Sunday, 30 June 2013

No 35 Darren Holloway Memorial Buttermere

I only decided to do this with a few days notice. Was it full? No, just send your cheque. The original plan was to go up on Friday evening in the van with Bob. Then we realised Matt was due home from holiday... then that got even more complicated as he was arriving home early Saturday and needing tlc. I put a mental deadline of 8am and 7.45 he walked through the door. Bob said he would stay and for me to go.

Not the way we came off Mellbreaks fortunately
All a mad rush but suddenly I was driving up the M6 and trying to decide how to get my extra miles in. A quick wee stop in Whinlatter allowed me to do nearly 2 miles and then I thought I ought to find Loweswater as I had never been before. I was registered by 10 so I had an hour to get another 4 miles in. Off I went exploring.

The peaks looked big and steep- somehow the ultras though long and sometimes with a big total ascent never look so serious. It also looked as if the forecast of gales and rain might come true so after my extra loop I abandoned my camera at the car. Shame because in the end I was going slow for much of the day and could have got some lovely shots.

Before 11 we were congregated in the lane with Helene and Wendy whispering about secret paths and others chatting about the route and weather forecast. The start ws fast down the lane and over the river. By the woods people were shedding layers and the climb up Whiteside was warm. I had not planned to race, more just to have a good day out, but........ 

Speed was to be my downfall quite literally. On the greasy rocks on the spine towards Hopegill Head my legs suddenly shot away and I decked it. The cuts on my face and knee looked a mess but my ribs took the brunt of the fall and it was a few minutes before I could move or answer the many people who were asking if I was OK. Not a good start and still many miles to go.

 The marshall from the next CP walked back to meet me and cleaned me enough for us to decide I would probably be OK. The flat and up was OK but running down jarred badly and on the rocky bits I had lost confidence in my shoes keeping me upright. I tried to keep an eye on the guys around me and aimed to beat them on the ups and not get too far behind on the downs. Mark S was sat on Whiteless Pike offering water, food and encouragement. I'd said I would see how I felt at Newlands but knew if I could get there I would aim for Honister then if I could get there I might as well keep going. Pat B pulled ahead as we contoured below Robinson but Chris and Edwin were always just in front or just behind. I could also see a small pack of ladies a few hundred meters ahead. For me the decsent of Dale Head was the hardest part of the day. I so wanted to run and just couldn't. The guys coming the other way on the 10 Lakeland Peaks gave me some odd looks. The cups of water at Honister were very welcome and it was good to see friends like Helen and then Andy and Sarah coming the other way. I was determined to stick to Edwin and Chris caught us on every downhill. We picked up the fence line below Haystacks fine but the climbs up Seat and then High Stile and Red Pike were tough. It was a relief to have a grassy descent and to try to run down towards Scale Force. Edwin went up and over but I couldn't fave the deep heather. I follwed Chris down the side of the stream and then cut across. There wasn't much in it and by Mellbreak we were together again. Although the descent here was steep the bracken was still young and the ground was fairly even. I went as fast as I dared thinking faster meant it would be over quicker. Chris beat me to the bottom so I tried to hang on as we ran along the bridleway and back to the village. The early finishers were in the pub garden giving support but the uphill on tarmac after the pub reduced me to a hobble.
It looked a long way
The race team were fantastic. Andy brought me my splits, a lady tried to clean and dress my face and another brough me cups of water. Suddenly stopping I felt a bit wobbly. The food spread inside was amazing but it took me an effort to eat my stew. It had taken longer than I hoped as I had thought 6 hours might be possible but in the end I was pleased with 6.42 and just to get round. I was very very pleased I had done the extra miles first as I was in no state to do them now.

 It would have been easy to loiter and eat cake but I was chilly and keen to know how Matt was so I hobbled back to the car, made a quick phone call and set off home. Battered and bruised but it could have been worse. Just hope I mend fast as I have plans for the next few weeks!
with corrections in green!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

