Wednesday, 31 July 2013

No 39 North-South Bowland Crossing, but starting from Hutton Roof

A last minute change of where the boys intended to climb meant a sudden change of plan for me too. I had been thinking of the Bowland Crossing but did not really want to add the miles by starting in Lancaster and running on the Lune cycle track. Hutton Roof would allow me to add almost exactly the right amount of miles and let me explore some new areas. We had a leisurely start and it was about 10.20 when I leapt out of the car and started my garmin.

The forecast had mentioned showers but for now it was dry, warm and sunny. A good bridleway led me through undulating fields to a level crossing and more fields and a lane. The views inland were fantastic and Ingleborough was going to be there, with a slightly changing profile off to my left all day.

 At the posh looking Storrs Hall I ran along the road for a few hundred metres to pick up the next path. It was well signed from the road but then I lost it when the signs stopped and cereal crops seemed to bar my way. Despite a bit of wandering I eventually made my way to the river Lune and Loyn Bridge. From here there was no alternative except the road to get me to Hornby but it was only for about a mile.

Then I was able to turn off again and follow footpaths to Wray. It is a pretty village and most of the houses in the centre seemed to have been built in the late 1600s. It was getting warm now and I was drinking lots as I climbed out of the village and onto the east side of the Roeburndale Valley. By the time I arrived at Harterbeck Farm I was out of water. The stream was full but the same colour as my legs- I hope it was just peat. A few more boggy fields and some inquisitive cows brought me to High Salter Farm and the start of the Hornby Road.  This well maintained and wide track goes right through the Bowland Fells almost to Slaidburn and parts of it, if not all, follow the course of a Roman road.
We mountain biked it years ago but you rarely meet many people up there. I had not quite decided how I would leave the track and get to Wolfhole Crag. The ugly shooting track looked helpful but I did not want to drop all the way to the river Roeburn. Around Guide Hill there was a substantial quad bike track complete with huge mats to help vehicles over the worst bogs. This would taking me in the right direction. It ran out eventually but I boulder hopped and picked up sheep trods and burnt heather areas for the rest of the climb. I was swooped by hundreds of seagulls here and before long I understood why; there were quite a few baby gulls still with fluffy brown feathers and not yet ready to fly. I found the noise of all the birds quite intimidating and was pleased to reach the skyline and leave most of them behind.

Wolfhole Crag was deserted but despite a quick photo stop I pushed on as here I got the first few spots of rain. The path along the ridge is good for about a kilometre and I made the most of it knowing that it would not last. At the fence junction I turned south onto a smaller trod and over Brennand Great Hill and then Millers House with its enormous boulder.  I have to agree with Jim D as I cannot make an elephant out of the rock either. Roy must have an amazing imagination. These two friends from Preston Harriers had been for an adventure over the route earlier this month. Brennand tarn was surprisingly quiet with just a family of geese- perhaps that had scared off the gulls?
I cannot see an elephant!
The next mile or so was a bit of a plod but at least the rain ad come to nothing. The path deteriorated and the climb up Whins Brow sapped my strength. I sat and had a bite to eat and finished my water. Duncan Elliot's original plan for the N-S crossing was to keep a straight line . I couldn't face the idea of the deep bracken I might meet on Staple Oak Fell so I went west and then trespassed my way down to the Trough Barn bridleway. I had hoped the tea van might be at the end of Langden Brook but no such luck. I did find the tap at the back of Smelt Mill Cottage that now houses the Mountain Rescue Centre.

