Early morning arrival and registration at our start point on the east shores of beautiful Derwentwater. After an introduction and briefing about the day’s events, we get acquainted with our canoes!
After a safety briefing, we head out onto the open expanse of Derwentwater – which gives us a unique view of our surroundings and an idea of what lies ahead of us today! The conditions will dictate our goal on the water, but if conditions are good we’ll aim to paddle around St Herbert’s Island in the middle of the lake, named for an Anglo-Saxon priest who lived there for many years; parts of the hermitage are still visible.
Returning our canoes to shore, we change into dry kit and prepare to start the first of our cycle sections. We ride alongside Derwentwater, heading towards the beautiful Borrowdale Valley and the tip of the lake. The fells rise up around us and the views are wonderful. Reaching the end of the valley at Seatoller our route climbs up to Honister Pass, a very tough climb with a height gain of over 200m. Hopefully the views from the top will be a wonderful reward before we descend into the Buttermere valley; care needs to be taken on the steep descent. Towards the end of Buttermere we come to Gatesgarth, a small village lying at the foot of Haystacks – the trekking section of our challenge.
At 597m, Haystacks is not one of the highest fells in the Lake District, but is popular largely because it was Wainwright’s favourite mountain walk. The curved crags visible from Gatesgarth give us a taster of the wonderful views awaiting us. The ascent is steep in places but we take it steady and it’s not too long before we reach the summit, with its small tarn, rocky outcrops and wonderful views across to some of the main peaks in the region. Descending again, we return to our bikes.
Our second cycling section, which is slightly longer than our first stint, takes us along Buttermere. We then turn right into the Newlands valley and start the second of our big climbs, gaining 200m in height once more as we climb to the pass of Newlands Hause. The scenery through the Newlands valley is spectacular. After reaching the summit, a wonderful descent takes us back to Derwentwater, and we skirt round the northern tip of the lake and finally come back to our start point. Challenge completed, you should be feeling very proud of your achievements!
1-2 miles canoe, 23 miles cycle, 6 miles trek