Walk-high: Summer Hiking Programme for LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people
We’ve endured Lock-down. Pride Sports are now thrilled to announce Walk-high, a new series of hiking days / weekends based in the northern Lake District, in association with local mountain leader Lucy Burnett. Walk-high will include four weekends of increasing difficulty, from two walks in June suitable for those who are new to hillwalking, to a final weekend in September intended for those who would love to give fellrunning a try. The aim is to offer something for everyone, the chance to progress, and most of all to provide opportunities to socialize with other LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people in the outdoors.
Details of the routes are provided below. While some indication as to the level of difficulty has been provided, it is your own responsibility to assess your ability to complete the walk. The hikes will be done at the speed of the slowest in the group, so you will never feel like you’re being left behind – these are social days out not races (and this applies to the fellrunning days as much as it does to the easy walks!)
Full kit lists will be provided in advance, but full waterproofs (jacket and leggings), hat and gloves, a rucksack, and walking boots or sturdy walking shoes are a basic requirement of all routes. Some of the walks will include the chance to go for a quick dip or swim! This is indicated in the individual route descriptions below, so that you can make sure to pack your costume (no obligation – the walk leader Lucy is more likely to stay warm and dry unless it’s a particularly lovely day!) The walks will be fully led, so no navigation experience is required There are a maximum of 10 participants per walk.
Due to the numbers expected in the Lake District this summer, a rendezvous at a quiet car park on the road into the Lake District will be organized, and participants will be asked to car share from there to the start of the walk. Participants are asked to bring face-masks and hand sanitizer. Where possible, the group will go for a cuppa / a drink at the end of the day in a local pub or café.
Cost per day is £25 and you can book on one or both days. Accommodation is not included if you wish to stay near the walk area.
Weekend 1 – introductory walks: two contrasting walks on lower lying fells to get your hiking muscles primed
17th July – High Rigg & Tewet Tarn – 6.5 miles, 1040 feet of climbing
St John’s in the Vale, which heads south towards Thirlmere from the A66 Penrith-Keswick road, is a beautiful, and less known, little valley. And the low-lying fells of High Rigg and Low Rigg provide a perfect introduction to Lake District walking. The route follows a grassy path along the length of a broad ridge, culminating in the chance to take a dip in Tewet Tarn. The return route skirts around the base of the fells through stunning deciduous woodland (watch out for red squirrels) back to the start!
18th July – Above Rosthwaite (inc Grange Fell & Castle Crag) 7 miles, 2300 feet of climbing
While a similar distance to the above route, this walk is significantly rougher and has more climbing, providing a good chance to try out more mountainous terrain while still remaining on low-lying fells. The route starts at the Bowderstone (which is itself worthy of a short detour), before climbing up to King’s How. This path is slippery and steep, but not otherwise difficult. The route continues over the top of Grange Fell to Watendlath, before descending to the village of Rosthwaite where there is the option of cutting the day short and catching a bus back to the cars. Beyond Rosthwaite, we will explore the historic glacial landscape of the area, and you will have a chance to take a dip in the river if it’s hot, before the second climb of the day. The route climbs back up through temperate rainforest (yes really) onto a beautiful terrace path above the valley, up to the top of Castle Crag which offers spectacular views along Derwentwater to Keswick, and down to the village of Grange near where we started.
Weekend 2 – hitting the higher tops: two routes of similar distance, but increased ascent, up two of the Lake District’s highest fells
14th August – Helvellyn from Thirlmere (8 miles, 3000 feet of ascent)
Helvellyn is one of the iconic peaks in the Lake District fells, yet rather than following the hordes up the usual route up Striding and Swirral Edges from Glenridding, this route instead sets out from the Thirlmere side. This route is not only substantially quieter, but also far more straightforward; while there is no getting away from the fact that Helvellyn is a big fell so there’s a good amount of climbing, this route involves no scrambling or narrow ridges – just a fantastic view of them and the queues waiting to walk along them from the top! The summits of Whiteside, and possibly Raise, will also be included over the course of the day to create a circular route. Please note that this route is a big step up in terms of fitness from the opening weekend; it is entirely do-able to progress from the first weekend to here, but some interim training will be required.
