|What's it all about:
Ordinarily I'm just not interested in setting challenges or goals for myself but for 2012 I fancied the idea of giving myself some sort of walking project that was somewhat out of the ordinary, with the added bonus of some historical interest thrown in along the way and a feeling of personal satisfaction at the end of it. So, I came up with the idea that I would complete a series of walks which would take me over the principle Lake District passes; including the road passes.
I spent weeks mulling it all over in my head, during which time I thought of several other projects. In the end however, all the others seemed impractical for one reason or another so they were duly thrown in the recycle bin with all the other rejected brain-waves and I was left with the passes.
I'm reluctant to use the word rules for anything connected with fell walking because for me personally, I have always felt that once I start over analysing things, setting targets and ticking lists, then I'm walking for the wrong reasons. However, I did want there to be some sort of control over what I was planning so I set myself the following simple guidelines.
Each walk must begin and end at the same place.
I have to walk right over the pass and into the next valley; not just to the top.
I have to find a different route back to the start, instead of simply walking back over the pass.
The plan of action:
Originally I thought it would have been nice do all these walks straight one after the other; as a proper set, so to speak. That was until I looked at the figures and began to see how difficult some of them would be, particularly if I were to walk on three or four consecutive days. The main reason for splitting the walks however, was because keeping them all together would have meant missing out on evening and half day walking opportunities should they have came along, and that was not an option. In the end I settled for having to spread them over a none specified period of time, with easier, normal walks done in between.
My next thought was when to begin the project. Due to the distances and ascent of the walks, it was obvious that some of these routes required longer days, (I am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination). I also felt that something like this would be more enjoyable outside of full winter conditions. So, I opted for the beginning of March which would give me spring, summer and autumn to do as many of the walks as I could before winter returned.
Which ones should I include:
Because they are not all named as 'pass', what does or does not count as a pass is to some degree a matter of opinion. Therefore, I have tried to include the 'passes' that are generally recognised as routes used in the past to get from one valley to another; with a few spurious ones added to the list. I have also tried to avoid using modern walking and scrambling routes. (there must be hundreds of these). So, perhaps Pass is the wrong word to use, but that's what I'm calling them and this is the list I'm using this time around.
If I enjoy this as much as I hope to, I may do the same thing next year with a different list made up of the more obscure passes, gaps and crossings.
Where does each pass start and finish:
This is an impossible one to answer because I don't think there is a correct answer. You could argue that they should go from the largest village or hamlet in each valley, or even the church, which in the past was the centre of the communities, but that isn't strictly true. They were, I believe, used by a variety of people for a variety of reasons simply because they were the easiest route into the neighbouring valley, and not always to a specific point within the valley.
Keeping a track of things:
Below you will find information on the walks / routes I've devised to complete the project. Once I actually get out there and start walking the routes may change slightly, but what you see here is what I intend to do at this moment in time.
The 'planned' distances and ascent in the progress tracker are calculated from these routes
If you've followed the progress of these 21 walks you'll have seen me cover 328.5 miles and ascend 79,800 ft. I've visited some truly wonderful areas of the Lake District and undertaken some lengthy walks by some out of the ordinary routes. Needless to say every walk was enjoyable, but if I had to choose a favourite route I think it would have to be what was arguably the most unusual of them all, Garburn Pass and Threshthwaite Mouth. This one took me to so many fantastic places which you simply wouldn't think of including in the same walk, and it even visited two fell tops.
As for the actual day out I enjoyed the most. Without a doubt is had to be Sticks Pass and The Old Coach Road. This was done on a lovely hot and sunny spring day with cloud inversions above Ullswater at the start, a thoroughly enjoyable walk over the full Sticks Pass route, St John's in the Vale was at its absolute best and to finish off I had the seclusion of The Old Coach Road. A truly memorable day.