Lakeland 3000-ers, plus a few Walking

If the four English three-thousanders aren't enough for you, here's a much tougher variation that avoids all the long low-level stretches of the classic challenge route, and takes in a lot more hills instead. The main additions are the Dodds, and the long tiring finish along the high ground from Great Gable to Cat Bells. Done within 24 hours it'd be a bit like a poor man's Bob Graham, but it's big and hard enough that most people will need a weekend (or longer) - with a bivvy, a wild camp or even (for softies) a B&B somewhere en route. Note that on Scafell my mapped route shows the ascent of Broad Stand and the descent via Lord's Rake; only confident scramblers and climbers should consider these. The alternative via Foxes Tarn is covered in the route description.

Lakeland 3000-ers, plus a few: Skiddaw from Raise  © Dan Bailey -
Lakeland 3000-ers, plus a few: Skiddaw from Raise

See our article on this route

Fetching Map

Detailed description

NY2665723419 From the Moot Hall go southeast, then follow Station Street left. At a junction go straight on past Keswick YHA, over the river and then through the swimming pool car park. At a mini roundabout turn left onto Briar Rigg.

NY2676524118 Go right onto Spoonygreen Lane, part of the Cumbria Way. This runs over the A66, then continues uphill as a footpath across the wooded lower slopes of Latrigg before curving up rightwards above a little valley to reach the Latrigg car park, starting point for a busy ascent of Skiddaw.

NY2808925332 It's sensible to hide excess gear in a nearby pine plantation before beginning the Skiddaw slog. Follow the obvious path for the long steep ascent beside Whit Beck, a bit of a grind but with excellent expanding views. Where the path forks go left for the (optional) climb over Little Man. The trails rejoin in the col beyond this minor top to make the final climb onto Skiddaw's broad summit ridge. First 3000-er ticked.

NY2604529082 Go down the same way, perhaps skirting left of Little Man for a change of scene. From the Latrigg car park head south-southeast on an old track to pass a pine wood and then descend Latrigg's lower eastern spur.

NY2990124725 Down in the valley cut right to join a cycle path, the course of a disused railway. Follow this east beside the wooded River Greta. After about 1.5km the track rises to meet the A66; cross this, then briefly go right on a minor road to rejoin the railway trail, which leads to the B5322 near Threlkeld.

NY3195324571 Take the road east following a sign for the Threlkeld Mining Museum. Beyond a terrace of cottages and an industrial estate the road becomes a track (the disused railway again). At a bridge go right on a track, which rapidly dwindles to a moorland path climbing to meet the Old Coach Road beneath Clough Head.

NY3398023551 Cross a fence and head south up the steep grassy slope (vague trail). At the the minor top of White Pike bear right to climb onto Clough Head, with its spacious views. A well-used path descends gently south(ish), crossing a broad boggy saddle before climb onto Great Dodd.

NY3421420554 The broad turfy crest of the Dodds ridge leads south. Pass just left of Watson's Dodd, then climb Stybarrow Dodd. Descend to cross Sticks Pass, and take a built path up past the ski tow on Raise to reach its summit, the highest and stoniest of the Dodds. Helvellyn is now in striking distance.

NY3429117414 Climb over White Side, descend to a little col beyond and continue up the steep ridge onto Lower Man. Now follow the edge of the cove up to Helvellyn's summit plateau: Two down, two to go.

NY3423815078 From the wind shelter near the edge of the Red Tarn cove head south on a much-used trail down to the col below Nethermost Pike. At a junction here stay right to start the descent towards Thirlmere. Lower down the path zigzags quite steeply into Comb Gill, then enters pine woods above the road. There's no pavement along this stretch of the A591, so before reaching the road go left on a forest track, then after about 1km cut back right to reach the roadside.

NY3250412922 Cross the A591 and briefly follow the minor road opposite. Turn left through the farm at Steel End to pick up the path into the lovely Wythburn valley. There's a path on either bank of the Wyth Burn, which is followed upstream to a secluded basin in the upper valley. This is called The Bog, for obvious reasons. Continue up to Greenup Edge, the col above the head of the valley, then go left for a final climb onto High Raise.

NY2807809517 A path descends southwest across the grassy hillside to Stake Pass, a spot where careful navigation is needed in mist. From here climb briefly west, then pick up a choice of trails that contour the boggy hillside above the remote head of Langstrath to reach Angle Tarn beneath the crags of Esk Pike.

NY2452407772 Turn right onto a much busier path which climbs to the major saddle of Esk Hause. There is a profusion of trails here; the correct one climbs west through a shallow cove to reach the gap south of Great End. Stony ground now leads up over a shoulder of Ill Crag, then over Broad Crag to the pronounced col beyond. From here a last steep plod brings you to Scafell Pike, third 3000-er of the four.

NY2153707199 Descend east-southeast onto Mickledore, the narrow neck that joins Scafell Pike with its far more imposing neighbour Scafell. The direct route from here is the infamous Broad Stand, a short but awkward pitch of Moderate grade climbing with a reputation for accidents. If the rock is wet or you're not feeling too fresh then this is best avoided - and all non-climbers should arguably steer clear in any case. To miss out this bit turn left to descend a dispiritingly long way on loose ground. Having outflanked Scafell's crags, pick up the Foxes Tarn path, which climbs west through a bouldery gully to the tarn itself (more a puddle), and then zigzags steeply onto Scafell. All four biggies are now in the bag, but it's a long way home yet.

NY2068206468 Those who already know Scafell might descend via the impressive-but-insecure scree fest that is Lord's Rake. But on first acquaintance and from above this may not be too wise, and in this case it's better to retrace your steps down past Foxes Tarn and back up to Mickledore. From here continue northwest down nasty loose ground into Hollow Stones below the peerless Scafell Crag. At some large boulders go right on a vague trail traversing the slopes below Pikes Crag to join the popular Wasdale-Scafell Pike path. Climb this briefly. Just above the Lingmell col turn left to pick up the Corridor Route, a rough descent path across the dramatic gully-seamed northern flank of the Scafell range. Soon reach Styhead Pass.

NY2185009520 From the stretcher box the way up Great Gable is painfully obvious, a stony trudge of a climb if your legs are beginning to feel the mileage. From the summit go northeast to pick up the steep, rough descent to Windy Gap. From here a short sharp pull gains the summit of Green Gable. There's an easy descent north now, then a gradual climb onto Brandreth.

NY2148911919 A trail follows a fence northeast to the minor top of Grey Knotts, then takes roughly the same line down to the slate mine and YHA at Honister Pass. Now go north, where a path and fence run uphill towards Dale Head. Unless you're unusually fit and sprightly you'll probably be happy to skirt this peak: at about the 550m contour quit the summit-bound path to contour rightwards. Then head north over boggy ground to Dalehead Tarn. Here cross a beck to pick up the well-trodden path onto High Spy.

NY2341516227 Follow the gentle ridge north to Maiden Moor, then descend the badly worn trail to the col of Hause Gate. The mini peak of Catbells rises ahead, the final climb of the route and a mercifully brief ascent. Descend the steeper north side, with some very minor scrambling, then take the narrow north ridge out to a last minor top. A zigzag descent now brings you to a road. From here the most enjoyable option is an easy stretch of the Cumbria Way through the woods bordering Derwentwater, passing Portinscale to return to Keswick.

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