Revisiting Newlands six months on

April 12th 2021 was the day we have all been waiting for. Non essential shops reopening, beer gardens full in the sun and travel restrictions reduced. After spending months dreaming of the fells it was time to lace up our shoes and get back out there. I was returning to Newlands six months on from my last visit. I chose a nice circular route to start with. Nothing overly adventurous, familiar to millions, especially fell runners who have done the Anniversary Waltz, Newlands Memorial or Teenager with Altitude.

The view from Honister Youth Hostel car park

Before arriving in Newlands I parked somewhere that always has spaces, Honister Youth Hostel next to Honister Slate Mine. The narrow roads on the way were quiet and the long drag uphill to the slate mine uneventful. I’d strapped some new shoes to my feet before leaving home and was excited to see how the X-Tallon 212 in bright blue performed on a dry day. I expected my legs would take the six months between mountain runs badly and I’d be lumbering about like an old dinosaur by the end of the day. The only way to improve was to start climbing which I did by starting up Dale Head.

Art feature? part of the way up Dale Head

Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson

Dale Head is a climb I like. It is pretty much straight up from the Honister car park to the cairn at the top. Open moorland for the first mile with a path of chipped stones at the top leading to the cairn. It has a main path to follow and its difficult to get lost even in the worst weather. Twenty five minutes later I’m at the top and beginning to think a trip to the barbers would have been a good idea. I remember the best thing about climbing the 754 metres to the top, the view into the valley below.

View from the cairn at Dale Head

Half an hour later I’ve ran across Hindscarth and up Robinson. Despite the forecast promising rain by now, the sky remains blue and the views unspoilt by black clouds. A couple of adults and one family are out enjoying the fells on Robinson. It feels great to be back. I stay up high on Robinson for as long as I can coming down from the fell just before the gate to the road.

Hindscarth and beyond from Robinson

At the bottom of the road past Newlands church I’m going to try a new path so stop to look at the map. I know there is an offroad option but I’m not sure where. I come across some locals but they ignore me and continue to eat their hay. In the end the path is easy to find and I’m on my way to Catbells. I’m almost halfway into my run revisiting Newlands six months on.

Alpacas enjoying the sunshine

Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy

Catbells is the Mecca of the tourist. A relatively easy climb right next to car parking and only ten minutes from the A66. If climb a mountain is on your bucket list this could be the one. From the top the view of the lake is spectacular but from Skelgill it is equally stunning showing Skiddaw dominating the skyline.

View from Catbells car park near Skelgill Farm

A few wide eyed tourists looked strangely at me as I jogged wearily and sweatily up the steps at the end of Catbells and up to the first summit. My nose was starting to feel a bit warm and I was hoping it hadn’t been burnt. Sun cream isn’t usually needed during April in Northern England. I stopped for the obligatory photograph with everyone else then continued on my run.

Derwentwater from Catbells

Leaving the other inhabitants of Catbells behind I continued up towards Maiden Moor. 125 extra metres of elevation helps make the view from the top slightly different. I try the wraparound photograph on my phone but despite three attempts it won’t work.

Catbells and Derwentwater from Maiden Moor with Skiddaw and Blencathra in the background

I start climbing for the penultimate time up to High Spy. You can see why someone would use it as a lookout. It has cliffs on two sides and anyone approaching via Maiden Moor or Dale Head can be spotted a long way away. The summit cairn is impressive but I still miss it in the photograph. By now my legs are getting tired and I’ve still got Dale Head to go. I really could do with that haircut.

High Spy

Dale Head and down to Honister

I’m heartened coming down from High Spy by a family coming the other way. It’s fantastic to see young people out on the fells even if one of them seemed to be a little less enthusiastic than the rest. By now my plan of revisiting Newlands six months on is looking like a success but I’ve still got Dale Head to go. Three hours ago I was flying up the grassy side of the fell now I’m slowly trudging up the steps and rocky paths from Dale Head Tarn. A dog and its owners are descending, I hope its not friendly as I don’t want to stop and stroke it in case I seize up. The dog ignores me and walks happily on, I continue up the climb.

Looking back down Dale Head and the cliffs of High Spy

At the top of Dale Head for the second time today I’m happy and I’ve enjoyed my day out in Newlands. The only thing left to do it to run down the hill. It is the last and greatest test of my new shoes. I don’t have any problems avoiding stones or potholes and cruise down the last couple of hundred metres of good running. A primary school aged child on his way up Dale Head is excited to see me and shouts he wants to be a runner. I try to reply you can do it but I don’t know if he heard.

Final thoughts

I’m back at the car park and after a quick change and a refuel I’m ready for the journey home. My legs as expected feel fatigued but I’ve had a great day. My shoes are still blue and my legs their usual colour with no mud splatters. I check is the mirror and my nose isn’t burnt, just a bit red. I’m hoping it won’t be six moths until I’m climbing again. my adventure revisiting Newlands six months on is over.

Still blue after the run

We hope you enjoyed reading “Revisiting Newlands six months on” let us know in the comments which is your favourite top in the Newlands Valley.

Read our Teenager With Altitude Fell Race report featuring all of the fells in this run

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