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Ben Nevis via the Càrn Mòr Dearg Arête, by Sportsshoes Hiking Ambassador Gerda Lejasmeiere:When planning our trip to Scotland we knew that we all wanted to include Ben Nevis in it, because how can you not! It’s the highest point in the UK after all! While doing our research into it I knew the group would want to do the most fun way up. So I came across an article about CMD Arête and I knew that this was the only way up for us. And oh my, it did not disappoint.
See, if I’m ever left to planning a route you have to expect that I will somehow find the most difficult and possibly the least walked route as I love an adventure and a challenge. And quite possibly on some of my planned routes we might lose path as well!
Even at the start of the route there are warning signs to be careful and so there should be as, as much fun hiking up mountains and scrambling across rock giants is, it is also very serious and you should be prepared for the dangers ahead.
We started the route rather late, compared to all advice, but we managed to catch up with and pass quite a lot of people on the way up. Our pace is usually rather quick in this group, which I find a blessing, as I personally prefer short breaks over longer more often ones.
The path up for this starts on the route that most people take, so there may be quite a few people. The climb itself at the beginning starts fast and is quite constant, but the views are very rewarding.
Once you come across a slightly flatter route that is much more gradual uphill, just after a tarn the path will split. Most people will head up right, but our route took us left, where we saw no one heading.
This path to the left leads you down into a valley and is quite easy as it is going downhill and honestly it is quite a nice break where you can catch your breath after the incline at the start. As well as a nice chance to take it easy before you have to start climbing again.
Following this path you will come across a hut at the end of the valley. This is a rescue post - Charles Inglis Clark Memorial Hut. When we visited the hut was locked and no one was found inside, but this was a very lovely spot to have a little break to refuel for the further hike. The views, as I’m repeating myself, were stunning! There is a makeshift fresh water stream that comes from the mountains where you can refill your bottles. However as much as we didn’t have any problems drinking this water, please hold yourself responsible to judge the water source as I cannot guarantee that it is safe. You will also find a telephone for mountain rescue there, let’s hope you will not need to use it, but it is there if you do need it. We also happened to have signal there too so it’s a great spot to let everyone know that you are safe!
Once you have had a rest and are ready to carry on you will need to pass the hut and follow the path further. When looking at OS maps there wasn’t really a path after the hut, however when creating the route it did let me go this direction so we just headed up the suggested way over the rocks without a clear path. This is where the route gets tough and if you do go this way you will have to climb up the face of the mountain over very rocky terrain, that can be quite dangerous and I would suggest to take your time to make sure that the rocks you’re choosing to step on and hold on to are stable, as quite a lot of them were loose when we attempted it.
Heading up by following this trail, I have done, you will go straight up to Càrn Mòr Dearg (1220m) summit. This will be a tough climb and to be honest while we were scrambling up the rocks to reach it, I thought to myself that the person who I took inspiration from for this particular way must be laughing every time someone climbs up it. Ha! That’s how tough it was as there was no route just rocks everywhere. Quite a lot of ascent will be covered during this climb.
Once you do get to the top, the famous Càrn Mòr Dearg Arête will be to your right. By this point the weather had turned and we couldn’t really see much of anything, as we were in the clouds. It still looked very cool that the ridge was half in the clouds and half without. Quite surreal view really.
The moment we stepped on the ridge it started raining, which made the scramble more dangerous as the rocks became quite slipy. We had to be very mindful of our steps and even with that we managed to pass a group of fellow hikers who were just as mad as us by attempting this route during the rain. However, once you’ve come this far it would be quite a shame to turn around really. And we didn’t even thing of doing that.
At this point all you really have to do is carry on forwards, you may see the path at times and at times it may disappear under your feet with no clear direction. This is where having the route on my watch for navigation was great! We kept going the direction the watch suggested and kept climbing on up.
This seemed like a very long scramble up! With nearly no visibility and soaked in rain we kept our spirits high and kept on pushing.
By the time we reached the summit of Ben Nevis (1345m) even the waterproofs we were wearing couldn’t save us from the rain. You have to always remember, that everything is only waterproof up until a point. If you’re out in the rain four hours to come your waterproof jacket may give in to the rain. If I ever find one that keeps me dry through such extremes I will most definitely share!
