Tour De Helvellyn 2023

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Tour De Helvellyn

Now well over a decade old, the TdeH has fast become a classic winter ultra run.

Tour De Helvellyn event.

Description

Traditionally on the shortest Saturday before Christmas, it's a great way to avoid Christmas shopping! It’s popular so book early to avoid disappointment. The route starts at Askham and runs around Helvellyn, mainly on mountain trails and bridleways, climbing to a height of nearly 600m on multiple occasions, and covering a distance of around 38 miles.

This is a 'low key' winter event with minimal support and a focus on winter mountain skills. A winter run of this type is tough and requires good navigational skills, experience and self reliance. While predominantly on good paths and trails, it is an unmarked route and in poor conditions some sections can be very tough to navigate.

Entries are strictly limited to experienced and competent entrants - this is not an event for novice trail runners!

Individual support teams, pacing or 'crew' are not allowed. No spectators at CPs.

It is a condition of entry that you are suitably experienced and have the skills necessary to look after yourself in very challenging terrain and conditions. This is no ordinary trail run. It demands winter hill running experience. We take our kit check VERY SERIOUSLY. If you don’t have the correct equipment, you won’t compete - so please do your homework to avoid disappointment!

NAV4 limits this event to c.200 starters. The entry limit is set to accept 220 to allow for DNS. A waiting list will kick in once 220 have signed up.

After initial entry you can revisit your account to amend and update information IE; if you wish to book accommodation or amend your details.

Event Venue

Starting and finishing at Askham’s Community Centre

Contact information

Event website, search for accommodation.

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Tour de Helvellyn

Now in its 13th year, the TdeH has fast become a classic ultra, traditionally run on the shortest Saturday before Christmas.

View all races for Dec 2023

The route starts at Askham and runs around Helvellyn, mainly on mountain trails and bridleways, but climbing to a height of nearly 600m, and a distance of around 38 miles.

  • 2023 - Tour de Helvellyn results
  • 2022 - Tour de Helvellyn results

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NAV4 Tour de Helvellyn

Saturday 16th december 2023.

tour de helvellyn 2023

Open Tracking

Tour de helvellyn 2023.

Mountains In Mind

Tour de Helvellyn

Darren What do we get up to!

The Tour de Helvellyn is approximately 38 miles and is held on the last Saturday before Christmas. It starts from the village hall and outdoor swimming pool (!) at Askam then makes its way over Askam Fell before descending to the hamlett of Martindale. From here the route follows the Boredale valley then climbs to Boredale Hause and drops steeply to the checkpoint at Side Farm in Patterdale. A flat run along the farm track to the road, it then follows the main road to Glenridding before ascending to Greenside past Helvellyn YHA and climbing up Sticks Pass to immediately descend down to Legburgthwaite.

This year, the route took an alternative course because of the tree felling in the Forestry Commission plantation at Wythburn so instead of traversing across the fell above the A591 and through the plantation to Dunmail, it crossed over the road and went down the minor road alongside the edge of Thirlmere Reservoir and took a path at Steel End to reach Dunmail Raise. Here it crossed back over the A591 before ascending the rocky path beside the stream to Grizedale Tarn. The route followed the edge of the Tarn, then had a technical descent down into Grizedale past a bothy to a wooden bridge where upon a track and road was gained back to Patterdale. From here the route retraced its steps back to Askam.

For me, I had unfinished business to contend with. Last year I set off early and made a big school boy error with my navigation in the dark over Askam Fell and went off route. My heart wasn’t in the race so when I realised my mistake, I made my way back to the village hall and retired. Luckily for me I saved myself a drenching as it was wet and windy for the most part. I made myself useful at the hall and spent the rest of the day helping out buttering bread and washing dishes! …I was determined that wasn’t going to happen this time though!!

I made sure I knew beforehand where I was going. I’d ran across the fell in the mass start on the Lakes 42 race in April. It really wasn’t that difficult to navigate over but could be confusing in the dark with lots of paths sprinkled across the moor many of which weren’t marked on the map. With no mass start on the Tour de Helvellyn everyone is left to start at their own time between 7am and 9am . I decided to start a little later this year at just after 7.30am . I had no problems with the navigation only looking at my map once in the entire race to check where the path down to road branched off before Martindale as I knew this was a slightly quicker route than sticking with the main path.

