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Have I gone stark raving mad???!!?

dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
edited October 2009 in Routes
I think I need my maps taking off me. I've strung together a monster of a route in the Lakes and now I want to do it, but I think that it might be one of the most insane things that I've ever contemplated.

It's probably do-able (in fact it's probably been done before), but just bear with me...

I call it the Four Passes.

Start in Seatoller (South end of Borrowdale). Go straight up Honister Pass. No easy openers, straight up. Then, up to the slate quarries, skirt round the South side of Fleetwith Pike and drop down Warnscale Bottom to Gatescarth. Thats one pass.

Next, from Gatescarth, over Peggy's Bridge and straight up and over Scarth Gap to Black Sail Hut. That's two.

From Black Sail Hut, skirt South and West round between Kirk Fell and Pillar - Black Sail Pass. Then down to Wasdale Head and time for a stop at the pub. Three passes down, one to go.

Next, head East up Lingmell Beck, passing below Napes Needle on the South side of Great Gable and hoi, hup la! over Sty Head pass, down by Styhead Tarn and Stockley Bridge to Seathwaite, back to Seatoller. Four passes knocked on the head and back in time for tea.

So it's only 15 and a bit miles, but there's nearly 5500 feet of climbing (but the same coming down!). Seven hours? Eight hours.

Ami I completely nuts? Anybody fancy trying it?
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  • Yukon LadYukon Lad Posts: 423
    5500 feet of climbing doesn't sound fun, especially at Honnister, haven't been there but i assume that seeing as its a mine then it'll be loose shingle on rock, no problem with climbs with good traction but when my back wheel spins and my pedal swings round and bites a chunk out of my shin for the hundredth time i feel like chucking something down the hill :evil: (not the new bike).

    5500 feet of descent however, :D BRING IT ON!

    Will try it sometime, maybe :lol:

    Thanks, Yukon Lad
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  • 1340jas1340jas Posts: 217
    No, if you were really mad you would try it on an Orange Sub Zero.
    But i don't think you like orange do you?
  • Think this is similar to the route your suggesting.

    http://www.gpsies.com/map.do;jsessionid ... tixweicrqc

    Did you do it? Was thinking of doing the mbr one myself
  • This is regularly put forward as a route, but something always crops up to stop it happening. Wonder why? Think it's one of those routes that has been ridden many times, in theory!
    Frank Yates
  • Maybe just walked many times with crampons & ropes
  • Dave, the short answer is: Yes, you are barking and raving loony mad! But you have guts if you contimplate trying all four passes :)

    My longer answer would be, that if you put your mind (and legs) to it, you can achieve anything. Well, within the limits of what your body can take in one day..!

    I'm presuming that you are not talking about trying this during the winter, when some snow and ice up there is a dead cert..? If you did attempt this, why not contact a TV company and take them along with you, on this amazing feat :)

    In two or three days, maybe. In just one day, and then 'back for tea'... no chance.

    KK.
  • .....i presume your going to ride up from Hebden Bridge ?? :wink:
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    KonaKurt wrote:
    I'm presuming that you are not talking about trying this during the winter, when some snow and ice up there is a dead cert..? If you did attempt this, why not contact a TV company and take them along with you, on this amazing feat :)

    I might be raving mad but I ain't daft! I'm actually going to walk it with a mate next weekend, just to check it out.
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  • Don't worry, it'll never happen. There's always an exuse to cancel it.
    Frank Yates
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    trek*fuel wrote:
    .....i presume your going to ride up from Hebden Bridge ?? :wink:

    Why would I do that? I don't live there... :roll:
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  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    Don't worry, it'll never happen. There's always an exuse to cancel it.

    Was that a dig by any chance???
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  • I'll go..... always up for a challenge :D
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    Don't sign up for it Ben, I'll only cancel it... :shock:
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  • Was that a dig by any chance???