As we got to the top, we could see quite a lot of people that had come up the other way. Even in this weather there was a surprising amount of people still. (Nothing to compare to Snowdon though!) No queuing really. Only a couple of minutes of wait at the most to get a picture at the trig point. People were mostly interested in seeking shelter in the tiny hut at the top, which could fit up to 6 people, I believe.
It took us 6 hours to get up to the trig point. Which I think is quite good, especially after discussing victories of climbing Ben Nevis with other hikers on the top, as for most of them coming up the regular route took 5-6 hours.
Even with being cold, wet and quite tired at this point we were filled with happy emotions. I remember catching myself thinking of why I’m doing this to myself as there are so many other things I could be doing with my Sunday. But Hey! Life is here to live and for some reason I have found happiness and bliss in being in the outdoors, climbing and scrambling over rocks no matter the weather.
On the way down we took the so called tourist route and in our usual manner we did a slight occasional jog, as for some reason we find running down mountains easier than walking down them. This might be due to lesser impact on the joints, perhaps. But I really couldn’t say. It took us 2 hours to get back down to the car park just behind the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel (A free car park, but only for about 4-5 cars. It does seem however that not everyone knows that it’s there, as there was still room for more cars when we parked. There is also a visitor centre nearby that has facilities but I think this car park is closer to the start of the route that we chose. )
I would 100% recommend doing this route as it is stunning and very challenging and I would also say that most people wouldn’t go this way, even if choosing to tackle the Càrn Mòr Dearg Arête as we didn’t see anyone really, except until we reached Càrn Mòr Dearg. The Most common way is to carry on once you go left to split and not head down into the valley but carry on to get to the top of Càrn Mòr Dearg around the valley, with two other peaks on the way. I cannot speak of how difficult the route is in comparison to this one, but it does seem more favourable for most people that choose the tougher route. I think that this was the most difficult route that I have done so far. I do recommend it though as it was quite the adventure. If I was to do this again I would try and skip the valley to head around it instead. I have no regrets for taking this path, but doing something else next time would probably be my choice.
In regards to fear factor. I did not find this route to be too alarming, just mostly physically difficult. And compared climbing up Snowdon via Crib Goch I would say that it was definitely more bone chilling. But maybe this is due to the lack of visibility we had on Ben Nevis climb. Who knows? I’ll let you know next time I go!Follow Gerda here: komoot.com/user/2263288560977
4 days ago
Ben Lomond – The circular route, by Sportsshoes Hiking Ambassador Gerda Lejasmeiere:When planning the Scotland trip we made sure to include lots of adventures. Our first hike was up Ben Lomond. Not much research was done for this as it seemed quite straight forward. It was more of a planned break from driving up further north for us really, so the circular route was found and uploaded on to the watch.
The day was quite overcast, however that has never stopped us, as for some reason we enjoy ourselves even in the rain. Geared up with waterproofs we headed on our hike.
We started at the visitor centre just by the lake – Loch Lomond. All the signs were pointing up to the way we had planned, so we thought we were on the right track and safe!
It appears that most people avoid doing this route in a circular way, but rather climb it up and then come down the same way. There is nothing wrong with that and we have done routes that way before, however heading down a different route seemed more exciting for us on this occasion.
Due to how misty it was you couldn’t really tell how far you’ve gone or how far is left to go. Especially with no prior route research. We had lots of people passing us on their climb down, even a man who had turned back instead of doing to circular route, as the climb down on the cliff edge had seemed dangerous with minimal visibility. We thanked for the advice and decided to judge it ourselves when we get to the top.
When we thought we were quite close to the summit, but without seeing it, due to the clouds, we were told by passers-by that we are very wrong and there’s quite a bit to go still, as well as told that there’s a difficult scrambling bit coming up too. (We didn’t really find a difficult scrambling bit)
It’s quite funny how different peoples hard is defined in different ways. As for us this did not seem like a hard route even though it was constant uphill really. But to be fair this was our first hike for the trip and we were full of energy and with full pockets of energy bars!
The weather didn’t seem to be our friend as on the climb up it was raining and quite windy so even if you were hot you kind of had to keep the waterproof jacket on, unless you wanted to get wet and cold.
