“Do you girls fancy Abraham’s Tea Round?” Sounds easy.
Without knowing what she’d agreed to, Stella was in. Di is unable to say no to anything which is too far and too steep so that made three. A fellow Tea Round enthusiast, young Jack from Manchester, also joined us on the day.
The weekend was booked with accommodation in Keswick, but a stormy forecast for the Saturday persuaded us to drive up early on Friday and set straight off.
The round starts at George Fisher. It’s a 12000ft, 30 mile loop of all the peaks you can (allegedly*) see from the window of Abraham’s Tea room, and all finishers are (allegedly*) awarded tea, cake and a golden teacup. A bit extreme for a free brew you may think…
For those of you who don’t know us, we are vet runners up for a laugh, a challenge and an adventure. We are not fast or serious, if we can do this then anyone can.
We set off from Keswick with heavy packs…The first peak, Catbells, was easy. We then dropped into Little Town, then on up to Robinson, a nice climb with a short scramble. Beautiful views and a very steep descent took us to the South end of Lake Buttermere. We thought we were doing alright for time so we stopped for an ice lolly. Lots of people on the track were doing the sensible thing, turning right along the lake to Buttermere village. Not us! Straight up a promising path heading for High Stile, which quickly went the wrong way. So, we made a left turn off of the footpath over steep rough ground and craggs and aimed for the summit, making slow progress. From High Stile it was an easy run along the ridge to Red Pike, followed by a kamikaze scree ski to Buttermere village. At this point, we checked our watches and realised it was 4pm. We were only halfway round and unlikely to make last orders at this rate! So we denied ourselves a brew and picked up the pace…
A long slog, but easy terrain, got us up Whiteless Pike in good time. Great runnable terrain from here, we were making such good progress we accidentally missed out Hobcarton Crag. No problem – this section is an out and back to Grisedale Pike so we ticked it off on the way back. But now the drama begins! The wind had picked up and it had started to rain. We looked up the vertical cliff (not a path) which was apparently the route up to Eel crag, the next obligatory peak on the round. As we might have mentioned, we are fun runners and this didn’t look much fun! So, we took a long way round which still ended up a near vertical scree-fest. Having ticked that one off we easily jogged the beautiful ridge over Sail to Causey Pike.
The route then absurdly includes the molehill which is Rowling End (never knowingly visited by man woman or beast). At this point Stella went on strike – she’d forgotten to plot Barrow on her GPS and was convinced this was the last one. Ibuprofen, an energy bar and a kick up the arse were duly administered. We then set off through rough ground and dense bracken, trying (failing) not to lose height crossing the valley bottom to ascend to Barrow, the last peak. A lovely easy descent to Braithwaite heralded the last enjoyable part of the route. Dusk and a slog along the main road eventually brought us to Keswick for last orders and chips.
We had “deliberately” slowed our pace so our arrival in Keswick would coincide with the send-off of a proper fell runner. Our very own legend, Dougie Zinis, was setting off an attempt to beat the double Bob Graham record. We offered to pace him after we had finished our chips, but as he was on a tight schedule, he politely declined.
As we were writing this report over a glass of wine outside the Moot hall, we checked his progress. The legend was already on his way up Yewbasatard (obviously not going at our pace).
(Sadly during his second night out while on his scheduled target, Dougie tore his quad and had to retire. He had completed 31 peaks (15 of them twice), 31,500 ft of climb and c. 65 miles. He will of course be back for round 2… )
On Saturday morning, we duly queued with face masks and Strava trace outside George Fisher to claim our reward…
1. Cafe is closed
2. Golden teacup is discontinued
3. Stella contests (without evidence) that Barrow is in fact visible from the window of Abraham’s Tearoom
*See you in court George Fisher
And … no tea was consumed at any point during the round …