    This route is regularly proposed, and just as regularly cancelled. How many times this year? It's not too long ago that you claimed to have ridden it 20 years ago on a rigid forked hardtail, now you want to walk it to see if the route is feasible. Unfortunately John, this seems to be an exercise in self delusion/promotion.

    Sorry John, I've spent most of my spare time on these hills and I know what will "go" and what won't. Want some advice? Ask, but don't keep coming up with schemes that you know won't happen.
    Frank Yates
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    This route is regularly proposed, and just as regularly cancelled.

    Precisely. Because I'm not foolish enough to attempt it on my own and pinning anyone else down to try it isn't easy.
    How many times this year?

    Er, not at all (by me at any rate) if you look at date of the original post. July 15 last year.
    It's not too long ago that you claimed to have ridden it 20 years ago on a rigid forked hardtail, now you want to walk it to see if the route is feasible.

    Fail. I've never claimed that! Again read the orignal post. Why would I say that I've found a mental-looking route, does anyone fancy trying it, and then suddenly claim that I've done it 20 years ago? Doesn't stack up.

    I have said that I was doing routes of this type 20 years ago, but I've never once claimed to have done this particular one. And before you say anything, I've checked what I said, the post is here.
    Unfortunately John, this seems to be an exercise in self delusion/promotion.

    But I don't claim that things which haven't happened, have. Now who's delusional?
    Sorry John, I've spent most of my spare time on these hills and I know what will "go" and what won't.

    Oh of course, I forgot that you own the Lake District. So just because you've decided it isn't possible or worth attempting that nobody else should huh? They said that to Christoper Columbus and look what happened...
    Want some advice? Ask, but don't keep coming up with schemes that you know won't happen.

    Maybe it won't happen, maybe it will. But there's no harm in dreaming is there? Somebody needs to lighten up and stop taking life so seriously. I'll go back to being a grockle. Whatever one of those is.
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  • From a previous thread - check it.
    I was doing this sort of run 20 years ago

    Fortunately I remember what has been said!
    I have said that I was doing routes of this type 20 years ago, but I've never once claimed to have done this particular one. And before you say anything, I've checked what I said, the post is here.
    Frank Yates
  • I say do it. does it matter if it takes a whole day? no. Does it matter if at times you have to get off and push? not on that sort of adventure. I know i would be struggling to get it done but i struggle on most rides. A mate who has his glass half full at all times is a must. My end thought though is BARBARIC

    22/34 and never changing would have it done in 8 hrs

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  • Dave, if you are really keen to do all four passes in a day, then why not do it for a worthy charity? Get yourself some sponsorship and do it as a challenge for a charity.
    I am sure you will get more than a Jim'll Fix It badge from them, if you succeed!

    I must confess, being a soft southerner, that I have never ventured any further north than Birmingham New Street with my bike...

    KK.
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    From a previous thread - check it.
    I was doing this sort of run 20 years ago

    Duh, precisely - "this sort of run", not "this particular run".

    I'm sorry to be a pedant but in my book that means that I have undertaken bicycle rides of what I imagine to be a similar grade of severity. If you want me to list them I will but I suspect that you're already bored with my pseudo-adolesecent whinging and the fact that I like my riding to have some degree of technical challenge, no matter how unlikely or unfeasible it may seem.

    I have never once claimed to have ridden the route described in my first post, or else why propose it as a new discovery to myself in the first place?

    I will undertake this route one day, but now it's just out of sheer bloody-mindedness.
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  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    KonaKurt wrote:
    Dave, if you are really keen to do all four passes in a day, then why not do it for a worthy charity? Get yourself some sponsorship and do it as a challenge for a charity.

    The thought had crossed my mind to do it for the North West Air Ambulance - after all it's a charity that one day (insert the name of whichever deity you worship here) forbid we may all have need of.

