There seems, generally speaking, to be two types of hillwalking. Either you climb your Everest of choice and once the summit has been achieved, mutter some version of Hillary’s famous comment, before retracing your steps to the bar. Or you see the top of a hill merely as a staging post in a longer and more challenging expedition. In the first instance the summit is everything. In the second no more than part of a grander design,
My personal preference is for the latter as it suggests a journey which, in turn, offers a sense of purpose. The former. on the other hand, tends to bring the Grand Old Duke of York to mind. Clearly, if you decide against being ‘neither up nor down’ your journey must not only have a starting point but also a terminus that offers a satisfactory and logical conclusion. Examples abound. Some, like walking from one end of the Pennines to the other, can take days. Others, such as a walk that scrupulously follows the watershed surrounding the Derwent Reservoirs can be done in one stint.
One version which obviously used to amuse the ancients was to construct a high level walk that joined two hills bearing the same name. Again these walks can be long (Ben More, Assynt to Bene More, Crianlarich could stretch the legs) or short (the plethora of Beacon Hills must open up several possibilities). But, perhaps, the better options lie within the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. Its structure of long ridges and high passes offers a variety of high level routes. An obvious and popular example is a connection between the Red Pike that rises above Buttermere and its counterpart above Wasdale. For followers of Gibert & Wilson’s Big Walks it has the added advantage of being an integral part of their ‘Ennerdale Round’.
A similar but less obvious and, as far as I know, unrecorded walk is to connect the two Scafells. The first towering above Wasdale is well known and for many years was thought to be higher than its neighbouring Pike. The second is rather more obscure and lies in the Northern Fells on a spur of the ridge running from Great Calva to High Pike. It is probably best at this point to come clean and admit that on most maps this peak is spelled ‘Sca Fell’ and has the distinctly undeserved prefix of ‘Great’. Nevertheless, it acts as a suitable bookend for one of the more challenging walks in the Lake District.
The actual route is open to choice, but the most obvious would descend Broad Stand to reach Scafell Pike then take the well worn trail to Esk Hause. From there a bee-line over High White Stones to Steel Fell and the steep descent to Dunmail Raise. Strike east to Grisedale Tarn to reach the south ridge of Helvellyn and a traverse of the Dodds before dropping down to the village of Threlkeld (refreshments available). The final and shortest section follows the track to Skiddaw House whence you can reach your objective via Great Calva and Knott. The overall distance is between 30 and 35 miles and involves an ascent of around 11,000 feet. As this is roughly half the distance and height of the Bob Graham Round, any aspirant might find it a useful yardstick to measure his or her state of play. Ten hours might be a reasonable target. For the less ambitious Wainwright Baggers, they could have the satisfaction of ticking a good dozen of Alf’s Tops en route.
The reallyambitious, in search of the ultimate eponymous trek, might take a hint from the title of this piece and dig out the maps to plot a trajectory from the Lake District’s Pillar Mountain to Post Hill in the eastern suburbs of Leeds. A completion of such would most probably be a first.