Sunday 21 July 2019

6. My Kilimanjaro Training - The Lake District - Kendal and The Lakeland Fells

Howdy folks!

Thanks for tuning in to my latest training blog for my Kilimanjaro Training from the Lake District!

Stunning....overlooking Lake Windermere 

Ever been? No, neither have I so as I'm training for Kilimanjaro, it would be a good opportunity to go up to the famous Lakes which had inspired many writers and artists for some more 'challenging' I did.

First, I arrived after three buses travelling with great value Megabus from London into the little market town of Kendal in the South Lakeland District of Cumbria where the world famous Kendal Mint Cake comes from right?  It's manufactured right here by George Romney Ltd and was the first Mint Cake to be successfully carried to the top of Mount Everest on 29th May 1953 eaten by Sir Edmund Hillary. 

So, thought this might be a good idea to get some - if it helped Hillary on Everest, hopefully it will give me some good stead on Kili!

When in Kendal Mint cake!

Dubbed the 'Gateway to the Lakes' Kendal in Cumbria is a completely different English life to London. People leave their doors open here! (I didn't tell you that) because there's so much more of a trustful attitude and way of life compared to the ways of the city - would you ever leave your doors unlocked in London!?!?!

'Kendal is now Carpets, Insurance and Shoes' a bus driver tells me, perched just on the edge of the Lake District National Park its a good place to be based on the River Kent surrounded by low hills and little alleys (and if you want carpets, insurance and shoes). Its so nice to walk outside and just see rolling green wolds rising over the houses.

People orderly queue up on the street stalls after picking their fruit and veg to the end tents to have them weighed and pay for them, there's a real honest mindset to the Kendal locals up here in the Lakes and they have even book share cupboards at the end of the roads!

You remember in History lesson Queen Catherine Parr, the sixth and surviving wife of Henry VIII? well her and her wealthy family of medieval barons descended from Kendal Castle in the 15th Century perched up on the hill overlooking the city. Its a pretty cool castle to explore in its ruins but in its time was a huge fortress before being destroyed by a Scottish raid and fell into disrepair.

'We'll watch the sun set over the castle on the hill' 

So I've based myself in Kendal and as having no clue about the lie of the land in the Lake District - apart from the fact that Beatrix Potter wrote her stories up here among the inspiration of the lakes and mountains - I called in the help of hiring local guide Dan from small Kendal based outdoor company Into The Outside to put me through my paces and take me out into the mountains on what would be really good training for Kili.

Dan planned a mammoth 24km hike through the far Eastern Lakeland Fells of the upper Kentmere valley over 7 mountains with lots of steep ups and downs which would be nearly 8 hours of walking. It would be great training for me and the boots and also a variation of the Kentmere Horseshoe, one of the longest and remote walks in the Lake District.

So off we went...

Driving 20 minutes out of Kendal we already came across the classic country obstruction....

Roundin' em up for shearin'....

The sheep are Swalesdales and come from the name of the Yorkshire Valley and are only bred and found in the Yorkshire Dales or mountainous areas of Cumbria.

Dan and I began our mammoth trek at Sadgill a hamlet in Longsleddale heading North along the River Sprint quite close to the far Eastern border of the National Park.

Leg 1 : Sadgill to Harter Fell 4km  

The natural beauty is breathtaking and I now see why people see the Lakes as a scenic gem of the British Isles and like coming here as a retreat - the air is so pure and so perfectly silent and still, you can hear distant bickering of streams and every call of fleeting birds and of course the exotic bleating of Swalesdale sheep!

The River Sprint 

Foxglove...looks pretty but don't touch it or taste it folks - its poisonous and can cause heart attacks - eek! Respect the ways of the wild.

Dan, like me, also liked to take micro adventures so we came off piste to check out the water falls sluicing the crystal clear water over the limestone carving out rock pools. Some parts of the river were deep enough to jump and were popular with abseiling and scrambling. That is the water we should be drinking but I can't say I've ever seen clearer, cleaner water in England before I came here. But if you're going to drink water in the wild, make sure its flowing....and keep flowing when there's horseflies around, any opportunity to bite you they will if you stand too long on the lowlands.

Can you see how clear the water is in the River Sprint? Purity at its purest!

I think I was quite naive coming from my training around sign posted Surrey Hills to think the Lake District would be clearly signed out to keep you on track - but this was the first sign post we came across and made me realise how remote and experienced I would feel you should be to navigate yourself along this route. This was directing to Mardale Head but the only way was up for us as we broke away from the river and headed up to Fell (Mountain) #1 Harter Fell at 778 metres to overlook the Haweswater Reservoir which is one of the main water supplies for Manchester.

I wouldn't like to say it was a race to the clouds, but long, slow and arduous like how Kilimanjaro is going to be.

