Monday, 25 November 2013

No 58 A rather odd circuit in the Lakes

We had a weekend in the Lakes, starting in Staveley on Friday night and the LDMT AGM and annual do. We were well fed and I had helped to dispose of yet more of the special LDMT 60th beer. We set off into the night planning to camp in the van at Blea Tarn. The roads through Little Langdale etc were getting icy and interesting but we arrived without mishap only to find it was now pay and display and we needed many coins. Hmm. Time for plan B and a drive to Elterwater Common. I had not planned a run from here and was too tired to do so now.
Little Langdale
A quick glance at the map on Saturday morning and I had the outline of a route in my head. I set off over the old drove road from Elterwater towards Little Langdale.
They thought I had food
It was very quiet and I had the place to myself for now. At this low altitude there was very little ice but the tops looked like they had a good dusting of snow. I met a group of students from one of the cottages and ran on up Greenburn Beck. The path now had some bigger icy sections and I had to be cautious.  It was better when I turned off onto Birk Fell and Wetherlam.
Back to Wetherlam
Before the top there was enough icy snow for me to stop and put on my katoolas. Bob claims he never wore his all day but I wanted to run a bit and felt I would feel stupid if I slipped and the spikes were still in my rucksack. The Prisen Band was rather slow work and I ran out to Great Carrs and beyond to warm up and get a view back to where I had been.

 I was also planning my route as I ran and could not make up my mind whether to drop to Seathwaite tarn, go over Grey Friar or stay high up to Dow Crag. In the end I opted to stay high. I had done most of the climbing and it would be easier to add more distance this way. The rocky paths were a bit slippy but the snow covered grass was good and semi-frozen.
Back east towards Little langdale
A couple of fell runners raced by and were gone. I must be getting more timid on rock and ice as I get older. Time for food.

 Walna Scar Road dropped me down towards Seathwaite and I used a couple of lanes on the vally bottom. I discovered some wonderful boulder stepping stones, complete with wire cable for support, to cross the Duddon and wandered up through ancient beech wood to the start of the planation at Grassguards. A big forest track led me to Birks and the climb up Harter Fell. memories of the SLMM came back, along with more distant memories of the Duddon race. This seemed to take me longer than I had anticiapted and I started to worry about the time and the light. Time for more food. The run down the valley speeded things up a bit and I crossed the Esk at Jubilee bridge. There was no time for a diversion to Hardknot Castle and I set off up the easy path below Yew Crags. I made myself run despite tired legs and could soon see Lingcove Bridge. The waterfalls and pools in the Esk were beautiful but I didn't dare stop long to admire them.
A place to return to in summer for a swim
 After the bridge the path deteriorated and I started to get very wet feet which wasn't great as soon I would be climbing up to Bowfell and the heat was going out of the day. I plodded on up and remembered the warm day that Tony and I had run the opposite way on our Gerry Charnley adventure. I could have done with some company and a sandwich stop about now!
Always a lonely valley
The col at Three Tarns started to come into view and it was decsion time again. How much light was left? Did I have time to go north over Bowfell or should I drop straight down the band and back to the safety of the valley. I wanted to make sure I definately clocked up enough miles so I turned towards Bowfell. There were other people still up this high and that gave me a bit of confidence. I did think of texting Bob but knew there was no signal back at the van. It took me less time than I thought to climb the summit and run down to Ore gap so I added in Esk Pike and dropped to Esk Hause. We had joked about trying to meet up so that I could show Bob the Charnely cairn but I certainly had no time for that now. Rossett Gill is not my favourite descent but it was all that I had time for now. The valley floor was some of the easiest running of the day and I was soon at the ODG. I resisted the temptation of a pint and a pie, passed the NDG and took the broad path to Chapel Stile and then on into Elterwater. It wasn't dark and I did not yet need my torch but there was not a great deal of day light left. As I approached the car park I could hear the comforting roar of the diesel heater. Bob was obviously back. In fact he had not been back long either. 
Actually Sunday- but it shows where I went
I quickly changed, although my feet were now warmer than they had been for a couple of hours. Suddenly I was exhausted. I crawled into bed and dozed under the duvets for an hour. It seemed enough and once I was up and had a mug of soup that Bob made for me I felt better. Just over 30 miles and  agood day out. Sunday was going to be a recovery walk with Bob. Ha ha.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

