Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A day of recovery, but not from running

Sadly we returned home from the SLMM to bad news. We had been home less than an hour when a policeman arrived at the door. One look at his face told me it was bad. Mum had suffered a stroke and was in hospital and dad had suffered a heart attack and died.  Today was to be a day of relaxation and time for myself after a fortnight of funeral arrangements, wills and constant visits to check on mum.

We parked at Elterwater and Bob and I set off on our separate challenges. I was keen for a day of adventure on my own and getting some climb in my legs for the UTMB. Bob had his eye on a number of Wainrights. Running through the village there seemed to be many tourists about but after 20 minutes of running  I was alone and I did not see many people until much later in the day. This might have had something to do with the low cloud, breeze and constant misting drizzle. I stayed sort of dry over Lingmoor and down to Blea Tarn but by Hollin Crag I was getting so wet I had to stop and put my cag on. Pike O Blisco was misty and at first I could not see Red tarn. Climbing towards Crinkle Crags the rain got worse and it was chilly in the breeze. I was trying to factor in extra climbing so earlier I had dropped almost to Little Langdale and now I dropped down Long Top and climbed back up near Rest Gill. This confused the old guy wandering along the tops but never-mind. By Bowfell the cloud was lifting a little and at Ore Gap I decided on an excursion to the Gerry Charnley cairn. Bob had failed to find it so I was keen to see if I could find it easily and what landmarks I could give him. From there I went over Esk Pike and down to a rather crowded Esk Hause.

I shared my map with some kids waiting for their parents and then did Great End as an out and back.  Scafell Pike would be too far and was more likely to be crowded. I ran down to Styhead tarn and then back up to Allen Crags. Now it was warm and I stopped to remove my cag. My phone rang... an update on mum.... so much for my day of solitude.

 Sat talking made me cold so I blasted to Angle tarn and then to Stake Pass. By now the sun was out and I was more relaxed about staying out on the tops. Leaving Pike O Stickle and running to Thunacar Knott my phone went again. I stopped to text my brother.

All the news and updates clearly distracted me as leaving Sergeant man running fairly fast down hill I suddenly realised I was heading NE and not SE. Oops. There followed a bit of off path running above Coledale Tarn to get back on route near Blea Rigg. The rest was simple going SE again and again until Silver Howe, or it would have been if I had stuck to the main paths and not tried to follow sheep trods that eventually led me through head high bracken.

I emerged at the van tired but happy after 8 hours. It has also reawakened my desire to the to GCWay again and to try it anticlockwise... and adventure for the autumn perhpas.


Trying to decide on a favourite MM is not easy. I love the LAMM for the Scottish wilderness and more extreme hills. I perversely like the OMM for the worst October can sometimes throw at us and I am growing to like the RAB as I try to get my head around score events and running solo. I like the SLMM for so many reasons: always an easy drive from home, usually fantastic weather, meeting up with so many friends as competitors and organisers.... and in recent years for daring to go solo and do the Klets. This responsibility and independence is a challenge, along with carrying all the gear. I am usually the only woman mad enough to try and this year was the second oldest person. At some stage I may have to give up, but not yet.

As usual we had agreed to help with parking and we were glad it was sunny and dry as we headed for Patterdale. The parking was split with cars for campers near the assembly and camper-vans and Saturday cars in a flatter field across the road. Being in charge of just the vans on Friday night meant a very relaxed evening, although we did not see as many people as usual. At 10.20 we turned off the radios with the final message from me being "Can we go to bed now David?"

With long hours of daylight in July the start time was a civilized 8.15. Plenty of time for breakfast, toilet and chatting. I actually set off with Bill J but knew I was unlikely to stay with him for long whereas Steve W and I played leapfrog all day. The first 5 CPs were in a logical order and apart from a bit of a blip at the first I was quite happy with my navigating. This lulled me into a sense of false security, especially as I was quite familiar with the area of mines at the top of Greenside.  I was so busy trying to decide which order to do the 4 controls on the western side of the ridge that I failed to notice how folded my map was. I knew how to get to the CP at the ski tow.....  and then it dawned on me that the runners ahead had disappeared. Oh ****. I had failed to see the CP on the dam below Catstycam.  Furious with myself I shot off to do the loop of controls as fast as I could knowing that I would have to re-climb the main ridge, drop to the control and climb out again. How could I have been so stupid? I was adding 700m of climb and about 40 mins but at no point did I consider just leaving it and being dnf. Once out of that control I was at least high on the main ridge with short grass and good running unlike the eventual winner who tried to traverse the western slopes lower down. The final descent to the woods on the A591 punished the quads but I made good time and overtook several people. I downloaded, laughed at my splits, collected the milk and went to put the tent up. Lots of chance to chat with Pete, Lins, Chris V and Chris BH, Roy, Jim plus so many more. Before I got very worried Bob arrived. A long day and cross with himself for a mp. By mid evening the rain arrived along with midges so we scuttled into the tents. Fortunately by morning the rain had stopped although the cloud level was very low. I lay in the tent and planned my day. Only one control was really odd and I decided it had to be done fairly early as an out and back. Missing the chasing start meant a big queue in a midgy valley but we soon spread out and by the first CP I was alone. I knew where the next two were as the routes crossed my path yesterday so that made for easy nav if not easy running. By the time I reached Grisedale tarn my legs were tired and I changed my plan. Why? Lesson- stick with the plan made after an hour of study. Do not change to one made in oxygen debt. Dropping to the stream below Ruthwaite Lodge and then climbing Deepdale Hause I added yet more distance and the need to cross close to the summit of Fairfield twice. My original plan was shorter and missed climbing Fairfield at all. As I left Deepdale Hause I found myself alone again and when I dropped to the deep deep valley south of Great Rigg the only people I met were coming the other way. I ran alone for the next section and only down in Sleet Cove did I have company again, this time with people on different courses going in all directions. The ridge on Hartsop Above How seemed to have more sub peaks then the map showed and I looked for the control too early. The last CP was cunningly hidden through some open woodland but not hard to find.

