Gaz and Scott’s George Fisher Tea Round Tale

47.8 KM

3,413 metres elevation

Ive long known about the Tea Round and always thought that looks ‘fun’ but other than the Lakeland 50 way back in 2012 I had never really taken on any challenges in the Lakes.

So whilst out on the Tuesday Marsden racers run back in August we saw that a friend had completed the Tea Round and Scott suggested we give it a go. Without hesitation the answer was YES lets do this!! 

After a bit of planning we chose the date of 2nd October – No turning back now we’re committed.

In the week running up to the date we were both checking the forecast on every website possible looking for any glimmer of hope that it might not be true…. 60Mph winds, Lightning and heavy rain all day is never ideal for the Lake District especially when you are 800 metres above sea level. 

We had no option but to postpone the run for 2 weeks to the 16th October as I had the Manchester Marathon to tackle on the 10th

But then disaster struck and I got a positive COVID PCR test after being poorly in bed for a few days putting paid to the marathon and possibly putting the Tea Round at risk.. (I genuinely wasn't bothered about not running the marathon as I hate road running) 

We got to my freedom day of the 12th and I went out round Castleshaw for a test run and then confirmed to Scott we are good to go – bring on the Lakes!! 

Discussions now turned to kit for the day and Scott mentioned taking Poles. 

Ive never used poles and thought well I will have room in my pack why not buy some. 

Well I can honestly say that for this challenge buying Poles was up there with one of the best purchases Ive ever made for running. I genuinely don't think I could have got round without them! 

Other than the Poles the kitlist was fairly straight forward for both of us and kind of followed standard FRA rules on kit. (and jam butties) 

What time do we set off was my big worry, I’m not a morning person but Scott certainly is being a regular on Marsden Moor at 5/6am most days! 

We really want to be setting off from the George Fisher shop at 7 as we have a 10 hour target and want to beat the sunset. This means a 4.30 pick up from Dobcross – OUCH

So off we go on the day kit packed, fuelled, hydrated and in giddy moods, lets get to Keswick!! 

We got to the George Fisher doors for 7.15 in the pitch black but with great weather and plenty of optimism. 

The first 4k takes you out of the town and through fields up towards Catbells and we got lost at pretty much the first off-road turn that we had to take – textbook error, this doesn't bode well.

Anyway, back on track and we make our way up Catbells for the first climb of the day. We had a real spring in our step and waltzed past other early risers one of which mentioned a few runners had already passed through on the Tea Round. We got to the peak almost exactly one hour after we started and were blessed with the amazing views that make this the most visited peak in the Lakes.

Off we went on our descent back to sea level for what would be a big challenge climbing Robinson, this is where I first see Scott disappear into the distance like a mountain Goat bouncing down the Fells!  

Robinson certainly tests you, a sharp right hand turn on the path takes you practically vertical up and away from Scope Beck and onwards to the top. 

As we approached a fellow Tea Rounder caught us up and we had a good natter with him before off he went at a canter down Robinson.

Now if you thought up Robinson was tough just wait till you descend it! 

This is essentially a sheer drop with a fence that if you don't hold on to you face imminent death (well this is what was going through my mind anyway)

Whilst I was struggling here Scott had already got to the bottom, had a soreen, a drink, made a brew and phoned home.. 

Around Buttermere we went and on to what we knew was the toughest and highest climb of the day up High Stile. 

Just looking up at this bad boy put the fear of God into us both and the poles were out to make their debut. 

We go up and up and up and up.. never ending and I can see why this has broken quite a few people attempting the round, its brutal and you feel like you are getting nowhere. 

The clag sets in to make it even harder and this feels now like a survival run and were having to dig very deep. I'm crying inside by this point. 

Positive attitude kicks in and we push on to the top on a path that a sheep has made, we go round the rocky front and left round some more and finally we have made it – what a killer!! 

No time to stop though as the weather was grim and visibility next to nothing, we are back running with the chap from earlier here and get chance to get running again over to Red Pike. 

Its very rocky but a good chance to rack up some precious KM’s.