Leaving Miller House with Totridge looming
 It was a toss up whether the beck or the hose pipe attached to the tap would be most healthy but at least I had water again. Only one more big climb now. The climb up Totridge seemed to take for ever and I wondered where the rest of the family were and whether I would be able to get a lift home. I had set out with no fixed plan but knowing that I could try for a bus or even hitch if they were still out climbing. Failing that I could wait in the pub for 3 hours and join the Harriers when they finished their Tuesday run. I ran to the trig point and paid my respects to Bill Smith briefly and then it was across the boggy tops on ground I know well.
As I left the fence line and battled my way across the top of Burnslack my phone rang. They had just left Hutton Roof and wondered where I was. Great, we should both arrive in Chipping at about the same time. I soon picked up a grassy trod and arrived at Burnslack. In my haste I missed the path to Saddle End Farm and ended up on the lane but nevermind. I then got confused again and missed the direct path down to Chipping and went for a bit of a detour to Chipping Lawn and Leagram Hall. I didn't complain as it was easy runing and I discovered some beautiful 'parkland' and a farm making sheeps cheese.  Sadly when I got to Chipping everything except the pubs was shut so I did not get the ice cream I had hoped for. I just had time for a photo on the church steps and to start removing all the heather and vegetation from my socks and shoes when my lift arrived.

They had also enjoyed a successful but exhausting day. It was a shame to miss the Harriers but 'wasting' 3 hours in the pub with just £4 to my name would have been a tall order. After almost 29 miles I was happy to go home for a shower and food.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

No 38 Rock and Rowel

It had not been my plan to run two days running and I knew I was going to struggle. This is a new LDWA event of about 27 miles. I enjoyed my solitude yesterday but it was good to catch up with so many friends today. I had thought some of the Ripon people might be there but Dave C cycled over from Knaresborough and Lorriane had come all the way from Pickering. Most of us had no idea where we were going but a few had recceed it and the locals knew the Ripon Rowel parts. As usual the start was fast and furious but by the top of the first hill the pace had settled a bit and there was a loose group of about 8 of us. The fastest guy was reigned in because he did not know the way. There were a few twists and turns, including at least one blocked footpath- thanks farmer! After Bishop Thornton the path diverted a little around a house that had been done up and then we were out onto the road. This section was several miles on undulating lanes and I lost some enthusiasm. I also lost the local guys who kew the Rowel route. I had a good drink and cake at the next CP and headed off into Studely Park and Fountains Abbey.
No need for the bridges today, the fords were dry

 There was even a glimpse of Ripon Cathedral off to the east. The couple I was tailing led me through the Park nicely but pulled away as we climbed to the church and obelisk. Ian and Lorriane caught me up and we stayed together for quite a few miles.
It took our combined efforts to find the route in a couple of places but we never went far wrong. The CP in Sawley was the best- I even got an ice cream! The route round Eavestone Lake was pretty and importantly today it was shady. Running out to Lumley Moor Reservoir I bonked and was on my own for an hour or so. The water melon at CP5 was refreshing but I needed to have eaten more and was now dehyradted no matter how much I drank. On the next section I lost the path, forded a stream getting cool feet, and then found the path again as I climbed the next hillside. The track upto the road seemed to stretch on and I could see Ian and Lorraine up ahead. It was a joy to leave the road and drop to North Pasture but there was now no sign of runners up ahead.
This bit looked tricky on the map but I paid careful attention and all went well. I wasn't sure where to find the CP at Brimham so I headed up to the visitor centre and worked my way down searching through the crowds of tourists.  The stares I got made me feel like some sort of alien! 'Look, there's a runner.' 'What are they doing mum?'

My caution paid off and as I was leaving the CP I met Ian and Lorriane walking back up the hill from the main car park feeling very disorientated. Only the home stretch left now and I knew some of it from an orienteering race. Down the road, over the cross-roads and then intercepted by the marshalls to stop us from staying on the dangerous road.  The next section over fields, bracken and woods was well marked with tape and little flourescent signs and I pushed on trying to keep my advantage. Storm clouds were brewing and the sky went quite dark but the rain never came.
The pull up from the river seemed further than when we walked from the car in the morning but then I could see the phone box and little triangle of grass. I hadn't quite made the 5 hour mark thanks to some minor nav issues and bonking half way round. The spread of food was amazing although I was so dehydrated I was struggling to swallow. The fruit and jelly slipped down nicely. I washed the salt off my face, neck and arms and then as a warm down wandered back out to meet Bob.
He was tired but managed a determined final push to ensure the 3 behind him could not catch him at the last minute. We lazed in the sun recovering and chatting, putting off the drive home. I had clearly had too much sun and was more dehydrated than I realised. I went to lie down at 8 but did not sleep. Went back to bed at 10.30 but was still awake at 2. I felt sort of sick but not bad enough to be ill. Even the next morning I felt ropey. A quick glance at the scales confirmed I had lost about 6-7 pounds over the two days. A day of resting, eating and drinking is in order. Those doing the Lakeland 100 will have a tough time.