However once we reached the top the skies slightly opened up to reveal the views, still covered in clouds and slightly grey they were beautiful. Few of the energy bars were eaten on the top and conversations exchanged with other adventurers, all happy that the clouds had cleared for the views and we could enjoy them and take pictures.
We didn’t really stay up on the summit too long and decided that as the weather had slightly cleared and the path down on the other side is quite visible we would carry on, on the route we had planned.
A lot of people were passed on the way up, however on the climb down we didn’t really see anyone, except for this one lady that was heading up the scrambly route. We had a good chat and wished her good luck on her sunset hike for the top.
The way down on the other side was a little bit more wild, the path wasn’t as walked and slightly overgrown in places, but nothing too difficult. I would say, or even dare to suggest to do this route clockwise, as this way you would have the little bit of scrambling on your way up (a very beginner friendly scramble, really) and the easier more steady walk down. I do believe that walking up this other way would be tougher but definitely more exciting.
Once you’ve reached the bottom of the route you will be walking on a paved road for a moment before getting back to the visitor center (there are facilities there and some campsites nearby too).
As well as you will be passing one of the beaches of Loch Lomond. We did manage to do the route pretty fast, I must say. So I would suggest to not judge it by our speed, however I can’t see it taking much longer than 6 hours, I think. It all depends on the weather and your fitness capabilities.
Once we had changed into dry clothes for after the hike and had had some food we did enjoy a short dip in the lake as well! Which was wonderful, but quite cold.
Overall, I would say that this is relatively easy route with no really hard parts, especially if you’re planning on heading down the same way you came up.Follow Gerda here: komoot.com/user/2263288560977
4 days ago
The West Highland Way by Mel Sykes:This section of the West Highland Way is not to be underestimated. You presume that because it’s along the edge of the Loch that it should be quite flat but it’s a technical and tricky route which really needs some concentration.
On leaving the campsite you start by following a path through a pine forest which is lovely and calming and very sheltered. One thing to note on this section is the lack of places to refuel so ensure you’re carrying enough fluid and food for the day.
For 90% of Day 2 you’re hugging the edge of Loch Lomond on your left side and it does seem to go ok forever in parts.
Most of this section of the route is only able to be walked in single file as the path is so narrow with small sections of scrambling down slate outcrops and stepping over tree routes. It’s a really interesting section of the WHW and completely different to Day 1.
It’s not until about 18 miles in to Day 2 that you finally leave the Loch edge, climb up ever so slightly for about 1/4 of a mile until finally Beinglas campsite comes in to view in the valley and the Drovers pub across the road from the site.
A nice long descent sees you enter the campsite from the back and a welcome on site pub with a range of food choices and an on site shop are the perfect chance to refuel.
I camped here during my walk but the site also has cabins, bunks and lodges to hire if you require.You can follow Mel here: komoot.com/user/1656785222612
4 days ago
The West Highland Way: Day 1 - by Mel SykesThe West Highland Way is one of many iconic long distance, multi day hiking routes in the UK.
The start however, is pretty uninspiring. The small town of Milngavie isn’t anything to write home about and you find the Obelisk, have your photo taken, and away you go.
Day one isn’t anything too taxing. It’s low level and on well walked footpaths with plenty of places to stop for refreshments. It’s more rolling than any actual ascents for the first 12 miles or so until you reach Drymen where I stopped for lunch and a chat with some fellow walkers.
The first real ascent comes as you leave Drymen and climb up through the Garadhban Forest. Once you reach the top of the forest you can then see Conic Hill in the distance, even though it seems to take ages to finally start the ascent of it as the trail to the foot of it winds itself across the moor.
The West Highland Way does not actually summit Conic Hill, but passes around the right hand side just below the top. If you decided to hit the summit you can take any of the paths on your left as you reach the plateau and these will lead you to the true summit at 361m and on a clear day you’ll get a brilliant view looking right up the length of Loch Lomond.
The descent of Conic Hill has become a case of stepping down small worn steps that have been trodden in to the grassy surface over the years, before it turns into large man made stone steps to help prevent erosion. The lovely town of Balmaha sits at the foot of the hill and is a perfect place to stock up on supplies.
