The church centre was full for the weekend but we managed to find a spot for the van. A quick climb up the hill and into the wind reassured us that we should not be on the high tops.
The view was great and we had a lovely run down the grassy paths.
Next stop Raven Crag. The forestry commission had been busy with bulldozers but luckily we only had to cross their path and not follow it. I had never been up here before and it was steep. We arrived at the summit to find low cloud and no view.
We waited and it changed to intermittent view but only of the dam at the end of Thirlmere. The Helvellyn ridge was now lost in cloud despite being covered with blue skies when we got up. We took in Castle Crag too as I had never been there either.
|Nice new cag from RAB, shame my eyes are shut!|
Parked in the NT car park we set off through the woods and up by the gill. Again a steep short ascent. It was a bit claggy on the tops but we got some views and were back in the van before the rain got going. I should say at this point that we cheated- this was not a Steve Birkinshaw attempt. We used the van to move between these spots!
We moved along the main road, escaped Keswick which was full of shoppers and headed towards Cockermouth. The lanes looked small on google earth but we got the van through Wythop Mill and found a brilliant parking area just where we needed it.
I missed the trip to orienteer on Sale Fell in the snow and gales a few years ago so it was another first for me. No snow this time but the winds wee strong. Again we got the views and a wonderful grassy descent that I defy anybody not to run down.
As we headed for Ling Fell the rain drops started. Not heavy but as we had more planned for the afternoon we put over trousers on to stay dry. We opted for the wide path with gentle contours- which was fine except it meant we almost circumnavigated the hill before we reached the top.
Another windy trig point and another lovely descent- albeit a bit warm in full waterproofs. Back to the van for lunch and just in time as the heaviest rain poured down.
We sat with soup and sandwiches listening to the rain and checking the van heater was working well. By the time we had driven to Loweswater the rain had stopped. Two more to go and our pan would be complete. We could not see the path over Darling Fell but found a good trod and headed directly for Low Fell.
It was an interesting area with lots of little sub peaks but the real plus were the views up Buttermere and into Grasmore etc. We carried on north along the edge and went out to inspect some crags before the final peak of the day Fellbarrow.
The run off this was a little rougher and then boggy and we were starting to notice the fading light. As we hit the old road- now just a rough track the sky over the coast was purple.
We stepped up the pace. As we left the road and started down the fields the first drops fell. It became a sprint back to the van to out pace the rain. We made it just! The rain came down in buckets and I was shocked how suddenly it also became dark. Friday night with a full moon never got really dark, even when I got up in the middle of the night for a wee. Tonight was very dark, it was black. This is when the van comes into it's own. We were cosy. made cups of tea and read then cooked before an early night. We certainly made the most of the day.
Sunday was the Copeland Chase. It was a first for us although I am not really sure why we had never been before. The drive round did not take long and we parked in a layby next to the solitary portaloo. I had entered the long course and knew this meant I would be up against all the fastest men. ie I would not be very competitive but would certainly get a long hard run. The Copeland Chase is a small and relaxed affair, a bit like the Warrior O trial. We paid as promised, got ready and went to collect our map. The short uphill walk to the unmanned start allowed me a chance to glance at the map. The map was A3 and CP1 was on the far right whereas the start was on the far left. It was going to be a hard run and that was without worrying about route choice or navigation. I shamelessly picked out Steve and Martin in the distance and tried to use them to make me run on the slowly rising land. The rain that started as I took my map had stopped and there was a beautiful rainbow. I wasn't fast but did catch Steve who had raced Dunnderdale the day before. We stormed past Stuart from Nav 4 and then suddenly I was on my own. I aimed for a small col and the control was exactly where I expected, even if it was low on the ground and almost hidden. Leg 2 was almost as long and gave me a real headache for route choice. I decided on down and around which was mostly good running if my legs could be persuaded.I did have to stop and remove my cag and did have a few moments of indecision on the way. On the north side of Carling Knott I followed the fence steeply uphill which was fine until the trod ended and the hillside became more tussocky. Tussocks are not so bad on a downhill but for me are a nightmare on an uphill. The fences made the nav easy and I arrived at the junction to find a lovely grassy slope leading down to the path leading west to Owsen Fell. I knew my control was a cairn and so was a bit surprised to find it missing- until I checked the map and saw there were two cairns! The views were superb and really regretted not leaving my camera in my sack. Yes I know it was a race but a few seconds would not matter much in the wider scheme of 3-4 hours.As I turned to run back to Burnbank Fell I passed Jim Mann and Matt Volkes. I had given up wondering who was on which course after loosing and then finding Martin Skinner.To avoid the top I hopped the fence and contoured but I did not dare to drop and so the level or slightly uphill contour was a mistake over rough ground. Well, it was a mistake for me- Jim seemed to find it OK. Leaving CP3 Jim powered off into the distance but I was pleased to spot the trod he missed and almost caught him up again on the way to Blake Fell. I did wonder about a trod to the east of Blake Fell but was not sure whereas I knew there was a trod to the west as I had used it at the FRA relays back in 2009. By the time I emerged to the south of the summit Jim had vanished. I aimed for CP4 and although Quentin pointed out that he saw me deviate off to the right for me it was a tiny error of about 60m! The time I lost in that was nothing to the time I lost on the next climb back over Gavel! Quentin disappeared and I flogged uphill. I aimed for the top kowing it would mean a good path once I arrived there. I then repeated some of my route to CP1 and had fun running downhill on a boggy but good path. I was lucky as another runner was at the CP and so I lost no time searching for the very ruined fence line. I had mostly been on my own for the morning especially from 1-2 and 3-4 but now there were more people about and some on my course. As I climbed back out from CP5 I met others going down. I kept ahead while I was on the trod but was soon caught as I hit the tussocks. It did mean that as I left CP6 I was able to chase a guy from WCOC and I am sure it made me run harder. By the time I was on the forest track on the way to CP7 there were half a dozen of us running. This last CP had a mean little climb and then a tricky fence to climb to get to the finish. Not a bad run in the end at 3 hours 40 mins. I guess there were bits where I could have pushed myself faster but on the whole I was pleased with my run, route choice and nav. Karen Parker beat me by 20 mins and Shane, Steve B, Quentin and Lewis etc were some way ahead. I was grateful for the cup of tea and cake and also for our van where I changed and then made another brew and sandwich before heading out for the prize giving. Julian was 2nd and 1st vet on the short course and Quentin was first vet on the long so a good day for SROC. Bob had enjoyed his run but kicked himself for his route choice at the very start. We agreed we were too tired to do anything on the way home and anyway the good weather did not last.