and trods for most of it. Getting the line down ro dunmail probably the trickiest bit and maybe worth a recce from dunmail first. There is an obvious trod from the stile up the fell side and into a gully.
James_Kendal on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

Re OS Explorer maps, you do know that the green dotted lines aren't actually paths? They are just rights of way. There may be no path whatsoever on the ground, or there may be a path near by which follows a slightly different route.

Paths are the black dotted lines. Some green dotted lines have black dotted lines underneath them if you look closely, some don't, and that's your cue as to which rights of way actually have paths on the ground.

Yes, I agree it's misleading to the normal user.

When planning a route it's also good to use Google Maps Satellite view, and the Bing equivalent which I find better around the Lakes. That allows you to see whether there's a path or not.
Irk the Purist - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

Why don't you head south from Skiddaw via the old railway to Clough Head and along the Hellvelyn Ridge before going to Scafell? isn't that shorter?

I don't have a map in front of me.

Also, since when was there not being a path a bad thing?
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

Thanks very much for your suggestions so far.

I had considered doing the route in reverse next time. I think the only thing that makes me hesitant is that it makes most sense to climb Skiddaw in the night time. Unless dawn has arrived before the road section has finished, I feel we'd have to climb Helvellyn in the dark, too. Borrowdale is suitably long to allow dawn to arrive before reaching the next mountain section. Using the old railway route is a good suggestion for it in either direction.

Thanks for the clarification regarding Ordnance Survey maps and green lines. I guess my lack of recent walking has made me assume from past experience that green lines tend to be associated with reasonable paths. I have now since learned otherwise! I don't mind pathless terrain if it's in good condition. I now know that Eskdale isn't a particularly viable alternative to the descent of Lords Rake. It wasn't a lack is Explorer Maps that I meant to flag up- more the green dotted lines marked on it. My wording wasn't massively clear.

Our experience of Wythburn was less favourable in that it was virtually pathless and boggy up to the point of being more than knee deep in oily swamp water. Not great when we'd covered over thirty miles and been walking for eighteen hours!
I do however much appreciate the alternative route via Steel Fell. It may be a knee wrecker but we've (so far) got good knees. It was the feet and dehydration that were kicking in. Also the use of satellite technology to look at the paths is a great idea. Thanks!

Is there anyone else out there who has actually done the walk? It's a beast but we managed 35 miles and three of the four peaks. I really feel that we can do it next time with more benign conditions. Up to Scafell, we thoroughly recommend the 3000 challenge for hardcore walkers. Skiddaw was memorable, as was the early morning ascent of Scafell Pike...



In reply to Irk the Purist:

Thanks for the suggestion.

I think it does add a bit of distance to the alternative of walking down the main road but some people with energy left have suggested it.
Believe me- I love pathless terrain. I don't like swamps though. Especially after eighteen hours of walking and 28 degrees...!
Simon Caldwell - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

It's been 30 years or so...

but when we did it I think we took the corridor route, continued contouring round the north west of Scafell Pike, then up to Scafell via Lords Rake. Down to Foxes Tarn back to Broad Stand then up Scafell Pike.

After Angle Tarn and Stake Pass, we slogged up High Raise - better would have been to take a pathless contouring line to the col at Greenup Edge, but only if your nav is up to it. The main problem with High Raise was that we could more-or-less see the building near the car park at Wythburn and they looked close. They weren't!

There is a path down Wythburn, mostly good, but peters out occasionally and I imagine if you don't find the continuation then it could get a bit soggy! As suggested you could go over Steel Fell, the disadvantage of this is that the way off the end is very steep and your knees might be suffering by this point.

It was a good day out, but I've not repeated it since - we walked back along the side of the A591 from Legburthwaite to Keswick and this memory has rather put me off! Of course there are footpaths we could have taken instead, I'm sure these are much more enjoyable (if a little longer).
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

Hi Mike

Dehydration is always going to be hard to beat when you're on a big mission, especially in the Lakes where you can't sensibly just drink from any stream. I carried a water filter when doing the route in very hot conditions and even then I struggled.

If you're doing it again, you might consider this 'over the top' variant that replaces all that road walking with a lot more fells instead: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/logbook/r/?i=483

One for a 2-day walk perhaps. Or at least for cooler weather!

It's boggy in upper Wythburn but I don't recall having any issue finding a path to follow. Maybe you just got unlucky?