On leaving Balmaha I carried on for another half a mile until I reached the campsite at Milarrochy where I was staying for the evening. This is a great campsite with wonderful views of Loch Lomond and a popular stop over site for anyone walking the WHW.
It’s best to book here in high season but out of season it’s possible just to turn up and pitch.
If you do plan on wild camping be sure to check the camping restrictions in place and purchase a permit if needed.You can follow Mel here: komoot.com/user/1656785222612
4 days ago
Coniston to Ambleside by Mel Sykes:This route starts from the popular Lake District town of Coniston and heads up into the fells before eventually dropping down and finishing in Ambleside.
Starting from the centre of Coniston you start by heading out up the long ascent past the mine on your left hand side and up and over Coniston Moor. The top part of the ascent is quite steep but mostly runnable on an open track that eventually leads you down some steps to join the road.
Follow the road until it becomes a slate path around the edge of Great Intake and past Fell Foot Farm and you then meet the infamous Wrynose Pass road. Luckily you’re only on this road for half a mile before you take the footpath on your right hand side, this is just before the road starts it’s steep ascent which peaks at a 25% incline.
The footpath through the bracken eventually brings you to Blea Tarn which is a small body of water popular with open water swimmers.
Once past the tarn and through the next stile you get a wonderful view of the Langdale valley to your left hand side.
The trail then descends into the valley before joining the Cumbrian Way through Chapel Stile and arriving in Skelwith Bridge where you have a hands on knees walk up a 25% road section, past Tarn foot campsite where you join the wide Bridleway path all the way until the descent into Ambleside, which just finishes off your quads nicely.
If you hit this run on a clear day the views down the Langdale valley are second to none and the route has a little bit of everything included.You can follow Mel here: komoot.com/user/1656785222612
4 days ago
The story of Watkins pools, by Sportsshoes Hiking Ambassador Gerda Lejasmeiere:After we had conquered Snowdon, via Crib Goch, which was an epic route and definitely one of my favourite routes I’ve done so far, we wanted to take the advantage of being in the area and to explore more.
One of the possible routes to take up to Snowdon is Watkins path and while doing our research we had discovered that there is a waterfall with pools that you can swim in.
This seemed like a hike we shouldn’t miss. Although we had just climbed Snowdon on possibly the toughest route, on the same evening we decided to head up on Watkins Path to the pools for a dip.
That’s just how crazy we are. After an approximately 8 hours walk we headed on another one. Were we tired? Yes, very much so, however the thought of a refreshing dip in the waterfall was stronger, so we were on our way.
I can’t talk much about the Watkins path itself, however the pools are a must see really.
The path up to the pools themselves is not really hard or long and the whole walk is only about 5 km long (there and back) and not particularly difficult either.
Once you get through the woods you just need to carry on the path. We didn’t exactly know where the path split to get to the pools so we took a chance on heading down the first little path we saw that lead to the stream. This was not the correct way to go. However once presented with a disappointment we didn’t stop and headed back to the main path to find the correct way.
After consulting some of the hikers coming down the path we found out that the path off to the pools was just near the waterfall.
The path split off to the right of the main track and wasn’t really that hard to find. You’ll be able to see a stone bridge/ crossing which will lead you to the beautiful falls.
Once we got to this path, it was quite slippy and muddy as it had been raining, but it did not stop us.
It is worth a visit even if you’re not wanting to swim, but if you do want to swim, please be mindful that even in summer the water will be cold as it is coming from the mountains and you should be careful, perhaps preparing a hot drink in a flask beforehand could be beneficial. And of course warm clothes for after.
We also spotted some wild campers just near the waterfall in a bright red tent. What a spot to spend the night! That was not our plan, however.
On the way back we spotted that there was a better and more dry path to the Watkins pools, so perhaps a word of advice don’t take the first right passage way once you see the bridge but carry on for a little longer to find yourself by a safer access point.
After our short swim in the pools we headed back to our campsite with a stop at a pizza place for fuel.Follow Gerda here: komoot.com/user/2263288560977
6 days ago
The Ullswater Way by Mel Sykes
The Ullswater way is a 20 mile circular loop around Ullswater in the Lake District. It can be walked/run in any direction in either one loop or by breaking it down into smaller sections by utilising the Ullswater steamers to access drop off points around the lake.