Video at Little Harter Fell just before we climb to Harter Fell

The sinewy figure of Haweswater Reservoir 

Because of the mountainous region, the weather can change very quickly and the clouds drift in on the lofty peaks with the wind picking up and the temperature dropping. Even it being mid summer, I had to put all my layers on (4 actually) as we marched on to Harter Fell and came across some mad mountain bikers deliberating over what dangerous path to take downhill.

Small Water Lake 

Dan and I found a sheltered spot to eat coming down from Harter Fell overlooking Haweswater and Small Water lake. Its incredible when you look out over the world that you realise how small you are compared to the towering foreboding mountains undulating like a dinosaurs back around you. We tried to spot tiny figures of people down below hiking up trails and seeing the wind brushing over the lake water in ripples, making me realise how being over 600 metre feels like.

Leg 2 - Harter Fell to Yoke 18km

This leg would be the toughest leg as we were going to be ascending and descending ridges over 6 fells/mountains but its what I needed to do and we were ready to head pass the lake pools and down slowly to Fell #2 Mardale Ill Bell to 761 metres around the head of the River Kent which flows through Kendal.

So cute teddy bear faced Herdwick sheep native to the Lake District, alot of the names of the fells are derived from Old Norse words and Herdwick sheep came from the ole word meaning 'sheep pastures' and can graze on these high dales over 900 metres. They are super cute and they gradually turn to white as the lambs get older. 

Dan and I kept pushing on up to Fell #3 the highest fell on route at 829 metres funnily enough called High Street and not quite the High Street in the city! At this height we were able to look down and  see south west valley at the sparkling waters of the famous Lake Windermere sweeping towards us. 

Wahooh! Reaching the High Street headstone at 829 metres!

So reaching the highest point it was all down hill from here quite literally as I followed Dan down heading south west across to Fell # 4 Thornthwaite Crag at 784 metres with a big tall beacon of stones.  

Now the winds were dying down, the clouds were clearing and we began trudging now south onto two gruelling undulating ascents ahead to Fell #5 Froswick and Fell #6 Ill Bell (which I felt personally seemed the steepest of them all!)  

What lies ahead...Kili is just this six times higher right??

Fell #5 Froswick at 725 metres and Fell #6 Ill Bell at 757 metres (the bigger one at the back) 

Wait for me! Kentmere Reservoir in sight descending before the gruelling rocky climbs, putting one foot in front of the other to the summit of Froswick and then even higher to Ill Bell.

Finally at the top of Ill Bell! (Dan got there first obviously) Phew! - looking over the valley and even seeing as far as Kendal to the east, the peak of Scafell Pike, the highest point in England to the west and the drone of small aircrafts dipping and gliding over the mountains.

We've come a loonnnnnnggggg way! but not done yet!

We had reached nearly the halfway point of the trek but it was now officially all down hill to the final Fell #7 Yoke standing at 706 metres

Marching back down hill again to one more Fell!

Leg 3 - Yoke to Sangil 23.6km

This was the descent of the trek now going down from 706 metres to 449 metres very gradually to the lowland forest at the bottom of Yoke fell. 

Reaching Garburn Pass, we now took the homestraight across the bottom of the valley down the most rockiest road and crags I've ever seen to the hamlet of Kentmere and tarmac road, friendly dogs and camping grounds.  

Traipsing over farm land with beautiful views of where we just came down from!

After 8 hours of walking - Dan and I had finally returned full circle back to Sadgill and the River Sprint covering 23.6km at 6pm - wooh! how's that for a training walk! 

Although tough, the high trek was just what I needed and had come to the Lake District for. Dan said he had every confidence in me climbing Kili - lets hope he's right! The highest point was High Street Fell at 829 metres so Kili is that about seven times right? 

Into the Outside bespoke walks are fantastic value for one-on-one or group guiding up here in the Lake District, so if you're new to the area and want a custom expedition or day out made for you - get in touch with them. I hope my challenging trek with Dan will serve me well on my Kilimanjaro Training which made a huge step up from my training walks done in the South and the good ole gym back in London! - plus the Lakes are such stunning scenic gems of what really is England at its untainted pureness and well worth a visit it even if you're not training for Kilimanjaro!

I got very lucky with the dry weather with my expedition so lets hope the weather holds out for a few more of my own micro adventures up here in the week - although thunderstorms are predicted later on in my trip :/ That's the Lakes for you, the weather changes at all times with all that water rising up from the Atlantic (why'd you think there's so many lakes hey?) but its been such a nice retreat to get out into this different world of Cumbria 

Thanks for staying with the post (probably feels like an expedition itself reading it) and if you could please consider supporting me with a donation towards Action for M.E a small charity which helps my sister and other adults and children coping with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which I'm raising awareness for as I prepare for Kilimanjaro, I'd be super grateful and good karma will shower you for your goodness!

Thanks very much for your help folks and see ya next time.

With peace from my aching body in the Lake District.

Training Height : 829 metres 

#RealME #MEAwareness 

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