Wednesday, 28 August 2013

No 47 Solitude in the Lakes

I wasn't sure I would fit in a race mid-week this time but the forecast looked OK and this time next week I will be back at work regretting it if I sat at home. It was a quick hours drive to the outskirts of Shap on a quiet M6. By 9am I was parked near the cattle grid at the bottom of Wet Sleddale and ready to run. So many memories- my first OMM with Rowena had the mid-camp here, a SLMM with my son had the event centre here and we have driven along the concrete road to orienteer.

Sadly the forecast hadn't come true and it looked decidedly gloomy with all the tops covered in low cloud. I decided to run anti-clockwise rather than what I had planned as this would keep me low for the first hours or so and perhaps the weather would improve. I started off along the old water board concrete road and got a mile or so under my belt. It might not be sunny but it was still warm and the thermal had to come off. I was also testing out my Hokas (bought at about 50% off I hasten to add).

 I have been intrigued by these for some time after Mark L enthusing about them and then my brother having a pair. I tried them on a short run near home and they didn't cripple me so now I wanted to see what they were like over a long run. Despite looking a bit clown like they don't feel big once they are on and I did not trip up over them which was one of my fears. I dropped down to Keld and picked up the footpath past Shap abbey ruins and then Rosgill. Here I swung towards the hills and worked my way towards Burnbanks.

Again more memories- an mid-camp for the SLMM where the rest of the family were helping and several orienteering events. The bracken was tall but I worked my way above it and onto the ridge and Bampton Common. It was eerily quiet and I had not seen anyone close enough to speak to yet. This is perhaps what let me get close to a large herd of deer- until they took fright and disappeared over the ridge and down into Cawdale.

 As the main High Street ridge came into sight I cut the corner and headed straight for Loadpot Hill. I had it to myself and took a photo quickly because within minutes the cloud was rushing towards me and the views became rather intermittent. It was cooler up here but so long as I was moving it was warm enough in shorts and vest.
Just before the cloud came in and spoilt my view
 The run south along the ridge was a delight and the Hokas felt comfy. On High Raise I met a walker who seemed amused by how much he was wearing and how little I had on (or perhaps it was the Hokas). I plodded on south, ignoring Kidsty Pike as it was shrouded in cloud. High Street Racecourse Hill summit was the cloudiest of all so although I had planned to stop, eat and admire the views I just grabbed a bar and ran on.

 I sped past some walkers and then did a double take. Coming up the path towards me were Ray P and Graham E - friends from fell running and orienteerng. We exchanged a brief greeting, moaned about the cloud and went our separate ways. I was keen to see how the Hokas coped with the rocky paths on the next section. At Nan Bield Pass I was rewarded with a great view both down into Kentmere and towards Haweswater.

The shelter was full so I climbed up onto Harter Fell which was quiet but a bit chilly. The Hokas seemed to grip well and made running over the rocks and stones easy on the 'improved' path on my way to Adam Seat.  Here I dropped to Gatesgarth Pass and an even bigger rocky track. I also ran off the bottom of my map- not a worry as I knew it would take me down to the old mine workings and back into the warmth and then I could turn and climb over the boggy bits to Mosedale.

My feet had stayed dry til now but that was definitely set to change so perhaps doing the run anti-clockwise had been a good idea after all, rather than getting wet feet almost at the start. I am always amazed how quiet this part of the Lakes is and today I saw nobody.
Gatesgarth and the mine workings

Looking back to Blea Tarn the tops still had cloud

True it doesn't have the big peaks but I like it for the lack of crowds and because it is so varied. I stopped briefly at Mosedale Cottage and finished the last of my water with my Aldi fake Snickers bar. I thought about being able to live there- it is beautiful but I am sure the novelty would wear off and the hassle of getting to the shops for food would take over.

My feet were now quite damp and muddy but although I had not tested the Hokas on any steep grassy slopes or mud I had not slipped over yet. I squelched onwards to the bridge that would let me cross the beck and climb to reach Sleddale. A quick glance at my garmin showed I needed a few more miles so I set out to explore the lumpy hills to my north. They had some great names- like Willy Winder Hill and Gambling Crag, bu they also had an oddity. Great Ladstones has lost it's Trig point. It is not on the map and this is all that is left.

 Perhaps it is all there ever was? I have not seen one like this before.  Rafland Forest has also disappeared  but the sheep made up for it. I am not sure who dabbed them with paint after shearing but the red paint seemed to have run and most of the sheep were now totally pink! I ran down hill, on sheep trods and quad bike tracks until I met the concrete road. It was then an easy run back to the car. As I sat contemplating my run the sun came out and I suspect the tops were clear but never mind. I had enjoyed my day out.  At least 29 miles done (possibly more as my garmin died)
As for the Hokas- I think for trails they might be good. Over rough stuff or grass and tussocks perhaps not. They felt good while I was running but actually my feet felt a bit battered by the end. I will try them again when I know it will be all on good path or track.

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