It’s a really well signposted route and also has additional sections where you can leave the official route to visit waterfalls, find places to eat and climb extra fells. The small Ullswater Way plaques are easy to spot which makes it simple to navigate and plot out yourself.
I ran this route as a training run for a longer event I was doing in September so set off from my Air B&B and headed anti-clockwise around the lake.
I joined the route at Bennethead and set off along what happens to be part of the Lakeland 100/50 route, which is an event that runs in July each year.
The first section from Bennethead takes you through a forest on a well trod path which winds it way through Swinburn park before coming to a split where you can either head up Gowbarrow fell or follow the path along the ridge via Yew Crag to Aira Force waterfall. I took the ridge path which, on a clear August morning, made for a wonderful view of the lake.
After passing through the carpark at the foot of Aria force waterfall you then join a path along the side of the main road to Patterdale at the most southerly tip of the lake. This path is undulating and narrow and can be busy in the middle of the day as it’s the only access down the bottom section of the lake to avoid the road. You then have a small road section until you reach Patterdale where you take a left turn through a farm along a dusty track that leads to the campsite at Side Farm.
The next section of the route was lovely and quiet when I ran it early morning. It follows the edge of the lake which I presumed would be nice and flat, I was wrong!
It turned out to be undulating and technical and you have to have your wits about you as you step up and down over outcrops and slate rocks and boulders. It’s a really great section of the route and keeps things interesting.
You soon drop down to lake level and the isolated beach area of Sandwick Bay comes in to view. If you’re in the area for a few days then spending a day here is great in summer as it has easy access to the water for swimming and paddle boarding, whilst also avoiding the crowds.
Once through Howtown, where the steamer drops off, you head up the Western side of the lake which has a little bit of everything in terms of terrain. There’s wide tracks, a technical part through the woods where you have to watch out for tree routes, and some grassy footpaths across the fields. One thing i did notice on this section were the amount of stiles/gates there are. You feel like you’re constantly stopping and starting so it’s hard to get into any sort of rhythm but it does give you chance to enjoy the wonderful views.
If you so desire you can also ascend both Bonscale Pike and Arthur’s Pike from here which are both well signposted from the route.
The trail then continues along some higher footpaths, crossing through grassy fields, before dropping you back down to the road and the waters edge through a large campsite which can make this part of the route quite busy, especially in peak season. You then arrive in the popular town of Pooley Bridge. This is a great place to stop for refreshments and there’s a couple of drinking water taps available to refill water bottles dotted around the campsite.
Once out of Pooley Bridge you start the ascent up away from the road, through more fields and through more gates, until you reach Maiden Castle before joining the road and ending back in Bennethead where you started from.
(An alternative/additional loop from Pooley Bridge takes you via the Dalemain estate, which has a cafe and free parking available)
I’d recommend doing this route on a clear day to make the most of the views and also start it early if running it as some of the sections are single path and it can be busy with walkers.
All in, it’s a great circular route with options to extend if needed and a few spots for water top ups and refreshments.Follow Mel here: komoot.com/user/1656785222612
7 days ago
- 08:0318.4 mi2.3 mph1,550 ft1,575 ft
A fantastic route by Sian Lewis...komoot.com/tour/190461769Sian says:Okay, so it isn't the famed Three Peaks walk of Yorkshire, but Somerset's own Three Peaks circular is a great longer distance day hike through the countryside.
This 18 mile (29 km) route starts in Pensford and sweeps through pretty Chew Magna, climbs up Somerset’s three peaks of Maes Knoll, Knowle Hill and Blackberry Hill along the way.
Maes Knoll is impressive and Knowle Hill offers panoramic views of the Chew Valley. Finish up at Publow where you can cool off with a well-deserved river swim. The best place to swim is in the deep pool under the village bridge.Follow Sian here: komoot.com/user/551297415493
September 17, 2021
Snowdon – Crib Goch - the fun way!
The first time I climbed or even walked Snowdon I did it on the Llanberis path which is definitely quite easy, if you’re well rested and have comfortable shoes on! And for Snowdon probably one that doesn’t offer the best views on the climb itself but reveals the breath-taking views on the top. If you’re lucky with the weather that is!
