About Keswick Mountain Festival:
Held at Crow Park on the 19th-22nd May 2016, Keswick Mountain Festival promises to put on your ultimate outdoor weekend! With a whole host of activities, world-class speakers, a tonne of events and live music in the evenings – I’m really looking forward to it.
In terms of races, there is something for everyone, with triathlons, cycling, running and swimming across a range of distances. It was the Salomon 25km Trail Race that caught my eye. So, when I had a weekend free, I decided to pop up the Lake District and take a look at the route…
The route for the Salomon 25km Trail Race:
Please note this is NOT official – I am not responsible for you getting lost on the day! Although this is pretty accurate, having spoken to the race organisers, there will some minor changes to this. I also had some deviations from the official route, such as where I had to wade across the river because the bridge was down when I was running it! Don’t panic; the festival organisers assure it will be very well marked on the day (so no nav needed).
As per normal, I picked some of the worst weather to head out in – it was rain, wind and hail with a touch of sunshine – luckily this route was so enjoyable I totally forgot about that!
Starting inside Crow Park (although on my map I think I actually start in the car park!) you head down the east side of Derwent Water. This is a nice warm up and gives you a small taste of what’s to come, with stunning views over the water. Before you know it, you are out of Keswick itself and onto the trail.
Next, a quick climb to Castlehead Wood into Springs Woods provides a bit of a wake-up call for the legs before the route heads into Great Wood. This section is fantastic with fast, rocky, flowing trail and some great technical sections.
After this, you are out of the woods and running beneath Falcon Crag, where again you will get to enjoy some really interesting sections of trail. With the crag one side and Derwent Water the other I particularly liked this bit.
Approaching Ashness Woods the heavens opened – soon I looked like I had just come straight out of the shower! As far as I could see here, the route climbs on the road, (relatively gently) before branching off onto the trail again – however, I am not sure what will be marked on the day here.
Next, I came across my one and only major route dilemma… Unfortunately just before Moss Mire, crossing Watendlath Beck (268 181 on the map) the bridge was down! This meant a bit of a boggy plod along the wrong side of the river before having to wade through it – which was freezing! I have mentioned this to KMF and am confident that they already have it in hand. Plus by May I am expecting glorious sunshine and much warmer weather!
Also on a related note, this is yet another reminder that this much-loved area suffered extensive damage when Storm Desmond hit last December and still needs help. To find out more about National Trust’s flood recovery work in the Lakes and how you can help visit this link here.
Legs warming back up after their mid-recce ice bath, I approached Watendlath. This is such a lovely area, and from here to Rosthwaite is probably my favourite section of the whole run. Passing Watendlath Tarn the legs had a chance to work with a steep and technical climb past Bracken Platt. But the effort is worth it as the views open out (and the hail stopped) onto stunning open fell. From here you have a super run down to Rosthwaite, covering more rocky fast tracks before reaching the rough halfway point of the race.
For me the two halves of this race feel quite different; the first is quite rocky and rugged, whereas the second is more woody and flowing – it certainly makes for a lovely contrast.
Coming out of Rosthwaite you join the Cumbrian way which undulates back towards Derwent Water, past Castle Crag. The terrain is good under foot with a nice number of gentle climbs and descents – I see why they liken it to a roller-coaster in the race description! I was only taking it pretty slowly as my ankle is still on the mend and enjoying the view, but I bet this section is a lot of fun at speed too.
Before you reach the campsite at Grange, there are some cool sections through Borrowdale and the woods, with a particularly interesting bit through the disused quarry. However soon you will reach the gentle lake shore paths to follow back towards Keswick. Although I realise a lot of people will up their speed here on the day, this section felt lovely, and I found myself just sitting in a comfortable pace enjoying the views of the water and the woods.
Coming into the final few kilometres, I was delighted to see the sun come out for a bit, allowing me to dry off and before I knew if I was heading back into Keswick via the Bob Graham Round finish.
In summary, I totally enjoyed this route – it was an absolute pleasure to run and flows nicely. For people who regularly do this distance, I image it can be taken pretty quickly and will prove for a great race on the day, especially over the more technical sections.
But for those slightly newer to the longer trail races, I certainly wouldn’t be put off – this is a stunning run, and despite the more technical aspects, I think it should be approachable and enjoyable, with a nice (but not too intense) amount of climbing and descending.
For anyone keen to pop an entry in or looking for more detail I have included the links below:
- Watch the video of my recce (if you didn’t spot it at the top!)
- Visit the Keswick Mountain Festival Website
- Enter the event!
- Download the unofficial route
This only leaves me to say one last thing – see you there!