14 May 2024

Ricky Lightfoot's Top 5 Trail Runs

Explore Your World

Off road running isn't for everyone, some people prefer the comfort of pounding the streets listening to their favourite playlist on Spotify through their wireless headphones. I'm not against that, but personally, I prefer the trails. The chance to get away from it all and just be me, when all I need to think about is putting one foot in front of the other whilst taking it all in.

I'm pretty biased when it comes to the Lake District, but it's my favourite place in the world to go trail running. People often ask me if I get bored with it, and my response is always, "A single mountain range is enough exploration for an entire lifetime". Basically, there's always new adventures to have on old ground.
Below, are my top 5 trail runs:


1. Gable Girdle, Wasdale or Seathwaite 

Great Gable

Great Gable is one of the most iconic Lakeland Fells, so much so that Wainwright wrote about it. It’s got its own smugglers hut and it gives way to one of the best views in Britain looking down the Wasdale Valley. The Gable Girdle, as it was named by Wainwright, is a high-level traverse of Great Gable which has the option of "threading the needle" or climbing Sphinx Ridge. Beware though, as the latter is not for the faint hearted! The trail to Great Gable can be picked up from either Wasdale or Seathwaite in Borrowdale.


2. The Yorkshire Three Peaks, Horton in Ribblesdale

Ingleborough, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks

The Yorkshire Three Peaks is actually a popular race and challenge in the Yorkshire Dales. It is hiked and ran by thousands of people every year and covers three major mountains; Pen Y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

The route starts in Horton in Ribblesdale and covers 23-miles and over 5000ft of ascent. It also takes in the impressive Ribblehead viaduct at the half way point. There’s mapping of the full route in the local store and it is fully way marked.


3. Blencathra via Sharp Edge


For anyone heading to the Lakes from Penrith and the rest of the East, Blencathra is one of the first mountains in view. You'll know its Blencathra as it takes the shape of a horse Saddle. It was, and still is, known as Saddleback on some mapping.

The run starts from the lay-by near The White Horse pub on the A66. From there, the route heads up to Mousthwaite Comb before traversing around Scales Fell and up to Scales Tarn, where the real climb/scramble begins up to the summit.

Once at the summit the return route can either be via Halls Fell (recommended), or Scales Fell where you'll retrace your steps from Mousthwaite Comb. It is recommended that you only attempt Sharp Edge if you are a competent scrambler.


4. Coledale Horseshoe from Braithwaite 

Coledale Horseshoe

Coledale Horseshoe starts and finishes in Braithwaite and covers 9-miles and 3,000ft of ascent. It takes on four major summits, the first of which is Grisedale Pike at 2,500ft. The ascent of Crag Fell can either be directly up the face and through the crags, or for the easier option, follow the path to the East. From the summit of Crag Fell you follow the trail over to Sail, and then down and over Barrow Fell.


5. Loughrigg Fell, nr Ambleside

Loughrigg Fell

Although only a short one, Loughrigg offers some great trails and beautiful views of Grasmere and Rydal Water to the North and Windermere to the South.

The route starts from the White Moss car park South of Grasser. Heading out on the trails, you cross the small river at the South of Grasmere Water and up onto Loughrigg Terrace. From here on the climb steepens all the way to the summit. The return route can either be via retracing your footsteps, or for a slightly extended route, follow the trail off the summit South Easterly and you'll pass Rydal Caves, which is certainly worth a visit.

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