The climb up to the very summit of Sticks Pass was extremely windy and I struggled to move forward the wind was that strong. I felt the gusts could have blown me off my feet at any time so progress was slow here. Thankfully, it wasn’t too long before we dropped out of the strong winds so I could pick up my pace and aim for the village hall at the bottom. This was a new indoor checkpoint this year with the change to the route. It was particularly welcome as I could grab a bite to eat and a drink in the warmth and even use the toilet facilities before setting off again.

The weather had given out heavy winds and showers so rather than wear my OMM Kamleika smock I had decided to wear my Mountain Equipment Goretex Jacket to see how it performed on a run. I only wore a Ron Hill base layer underneath my jacket and I was pleased with its performance even running alongside Thirlmere, where it was sheltered and warmer, I pushed my sleeves up but the goretex fabric worked well in terms of its breathability and was much better than the Kamleika.

The weather was clear all day so thankfully it was easy to navigate around Grizedale Tarn. I’ve been up here on numerous occasions previously and not been able to see the Tarn because of the thick clag.

On my return, Darren was waiting at Side Farm taking photographs of the runners as they went past into the checkpoint. I didn’t realise it was him behind the lens at first. A quick cup of tea and a few peanuts and I headed out again from the checkpoint.

The return over Boredale Hause went relatively quickly followed by the rocky descent on the other side into the valley. The light was fading as I headed past the checkpoint at Martindale Church, again I opted for the road section. On a muddy path, a guy who was running in front slipped then got back onto his feet then only a few seconds later my feet went from under me too. “My turn” I jested as I quickly got back onto my feet no worse for wear apart from a muddy leg.

The climb up from Martindale up to Askham Fell seemed to take for ever. It was deceptive and I didn’t remember it being so steep when I ran out this way earlier in the day. I knew I was tiring and had to pay attention to where I was going as the light was fading, I didn’t want to make any mistakes now. The lights of Penrith and surrounding villages could be seen from the path. This is always a favourite of mine when running at night in the mountains. It’s mesmerising being able to look down on the twinkling lights of the towns and villages below.

Before long, I arrived at the Cockpit stone circle and knew we branched off from the main path at this point and headed towards the plantation, which in the complete darkness now its shadows could just about be picked out. From here the path descended alongside a wall. It was extremely dark now other than one or two other runners headtorches in the distance. I thought the lights of Askam village would be able to guide me back to the finish but it was longer than I thought before you could spot the lights. It was easy terrain gently downhill through the last few fields then back on to the track and into the village. My tummy was rumbling and all I could think of was getting to the finish and to the welcome sight of Joe’s famous soup in the village hall.

Thanks to the Team at Nav4 for organising a great event.

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Category Archives: Tour de Helvellyn

Tour de helvellyn 2014.

All four members of the Runfurther committee were out on Saturday running in the Tour de Helvellyn .  This is one of Joe Faulkner’s Nav4 races, and a great event.  We talked to Joe about the possibility of including one of his races in the 2016 Championship, which would be great if we can do it.  By the way, if anyone wants to write up any ultra races, we’re happy to host your accounts here, or post a pointer to your blog site.  They don’t have to be Runfurther races.

A bit about the race first.  This was the 5th year of this race, and Joe tries to fix it as close to the shortest day as he can.  Within limits, you start when you want to, and everyone tries to run as little of in the dark as they can: faster runners can finish in daylight, but slower runners can’t.  It’s a true winter Lake District mountain race, and it goes ahead whatever the weather, provided it’s physically possible to get to the start and get marshals to the checkpoints.  The first year the going was difficult due to a lot of icy stretches, particularly the tracks, where flooded sections had frozed solid.  The second year was the year of the snow, when I had my microspikes on for both the main passes, and drifts on the way up to Sticks Pass were feet deep in places.  2013 saw gales, and runners wading through floods in Patterdale.  I think 2012 was relatively benign, and conditions this year were pretty good too.  It was wet underfoot, and there was a bit of wind, but the wind was against us on the way out, which meant it was behind us when we were knackered on the way back.  The temperature was just about ideal – cool but not too cold – and visibility was good too.  What rain there was didn’t do enough to get us wet.