I'm at the rear of the group and I trip over a rock whilst looking at my watch, I scream silently like back in my Rugby days to show bravado (and hope nobody sees me) and get up and crack on!! Never did mention this until now…

We get to the Red Pike and start to descend to Bleaberry Tarn, this was another technical one with Red Scree at the top and then stone steps that seem to go on forever.. this takes it out of you and really tests the Knees.. we make it to the tarn and time for a break. I was blown away by the clear water and how picturesque this place was – loved it!!

Jam butties, soreen, gels, salt tablets and water are the order of the day here… I will be honest I would have paid a lot of money for a Beer and Burger at this point! 

Off we go on another tricky stony descent down to Buttermere where we fill up our water bottles at the Cafe but no time to rest as we need to crack on if we are to meet our 10 hour target.

We go again this time taking on Whiteless Pike. The terrain going up here is great but again just relentless and seems to go forever! 

Navigation now comes to the fore as visibility is pretty much non existent. There are several paths to take up here and careful reading of the watches is required as several paths all cross each other at the top.

When at the top though we get chance to get some more running in again and then come to a point where we will have to come back on ourselves at Eel crag. 

Grisedale Pike comes in to view as the wind blows away the clouds – another climb but this one doesn't look as steep and a good chance we can get some speed up there. 

We work the legs and get up there in good time seeing several other runners and plenty of other walkers – first time in the day we have really seen any other nutters up on the tops! 

The recommended route we are following takes you up and straight back down the same path you came up and we meet the chap from earlier on again – we aren't in a race but this feels like a win at this stage and we now want to stay in front. The race is on! 

Anyway, back down to Eel Crag and the watch is telling us to go up a sheer vertical cliff – this cant be right surely, I didn't bring any ropes or carabiners… well I am not gonna lie I was bricking it up here but too far in to not commit.. it was raining and the clag was in again and this climb went up and up and up until finally Scott shouted we are at the top.. we got to the cairn at Eel Crag and what a feeling!! This felt like we had done it!! 

At this point we knew Barrow was the only real climb left and we knew we had smashed it – still a good distance to go but the peaks had been conquered!! Absolutely overjoyed at this stage.. 

This now is a great chance for some running on the skyline over Crag Hill, Sail, Scar Crags, Causey Pike and down to Rowling End. 

Legs are starting to ache but its all downhill and the adrenaline is pumping. 

The views here are absolutely spectacular especially the winding path down Sail which has always been on my list..  (google it and you will have seen it on a Microsoft screensaver no doubt)

10 hours was the target but we now have a natter and think we could possibly sneak under 9 hours, that would be fantastic and something we didn't think was an option but we have to for it now.

Running down to Rowling End is another absolute cracker with a nice rolling path leading to some of the best views you can get and see Cat Bells in all its glory with a throng of people all clambering up its Peak.

Back up the hill again though to Causey Pike to find the downhill to Barrow. 

We find no path and again the recommended route we have takes us into fell running territory through marshes, dodging sheep and taking the odd tumble or two!

We get to the bottom though and take the chance to dip our heads and caps in the fresh stream for a much needed freshener before the last climb of the day up Barrow! 

No time to moan, just have to face it and crack on. Its a steep one again but the Poles are keeping us going. We pass 2 hikers having a cheeky beer on a bench and I suggested I have one.. they thought I was joking… I really wasn't.. 

We make it to the top and again what a feeling, I’m pretty sure we hugged at this point out of relief, out of sheer emotion, no drama just wow what a day!!

We still have 5km to do and this involves a descent from Barrow which is a grassy rolling hill where speed comes back in again, we both leap down there and into the village at the bottom.. what can go wrong now? 

Well I was broken thats what – the flat 3 KM on the road back to Keswick broke me and my legs just wouldn't work but we had 20 minutes to get under 9 hours and at this point I was determined. It was stop start all the way but we got back to Keswick and through the busy market and past all the shoppers back to George Fisher in 8:59:56 – would you believe it – 4 seconds under 9 hours!!

What an absolutely magnificent day, fantastic company, very lucky with the weather. 

Amazing scenery, paced it very well and put no pressure on ourselves. 

We rewarded ourselves with a Pizza and a Beer for our efforts and then back to the Car.  

To anyone thinking about it I would 100% recommend giving the George Fisher Tea Round a go.

Gareth Dean