To the Lake District

It won’t be long now before I begin the long drive up in to the north-west of England. In all my ten years of walking, I’ve never once set foot in the Lake District proper (unless you count a stop at Tebay services on the way up to Scotland back in June…). This trip could be interoperated as a bit of a celebration for my decade of hiking around the UK.

I’ll be driving up alone, in a journey that I expect to last up to five hours. It should be a straight mission up the M5 and then joining the toll-free M6 motorway, before veering off in to the National Park.

My plan is to spend six nights up there, spreading myself evenly across two reasonably-affordable campsites for accommodation. I quite like camping in September. It rarely gets too hot in the mornings or evenings and, as darkness is beginning to creep in ever earlier, I can feel no shame in heading to bed before 21:00!

For each of the walks I’ve pencilled in, I’ll be driving to and from the start locations. None of my chosen campsites are quite close enough for me to set off on foot on conquering certain fells… I’d have had to pay more of a premium price to sleep in my tent, in order to achieve that. Regardless and with fuel prices still sky-high in the UK, the constant need to quench my car’s thirst is going to be the greatest financial expense of this adventure.

I also expect to have to pay for parking in almost every location. Fingers crossed that card or phone payments can be made in places, although I will be carrying a collection of coins.

As for the walks themselves, I’ll outline my shortlist below. All are routes that I’ve found and downloaded with my online OS Maps subscription and, because I don’t own any of the FOUR paper maps covering the Lake District, I’ve decided to instead print of A4 sheets in a 1:25,000 scale, to save a few pennies on an extra collection of maps that might only get used for a few days in a year.

Day one will simply be a travel day. No hiking. Load up, take the journey at my own places and settle in to the campsite for my first evening.

Scafell Pike and Scafell – when travelling to the Lake District, I feel it’s inevitable to tick off the highest summit in England. I’ve yet to do Ben Nevis and have already conquered Snowdon. I do suspect it’ll be a busy hike, even on a weekday but I know I’d feel sad to come away from this trip and having not bagged Scafell Pike.

Old Man of Coniston – the first campsite I’ll be staying at is pretty close to Coniston Water. While it’ll take me more than an hour to drive to Wasdale Head for the Scafell walk, this should drive should take much less time.

Langdale Pikes – I’ll have to pack away my tent, my camping gear and depart the first campsite before I set off on this walk. I’ve heard much about the Langdale Pikes (although I still don’t know what distinguishes a pike from a fell).

Helvellyn and Striding Edge – I have two possible routes available for this one from Glenridding but I’ve heard many people rave about the experience of Striding Edge, as long as the wind speeds are forgiving. Helvellyn is by and large, the one mountain and I most looking forward to on this trip. More so than Scafell Pike. For me, this one is essential. Even if a change in weather means I have to sacrifice other walks.

Fairfield Horseshoe – as with the Langdale walk, I’ve heard many people recommend this circuit. Hopefully it won’t be too intensive for a walk at the end of my week and ahead of the drive home in the morning.

My current preference is to drive straight home, after my final morning and upon departing the second campsite, which is not far from Ambleside. I will have another five hour journey to endure… If I’m genuinely feeling up for it, I may head over to the Howgill Fells for a final walk on this day… Some refer to this as the ‘gateway to’ the Lake District, although it’s technically in the Yorkshire Dales. Perhaps people of Cumbria regard it as the gateway to the Dales?

As I mentioned briefly, the weather could play its part and cause disruption to my plans. I was very fortunate on a trip to the Yorkshire Dales at this time in 2020 and, on the Cleveland Way a year ago, I only had to endure one day and night of particularly bad weather. We’ve had an unseasonally dry August, with much of the south of the UK currently in a state of drought. Rain and thunder have been forecast for much of the next week (at least, down here).

Rainy day ideas include visiting the Pencil Museum (yes, really), exploring one of the local towns or locking myself away inside the tent and with a good book or two.

My fingers and toes remain tightly crossed!

I’ll take plenty of photos and will try to vlog what I can.

Thanks for reading.


Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

One thought on “To the Lake District”

  1. Have a great adventure Olly. I hope all goes well for you, don’t forget to take regular journey breaks on the way up, to make it a more enjoyable trip and less of a burden.
    Good luck and take care. šŸ‘


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