So where is this race?  It starts from Askham, a pretty little village south of Penrith, east of the Lake District.  From there it follows a bridleway WSW over the moors of Askham Fell and slants down almost to the shores of Ullswater at Howtown.  A slight climb takes you to Martindale Hause, between Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts, where there’s a checkpoint by the old church.  A short quiet road section takes you to the roadhead in Bannerdale, then a bridleway climbs up to Boredale Hause (399m), getting steeper and stonier as you climb.  The descent to Patterdale is quick and easy, with Checkpoint 2 at Side Farm, near the campsite.

Take the road to Glenridding and up the valley to the youth hostel and the old mines, then a steep zigzag climb gets you out of the valley and up to the next checkpoint by a footbridge in the middle of the old mine workings.  I was a bit surprised by this, as the last time I’d been there snow covered everything, and I’d seen no signs of the mines that high up.  Steady climbing up a good path leads to the crest of the Helvellyn ridge at Sticks Pass: at 749 metres this is the highest point of the race.  The descent from here is mainly a good runnable path, down to Legburthwaite at the north end of  Thirlmere, and the next checkpoint.

Normally, the route now follows a path southwards across the slopes of Whiteside, then a path through forestry to Dunmail Raise.  This year the path was temporarily closed, so we had to run along the minor road along the west side of Thirlmere instead, which nobody seemed to find much fun, despite the views.  A quick stop at a checkpoint, then up to Dunmail Raise, a place to awaken memories in anyone who’s run the Joss Naylor Challenge or the Bob Graham.  Thankfully you don’t have to turn right and flog up to Steel Fell.  Instead it’s turn left up the steep stony path alongside Raise Beck to a pass at 574 metres, then a traverse above Grisedale Tarn to join the stony tourist path down Grisedale to Patterdale.  From there you retrace your route over Boredale Hause and Askham Fell to finish at Askham, and many runners have gone astray in the dark on the final stretch, as the paths here are confusing, and landmarks few.  38 miles and about 8000 feet of climbing: this is a great mountan challenge, with quite a bit of difficult steep and stony ground – one of the great races, in my view.

Karen Nash’s account of the day can be found here , with photos.  Nick Ham’s photos are here , and the full results are here .

How did I get on?  Well it started on Friday really, when I tripped on my own front path and hurt my foot: in fact I’m pretty sure I broke a toe.  It doesn’t look pretty, and doesn’t feel too good either, but I thought I’d probably still be able to run.  I set my alarm for 4:30am, and the less said about how I felt when it went off the better.  I drove to Askham in the rain and arrived in the dark just before 7, but at least the rain had stopped by this time.  After registering and greeting friends I queued for the kitcheck and start, thinking it’d take me at least 2 hours to get to the Side Farm checkpoint, which doesn’t open until 9:30.  I set off at 7:30, with just enough light to see my feet, but not enough to read the map.  Perfect timing, I thought, but no.  I actually ran a lot faster than I was expecting, and by the time I got to Boredale Hause I was clearly going to arrive in Patterdale too early.  I eased off on the throttle, but still got there 10 minutes early, and had to hang around with loads of other runners who’d underestimated their abilities.

So, at 9:30 the race started again, and for a few seconds I was the leader on the course.  It was all going suspiciously well really, as I seemed to be going well, and felt I could keep it up all day.  The climb up out of Glenridding was hard going, but then I’m never very fast going uphill.  Stronger runners were cutting off the zigzags, but I know my place.  I got to the top of Sticks Pass knackered but only temporarily, and after a few minutes I was moving pretty well down towards Thirlmere.  At which point a blur streaked past me that turned out to be Ian Symington who was later to finish fourth.  The road round Thirlmere was horrible, but I kept running, and even passed 2 or 3 runners, not something I’m used to doing on roads.  A few passed me on the steep climb up to Grisedale Tarn, but I got into gear on the way down again.  It’s a steep and stony track needing concentration to keep upright, and by working hard at it I managed to pass some of those who’d overtaken me on the climb.

