Katie is a good friend of Alpkit and here she tells us about why running in the Lake District is so good.
A good fell runner once told me that most people are surprised to find out just how much walking is involved in the average fell ‘run’. The Lake District is a trail/fell runner’s paradise but don’t be put off by the misconception that you actually have to run continuously – it is, after all, home to some of the highest and steepest mountains in the UK. You’re allowed to walk when gravity requires and besides, some of our most fiercely contended fell races are won by those who can walk the fastest up those vertiginous ascents.
The descents on the other hand, well that’s another thing altogether. From the gentle, grassy contours of Loughrigg to the plunging, rocky drops of Bowfell, for many, it’s all about the downhill. Requiring a combination of nerve, skill, strong quads and grippy shoes, running down the Lakeland fells is a unique experience; the ultimate ‘mindful’ activity because you can’t afford to let your mind wander to anything other than where your next footstep is going to land. Sometimes you need to force yourself to stop and admire the views or else it all rushes by in a blur of grass, mud and sheep. In a description of the Cautley Race on local running club Helm Hill’s website, they liken the descent to ‘the closest thing to flying without apparatus’!
The Lakes are also a great place for classic horseshoe routes that make navigation easier (as long as the cloud’s high enough to actually see) and give you the chance to experience the thrill of ridge running (where the ground drops away on both sides of your feet). The Kentmere, Fairfield and Coledale horseshoes are also host to some of the area’s best-loved fell races and once a year, have their ridges covered by a long line of athletes marching to the summits before soaring down the other sides.
Fell running in the Lakes isn’t easy. There will be copious quantities of mud (even in the summer), slick rocks and ice-cold rivers that can only be crossed by actually getting in. When the cloud comes in, you’ll need good navigation skills and the cloud comes in a lot. But the magic of scaling a fell under your own steam, be it in a race, during a club run for one of the many Lakes-based running clubs or simply on a weekend outing, makes the discomfort worthwhile. Standing on the summit and taking in the endless views of towering peaks and sparkling lakes is always a special thing. And then, of course, you get to let gravity do its thing and try your hand at ‘flying’.