Lake District Grand Tour – A New Ultra for the UK

The 18th September 2023 sees the start of the 1st Edition of the Lake District Grand Tour 400 – an awesome 400km roller-coaster route starting and finishing in Keswick with around 17,000m ascent that visits every corner of the Lake District. It crosses 30 mountain passes, links all 13 valleys, visits 10 lakes, has only 42 km of tarmac and even less flat running.  

Racing non-stop, with 30 Aid Stations and 5 Life Bases providing support, you have to decide when and for how long you should stop for rest and refreshment or whether you should just keep pushing onwards battling fatigue and sleep deprivation. 

Six days later runners on the Lake District Grand Tour 55 will set off from Keswick, aiming to cover the 55km loop in the Northern Fells in less than 12 hours. 2,000m of ascent ensures that this ultramarathon will be a testing and rewarding experience. 

In 2024 two other challenging ultramarathons will be added to give an action-packed week of trail running:

A 110km ultra trail race with 5,000m of climb in the Western Fells surrounding Borrowdale,  Wasdale, Ennerdale and Buttermere, with a time limit of 24 hours.   Plenty of technical single-track mean this race will be a challenging one for experienced runners. 11 Aid Stations provide support along the route, and;

A 170 km ultra trail race with more than 7,000m of ascent in the Eastern Fells surrounding Ullswater, Haweswater, Thirlmere, and Grasmere.   A combination of very runnable terrain and technical  single-track and spectacular scenery will ensure that the LDGT 170 quickly becomes a classic 100-miler.  The  LDGT 170 route has 15 Aid Stations.   

The Races

Lake District Grand Tour 400. 

400 km. 17,000m ascent. 150 hours. Taking place from the 18th September to the 24th September 2023, the LDGT 400 is an epic challenge that will test your fitness, self-sufficiency, and mental resilience.   

From the start in Keswick, the LDGT 400 takes you along the length of Borrowdale via Watendlath, Rosthwaite and Seathwaite. It climbs up to Styhead Pass, then again to Esk Hause before descending beside Rossett Gill to Langdale.  Almost immediately you climb up and over Stake Pass into Langstrath.  At the end of the valley the route climbs up to Greenup Edge and then descends Far Easdale to Grasmere.  Next, you climb up to Grisedale Hause and then descend Grisedale to reach Glenridding on the shores of Ullswater.  

Another climb crosses Sticks Pass to Thirlmere.  An easy stretch through St John’s in the Vale and along the Old Coach Road around the northern end of the Helvellyn range ends at Dockray.  Next, the route runs downhill to Aira Force, climbs up to  Gowbarrow Crag and then follows field paths to Pooley Bridge at the foot of Ullswater.  The route climbs up to Moor Divock, drops down to Howtown, dips in and out of Fusedale, Martindale and Boredale and then follows the shoreline path to Patterdale at the head of the lake.  

Next you climb up to Kidsty Pike via Boredale Hause and the Straits of Riggindale before dropping down to Haweswater.  You head north beside Haweswater to Burnbanks, cross Rosgill Moor to Swindale and then follow the Mardale Corpse Road back to Haweswater.  

After another climb past Small Water to the top of Nan Bield Pass, the route descends to Kentmere, and then climbs over Garburn Pass towards Troutbeck.  Before reaching the village the route turns north and climbs up to Threshthwaite Mouth, drops down to Hartsop and Brothers Water and then climbs over Scandale Pass to Ambleside.  

You pass Rydal Water and Grasmere and then cross Silver How into Great Langdale.  The route climbs up to the col beneath Side Pike and then descends past Blea Tarn into Little Langdale before continuing past High Tilberthwaite to Coniston.  Next, you follow the Walna Scar Road across the flanks of The Old Man of Coniston, climb to the top of Goat’s Hawse and then descend into Dunnerdale past Seathwaite Tarn.  Crossing Grassguards Pass takes you to Eskdale and the Old Corpse Road takes you on to Wasdale. The route traverses The Screes bordering Wastwater and then climbs over an unnamed pass to Ennerdale.

After following the shoreline path around the foot of the lake the route climbs up to the top of Floutern Pass, traverses the shoreline of Crummock Water, crosses Coledale Hawse to Braithwaite and then returns to the Buttermere Valley via Sail Pass.  Next comes Borrowdale and the shores of Derwent Water back to Keswick.  But you’ve not finished yet! From here the route takes you around the Latrigg, and then the Balcony Path to Threlkeld.  The route continues past Scales, over Mousethwaite Comb to Mungrisdale, passes through Mosedale and then heads into the heart of the Northern Fells to Skiddaw House.  The final climb of the route – a 760m ascent of Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and Longside Edge – is followed by a steep knee-trembling descent to Millbeck and then a fast section across fields to the finish in Keswick.

Find out more about the LDGT 400.

Lake District Grand Tour 55

55 km. 2,000m ascent. 12 hours. The LDGT 55 follows the route of the LDGT 400 around the Northern Fells.  Highlights include highly runnable stony tracks, some technical singletrack, 7 Aid Stations and an ascent of Skiddaw via The Edge.  This race is an ideal introduction to Ultra Running and is a must for experienced runners who relish short, fast ultras over very runnable terrain.

"Racing non-stop, with 30 Aid Stations and 5 Life Bases providing support, you have to decide when and for how long you should stop for rest and refreshment or whether you should just keep pushing onwards battling fatigue and sleep deprivation."

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