No 34 some new paths on Bowland

Now it is summer and the van is on the road, even if not completely finished, Bob is keen to get out on the hills with me. As the forecast was decidedly dodgy we picked somewhere local in case we had to abort. So by 9.30 we were parked at a deserted Fell Foot.
Fell Foot in the afternoon sunshine
It was raining, but not hard. We had different routes planned but they did cross in the middle so we might see each other later. Bob anticipated starting slowly so was putting on more gear. I had arrived in shorts and cag but ready to run. I jumped out and was off before the rain could change my mind. I did not want to repeat an earlier run so opted to explore some new routes and paths. After contouring the base of Parlic I headed for Fosters Wood and skirted just above the wall of the access land. I had planned to go via the footpaths and farms to Hazlehurst but decided not to lose the height. Then the rain came down and so did the cloud. I should have stopped and got a compass out but reckoned I knew the area well enough. As I headed uphill across rough terrain it did not seem to fit. Looking at the map now it all makes sense..... I decided to head up and up until I recognised the slopes just below Fairsnape.
 Not what I had planned and it added a mile or so but it didn't really matter. I was soaked and chilly so shot off down to Fiensdale Head and lower ground. As I dropped into the valley the rain stopped and I was protected from the wind. The sun even came out. I love these empty hills and admired the views as I descended. It was so quiet and I bet the Lakes were crowded.
 I hoped my description of the path junction would help Bob as he came up this way later in the day. Langden Castle was deserted and I plodded on down the track getting drier all the time.
Not much of a Castle...
I ignored the temptations of the tea and burger van at the road and turned uphill to find Trough Barn. My legs were struggling even on the gently sloping tarmac- time to eat.  I had never been  on this section of route but the bridleway was well marked. Trough House has long been a ruin but I saw my first person of the day- a farmer spraying muck. As I headed up to the skyline to the east of Whins Brow I wandered where Bob was upto and if we would meet. I stood on the stile and remembered my snowy run in the Brennand area earlier this year.

Back to Parlic and the hills of the morning
 Then it was a fast descent to the farm. No sign of Bob so I added a little detour past the Lower farm to look down the Dunsop Valley. Still no sign so I was off up to Whitendale. I hope the people who live up there appreciate it- what a lovely deserted valley with beautiful views. The path carries on past the house and alongside the stream.
Efforts to restore the Forest to Bowland?
 It was boggy in places but a wonderful little path marked with wooden posts all the way to the old Roman Road. As I emerged onto the track I was surprised to find I had company, and even more surprised to see it was Mick and Sheena Cottam.
We had a quick chat but I was conscious of the time. I was curious to see the Towers on White Hill which I visited once before in thick mist and without a camera. Today the distant views were very hazy but I could see down to the NW and out into Morecambe Bay and also across to Ingleborough.  It was a bit of a flog up the fence line but I eventually got to the trig and a tower. I need to research them. The main part is stone and seems to be a chimney? but there is concrete on the top.

Time was ticking on so I raced back down to the track. I was a bit reckless and took a huge tumble which slowed me a bit. There is a 'direct' route back over Baxton Fell but I remember stumbling through deep heather a few years ago so opted for the track. It soon brough me down to the dead end tarmac road above Slaidburn.
The Romans must have thought this a desolate place
Choices now.... and all of them unknown routes. I didn't really fancy uphill but the route to Dunsop Head was signed and would cut off a big corner.  True it was uphill but I reasoned it might be better than endless farmers fields and confusing footpaths.In the end it was not so bad and from Dunsop Head it was mostly downhill across the fell towards Dunsop Bridge. Here the bridleway cut the corner so I missed the tea shop. By now I knew I would not be back at Chipping in 6 hours but could perhaps be back in 7. At Harden Farm I started on the familiar path towards Totridge but then kept low on quite a good path, through the woods and towards some odd lumpy bits of land west of Whitewell. The next bit was confusing but I worked my way to Lickhurst Farm and a track through a random patch of access land. I got a sudden soaking in a brief but sharp shower but was a only 20 minutes from Chipping now. When the rain stopped I texted Bob. Was he back? Had he moved the car to Chipping? No reply.

 Ah well. I toured the village and found no car. Tillotsons provided two very welcome mugs of tea (first time I have been in there and not had a pint!). Still no reply from Bob so I had a little wander again. The cyclist's cafe was full, the butchers was shut and the Village hall had a nosiy football match but still no car. I was just starting to get a little anxious as I watched the swallows nesting in the church porch when my phone went. Bob was at Fiensdale Head.  I did not fancy more tea and beer would probably not be a good idea so I set off for Fell Foot. By the time I arrived the sky looked dark and the wind was fierce. So fierce that I moved the car and snuggled behind the hedge. As Bob came off Parlic this worried him- where had our car gone? Sorry. He got back later than expected but 'happy tired' and most importantly just before a whole evening of rain.
Ecept for farmers I saw 3 people all day until I came off the fells.
It hadn't been a perfect June day but given the weather in ealy morning and late afternoon it could have been much worse.  Bob had expected about 17 miles and did 22. I had planned 28+ roughly with a bit of string. My garmin annoyingly turned it self off mid morning  and then the battery did not last the nearly 7 hours I was out anyway. Comparing my route with Bob's I reckon I did about 30-31 miles, certainly no less.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

No 33 3 Peaks and a bit extra

Mid week I thought this weekend would be a disaster weather wise but after orienteering in the sunshine yesterday the forecast for today was better. After Horby I had a quandary- the road sign said the road was closed. I was keen to get going and did not want a detour. I prayed the workmen were not out on a Sunday and that everyone else would obey the sign.

