Sunday, 19 January 2014

Fells and Fens

It has been a while since I last posted on this blog.

We live in Cambridgeshire, one of the flattest counties in England. It also contains the UK’s lowest physical point of 2.75m below sea level (Holme Fen). It’s rather ironic that we love spending time in the mountains – enjoying their beauty, walking and running.

I’m sure this isn’t a unique situation, and I would like to share some of the options we have explored to achieve more time in the mountains.

Proximity to mountains is a challenge. From East Anglia, The Peak District is the closest range of reasonably sized mountains. The Yorkshire Dales, Lake District, and Snowdonia are a bit further afield.

The Day Trip

For a few months we trialled driving to Castleton and back on a Saturday or Sunday to get in a 4-5 hour mountain walk.  We had a few great days out on the Mam Tor ridge from Castleton, and up Ringing Roger and Grindslow Knoll from Edale. I’ll post these routes separately as they are interesting and enjoyable.

  • Positives
    • Cheap, only the cost of petrol
    • Not much packing required
    • Kids will sleep in the car on the way home
    • Mountains are explored!
  • Negatives
    • Very long, tiring day (3 hour drive each way + walking)
    • The Peak District is the only range within a reasonable distance
    • You need to be *very* organised
      • We leave early morning
      • All kit must be packed or laid out the night before
    • No drying facilities so dry change of clothes and shoes for everyone is essential for the trip home

With a 3 hour drive each way, this makes for a very tiring day, particularly for the kids.


Overnight accommodation is definitely required for a trip to the Lake District. Cottages are expensive, particularly for one or two nights and it seems that even the ‘late bookings’ or ‘short breaks’ charge little less than a week.

One option we have recently discovered is YHA (Youth Hostel Association). Despite ‘Youth’ in the name, they cater well for all: individuals, groups of adults & children and also families. We spent two nights in the Keswick YHA and paid ~£75 which is significantly cheaper than a cottage or hotel alternative. They have basic accommodation, we stayed in a 3-person room and took our own travel cot. Self catering facilities are available including fridges, toasters, cookers and storage for food. Drying rooms are also available and essential for multi-day trips in typical Cumbrian weather (i.e. wet!)

  • Positives
    • Medium cost 
    • Can rest before and after the long drives
    • Organisation is required, but doesn’t need to be as regimented
    • Drying facilities are available (and are excellent at Keswick), so kit can be reused
    • Longer trips are possible (Lake District, North Wales and Scotland are all possible)
    • Bigger mountains are explored!
  • Negatives
    • Cost of accommodation (its not free!)
    • Food required for all meals to make it affordable

We did two excellent walks, I’ll post the detailed routes separately:

Latrigg to Skiddaw House and back again (the long way!)
  • Latrigg Car Park
  • Cumbrian way round the base of Lonscale Fell to Skiddaw House
  • Halfway up Sale How (abandoned due to conditions)
  • Back along the Cumbrian way at the base of Blease Fell to Threlkeld
  • Threlkeld around Latrigg to the Latrigg Car Park
Honister Slate Mine to Dale Head
  • Honister Slate Mine Car Park
  • Straight up the fence to Dale Head
  • Back Down to the Honister Slate Mine Car Park

1 comment:

  1. Glad you all enjoyed your stay at keswick Hostel has it is a lovely place to stay.I have been a yha member since 1966,when i was a kid & now i am 50 odd.I would recommend a trip to the Black Sail Hut hostel,it is basic & you have to carry all your gear,make sure you have hostel meals as they are worth it.This is my all time favorite hostel & you can park your car safely at the Buttermere Hostel.That is a nice place to stay as well.There is some fantastic walks in this area. I hope you enjoy your stay with a yha again.