No 37 A similar Tour of Bradwell

I had hoped to run on Thursday but the forecast for Friday was better and Bob and Chris wanted to climb.  We parked below Stanage early and I wished them luck and instructed them to look after each other.
The main change today was missing out the NW loop

 My plan was to sort of follow the LTof B route but make some little changes for interest.  The climb up onto the edge only took minutes and I was off running in early sunshine- it was going to be warm. I found the correct path this time and dropped to Upper Burbage Bridge. last year in the race I opted to follow people over Higger Tor so I thought this time I would explore the valley route.
It was good even this early on to have some shade. The path climbs less but has lots of twists and turns, with some bits in deep bracken. Perhaps the path below Burbage rocks would have been a better recee. The next section went well and I was runing at a good pace.
I soon emerged at Leadmills bridge and the main road. I was busy eating and drinking so lost concentration. In my hurry to leave the main road I turned up the first lane not the second one. I thought the hairpin should have been closer... but pushed on. Having realised my mistake I decided to explore and headed north to Offerton Hall and then up onto the moor. I emerged at Wolf's Pit ( a shorter fell race) and rejoined the route for the drop to Bradwell. I was getting low on water and the loop to Castelton seemed to take an age. At least I did find some water in Cave Dale and then more in the car park cafe in Castelton.
 I promised myself I would run all the lane until the access land and path to Hollins Cross. I managed it but it was hot work. I did not want to drop to Edale so I stayed on the edge in the cool breeze past Back Tor and Lose Hill. It was easy runing back towards Hope and Killhill bridge. I was low on water again but the tiny campsite at Fairfield Farm had a tap. I had a long drink and filled my bottle. The climb round the side of Winhill soon passed and I was heading for the disused railtrack.
This is a family 'non-favourite' as these always seem to stretch into the distance and although they are easy running or cycling the end never seems to get closer. By Bamford Mill I was hot again and submerged my head and arms in the cold water at the wier. It was a slow plod up Bamford Clough and then to escape the tarmac I went for an explore over Bamford Moor.
The path I was on started to head north (wrong way for me) and the sheep trods soon ran out. I followed burnt heather patches towards High Neb and up onto the edge. There was a welcome breeze and I jogged along listening out for the voices of climbers. Close to Robin Hood's cave I spotted Bob and Chris so I lay in the sun, dried my sweaty shirt and took some pics of them climbing.
An hour of lazing was enough. I trotted down to the car for food and water before walking back up to find them again. I had done my 29 miles and they had enjoyed a great day climbing.
 Fish and Chips in Glossop meant we missed the worst of the traffic and rounded off the day nicely.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

No 36 The 3 Dales Way

A gap of over 3 weeks between ultras. Oh no. Partly I was wanting my ribs to mend a bit more but I have also squeezed in the SLMM, a weekend of DoE with pupils from work and a rather lazy restful weekend when we broke up. Typically the weather sort of changed today- warm and humid with a mixture during the day of cloud, breeze, heavy drizzle and sun. I wanted something fairly easy (ie no big climbs) and given the forecast not too high in case the thunderstorms materialised. I have found a very interesting walking company on the web and have been using their walks to get ideas.

I knew I could park easily and for free in Threshfield so I skipped the Burnsall bit. It was strange to be there on such a quiet day and without all the normal Fellsman trappings. I climbed up into Grassington and was soon on a wide mowed grassy path - the Dales Way.

 I passed a group of walkers and then did not see a soul until Kettlewell.The views were not fantastic given so much low cloud but the ridge above Cracoe with  the crags and crosses stood out.