The other half of the road had a big trench where they were laying a new pipe. I made it to the other end without meeting a vehicle.- a bit cheeky but it worked  The weather looked promising as I drove to Ingleton although the tops were cloud covered. My legs objected fiercely at the start but once I was on the steep bit on Ingleborough they got going and I ran at close to race pace except for a few slippy sections.

 The grassy slopes were a good start and the boardwalk and flagstones were fine.
I kept hoping the cloud would burn off or blow away but it was not to be. The summit was in whiteout so I took a quick photo but did not linger. After the initial rocky descent it was fast running on a good track all the way down to Horton.  The muddy bits made the limestone slippy so I backed off the pace a bit through the worst sections.
Pen y Gent kept teasing in and out of the cloud as I ran towards it. I met hardly anyone as I swooped down, until just before the village I met walkers coming up the other way. Horton was quiet and I discovered just in time that I had forgotten to pick up my water bottle. Fortunately it was not as hot as last weekend  A few mouthfuls from the tap in the toilets would have to do. As I left the lane and hit the fell path up to Pen Y Gent I could see several sets of walkers ahead.
Great - people to pick off and keep me moving fast. I gradually wound each set in and was pleased at how fast I was moving now. On the last section before the rock a little lad was struggling so I let him run and beat me to the gate. Hopefully the victory kept him going to the top. Memories of coaxing the boys up sections of walks they were not keen to complete!
The summit was cloud free but all round it looked like the weather was clagging in so I was off again. I decided to get in some of my extra miles by staying high and going over Plover Hill. What a contrast; the big path disappeared and so did the people. I am not sure I have been over there before and apart from getting very wet feet it was an enjoyable detour. I dropped off the very end and down to Foxup Road which I followed back towards Hull Pot. I hoped to recognise the race route but wasn't sure. I think I turned a little early but I did meet up with the path and the bog.
These walls intrigued me- why go to such expense (they were well built with those special sticky out bits not just a pile of loose stones) and have two parallel walls that end in a dead end at the top of Plover Hill?       Having tried to cross the bogs and sinking upto my knees I back tracked and found a narrow bit. A jump looked like a good idea. Sadly what looked solid wasn't and with all my weight on one landing leg I sank in to the top of my thigh.
I escaped after a few minutes, unscathed and with both shoes, but very muddy. The weather here took a turn for the worse and Ieven had to put my cag on for a bit. On on and soon I was on a decent path heading for Birkwith. It was still quiet  except for the birds (no idea what they were but they were noisy). Fortunately I found a stream to wash all the bog off before I met any walkers. I wasn't looking forward to the road section but it passed quickly and I did get a cup of tea at the layby.
At the viaduct came the last big climb and I opted to get my extra miles by staying on the path all the wa y to Grain Head and approaching Whernside from the north. Years ago I remember mountain biking over that fell  but I do not think I have climbed Whernside from there. The sun was out again, well some of the time, and the rain did not come to anything. It was an enjoyable trot along the top and  back down to the Hill Inn. 
Another one done- approx 29 miles and faster than I had dared to hope at the start. I did not push my luck and risk the closed road on the return and went via Bentham etc instead.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

No 32 2/3 loops of Gerry Charnley Way and a bit more

I had thought about the GCW again- anti-clockwise this time. But doing it with tired legs, on my own and on a very hot day was probably not a great idea. Then Bob said he would like to join me so we worked out a plan that would give us both 8 or so hours out. By the time we parked at Elterwater it was already warm and sunny.