At Side Farm I took a couple of Ibuprofen, as my back was hurting on the uphill sections.  This isn’t something I do often, but I’d been going so well I didn’t want to get stopped by anything now.  The climb up to Boredale Hause went well, considering its steepness, then I really surprised myself by motoring fast for the rest of the way.  Normally I’d expect to be struggling by this time, and going a lot slower.  I felt good and kept running and overtaking all the way to Askham – I was even lucky in having someone to follow on the last tricky navigation section.  I breezed into the finish in 37th place with a time of 8:06:04, including the 10 minutes waiting at Side Farm.  First MV60 by 90 minutes, 6th MV50, and a pb by 85 minutes.  Probably my best run for a couple of years, and I’ve really no idea why.

Next I had to do a presentation.  Ian Symington was first man in this year’s Runfurther Championship, and he, John Minta and Kevin Hoult had also won the team competition for Calder Valley Fell Runners.  None of them had been able to make the Runfurther prizegiving, so we’d arranged to do the presentation after the TdH.  Ian was already there of course, and John finished shortly after me.  I then went out to my car to get changed and bring the trophy and prizes in.  Taking my running tights off I discovered a small hole in my shin that appeared to go right down to the bone, which I’d no idea had happened, although I had tripped a couple of times on the way round.  Going back in, I asked Joe Faulkner for a dressing for the wound, and he got out a variety of first aid equipment and patched me up.  Then I did the presentation to Ian and John, fairly incompetently as I was so knackered, and Karen attempted to take photos with my steamed up camera (where were you Nick?).  I then drove home and disintegrated in a heap on the settee.

So, here I sit with a broken toe (probably), a hole in my shin, and a newly acquired cold in the head, but with a big grin on my face.  It’s days like that that make running such a joy.  A truly great challenging race, in good running conditions, with a great collection of other runners, and running my socks off for a change.  What can beat it?  Roll on the Hardmoors 30!

There are a load of great photos of the event here .

IMAGES

  1. UK trip 2023

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  2. UK trip 2023

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  3. HELVELLYN (Lake District): 2023

    tour de helvellyn 2023

  4. Helvellyn day trip

    tour de helvellyn 2023

  5. Helvellyn, 2023

    tour de helvellyn 2023

  6. Helvellyn (Lake District) : 2023 Ce qu'il faut savoir pour votre visite

    tour de helvellyn 2023

VIDEO

  1. Helvellyn

  2. Helvellyn

  3. Helvellyn UK |#hiking |#shorts

  4. Helvellyn

  5. Helvellyn via Striding edge #lakedistrict #hiking #mountains #Stridingedge #walking #helvellyn

  6. Wild Camping Helvellyn Autumn 2023

COMMENTS

  1. Tour De Helvellyn

    TOUR DE HELVELLYN - Saturday 16th December 2023 OVERVIEW Now well over a decade old, the TdeH has fast become a classic winter ultra run. Traditionally on the shortest Saturday before Christmas, it's a great way to avoid Christmas shopping! It's popular so book early to avoid disappointment.

  2. Open Tracking

    Tour De Helvellyn 2023. Tour De Helvellyn 2023 Columns Overall Male Female Filter. Export. TRACKING. Classes. Runner Non Comp Retired. Groups. F FV40 FV50 FV60 M MV40 MV50 MV60 MV70. Columns. Gender Ranks Group Ranks Class Ranks Class Gender Group Last Location. Checkpoints.

  3. SiEntries

    2023 will be the 14th TdeH the classic winter mountain run, traditionally run on the shortest Saturday in December. The route starts at Askham and runs around Helvellyn, mainly on mountain trails and bridleways, but climbing to a height of nearly 600m, and a distance of around 38 miles.

  4. Nav4 Tour de Helvellyn

    Askham , United Kingdom • 16 Dec 2023 The NAV4 Tour de Helvellyn is a challenging winter mountain run that takes place on the shortest Saturday in December, covering around 38 miles with an ascent and descent of approximately 2000m.

