A few days in the Dales - Day One: Scafell Pike and Scafell

This weekend we headed up to Wasdale Head in the Lake District. I'd booked the National Trust campsite months before so we were incredibly lucky to have such stunning weather for the duration. As we were going to run as much of the routes as possible I just took my iPhone with me rather than the Nikon Z6.


Day 1 Rather than climbing the quick (and dull) direct route from the campsite we ran along the valley, past the Wasdale Head Inn, and started the ascent of the path above Lingmell Beck towards Styhead Tarn


I thought we would be able to run a large part of the path up the side of Great Gable but not only was it a lot steeper than expected (and I expected it to be steep) but also the running wasn't easy  as a lot of loose scree covered the path so we soon started a steady walk instead.


The views as we rapidly ascended were spectacular. I've walked these mountains quite a few times over the years but have never seen it so clear.


We headed down to Styhead Tarn for a look then turned back on ourselves and took the Corridor Route towards Scafell Pike


The final climb from the Corridor Route to a ridge just before Scafell Pike includes a fair bit of scrambling but its quite secure underfoot and just needs a lot of legwork to get over.


Well worth it just for the views though. Breathtaking.

Finally we made it up to the top of the highest mountain in England - along with most of the population of England!


A quick sandwich and we were off again, descending quickly to Mickledore and the soul destroying descent in front of Broad Stand before the climb back up to Scafell. I've walked and run this a number of times in both directions, most recently a couple of years ago running from Scafell to Scafell Pike,  but completely forgot about the technical climb (up what is at the moment a waterfall) to Scafell. The route isn't bad with plenty of foot and handholds but the added bonus of water rushing past in places made it an ascent to remember!


Above this there was one more climb to the top of Scafell and, we hoped, a nice gentle run down the side towards Burnmoor Tarn before doubling back and heading to the campsite.


Unfortunately the descent was horrible. Loose scree, large rocks and marsh made it all but impossible to run any length of time without risk of twisted ankles or knees. Eventually we reached the valley, found good springy grass paths and could run the last few miles home. In contrast to Scafell Pike we hardly saw anyone on Scafell and no one at all on our route down from the mountain.


Which just shows how much pressure there is on one tiny part of the Lakes and how much walkers are missing by heading to this one, albeit iconic, spot. We got down just before sunset and headed back to camp for a much needed shower and food. A great first day in the mountains.


Kit: People tend to ask what to wear and what to take trail running, especially up mountains. The simple answer is be sensible. The weather, as mentioned above, was glorious, but it doesn't always stay that way. Ive been up in clear conditions and mist and fog has rolled in and made visibility no existent. So I tend to favour the worst case scenario. I have an Ultimate Direction Fast Pack that fits a lot in it but also rolls down quite small if its not filled. In this I had a waterproof jacket, long sleeved running shirt, hat, gloves and torch. I also had a foil blanket and a survival bag. It may seem extreme but a friend of mine stepped off a path climbing Snowdon a few years ago and broke his ankle. Luckily he could crawl into his survival bag until the helicopter came to rescue him. Its a little heavy but worth it for the reassurance. I stole the whistle from my UD race vest and carried a physical map of the area along with the route planned out on my watch and also on the OS app on my phone.

The all important shoe question: I wear Hoka One One Speedgoats and Charmain wore Brooks Cascadias. Both stood up very well to the scrambling and loose conditions both on ascents and descents.

Matt Fowler is a professional photographer based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Specialising in internal and external communications photography, events, portraits, Public Relations, architecture, commercial photography.  All pictures © matt fowler photography