At Kettlewell I left the Dales Way and climbed the spur of fell and crags that was hiding Littondale. As I climbed and the breeze got up I realised how wet I had got in the earlier drizzle. I was soon dropping to Hawswick and admiring the cttages for sale. The river path took me to Arncliffe and I turned up over Malham Moor. The paths were wide and grassy and although I was not running fast my ribs didn't seem too bad. Fountains Fell and across to the 3 Peaks looked gloomy so no panoramic photos today.

Some rangers were rebuilding a wall and said I was the first person they had seen all morning so I was surprised to arrive at Street Gate and be greeted with 'Hi Karen'. An LDWA group and a fellow SLMM parking attendant. I stopped for a chat and a breather before heading off towards Malham Cove. The westerly wind was pushing all the low cloud further into Yorkshire and it was now warm and sunny. My fall the other week has made me cautious but I must have been getting cocky today and took and slip on some greasy limestone- I did stay upright though.

 The limestone pavement always amazes me and I stopped for a quick explore. Only quick because I was almost out of water and thirsty. It wasn't crowded but there were many more people as I dropped to Malham. Peregrines were nesting on the main crag and cameras and telescopes had been set up to watch them.

I pushed on and then treated myself to an ice lolly. Great idea but I stupidly forgot to refill me water bottle. The lolly sustained me but it meant I passed the campsite at Goredale Scar without realising my need. The next hour or so was hot, humid and thirsty. It was also very quiet again and I saw nobody bar one farmer for the rest of my route.

I did eventually find a beck that looked reasonably fast flowing but was even thinking of asking at a farm house. The last streams on Threshfield Moor were decidedly brown and I did not risk it. The track dropped and dropped so at least I was on the home stretch now. I promised myself a drink at the pub on the main road. Ha- they too were out of water- their taps were giving out brown muck and the problem was not due to be sorted for a couple of hours at least. I downed a small coke and jogged burping back to my car the other side of Threshfield. A quick explore out and back along the river path towards Linton Falls and the stepping stones made the route just over 29 miles. I cannot believe how shattered I feel. I know I have had a rest but this is ridiculous. I also think I must have been running tense all day to protect my ribs because my back aches like mad, not something I am used to. Still the thunderstorms did not materialise for me until I had been hoome for an hour so I made good use of the day and am happy to have been out.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Not an ultra but a fun weekend at the SLMM

I love the SLMM. It's local as it is always in the Lakes and I know most of the organisers and helpers as so many are from either our orienteering club or harriers. It's also low key- even milk and beer at the overnight camp and it has some good memories as for two years all four of us in the family did it by entering as two pairs. After the tumble at Buttermere I was not sure about running but the weather forecast sort of clinched it. I reasoned that a long day out in the sun would be OK even if I had to walk lots (and I did). Plus I was due to be the only lady on Klets so could not let the side down.
I arrived early and in plenty of time to get parked next to our van and start car park duty while the fields was still almost empty.
Event centre
 It was a lovely afternoon just chilling and pointing people in the right direction and then a bit more of a challenge getting the campervans parked up and as level as possible. Tea was a very wholesome pasta bake from the catering ladies. It was the night for christening the new van with our first sleepover. I went to bed early and left Bob out parking cars. I drifted off quickly and had my best night's sleep for a week. I seemed to have loads of time in the morning and was impatient to get going. There had been worries about the number of dead sheep on the fells after the snowy winter but there was no way we could carry enough water on what was clearly going to be a very warm day. The first CP seemed miles away when I marked up my map; put there apparently to make sure nobody opted to road run via the Duddon Valley. It was uphill inevitably and then boggy before the fell road but the nav was straight forward and so it was good to get into the map. CP2 was also straight forward and I was cross that running downhill jarred my ribs so badly. The boulder was enormous and in the clear weather stood out like a beacon. The next section divided us all up with lots of route variations. All was going well even if not very speedily. I even maaged a bit of rock scrambling on Great Crag. I did not see the route choices as I moved towards Harter Fell- perhaps daunted by the task ahead.

