Our last ‘holiday’ was our trip to Gibraltar in January to get married, so we were very much craving some time away from home when we booked a weekend in the Lake District! Two days running up and down mountains seemed like the perfect way to escape our everyday worries and take a step back from the craziness of this year.
Our first stop was at the Alpkit shop in Ambleside as I wanted to get the Gravitas jacket. It turned out to be a great investment that has been used a few times since then, including during a rather memorable run up the Roaches a couple weeks ago.
After another quick stop at our favourite sandwich shop in Keswick (their turkey and smoked applewood ciabatta roll is delicious), we headed to the fells. Since it was our first time running in the Lakes, I chose a relatively easy route up Catbells (1,480 ft) and Maiden Moor (1,887 ft). They are not the highest mountains – I think Catbells doesn’t even qualify as a mountain – but they offer beautiful views of Derwentwater and the surrounding valley.
The route went up a series of switchbacks leading to Skelgill Bank via an easy scramble. Catbells is a quick summit popular with hikers of all abilities and it can get a little busy on a Sunday afternoon, but it’s still very pleasant.
We had short break atop Skelgill Bank and chatted with a lovely American couple on holiday from Oregon. They were the most genuinely enthusiastic people I’ve met and let us go with kind words of encouragement and a recommendation to visit the West Coast, which we’ll certainly do someday.
My poor lungs were thankful for the break and I was able to run most of the path up to Catbells until we reached another bit of scramble – again, nothing too difficult. The summit was crowded so we didn’t stick around; we snapped a quick shot and rapidly made our way down onto the ridge and towards Maiden Moor beyond.
From that point, most people seemed to veer on the path down to Manesty and we were left alone to head into the clouds.
The trail to the summit was easy to follow for the most part but as the fog grew thicker, navigating became trickier. I was grateful when the Suunto watch alerted me that we had missed our turn and were off-route! It saved us many miles and a lot of time trying to find our way…
It took us around 20 minutes to run from the bottom of the climb to the path leading down (including a stop to add on some clothing layers), but it felt much longer. The summit was rather inhospitable – foggy, windy – and we were quite happy to start our descent on the steep, slippery, technical trail. I’m honestly surprised we both managed to keep our balance!
Halfway down, we sat on a rock to admire the wonderful view and refuel on Clif bars and Trek flapjacks. The landscape looked stunning: rolling hills peppered with purple heather, vast lakes and criss-crossed farmers’ fields. I could have stayed there all day, but we had to get moving.
The last two miles followed the Allerdale Ramble, a mostly flat and well-trodden path, all the way back to Hawes End where we were parked. A few sections were under water, but it remained easily runnable. With the challenging parts behind us, we were able to cover ground quickly – it took us less than 30 minutes to leg it back to the car, which was a very welcome sight!
We ran roughly 8 miles (and climbed over 2,500 ft) in a little over two hours. The cosy hotel room and its
warm boiling shower was the best thing ever. So was the pub afterwards!
The route was easy to follow and it’s an enjoyable hike/run I’d recommend if you ever find yourself in the area.
For those of you who’d like to see us in action, Edward vlogged the whole thing and you can watch his video here! I’m not really a fan of being in front of the camera (especially when I’m a sweaty mess), but I have to admit there’s something nice about having our runs on tape…