A few Days in the Dales - Day Two: murderous mountain paths

Day 2. The original plan was to drive to Wrynose Pass and run along the Crinkle Crags, across Bowfell to the Langdale Pikes before heading down to the pub for a quick stop and back via Pike of Blisco. However, having seen the stream of cars coming into Wasdale the previous day it seemed strange, having made this area our base, to drive somewhere else for our run. So we decided that instead we would stay fairly low level, run around the back of Wast Water over to Greendale (yes really), run a little bit of road and head up between Yewbarrow and High Fell before dropping down to Mosedale and to the pub for an afternoon drink. It didn't turn out quite as simple as that. Any of it.

It started well. The sun shone again and the sky was a perfect blue, tricking us that it was going to be a nice easy day's running. The path was a little tricky but nothing too arduous, reinforcing the erroneous feeling of a potentially relaxed day out.


All too soon the path became, well, not a path. More a car crash of a path. It see-sawed between huge boulders with leg breaking gaps between them and scree so loose and angled in such a way that one slip and you'd be heading into the lake with tons of rock chasing you down. It was, as a result, slow going. Very slow going. 


But it couldn't take away from the spectacular views, even down in the valley.



The scree and boulders kept coming and eventually we made to along the length of the lake to an idyllic spot looking down the whole length of Wast Water. It was very shallow and very inviting but we had spent nearly 2 hours to do 3 miles and had a long way to go yet ( though not as far as we eventually ran!)


The next few miles brought good running as we turned and headed towards Greendale of flat easy paths. A brief encounter with bulls on the route necessitated a little detour,  then we headed on the road back towards Wasdale Head looking out for the path up to Yewbarrow. It was seriously hot now and the turn took ages to come. Initially my idea was to summit Yewbarrow before heading down to Mosedale but with the weather so nice and a river powering down past us we decided to choose the lower path through the valley following the river and to stop for lunch and cool our feet.

We couldn't have found a better spot. Just above the footbridge the water pooled into natural foot spas and we took full advantage, bathing hot heels and calves in the clear cool water - while eating slightly sweaty cheese bagels...


Soon though we had to get going and the path climbed steadily, and sometimes bog-ily, up through the valley to Dore Head. All that was needed now was to descend Dorehead Screes and we would be back in time for an afternoon pint.

Except it seemed like a near vertical drop. For 800 metres. My one regret is that I didn't get a picture of our potential route down. I was so concentrated on trying to find a safe route that I didn't get my phone out once. I've looked online and nothing really does it justice; I guess I'm going to have to go back and get a picture at some stage.

© John Dawson

The only sensible thing to do was to turn round and run back the way we had come. This turned out to be one of the best runs we had, even on tired legs we flew down back past waterfalls, through marshes, over boulders and were soon back down onto the road to Wasdale. We were going to stop off at the campsite to get more water as we had finished most of ours but pushed on for the last couple of miles, past the site and on to the pub. A very pleasant couple of hours followed, sitting by the river drinking pints of anything we could get ( mainly water and orange juice/lemonade) before walking back to camp for dinner. 


A really tough day but hugely enjoyable and considering the terrain the right choice to turn back when we did, giving us a bonus extra 3 miles of runnable descent for a change!

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