But we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about the best way to get up to Snowdon - via Crib Goch - 923m! Please be warned – taste for adventure and steady feet are required when tackling this route!
When you start at the visitor centre you are presented with a choice to go up Pyg Track or Miners Track. There are also signs that get updated daily with the weather forecast, however if you’re an early riser I would recommend checking the weather yourself when waking up as it might have not been updated yet on the board.
For most of our group the chosen path to go up was Pyg Track, however for some of us that were a little more adventurous the plan was to split off to tackle Crib Goch instead.
The initial path goes up and keeps going up. Depending on your fitness levels you may need a break or two. After a bit of walking there is quite a nice rock formation that you can take a rest at to get some great photos. But do remember that the views can only get better!
The choice is yours! -
Once you’re ready to continue you will come across a point where the path splits! This is where it gets interesting. You will have a choice to go left and continue on PYG track or be Right and head up to Crib Goch.
*If you are going up in different groups or on different paths, I would advise you to share your locations with each other on WhatsApp. You won’t have signal at all times, however when you do this is a good way to keep an eye on your group to see how everyone is doing!
Crib Goch route will be a challenging scramble, even though the trail runners that run across it regularly might disagree with that statement. Ha!
*For this whole walk I would advise to wear some very comfortable shoes! My choice for this was my trail running shoes, instead of the hiking boots as I wanted to have light feet for crossing the ridge.
You may lose path at points so it’s good to do some research beforehand and perhaps even upload the path on your watch (which is what I did) but to be honest, there always seem to be enough people around that you could ask for advice on the route or sneakily follow them. (Do make sure that they look like they know what they're doing HA!) And even if you don’t feel like asking for help you can always just keep on heading up. That’s what we did! And how fun it was to scramble and climb over some rocks.
*A word of advice - If the day is sunny and you are sure you have steady feet - feel free to challenge yourself on Crib Goch, HOWEVER if it is raining - I strongly advise you to skip this as the ridge you need to cross for Crib Goch in rain gets very slippy and very dangerous!
The Secret path -
Once you cross Crib Goch you may think that the end is close and you may feel some relief, however when you get on the other side you can see another rocky ridge giant -Garnedd Ugain at 1065m - in front of you that you need to tackle and your knees may start to feel weak. If you're not feeling the heights anymore don't worry - I've got you!
Just before you would head up on this new rock wall in front of you, there is a path to your left that will bring you around it and bring you onto the Miners track just onto the steps up to the top!
If you have the strength to carry on and the weather permits feel free to tackle another summit on top of the rocky climb and as much as it may seem to look scary the talk is that it is much easier than the one you just tackled e.i. Crib Goch, however if you don't feel so well or the weather has turned, like it had in our case, the path will be your savior!
Snowdon itself! –
It seems that there will always be a queue on top of Snowdon to get right to the trig point. Usually it’s around half an hour, however if it’s the weekend and the weather is great it may be a little longer. The queue is there so you can take a picture at the top itself, however if you are wanting to just touch the trig point you may kindly skip the waiting and see if you can get some kind people in the queue to let you quickly tap it. But please be mindful and don’t try to sneak a picture in as everyone who is at the top and in the queue has done a tough walk like yourself and deserve mutual respect.
Let’s make it circular – Scenic route down –
For our route back we chose the Miners Track as it is relatively straight forward with a steep-ish and rocky decline at the start back, however once you have made it down it is a gradual decline on a pretty decent footpath that will take you back passing 3 lakes. Feel free to swim in them! Quite a few people do and the water looks so inviting, especially after the long hike you’ve just done. One of the two bigger lakes Glaslyn and Llyn Liydaw could be a great spot for a snack break too!
It is important to make sure that you have enough snacks and water with you so take the opportunity to have a rest at one of these beautiful lakes.
Once you reach the third lake there will be a corner that you will turn that will seem like the end, but it will not be it! As much as at this point the path may seem never ending don’t let that get to you just continue on and you’ll get back in no time!There are toilets and a café back at the visitor center. A hot chocolate is definitely earned!
September 16, 2021