No 57 Goathland a week late

The race was last weekend but we had promised our time to an orienteering event. This weekend however we were free. We visited Chris in Leeds on Saturday, plus Martin, Becky and Ruby so it wasn't such a long drive.
Great choice of poster!
We were parked up in the track at Eller Beck at a very reasonable hour. Sadly the heater was having what I hope are teething troubles so we went to bed early to read, always cozy in bed. Not long after 8am I was off and running. I had too many layers on and after about 500m when I crossed the railway line I was taking off hat, gloves and one layer. Fylingdales loomed on the horizon behind me but the moor was deserted.

I made good speed to the standing stone even though it was uphill. At this rate I would be back for a late lunch!

The track down to Goathland was fun and it wasn't so muddy that I got wet feet. The village was silent and the dining room of the hotel was full with people still eating breakfast. I found the turn off no trouble and there was yet more downhill (I was sure I would pay for this later) along what seemed to be an old railtrack, except it was quite steep. The cottage at the bottom confirmed it, Incline Cottage. The path then turned, uphill for a change and above the river back to the outskirts of Goathland. The paths across the moor were grassy and very runable and even the turn back up to the standing stone didn't seem too bad. I yomped through some heather to avoid a muddy patch and was relieved it was not knee deep like on Bowland. Here I met my first person to say hello to before I set off, downhill again, over Simon Howe Rigg. Climbing on a gap in the forest to Wardle Rigg I slowed a bit and ate the first of my food. The tracks at the top did not seem quite right but I chose the correct one and was even rewarded with a little yellow tag left over from the race. The descent to the track near the railway line was steep and I startled two deer.

At the bottom I hoped I might see the steam train close up but it waited until I was climbing out of the valley. The run around the foot of Levisham Moor was great- I am sure I run faster on mud than big forest tracks. Somehow I just feel happier. I made a slight detour to visit Skelton Tower before the climb to Dundale Pond. At first the path seemed to be taking me the wrong way here, and I even got my compass out, but once I had meandered my way through the highland cattle I realised there was another junction and I could go north. This was a lovely track, uphill but easy running and nice and grassy underfoot.

It was hard to imagine people living there almost 2000 years ago but there are all sorts of ditches, burial mounds and tumuli. This was the busiest section of my run but not at all crowded compared to the Lakes. I have childhood memories of kite flying somewhere near Hole of Horcum but today I was just pleased to leave the road and head downhill towards the farm. (and pleased that Jon's route did not take us to the bottom for a fierce climb back up)

The track seemed hard underfoot and the steep concrete road was thankfully short. I made my detour up Blakey Topping; a wierd little mound that had to be an out and back.

I started to flag a bit as I climbed up the edge of a felled area to another stone cross. Time for more food. The next section was muddy and for the first time in the day I got damp feet.

Fylingdales is a bit of an eyesore and the generators ? were noisy but it was soon past. I had anticiapted that the next section would be a continuation of the same muddy but pleasant little path and got a surprise when I hit a tarmac road. It soon petered out into a stoney track and stayed that way all the way to Lilla Cross. Good running but hard on my feet :(

Here I met the same walker I had met much earlier in the day. We had a brief chat and I stopped to take some photos and read about the cross.

All that was left was a 3km donwhill muddy yomp. I got rather wet and muddy, despite staying upright, but could not resist the steady downhill end to my day. I was back at the van in almost exactly 5 hours and had covered about 29.5 miles. There was no sign of Bob so I changed, made coffee, and another, read and had a nap. I was just starting to get mildly anxious about the fading light when he reappared. He too had enjoyed his day and had covered over 22 miles, not bad with a sore and swollen foot.

Empty moorland for miles, wonderful.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

No 56 A circuit from Haweswater

Once our orienteering duties were over, with all runners and controls safely shepherded in, we quickly drove home to dump the Si gear plus our wet clothes and then headed up to the Lakes.  It was wet but the forecast for Sunday was very good. We parked in an almost deserted car park at Mardale Head and settled down to our evening meal.