Whether you do the standard 3000ers or my 'plus a few' version, I'd strongly consider doing Skiddaw first. Get that dull thankless slog out of the way early, rather than saving it for the end...
ben b - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

Have a look at Ron Turnbull's quirky and entertains book on the Lakes Challenges (includes the 3000s, BGR, High Street etc) - available from other tax-paying sellers but this one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lakeland-Mountain-Challenges-Fellrunners-Hillwalkers/dp/0951599682/ref=la_B...

Plenty of sage advice on the 3000s.

good luck

Simon Caldwell - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

> especially in the Lakes where you can't sensibly just drink from any stream

If you're sensible, you can drink from pretty much every stream...
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

Hi Dan-
Thanks for your useful advice.
I actually took water, unfiltered, from a couple streams without ill effect (mainly high up valleys towards the top of passes). However, in those conditions I think we did pretty well to last as long as we did. We were only an hour or two behind the possibility of carrying on up Helvellyn and along the road to Keswick.

I certainly agree that it would be far more enjoyable to do the walk over two days and take in extra tops, avoiding roads, but the 24 challenge is appealing too. I might have to do the 24hrs one first and then try the two day-er.

Best wishes,

In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Thanks Simon-

Looks like you took the route that we were on-
Skiddaw - Borrowdale- Scafell Pike (via Corridor), Scafell (via Lords Rake). I feel that maybe retracing steps and descending Lords Rake might be better than Foxes Tarn but it might not make too much difference. We found the scree down to Foxes Tarn pretty awful and the climb down to Broad Stand was slow. However, we shouldn't have gone down to Eskdale, that's for sure!
I agree with the Stake Pass-High Raise bit. It went on for an eternity (maybe heat exhaustion not helping!). Any short cut here would have been very welcome. I think maybe we were a bit unlucky with Wythburn but I think that you may have found the path in better condition thirty years ago. It seemed very neglected to us and we're pretty used to trackless terrain in Snowdonia/ Scottish Highlands etc... You're certainly right about the road looking closer than it actually is...

I may get the map out again and see whether Steel Fell and Helvellyn via Dollywaggon would be an alternative possibility...
Here's to another attempt next year.

I have a feeling we shall only complete it once!

Best wishes

In reply to ben b:

Cheers Ben,

I did indeed purchase that book in preparation for the walk. It was very useful, though we stuck to the Borrowdale road rather than the off road route due to unfamiliarity with the latter given it was dark!
I'd recommend it to anyone else attempting the route...

Best wishes
Trangia - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:

> We eventually had to bail out at Thirlmere 20 hours after we'd set off, dehydrated with no chance of completing in under 24hrs.


Tough luck! But not withstanding that.bloody well done bearing in mind it was the hottest day of the year!

Reminded me of attempts to climb Devil's Peak in Western Cape. I've had 3 unsuccessful attempts now, every time having to bale out with temperatures soaring to close to 40 degrees. It's sheer murder trying to climb in such heat.
In reply to Trangia:

Just been looking up Devil's Peak- looks awesome, especially if you can link it up with Table Mountain. There must be a stunning view of Cape Town and the coast from there. I'd love to go there in the future and maybe take the family when the kids are older.
You'll have to persevere with the walk - I'm sure you'll get cooler weather one day!

We're certainly not used to getting anywhere near those temperatures here, especially not in the Lake District. I guess we were a little unlucky for the wrong reasons. There was a great thunderstorm the following morning and torrential rain, so normal service was resumed!

GPN - on 09:46 Sat
In reply to Thesingingphotographer:
Bad luck running out of time! We did the walk last year and it's a bit of a beast!
Because it was wet we descended the Fox's Tarn path from Scafell and then contoured underneath the E Buttress. You don't loose too much height this way.
Wythburn Valley is very boggy. The map shows the path in the right place, starting on the south side of the stream, and the crossing over to the north side half way down. The BG route over Steel Fell is more interesting, but slower, further, and not that much less boggy.

Better luck next time!

In reply to GPN:


I don't think that it looks that much further to head over Steel Fell. I guess we shall have to make a decision next time we reach it. I guess it's a toss up between a slightly longer and steeper descent or a shorter and more boggy approach to Wythburn.
I feel maybe Dunmail Rise approach to Helvellyn via Grisedale Tarn might be a more gentle way of getting up the final 3000er.
Well done for completing it - we were disappointed to have not finished ourselves but it gives us the excuse to go back! The were enough positive and amazing moments to make a return worthwhile...

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