We set out up the fell road and on to Silver Howe, a fairly steep start. These slopes are grassy and runable, once you are on the ridge. It was a little hazy but the views were great and I saw nobody close enough to speak to- just one lone walker coming the other way. I was using my old SLMM map as it 1:25,000 all on one sheet and it brought back some happy memories. After Blea Rigg I had a route choice - down to Stickle Tarn and then a big climb or up over Sergeant man. In the end I did neither and contoured into Bright Beck before climbing up to Thunacar Knott, retracing a route we had used on the SLMM. By now it was definately hot and sunny.
I spotted two other runners in the distance near Pike of Stickle but still nobody close enough to talk to. I took a straight line to Stake Pass which got me wet feet but was easy running on only slightly tufty grass. As I dropped into Langsrath it got warmer still. They have 'made' a swooping little path for mountain bikers on this bridleway (at least I assume that is what it is).
Tony and I used it to climb up last September but running down was easier and more direct on the grass. At Tray Dub I decided to investigate the path on the west of the river. Until I diverted onto a grassy quad bike track it was rockier than I had hoped so I will stick to the other side next time. By Black Moss I came across my first people of the the day wild camped just above the bridge. There was now also a steady stream of people walking up from Borrowdale and the camp site was busy. I made good time through Stonethwaite and round to the YHA. I collected more water as I left the valley and prepared for the big climb to Glaramara. Fortunately there were quiet a few people walking up and I gradually picked them off as I had a bite to eat.
I was soon past Chapel Crag and on Galaramara itself. As I dropped to High House Tarn I passed my first walker coming the other way. The views by now were superb and I stopped a few times to saok them in. I skirted Allen Crags and dropped to a very busy Angle Tarn before climbing to Esk Hause. I was keen to make sure I got in at least 30 miles, and seemed to have time on my side, so I made a snap decision to add in Scafell Pike as an out and back. It was a very hurried out and back as the path was busy and the summit was heaving! Not a place to linger.
  I skirted Esk Pike and wondered how far ahead Bob was. He had gone direct from Stake Pass to Angle Tarn.  I spent a good ten minutes mis-remembering which lump was Gerry Charnley Cairn but found it once I had realised I was still too high. I hoped he had found it with less trouble. Then it was a little trod across to Ore Gap and up onto Bowfell. This bit was new as on the full GCW we dropped from Three Tarns into Eskdale and then later from GC Cairn to Angle Tarn and Borrowdale.
The bit that seemed to take for ever was Crinkle Crags and I still hadn't caught Bob. I had more to eat and pressed on. I had run out of water again. Once off the Crinkles the path and grass were more level and I raced across to Red Tarn and got more water before I started climbing Pike of Blisco. Bob texted to say he was descending off the other side. I passed Tessa Hill running up and kept an eye out for Bob. I spotted him taking the race route line north of Blake Rigg. It took a while to catch him.
We ran together for bit but do not run at the same pace. At the broken wall and fence we parted. I then pushed on to Blea Tarn and the last big climb onto Lingmoor Fell. This was the final bit of the Langdale SLMM so I knew the way. Unfortunately Bob didn't and I later wished I had stayed with him. I eventually hit the top and ran past the old mine workings, down to the funny green gate with the metal foot plates and over into Langdale.
 It was pleasant to enter the wood which were cool and full of bluebells. I realised I was starving and found more food. At the junction in Sawley Wood I made a nav error and dropped to the big quarry. It was further than the easterly route but still brought me into Elterwater.

 I arrived to find the ice cream man had just sold his last ice cream so consoled myself with a bitter shandy from the pub instead. I lay in the sun waiting for Bob.  I wandered back to the car to change out of wet socks and hoped to meet him at the pub to buy him a treat. After an hour I worried that he had gone another way and was back at the car waiting. Typical- in the few minutes it took to return to the car he passed the pub and met me on the road. His last mile or so had been tricky to navigate and he was tired. Still a long day in glorious weather for us both. Not sure of the exact distance but certainly over 30 miles.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

No 31 The Yomp

I didn't fancy driving to Northamptonshire, nor running round fields and a stately home so I needed something more local. Wharfedale was full as it was being used as a selection race so it came to be the Yomp. I ran it in 2010 and 2011 but not last year.

It was nowhere near long enough so I did some extra miles first and still made it to the 8am mini mass start. I had taped my feet and hoped that this would prevent the blisters refilling and stop my toes from bashing. Before we even hit the open fell I was too warm and struggled out of my long sleeve thermal.  It is a lovely route and the views were maginficent. Looking into the Howgills, lakes and 3 Peaks took my mind off climbing Little Fell (don't know who called it that!) and then on to Wild Boar Fell itself.
Mostly it was good running on nice grassy paths with just a few boggy bits. I felt good and raced towards Swarth Fell, spurred on by the marshall who had said I was first lady. I hadn't intended racing today. Well, in reality after Friday I didn't think I would be able to. The descent from Swarth Fell to the road is superb and I flew down.. only to hit the track at the other side and find my legs were suddenly dead. In retrospect I should have eaten more earlier but nevermind. Little did I know at the time but I would regret walking the next section.
It was chilly on the tops but the sun shone and it was a great day to be out.The climb over the Riggs was slow but once we were above the rock scars I made more of an effort to run again and chased a couple of blokes all the way down to the road. I even caught them and stayed with them as we climbed towards Nine Standards and their company was good as we ran back to town. The descent off Nine Standards starts well enough but the rocky lane was hammering my feet and for once it was a relief to hit the tarmac.
 My toes stood up to the steep downhills on the tarmac but I was pleased to see the cut off and enter the park. One last push now over the humpback bridge, up the steps and up the hill to the school. I finished first lady. And it stayed like that for almost 2 hours BUT you can start the Yomp anytime between 8 and 10. Just at the last minute when I thought I was safe a young lady beat me by 3 minutes. I should never have walked up the Riggs. Still, a good day out and far better than I dared hope really.

Despite laying in the sun eating and drinking for a couple of hours I still made it back down the M6 before the traffic got bad.