  5. SiEntries

    NAV4 Tour de Helvellyn. Saturday 16th December 2023 . Entry List. ENTER ONLINE. Entries Open. Wednesday 15th February 2023 at 14:00. Entries Close. Monday 4th December 2023 at 00:00. ... 2023 will be the 14th TdeH the classic winter mountain run, traditionally run on the shortest Saturday in December. The route starts at Askham and runs around ...

  6. Tour De Helvellyn

    Sat 16 Dec 2023 Askham, Penrith Tour De Helvellyn 07:00 £70 All ages 38 miles fell running Enter online Event village Enter now + − 200 m 500 ft Leaflet | © OpenStreetMap contributors Overview Traditionally on the shortest Saturday before Christmas, it's a great way to avoid Christmas shopping! It's popular so book early to avoid disappointment.

  7. Tour De Helvellyn 2023

    Tour De Helvellyn 2023 - Live Event Tracking. Content and tracking copyright. These tracking pages, results listings, content, design, layout and associated code and scripts are copyright of Open Tracking 2010 to present day, and licensed for use by our partners using this platform.

  8. Tour De Helvellyn

    16 December 2023 Description Traditionally on the shortest Saturday before Christmas, it's a great way to avoid Christmas shopping! It's popular so book early to avoid disappointment.

  9. Tour de Helvellyn

    Tour de Helvellyn Now in its 13th year, the TdeH has fast become a classic ultra, traditionally run on the shortest Saturday before Christmas. View all races for Dec 2023 The route starts at Askham and runs around Helvellyn, mainly on mountain trails and bridleways, but climbing to a height of nearly 600m, and a distance of around 38 miles. Results

  10. SiEntries

    Saturday 16th December 2023. Entry List Options. Event Details

  11. Tour De Helvellyn 2023

    Tour De Helvellyn 2023. Tour De Helvellyn 2023 Columns Overall Male Female Filter. Export. TRACKING. Classes. Runner Retired. Groups. F FV40 FV50 FV60 M MV40 MV50 MV60 MV70

  12. "Tour De Helvellyn 2023"

    "Tour De Helvellyn 2023" - Mountain Ultramarathon Vlog. Tour De Helvellyn is a winter ultramarathon covering a distance of 38 miles, with an elevation of 2,000 meters, on the shortest Saturday before Christmas, closest to the winter solstice. As you would expect, the trails around Helvellyn Add a Comment Be the first to comment

  13. Tour De Helvellyn 2023

    0:00 / 21:50 Tour De Helvellyn 2023 | Mountain Ultramarathon runstretchsucceed 800 subscribers Subscribe Subscribed 154 views 1 day ago HELVELLYN Tour De Helvellyn 2023 | Mountain...

  14. Tour de Helvellyn

    Event by Dave Kirby on Saturday, December 16 2023

  15. NAV4

    Part 3 Pics Some great conditions for the 2023 edition of the winter classic of Tour de Helvellyn. Open Tracking were on hand with their expertise to help out. A great turn out incl the male and...

  16. Tour de Helvellyn 2023

    Tour de Helvellyn organised by Nav4adventure 16/09/2023#trailrunning #trailrunner #fellrunning #fellrunner #ultratraining #ultrarunner #marathonrunning #mar...

  17. Tour de Helvellyn

    The Tour de Helvellyn is approximately 38 miles and is held on the last Saturday before Christmas. It starts from the village hall and outdoor swimming pool (!) at Askam then makes its way over Askam Fell before descending to the hamlett of Martindale. From here the route follows the Boredale valley then climbs to […]

  18. Running Update November 2023

    Running Update July 2023 | Lakelands 100 | Ultra marathionInstagram: runstretchsucceedTwitter : theflexiveganstrava : https://www.strava.com/athletes/2695712...

  19. Tour de Helvellyn

    2023 Results; Past Years; Join; Category Archives: Tour de Helvellyn Tour de Helvellyn 2014. Posted on December 22, 2014 by admin. All four members of the Runfurther committee were out on Saturday running in the Tour de Helvellyn. This is one of Joe Faulkner's Nav4 races, and a great event.

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