Runs in the Lake District

Crummock Water (Length: 3.5 miles. Time: 40 mins. Ascent: 750ft.)

There’s a bit more variety to this run than the Buttermere one. And it doesn’t go round the lake either (the lake is about 8 miles all the way around it). It’s another good circuit though, and one that gets closer to real fell running, without going too far up.

Starting in the Lanthwaite Wood car park, head through the gate towards the lake. At the first opportunity, take the path leading up to the left. This is the steepest climb of the run, and seems a cruel way to start, but it’s good to get it out of the way. At the top of this hill there’s a gate that takes you on a grassier track down towards a farm. Up and over the handy steps in the wall to the left of the farm, you come onto the road. A short way along, you’ll be able to go across to the bracken-covered foot of Grasmoor. It’s not an obvious path from this point, but you should be able to see a narrow gap in the bracken up to your right. Make your way to this and it becomes clearer.

Now comes the fun part. This track, narrow, grassy and littered with rocks takes a lot of concentration, but is never boring. The constant shifts of stride length and pace as you go up and down along the terrace feels, at least to me, like a more natural way of running. Jumping over rocks and streams, sidestepping through taller bracken, the path culminates in an all out sprint down to a small car park by the road.

Going alongside the road a little way, you cross over to a gate on the other side, which takes you on down to the lake shore. Watch out here for slippery wooden bridges. The path ascends quite painfully from the beach, but it’s not as steep as the first climb. Opening a gate part way up gives a small reprieve. Across the edge of a field, you come back into Lanthwaite woods, ducking and weaving your way through branches that crowd the path. There’s also a very nice downhill section with the added bonus of gorse bushes, leading to a small stream, which you cross before going back into the trees.

The last section of the run back through the wider forest paths seems to have a lot more uphill than you would notice if you were walking through it. Including a particularly long incline, after which it’s a downhill sprint back to the car park.

Loweswater (Length: 2.9 miles. Time: 40 mins. Ascent: 650ft.)

Happy to go a bit higher? This is a short run still, but it does involve a long uphill section. After which, it’s downhill all the way back to the car. Being a circuit again, this run can be done more than one way round. The advantage of going anti-clockwise is the fact that there’s a long downhill section, but the last part does go over a pretty horrible rocky farm track. Going the other way also has a nice downhill section, but after that it’s further back to the car.

From Maggie’s bridge, there’s a hard, wide track leading towards the lake. If the gates are open, this is quite an easy section. If they’re not, then you either have to open them, or pick your way carefully across the cattle grids. A grassy shortcut presents itself close to the farm, crossing over a ditch and a narrow stream before meeting back up with the larger track into the woods. There are gentle ups and downs on this path, eventually crossing a wider stream at the lowest point. Either splash on through or use the bridge.

Now it’s the long slog uphill. It starts off gently at first, but once you take the next left, heading away from the lake, it gets a bit steeper. The path then doubles back, going towards the farm, but continues upwards. A short, muddy, but flatter stretch past a waterfall leads to a narrow track to the right. This is the steepest part of the run. At the end of this is a gate, where the path leaves the forest and goes along the top of it. And soon, you reach the highest part of the run.

It’s so tempting to go flat out down the hill, but the grass is slippery and the path is uneven. Even so, it’s not long before you reach a bridge. Crossing over, the path disappears into a bog, but it’s easy to pick up again. It’s the run’s way of getting back at you for using that bridge back in the woods. As you get closer to the farm again, big stones try to trip you up. Still going downhill, through the farm, it takes a lot of concentration to save your ankles. Then you come to the final muddy, rocky track through a field back to the car park.