15th August– Skiddaw from the north (7 miles, 2600 feet of ascent)
Skiddaw is the fourth highest hill in England, after Scafell Pike, Scafell and Helvellyn. Most ‘tourists’ climb it from Keswick, via the brutal zig zags…this route instead starts from the north, not far from Bassenthwaite village, and is far more appealing. The route climbs first to the summit of Ullock Pike, where a fairly narrow, but neither difficult nor precipitous, ridge continues to Carl Side. This ridge poses no difficulties, and involves walking throughout with no need to use your hands, but if you suffer from vertigo, you might find it uncomfortable. From here, a path climbs up the flank of Skiddaw to the summit – again, this is fairly rough, and the ground drops steeply off to the side, but shouldn’t pose any problems unless you really suffer from vertigo. From the summit of Skiddaw, a path descends back down into the valley, steeply towards the end (watch those knees). If we’re all going well, we might also take in the extra summit of Bakestall. Please note that this route is a big step up in terms of fitness from the opening weekend; it is entirely do-able to progress from the first weekend to here, but some interim training will be required.
Weekend 3 – classic routes: two classic fell walks, which you might well not have known to try!
25th September –Glaramara, Allen Craggs & Seathwaite Fell (11 miles, 3,200 feet of ascent)
These fells rise in the heart of Borrowdale, which in turn is located in the heart of the Lake District. There is nothing technical about this walk (unless you choose the optional scramble up to Glaramara’s summit), but there is plenty of wild landscape around! The route up Glaramara climbs gradually and steadily between outcrops to the rocky summit, before continuing along a long ridge, peppered with little tarns, with increasingly good views towards Scafell Pike, Great Gable and the Langdale Pikes, to all sides. From Allen Crags, we descend to Sprinkling Tarn before taking a short detour to the summit of Seathwaite Fell and descending to Styhead Tarn (chance for a dip). From here a path descends to Seathwaite, where a couple more miles of level paths leads back to the car park.
26th September – The Newlands fells (9 miles, 2850 feet of ascent)
The Newlands valley is somewhat overlooked, because it doesn’t have a lake, but it’s a beauty! This route climbs up the three fells of Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head, before returning along the valley to the car park. The ‘bad steps’ which you might read about on the ascent of Robinson aren’t difficult in all honesty, but will be avoided entirely by continuing further up the valley and ascending more straightforwardly from there. From Robinson, a ridge continues out to Hindscarth and on to Dale Head. As the path approaches the summit of Dale Head, the ridge narrows a bit, and there are drops to the RHS, but the route is never difficult and hands are not required. From here, you will be shown a less known descent route from Dale Head summit to the valley track below.
Weekend 4 – intro to fellrunning: some longish days out involving the chance to test your running skills in the fells!
For both of the below routes, fell / trail running shoes are required. You will also be required to carry a minimum of the following kit in a bumbag or small rucksack: waterproof jacket and leggings, hat, gloves, spare warm layer, food & water.
16th October – Coledale Horseshoe (9.5 miles, 3900 feet of ascent)
This route is an extension of the Coledale Horseshoe fell race, which takes in the extra summits of Hopegill Head and Outerside, while avoiding the steep scramble up Eel Crag. There is no anticipation that you will be able to run the entirety of this route (indeed, nor do any but the top few fellrunners during the race), but you will need to know that you would be able to slowly run the above distance at low level. We will walk most of the uphill, and slowly run the flat sections and downhill. Please note that the ridge down from Eel Crag towards Sail is quite narrow and will require you to use your hands. There is no particular difficulty, and it is a good introduction of some of the rougher bits of Lakeland fell races, but do bear this in mind / you have been warned!
17th October– Blencathra from Mungrisedale (10.5, 3200 feet of ascent)
Blencathra is renowned as being a slightly fearsome fell, with Sharp Edge only the most famous of its many narrow ridges. This route, however, is straightforward, and the ridges involved are broad and unintimidating. The route is an extension of the Blencathra fell race, and takes in the summits of Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Crags, Blencathra and Southern Fell, starting and finishing at the pub in Mungrisedale on the far NE fringe of the Lake District. As above, don’t expect to have to run the whole way. This is a big day out, but it is also an introduction to fellrunning, involving walking up, running along and down, and lots of stops to chat and take photos! The ground underfoot is frequently grassy / mossy, but becomes rough on the upper slopes of Blencathra.
Lucy Burnett is a fully qualified mountain leader with vast experience of hillwalking and fellrunning in the UK and overseas. She has in-depth knowledge of the Lake District Fells, having completed the Wainwrights by age 15, and a number of years back completed climbing the Scottish Munros. She now lives in Cockermouth, where she competes at fellrunning with Keswick AC, but who also loves the excuse for easier, social days out with others! When not out and about, Lucy is a freelance artist / writer and poetry festival director – see www.scree.uk for details of one of her current projects, centred around rethinking how we experience the Lake District fells. Prior to going freelance, she worked as a university lecturer, and before that as an environmental campaigner for Friends of the Earth and Ramblers Scotland. Her aim is to bring all of the above experience and knowledge to offering fully rounded, interesting (and most importantly, fun) hikes, which go beyond putting one foot in front of the other (albeit this is also required…!)