    That said, I would prefer to try it beforehand either on foot or by bike just to check it out and make sure that I don't make an enormous [email protected] of myself by going into it blind. That said some people think I'm an enormous [email protected] anyway... :shock:
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  • That said some people think I'm an enormous [email protected] anyway...

    That could be said of anyone who walks a route to see if it's rideable.

    All this talk about planning a ride that will be cancelled at the last minute is quite boring. I'm off there next Saturday, and I'll do it. No recce, no vague memories of doing it 20 years ago. Can do the route off memory. Watch out for me, if you go.

    Have a nice day. I'll buy you a pint in The Scafell at Rosthwaite if we meet. See if you can find my picture on the pub wall - it's there.
    Frank Yates
  • I could have run the route a lot quicker!

    "20 years ago" :lol:

    being quite mad myself, sounds just the sort of thing I'd have a go at. Thing is, I've got a heavy old bike, will I get chance to ride it at all?
  • Well, I did the ride, and quite an epic it turned out to be. It appears that John and his mate thought better of going for a walk/looksee, and decided to stay at home instead. Probably a wise decision, but the assumption must be that the proposed ride is unlikely ever to happen.

    From Seatoller I took the old packhorse trail to the summit of Honister. This has the great advantage of being traffic free, and with a more mtb friendly gradient which makes up for the occasional boulder field. Maybe John’s route is on the tarmac, his route description hints at that being the preferred route.

    When I got close to the YHA there was a film crew watching my every move. Seems like they were making some TV programme about how the usage of The Lakes has changed over the years, and the mines were to feature. They liked the idea of an mtb coming up to the centuries old workings, so made me repeat the last 150 yards or so 3 times. Then they decided that my jersey might be construed as advertising, so I had to do it again with my Gore-Tex on. Then there was a mini interview, but still wearing the Gore-Tex the sweat was pouring off me. I don’t think they liked me keep wiping sweat away – not photogenic, so my chance of stardom on TV this week might have evaporated. But...I might get lucky so keep your eyes peeled.

    I then had the interminable trudge up the old tramway to the Drum House. This never seems to get any shorter or flatter, and the bottom section has always been execrable. I had a peep in at the bothy under Fleetwith Pike. An excellent refurbishment has been carried out, and this is a most welcome sight in the middle of a January blizzard, or for a long summer night watching the sun set over the Isle of Man. (Summers, what are they?)
    The route down Warnscale is full of old mine buildings that have been appropriated and converted into bothies/climbing huts by various organisations. Good uses for these buildings, rather than just letting them have a slow decay.

    [Anorak mode] Did you know that the first ever episode of “One Man and his Dog” was filmed in the fields bordering the head of Buttermere? [/Anorak mode]

    The slog up Scarth Gap was just that – a slog. At the pass I met another rider who had just done the High Stile ridge, and was wondering if it was possible to carry on over Haystacks. Well, yes it is. But it’s never been made a bridleway for one good reason. It definitely needs hands to get up, and if you get slightly off route you’re into Grade 2 scramble country. Not the best place to do hike a bike. Not sure where he went; I left him peering at a map.

    I resisted the temptation to take the rightwards slanting track through what was formerly the Ennerdale Forest. The track back to Black Sail from the Memorial Bridge is good, but the extra distance wasn’t welcome. At the YHA the warden came running back down the hill. Some C2C walkers had been there overnight. Mr C2C must have been a ****** because his mobile, wallet, credit cards, booking details for the rest of the route, house and car keys etc. were all in his “man bag”. He’d left it behind, silly billy. Warden had been chasing him, but couldn’t find him. Which way he’d gone is a mystery, as is how they paid for the next night’s lodgings.

    Not my worry so I pressed on to Black Sail.
    I thought the first section through the drumlins would be easy, but I seemed to be walking more than riding. That soon changed as the slope increased. I thought I’d bought a bike to carry me, not for me to carry it!

