I was initially motivated by completing challenges in order to brag and impress people who really didn’t care. It was therefore vital that the person that I was trying to impress had heard of the challenge and held it in suitably high regard. Nearly all the big-name challenges are actually very manageable and although rewarding, no longer give any insight into the heroics involved in completing a really silly challenge. In order to gain such insight I am now much more motivated by tasks that Women at Weddings (and I have been informed by my loving girlfriend that Men at Weddings also apply) have never heard of.
One such challenge is the Bob Graham Round. Unfortunately it really is a challenge, even for the super fit, and I am probably several years from even being able to consider attempting it in the suggested time limit. Even if I wanted to.
So in order to see what the ordeal involved (and to get to know the Lake District a little better) a friend and I decided to have a go at the main route over two and a half days. Optimistic and ambitious as we were, it didn’t take long for us to start omitting the periphery peaks, but we definitely got a feel for what they were likely to entail.
Nottingham > Keswick took about 4.5 hours with a little stop to buy a map in Penrith.
Leaving the car in Thirlkeld (free parking), we walked up from Keswick and headed south along the Helvellyn Ridge. At 4pm it was enjoyably hot on the way up. Along the ridge the clouds came and went and the wind blew hard. Then it began to rain and made the skin of the knees red and cold. Intending to make the cave known as Priest’s Hole, we headed down to Grizedale Tarn. The light was fading and the cave was far so we just set up our camp for the night. The water reflecting the failing light and became the main source of illumination as we ate our pasties in the gloom. The rain persisted and so we replaced our view of the bright and open aired scene with glow of a single tea light underneath the billowing, charity shop, single skin tent. The drips of condensation were minimal and it was steamy rather than cold and I slept fantastically. Martyn slid out from underneath the nylon canvas and uninterested in protecting himself from the rain became quite wet. He was not too bothered by this.
The view before bed time.
The view upon awaking.
We set off for the first few peaks met the support team of a group of much tougher men who were attempting the route for real. We sauntered along and were caught by the runners who were already behind schedule and probably inwardly envious of our breakfast spread and intermittent sunbathing.
For the Lake District in August we were seldom disturbed by other walkers but, as is the nature of the environment, were always in the company of walkers of the past and future – the wide, well maintained paths on the route shattered any whimsical daydreaming about exploring a wild unknown. We never felt alone.
At the top of Green Gable, we came across an Alpkit advert of a man who was radiating excitement about the prospect of sleeping under his meticulously pitched tarp amid the drifting clouds. In commandeering his three foot dry stone wall summit shelter he was spending the night in his very own castle.
Of course, the Scafell area was very busy.
For our second evening we stayed in Dubs Hut. An excellent although spartan bothy. It is spacious, very well located, has running water right outside and even offered two large camp beds. A dinner of pasta and cheese was fantastic and the whisky from a plastic water bottle helped to warm and sooth. Dark outside and darker inside, I was barely disturbed by a party of Bulgarians and Italians that joined us and despite being woefully under prepared for a cold night on a stone floor they actually had everything they needed.
Resisting the temptation to stop at the cafe on Honnister pass, we arrived back in Keswick very wet, ready for a large burger and a fantastic cold lager.
Many more peaks bagged and a new bothy.
Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.
Total cost inc petrol, food, meths and a Harvey map of the Lake District (excellent) £65
If you want to be an Alpkit advert of a man it’s easy.
If you want to feel like a rich, second home owning smug git then pretend for a night. It’s also easy.
The map that has got it all can be found here.