Friday, 29 March 2013

No 18 Snowy Bowland

The idea was a short drive, on roads I knew were clear, and the hope of frozen tops with no deep snow or bogs. It sort of worked but was harder going than I had anticipated. I should know by now that what looks fine on an OS map does not mean it will be that way when you run in Bowland. I parked at Fell Foot and was surprised how much cooler and windier than it was at home. After a few minutes and a stiff climb it didn't seem so bad- perhaps I had just had the car heater on too high.

The steep climb up Parlic never gets any easier and my legs were burning by the time I hit the grassy track and could branch right and contour. The snow got deeper and less predictable as I headed up onto Fairsnape Fell. At least the water and bogs were all frozen! There were foot prints but I saw nobody up here.  Turning right to follow the fence to Totridge was tough and I was starting to think I should have gone up via Burnslack instead.
 I persevered and arrived at the trig point so was able to pay my respects to Bill Smith before descending to Hareden Farm. Unfortunatley the ground was boggy down here and I also got a damp foot. I was also conscious that my 'run' was taking a long time so followed the road and bridleway across to the Dunsop Valley rather than  Beatrix Fell - I know from hard experience that after Dunsop Head  to head over to Baxton Fell is dire for running.                                                                                 


The big road and track gave me a few easy miles on more runnable terrain and a chance to get back on a more reasonable schedule.  It was also very warm sheltered from the wind and in blazing sunshine. I even stopped for a quick bite to eat and study of the map. After Brennand Farm I took the shooters track north until it ended.

 This still left a slog across the fell to reach Wolfhole Crag. There was less snow than last week and the sun was out today. The views across to the 3 Peaks were fantastic. I turned back south over Brennand Great Hill and then Millers House. With no real path this was slow going even where it was downhill. The depth and solidity of the snow varied hugely and I fell several times. My whole body seemed to be getting a work out never mind my legs.

Brennand Tarn was deserted and tranquil without the usual swquarking of hundreds of birds. At Whins Brow I had another choice to make. My feet were damp and cold so I headed down to the Trough Road and the old Lancashire- Yorkshire boundary stone. I used to come here once a year with kids doing fieldwork but rivers are not 'in' on our syllabus at the moment.
My original plan had considered Blaze Moss and Holdren Moss but I could not face the uncertainty of how frozen the bog may or may not be and knew I neede to get some miles done before afternoon turned to evening. I flew down the Trough road with just a short stop to admire some brilliantly colourful pheasants. I managed to ignore the temptations of the tea wagon and took the path up Langden Brook with a fair number of walkers out for a stroll (well they didn't look dressed to go far).
By Langden Castle I was on my own again except for a couple coming down- we recognised each other as we had passed hours ago below Totridge. Langden Castle by the way bears NO resemblence to a castle at all now, although the building does provide shelter in a storm. I could not believe how wet the path was as I trugged upto Fiensdale Head. It is quite deeply eroded so I guess it was filled with snow which has now mostly melted leaving a muddy mess.
 Turning for Fairsnape I found canes which must have been put out for the Fiensdale race last weekend. This was suddenly more runnable than most of the fell I had been on today and I made good time up to Paddys Pole. I guess I also knew the end was in sight and got a boost.
Looking back to the 3 peaks one last time as I headed up to Fiensdale Head
The return from there I could probably do in my sleep and it was a joy to run down the swooping path towards Parlic. The gliders were out and I got buzzed once by a model plane/glider . Then there was just the short steep descent to Fell Foot Cottage and the comforting smell of their wood fire. 
I was soon down in the car warming my toes (my right foot seems to suffer if it gets wet and cold. I think because it has had chillblains in the past). Another 28 miles completed, and I did enjoy my day out despite the hard work over pathless terrain in some sections, even if it did take well over 6 hours.


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