The rain stopped and it was warmer in the van than we expected. Before 9 we were safely tucked up in bed and reading. We set the alarm early and by 7 we were up and fueled with porridge and coffee. The sun was already up on the tops and there was quite a dusting of snow. Glad we put the katoolas in. Bob was off on the dot and set off skating along the road to find the Old Corpse Road. I pottered but was out half an hour later. It was just getting properly light in the bottom of the valley.

I had planned going up Rough Crag and Long Stile straight onto High Street but the snow and ice made me cautious and I opted for the rounder edges of Kidsty Pike.  I probably could have managed without but I put the katoolas on to be on the safe side (not much point having them in my sack if I slipped).
Leaving Kidsty Pike I was treated to an early morning fly by from the eagle and then I stumbled across five tents. They had spent a frosty night but said it was worth it for the sun rise. The views were amazing in all directions with snow on all the high Lakeland peaks and on Cross Fell etc along the Pennines.
The katoolas gave me confidence even where it was just snowy grass and I made very good timeover High Raise, Wether Hill and Loadpot Hill. The covering of snow was not deep and the ground was mostly nicely firm. Then it was a swooping downhill run all the way to The Cockpit. It took all my discipline not to just keep stopping and gawp at the views.

It was not so frozen down here and I got damp feet but I was happy and seemed to have the whole hill to myself. I had thought by here I would meet people coming up from the caravan park or Askham. I stopped for a bite to eat and found I had dropped a glove. Damm. I ran back hoping it wasn't far and was rewarded to find it in the first kilometre. I doubled back towards Howtown and made good time along the rather wet and muddy track. It was a different world of green and warth down here.
The steamer was just leaving as I descended to the road and picked up the path to Martindale. Here I saw my first person after the campers, although still not close enough to actually speak to. I contoured round to Boredale and was pleased to find that the road was not icy. More fairly fast running. At Boredale Hause I changed my plan a little. My garmin was already reading nearly 18 miles and I decided not to descend to Side Farm. (part of my plan was a bit of a recee of some of the Tour of Helvellyn route). Instead I climbed up Place Fell in the glorious sunshine.
Heading back to the Hause the path to Angle Tarn looked busy so I explored up to Bedafell Knott. I don't think I have been up there before and it gave me a lovely view back down Boredale towards Hallin Fell.

 It also gave me a very quiet path over Angle Tarn Pikes. I hit the main path for a short time but then turned off to Satura Crag and Rest Dodd where I picked up a small trod all the way down to the col and up onto The Knott. 
From here to High Street was busier, but I knew it would be. I joined the others sitting by the wall and ate the last of my food. I should have carried more and was hungry. Perhaps I should have gone to Side Farm after all. I played in the snow and sun for a while before doing a little loop towards Thornthwaite and Mardale Ill Bell and back to the path onto Long Stile. I thought I might meet up with Bob if I played on the top for a while but I had no real idea of where he would be so I gave up. Watching people tucking into sandwiches etc was making me even more hungry. The descent at Long Stile starts quite steeply and the rocks were slippery.

 Even with the katoolas I was cautious and would not descend this way again if I wanted to run.  After Rough Crag the running improved with more grass and less rock. Before long I could see the very full car park and our van. It was an easy jog back along the lakeside, over all the lttle wooden bridges and onto the main path. The van sadly was in deep shade and had been for some time so it was not very warm but once my feet were dry and I was sat in the duvet with a big pot of coffee I was cozy. I sat reading , watching people finish their day and waited for Bob. I had been out over 7 hours and clocked up about 33 miles. An amazing day with stunning views and I had it all to myself for the bulk of the time.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

No 55 The White Rose Ultra

This was a new kid on the block and I was intrigued. There were two options, 30 or 60 miles. I had entered the 60 before realising that this meant two laps (which gives a rather tempting get out). The emails leading up to the race day were hilarious and I was very keen to meet the team and see their humour and personalities for real. We had finished our chores and arrived at Golcar by mid afternoon. It was dry and we decided to go for a walk and investigate the first short section of the course (this was later to prove invaluable as I had seen the yellow paint on the road before a night of heavy rain and thick covering of leaves).