 In future I need to work backwards when I plan as well. Harter Fell broke me- I sat down (unheard of in a MM) and had a drink, food and more pain killers. It let me meet the other lady who had switched to Klets when her partner pulled out and we chatted as we flogged up Harter Fell to the top.  Descending over rough ground to Birker Fell was tough but I had second wind and ran quite well to Kepple crag where suddenly the map did not seem to make sense and I couldn't figure out where the tarn was. The next section going north of the OoB area was my worst leg of day 1 and I wished I had planned another route. I plodded on and then it was back on the huge elephant track through the marsh. I was shattered when I finished but I had got round and completed - more than I had dared to expect a day or so earlier.

 Bob had saved me a patch for my tent close to him and the other Preston Harriers. It was great to get the tent up, start eating and to find so many friends to talk to. A brilliant camp site with a warm stream, cool breeze and view out to sea. Some time after 9 I crashed out in my tent, woke briefly at 10 and got into bed for real. A shame not to socialise more but I was tired out. I slept until about 1.30 and then just could not get comfy again so just dozed on and off til dawn.
Day 2 dawned bright and although a little cloudy it was going to be hot and sunny later. I gave myself a generous two hours and pottered about getting ready.

 My back and ribs were stiff  and I prayed the courses would be shorter than the first day. I went for an early start anticipating I would need all the hours we were given. As I marked up my map it did not look shorter and there just as many CPs to collect. Oh heck! The first two CPs went OK although I felt I was losing ground to faster runners. The long contours to the next two controls really mashed my right foot but I fell into stride with Alan who I had met briefly on day 1. I ended up running much of the day not far from him. Tony M came past - slowed for a chat and ploughed on, as did Chris BH. I was cross I could not make myself run more but tried to just enjoy the day out and concentrate on completing. A face plant trying to run over some rough terrain settled it- do NOT do something silly and get injured now. As we got closer to Black Combe there was route choice/ order choice again. For me the decision was made by the deep heather- and being fortunate enough to see someone disappear in a direction I had not considered.
Heather covered spur
 It was enough to make me stop and reconsider. YES- brilliant, descend down to the big bridleway and get them in the opposite order as we clomb to Black Combe. It worked a treat- nice trod down through the bracken, fast jog along the track... a bit of a climb back up but better than stumbling through the heather and gorse for ages. As I climbed up Tony came the other way muttering foul oaths- I had caught him up and over taken him. Good for the morale too  (well mine anyway). Above about 400m the heather have way to shorter veg and stoney ground. I was happy again and pushed on for the summit tarn. Somewhere here I lost Alan. The ridge from there to Whitecombe Moss was very runnable so I stuffed some more pain killers down and shot off. A joy to be running again. I nearly made an dreadful error as my map was folded and I almost forgot about 146 at the other side of Swinside Fell. Once over the fence line there was a huge trod to the control and it was easy running- only to have to come back the same way? I got a shock when I realsied how far down the valley the next control was but it left only one more to get before the finish track. I should have run harder over the side of White Combe but the views were worth soaking in and I was hot. The final descent was steep and dusty (not often you say that in the Lakes). Those on the shorter courses made me feel like I was speeding down but when I compare my splits with Nee Bother etc I was slow.  Mountain Rescue were out attending to a damaged ankle - so someones weekend did not end so happily, but at least it was a warm dry wait. Suddenly the finish was there. Yes. I arrived just in time to be told- kit check please and they are about to do the prize giving.

 We moved out to the tables in the sun to join in the applause and Bob went to get my meal for me. I had promised myself a laze in the river but could not bring myself to walk that far. I sat chatting and then wandered back to the van to freshen up before the drive home. A really enjoyable weekend and proof that mind over matter really can work. I had completed the Klets again and so managed to be first lady. Julie was proud to complete day 1 and will be back for more but knew she would be timed out on day 2 so headed back early. I now have some raw patches on my back from the rub of a sweaty sack but no regrets except perhaps not carrying my camera! I might edit and add photos to this as some become available from other sources.  Next weekend I might have a rest as I am out with pupils doing DoE on Fri-Sat. Or perhaps I could run on Sunday?