- 29.35 miles / 47.23km
- 11,457ft / 3492 meters
- Elapsed time: 8:51:27
A spontaneous decision the day before had me and Andy heading for the front door of George Fisher on Sunday (15/10/2023) to embark on our first attempt of the George Fisher Tea Round. This route starts and finishes at the shop, and the goal is to summit all the fells you can see from the window of the café located on the top floor of the shop. The fells visible from the café window are: Catbells, Robinson, High Stile, Hobcarton Crag, Grisedale Pike, Eel Crag, Sail, Causey Pike, Rowling End and Barrow. This run can be planned which ever way you like, all you have to do is visit each of the 10 fells.
It was hard to say no after looking at the weather forecast for the weekend, majority wall to wall sunshine with the occasional wintery shower in the afternoon. The temperature was looking to be around the 6 degree mark for most of the day and the wind wasn’t looking to pick up much, so we had amazing conditions for our first go.
The first stop on the route is Catbells, roughly 4 miles in. In my head I thought it would be a good hill to get my legs warmed up for the climbs ahead, but that was not the case. It didn’t fill me with much hope for the rest of the run, but I persevered. The fun section was descending down into Little Town, a section I have never explored before. Although we did then join the road that takes you past Newlands Church then along to High Snab Farm, which I have been on before. I then knew we had the climb up to Robinson ahead of us, which doesn’t start with a gentle ascent, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
The summit of Robinson is another 4 miles later. I found the climb very tough, which I knew I would as I have been down this path before, I even made a joke at the time to my better half saying I feel sorry for anyone heading up this path, not knowing it would be me roughly 1 year later. This section contains a steep slog right from the get go, then easing once you reach the ridgeline, followed by sections of scrambling and a few other steep climbs. After reaching the top, we started on a super fun descent, gradually increasing in steepness until we were practically sliding down the hill. After taking the descent down to Buttermere, the route goes south of the lake then onto the other side, where you take the climb up to High Stile.
I would say there are 3 main climbs on the route provided by George Fisher, and the climb up to High Stile is the second. I found this section difficult, knowing that you have to climb all the way to the top to visit the summit, then drop back onto the valley floor, only to climb all the way back up the other side when you head to Hobcarton Crag. Once you get closer to the top of this climb, we came across some nice scrambles which helped change the pace and take my mind off the task in hand. Once reaching the summit, we took our first rest, and tucked into a bit of cheese and onion pie that Andy kindly provided.
We rested our legs, preparing for the plummet down a very steep scree path coming off Red Pike, which Andy flew down! I passed a few couples that had stopped to watch him fly down the scree, it was a seriously impressive descent. My legs were feeling a bit jelly like so I took it steady… I hope that is a good enough excuse. I thought the worst was over with the technical descent, until we reached some stone slabs/steps that take you all the way to the valley floor, they seemed to go on forever. We dropped into Buttermere (again) and stopped off at Syke Farm Tea Room, where they have the best Scotch Egg I’ve ever had. If you’re in the area it’s worth a visit. From there you join a very small section of the Lakeland 100 route, then begin the climb up to Hobcarton Crag.
This is the last of the major climbs on this route. It was a very slow climb for me as my legs were feeling it now. One of my favourite places to run in The Lakes are the fells on the Coledale Horsehoe which is where we were heading next, this gave me a bit more energy to carry on as I was excited to get onto these fells. Also once this climb was done, it was just a case of ticking off the other fells, which didn’t include much more climbing. I was looking forward to that.
We bagged Hobcarton Crag, then onto Grisedale Pike. The next fell on the list was Eel crag. We could either follow the same path back up the way we came when heading to Hobcarton Crag, which was a little bit longer, or we could take a steeper climb up off to the left of the path. At first I couldn’t bare the thought of another tough climb and the path seemed very inviting as it is quite gradual. Anyway I decided to push myself and head up the steep climb which I regretted as soon as the hill started gaining gradient. But with my head down and snacks in hand, I plodded my way up the hill, which turned out to be a nice way to the top. It also included a bit of scrambling which again, changed it up and helped my to forget about the slog up. Once at the top of Eel Crag, the worst of it was over, and I could focus on trying to get a bit of a rhythm going.
Onwards we went and we bagged Sail and Causey Pike, which takes the path along one of my favourite ridgelines to run along. Morale was up, we were approaching the last 2 fells. We scrambled down the front of Causey Pike and headed towards Rowling End. It was soul destroying to reach Rowling End, then to turn around and look at Causey Pike, knowing the path was somewhere back up the climb then off to the side down towards Stonycroft Gill. I couldn’t face another hill and asked Andy if we could just bushwack it through the heather until we found the path. I’m glad we did as there wasn’t actually any visible path coming off the side of Causey Pike, and we ended up having to freestyle it down to the bottom anyway! There we crossed the gill and looked at the last climb, Barrow.
We had somewhat of a goal in mind before setting off, the completion time we had in mind at the start was between 8/8:30 hours, which increased to 8:30/9 hours once we had reached Grisedale Pike and I had started slowing. The elapsed time at the bottom of Barrow was coming up to 8 hours, and I asked Andy if a sub 9 hours would still be possible, in which he replied that it was up to me. I admit, Andy had dragged me around 50% of this run, so it was most definitely up to me. Really digging deep, we plodded to the summit of Barrow, and started making our way back to Keswick. I could only think about getting back to George Fisher so I could finish the run and head straight to the shop for a fizzy drink and a sausage roll, not overly bothered about the time we finish. But as we got closer, the potential sub 9 became a reality, if we kept the pace up we could do it. I never felt so relieved when we came over the bridge near the pencil museum and the moot hall became visible. We darted past the chippy, round the corner and onto the doorstep of George Fisher and stopped our watches at 8:51:27. We got the sub 9, proper chuffed.
We went straight from Keswick to The Black Lane Ends in Colne and had an amazing pub grub. Always good food there.
I whole heartedly recommend this route to anyone who is willing to give it a crack. I thoroughly enjoyed my day out and would like to thank Andy for dropping me a text on Saturday, asking me to head up early Sunday morning. Cheers!
George Fisher suggest that upon completion of the round, a donation would be highly appreciated by the ‘Fix The Fells’ Charity organisation. To donate to this charity, you can text ‘TEAROUND’ to 70085 along with the number of pounds you would like to donate, for example: £10 = TEAROUND10. (The cost is the donation amount plus your standard messaging rate).