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DayHiker Does The Lake District

This summer of 2005 brought me back to England, where I had written about an extreme day hike of London (visiting the city again, a very interesting day as it turned out - July 10, 2005 the day it was announced they got the 2012 Olympics and the day before the terrorists struck).  Situated in northwest England, just below Scotland, the Lake District is an amazingly hiker friendly and compact 15-mile radius area mostly reachable by bus, of dozens of hiking trails (known as walking paths).  

This area lends itself to tour-guided and self-guided walking packages where a tour organizer puts together the transportation, accommodations, meals, and baggage transfer - all you have to do is walk!  Point-to-point walks include the Cumbria Way, or a series of walks from one or more towns like Keswick or Grasmere.

Deferring to the many web sites that describe these idyllic valleys and lakes, here are my three choices of one day hikes of the Lake District:

 1. Landale Valley


There are two good rigorous day hikes on opposite sides of this valley:  The Landale Pikes above and, across the valley, the Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, on to Esk Pike, below.  Both can be hiked from the same starting point. 

The Landale Pikes, while straight up a rocky ravine, is much shorter and gratifying.  The Brits really know how to name their peaks: Pike o'Stickle - Harrison Stickle - Pavey Ark - Thunacar Knott - High Raise - Sergeant Man - Blea Rigg.  

The Crinkle al (below) are a series of peaks and took an 8-hour rough ramble - and, my trail running shoes took a beating - lots of rocks.   


Including this big one.. the Crinkle Crag "Bad Step" 


I'm not a rock climber, and I probably shouldn't have done this alone - but this was a highlight of this day hike.  The rock edifice above titled "Bad Step" is 10 feet tall - just enough to make you think, "should I do this?" Yes - and I didn't break anything important.

And that was the easy part.  The Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, Esk Pike sequence is a meandering unmarked path of lunar landscape-like rock.  It's easy to get mis-directed, especially if it is foggy - and it often is.  Bring your compass and map and now how to use them.

The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel is a perfect place to stay.  It's at the base of both hikes and has good food and beer at the end of the day, a comfortable mattress and a quiet surrounding.


2.  Striding Edge


Located on the eastern side of the Lake District, this is the most popular hike in the Lake District - and for good reason as you can see, scrambling up to the top of Helvellyn summit is dramatic.  And, if you do it on clear summer Saturday like I did, you won't need a compass or a map - just follow the crowd and meet lots of friendly locals.  This day hike, like many in the Lake District, can be finished off at a local pub (in Glenridding).


3.  Wasdale Head


On west side of the Lake District and difficult to get to without a car is the Wasdale valley.   The Wasdale Head Inn is a good place to stay and hike to the multiple peaks of Pillar, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, and Scafell Pike.  Certainly doing all of them in one day would be an extreme day hike (16 miles and over 6000 feet of ascent).  Better to stay a few days and do them one at a time.


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