    Going down from the summit I chose to use the newer zig zag path contouring slowly down the mountain side. This has only appeared in the last 10 years or so, John probably doesn’t know it exists, and the start is a bit indeterminate unless you’ve got local knowledge. It does miss out the top section of rock garden, which is always a big plus.

    At Wasdale Head I was chewing the cud with Jim who runs the Barn Door shop, when Howard Christie, mine host at the hotel, strolled across with some bad news. It seems his wife has had a relapse of the Big C, and it doesn’t look too good. I locked my bike in the pub brewery, and we sped off to Gosforth to see Kate. Very sad, but I’m glad I was there just to have a chat. I don’t know if it helped and it definitely put a bit of a cloud over my day, but I’ve done my bit (Ah!)

    There are two ways to get to Styhead from Wasdale Head. I assume that the route avoids the valley bottom way. This is only a footpath, for obvious reasons. Horses would have trouble here, as would bikes. The Breast Route up Gable can be sped up quite quickly on foot, even the rock sections are stepped by nature to help walkers. I was glad to see those walkers – they gave the bike some good lifts on the worse bits. Looking up I could see the usual queue of climbers waiting their turn on Napes Needle. Seems a long time ago since I had my turn up there, but the photo still hangs on my wall; a memorable climb.

    Styhead was busy as usual. Where does everybody appear from suddenly when the tarn comes into view? All that remained was the relatively easy track leading to the Stockley Bridge descent. Was this easier than it used to be, or did I just not care anymore? I decided to call in at Stan Edmondson’s and blag tea and cakes which were excellent as ever. This left just the short easy section back to the start.

    I clocked the route at a tad over 15 miles. I stopped my watch at Stan’s place, but with all the messing about on the top of Honister and in Wasdale it’s difficult to give an accurate time. Something like 7.5 hours moving would seem about right. I say moving as opposed to riding because the route must be more than 50% push/hike a bike. It’s what I expected, knowing the route well, and whilst it’s always nice to see old friends, there must be easier ways to fix up a chinwag.

    Would I do it again? I might go back if the company was right. A problem shared is a problem halved! It’s one of those routes that get talked about because it exists as a possibility on the map. Is it a sensible route? There is much, much better riding not too far away. These tracks exist because they were the original passes between the valleys developed centuries ago for foot and horse traffic. But bikes? Go and make your own mind up.
    Frank Yates
  • projectsomeprojectsome Posts: 4,478
    Well, I did the ride, and quite an epic it turned out to be. It appears that John and his mate thought better of going for a walk/looksee, and decided to stay at home instead. Probably a wise decision, but the assumption must be that the proposed ride is unlikely ever to happen.

    From Seatoller I took.....
    TRUNCATED/TL;DR
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  • Sounds an epic of a ride- I'd be up for it one day.... maybe put it on my "To do before 40" list...
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  • Nice route review. Thanks for that. You've made up my mind for me to cross this off my to do list. Any route that is 50% or more push/hike a bike is not really my idea of fun.

    Let us know if you do appear on TV wont you.
  • muppixmuppix Posts: 5
    dave_hill wrote:
    So it's only 15 and a bit miles, but there's nearly 5500 feet of climbing (but the same coming down!). Seven hours? Eight hours.
    Ami I completely nuts? Anybody fancy trying it?

    I've no idea of the terrain, but all I need to know is: if you were to walk the route, could you do it without using your hands?

    Because the worst-case scenario would be to push the bike round all the way, and since only half of it is climbing you're really only talking about 8 miles, so the question becomes: could you walk eight miles in a day?

    Not saying I could do this before breakfast, but it does sound possible. Let me know if you make any concrete plans to give it a try.

    Mup.
  • could you do it without using your hands?

    No. You have to use your hands most certainly on the ascent to Styhead, with or without the bike.
    Frank Yates
  • muppixmuppix Posts: 5
    No. You have to use your hands most certainly on the ascent to Styhead, with or without the bike.

    Ah. In that case I take it all back. :o
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