I finished in warm sun content that I had completed another Klets. Despite the foolish rethink I had moved up places today but failed to beat Steve W overall by seconds. As only female that was no challenge so I was pleased to be 9th overall and 3rd vet on handicap.

More Wainrights with Bob

Although the SLMM had moved we decided against the Tde F and headed for the lakes. By the time we reached Buttermere the weather was pretty dreadful. The waterfall at Newlands was most impressive and the road upto Honister was remarkably similar to the evening of the fated OMM! Bob had hoped to be dropped at the top of Honister, grab a couple of Wainrights and join me at the foot of Fleetwith Pike. I was quite relieved when he changed his mind- I would not have to worry about him nor would I have to drive the van back down the flooded road. Instead we moved just north of Buttermere and Bob did a quick ascent and back of Riggingdale Knott to test his new waterproof and to gain one Wainright. I sat and read, cosy in the van.
Luckily the weather moved through and Saturday was fine. We set off from Newlands Hause amazed at how the water level in the waterfall had dropped overnight. I used the opportunity to try out the poles I had acquired for the UTMB.

 I have some reservations as it means my hands are full so I may not eat, drink etc so easily but they do seem to keep me more upright on the uphills which should be good for keeping my diaphram open. We were soon on Knott Rigg and reminising about routes and CPs from the RAB last autumn. The run along this ridge and over Ard Crags was a joy with great views in all directions.

We then dropped inot the valley and crossed a couple of lanes and fields before climbing Cat Bells, start of a RAB and a LDMT. We continued over Maiden Moor, High Spy and on to Dale Head. It was cool and breezy on the tops but still sunny.

I met a DoE group that had camped out wild and took their photo for them. These hills have steep sides but are grassy and runnable, perhaps I should do the Anniversary Waltz again next year. From Dale Head we headed for Hindscarf and then Robinson.

The moss between there and the van at Newlands Hause was as wet as I expected but as we were going downhill it was less of a trial. We had considered adding in Grey Knotts and Fleetwith Pike after Dale Head and in retrospect we should have done.

It was only mid afternoon when we arrived back at the van. After chilling and refuelling I drove back to Honister and Bob set off to claim the other peaks. I parked near Gatesgarth farm and then powered up Fleetwith Pike.

It was steep but I set myself a target of 35 minutes. I hoped to meet Bob here but could not see him. I ran off down to the mine works and still no luck. I raced back to the top just in case to see him emerging along a trod.

Sundays adventure started from Loweswater and included some of the lower and more outlying fells. The scree path up melbreaks looked awful and the DH race avoided descending it so we set off along the bridleway and then just headed upwards after the crags.

It was a tough start to the day! There was no easy or logical way to include all the Wainrights we wanted today.

From Melbreaks we dropped to Scale Beck and then climbed up beside it to almost the top before breaking out towards Little Dood and Starling Dodd.

These tops were quiet and we had seen almost nobody today.  After Great Bourne we skirted Floutern Tarn and did Hen Cloud as an out and back. It was a joy to reach Gavel Fell and leave the boggy bottoms behind.

Heading for Blake Fell I started recognising the terrain from the FRA relays held there some years ago. Although it is not a Wainright we included the craggy edge out to Carling Knott before our final peak Burnbank Fell.

The run off this to the NE made us smile and we were soon down in Holme Wood and strolling back to the van. We decided trying to include Darling Fell etc could spoil the day.

Considering the rain on Friday evening it was a very successful weekend. The write up is a bit short and factual and I now see why I try to complete this task sooner after the event.