With Jon and Shirley just before the start
We just about made it back to the van by late afternoon and before the onset of heavy rain.  The pattern was almost identical to last weekend, heavy rain and gales from 4pm until well into the night. At least this time I was sat in the comfort of the van with a good book and plenty of food. It meant we did not venture out to the pub for a drink or to see the fireworks just down the road. Fortunately race day dawned chilly, windy but dry. The car park suddenly filled up, the pub was open by 6.30 so we could use the toilets and registration was complete. Before 8 we trooped off down past the mill to the start.

A steep start! (not my photo, no sun for us)
The start was fierce up a very steep cobbled road and many of us slowed to a walk, determined not to use all our energy in the first 400m. The front runners missed the yellow road paint but were shouted back. Jon was on a mission and running well, in fact I could not keep up. The entry was not huge so we were soon fairly spread out. Once I  got used to watching for the markings it seemed fairly easy to navigate although we perhaps made a small error coming off Rocking Stone Quarry. Apparently some people went very wrong and never even made it to CP1. We also know that a number stayed straight on at Crimea Lane and took a short cut worth a couple of miles! The weather had now deteriorated  and it was a relief to turn off the A640 and not have the wind and rain in our faces.  We negotiated the lanes to CP2 to find we had been mysteriously overtaken.
Rainbow- just before I realised we had been ovrtaken
The weather continued bearable but changeable to the visitor centre at the far side of Marsden. The views of steep valleys, wild moors and mill towns were great and I should have taken my camera out more. A little pack of us ran together to CP3 and as we jogged up Standedge Trail the wind, rain and hail picked up. It wasn't the weather to stop for the promised cake so I grabbed a few gels and pushed on. There was then a rather sadistic descent into Marsden before a sharp turn and climb out past a flight of reservoirs. The rain was not constant so it was hood up, no down, no up again etc. I caught Jon around here and found he was furious about the short cutting. Sadly for him it made him despondent, whereas it fired me up determined to overtake people. This proved quite easy as they were moving slower anyway.  It was steadily up for about 4 miles but a scenic part of the course and no tarmac. The marshalls at CP4 were real heroes and despite their small camper van they must have been frozen in such an exposed position.
Great bit of the course (except for us it was rain, wind and hail)
The chocolate cake looked tempting but it was too cold to linger. After the short climb to Wessenden Head it was down hill on the road for a couple of miles before turning off across the moor. There was a herd of highland cattle with very impressive horns but they were very placid and even let me stroke their nose. I could see two runners ahead and used them to keep my pace up.
Nice moorland and no tarmac in sight.
Sadly I also stopped navigating and followed them east down Red Lane. Then running up the pavement to get back on route I tripped and bashed my knee and shoulder. We sorted out our position and were quickly back on route heading for Blackmoorfoot Reservoir and the last CP. A quick glance at the map showed almost all the rest was on roads and although they were small and mostly empty of traffic it would be hard on the feet and legs.We crossed the river Colne and Huddersfield narrow canal before the final climb over the hill just west of Golcar. I had hoped to break 5 hours but in the end was happy to get 5 hours 12 and finish as first lady and 6th overall. My knee was stiffening up and I was not at all sure I could face going round again. I ummed and arred for about 20 minutes but after cake and a bacon butty common sense prevailed (truly) and I called it a day.
Next year it will be sunny
It was sunny in Golcar but the idea of arriving over at Marsden as the light was fading and then finding gales and rain or worse was more than I could bear. If it had been a linear course or worth points in a league I am sure I could have gone on, but it was nice to stop. I had a very firm massage and then a long chat with Jon and others. Bob arrived back from his adventures a little later. He too had taken a tumble but once changed he came and joined us for refreshments.  What a great bunch the WRU folk are. Kerry stayed in good humour throughout, Matt was keen to listen to feedback re the route and shortcuts... the whole team were wonderful, especially the guy who made my bacon butty and about 6 cups of tea.
Shameless plug for North West Air Ambulance.....
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