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.

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