Health | Hostel to Hostel Hill Bagging in the Lakes Day One: Grasmere to Borrowdale

Ok confession time: I'm a hill bagger. It's a ridiculous hobby that I've inherited from my awesomely mad Dad who bikes miles and miles each week and then quickly nips off and climbs mountains around the UK. Honestly, it's a real thing. Check out the massive community of hill bagging geeks like me at - but be warned: it's addictive!

When the Speedster asked what I wanted to do this holiday I couldn't resist: I'd seen a blog post from YHA recently and was keen to give it a go: hostel to hostel walking in the Lake District. The Lake District is one of my favourite places in the world; a chance to be totally consumed by the glorious beautiful British countryside.

We headed North from London via train - just £30 First Class each from London Euston to Windermere, changing at Oxenholme. We're treated to Eggs Florentine on the train up with ample fresh coffee and the offer of gin and tonics as the time creeps in to afternoon. We've booked in bicycle spaces on the train so once we arrive in Windermere, after a quick stop at Booths (northern Waitrose) for supplies, we're on the bike and peddling past the lakes through Ambleside to Grasmere, a cool 17.5km away.

We check in to Thorney How, an independent hostel in Grasmere. I'm a YHA member so am passionately in support of their hostels but there just wasn't availability anywhere near Grasmere or Langdale so are forced to make alternatives. We head for dinner at Lancrigg - a vegetarian hotel and restaurant and are treated to one of the greatest meals we've ever had. We feast on vegan Moroccan pithivier and the best creme brûlée I've ever had flavoured with cardamon and rose. It's a divine meal.

Day One of the trip itself dawns bright and fresh and off we set. Day One involves 19 peaks - Little Castle How, Castle How, Great Castle How and Blea Rigg are ticked off easily and we make it to Stickle Tarn by 11am. I've got my flask so we treat ourselves to a quick break with some delicious cup-a-soup. Post-break a bit of a surprise as we start the climb to High Raise via Pavey Ark and Thurnascar Knott and the climb is super tough! Our Ordnance Survey map has a bit of a joke with us after High Raise and we get horrendously lost crossing cross-country rather than finding the path between High Raise and Black Craggs which sees us accidentally head back to Maiden Moor and then on to the Black Craggs ridge. The scramble up Rossett Pike is fun and then we head down to Angle Tarn and after a quick debate we decide to have a go at Bow Fell. We ascend via Ore Gap and find a place to stash our heavy packs then quickly nip up Bow Fell via Bow Fell North Top. Back to Ore Gap, packs collected and on to Esk Pike, pausing in the shelter for a break and to test out our new posh camping stove which takes just 2 minutes to make our early afternoon cold weather snack of whisky hot chocolate.

Revived we head off along our final ridge of the day Allen Crags, High House, Red Back Top, Looking Steads and Glaramara. And at Glaramara the weather decides it wants us off the mountain and rains in a way I'd forgotten was possible. At one point I genuinely consider if someone is throwing a bucket of water over me it's literally that bad. We attempt a fast descent via Thorneythwaite Fell to Borrowdale but it's hard going after a day of so much ascent. Head torches go on as night begins to fall and after a suspiciously difficult final footpath on the flat we make it to YHA Borrowdale, our home for the night. Technically we've missed dinner but the staff couldn't be nicer and ensure we get an enormous helping of vegan chilli for the amazing price of just £7.50. Boots and clothes safely stowed in the drying room, we fall in to our bunkbeds in our private room (which cost us the princely sum of just £33 for the two of us) and fall in to deeper sleeps than we've known in a long while.

And so Day One Complete:
Hills Bagged: 19
Wainwrights: 9
Total Kms walked: 29.5km
Hours out:  11
Total Ascent: 1,580m


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