Saturday, 6 June 2015

Shap and recees

Bob needs to complete the 3 Rings of Shap to get his long counter in the Runfurther series. He is sure he will do some in the dark and was keen to see what was involved. Tuesday evening saw us parked up at Oddendale with wonderful views across the almost hidden M6 and into the lakes.

 There was plenty of light left so we set off to check the return to Shap from Ring 3 and then back to the van for the start of Ring 3. It was only 7km and even me running backwards and forwards a bit only added 1km. I got back just before the rain which seemed horrid as the wind hit the windscreen but Bob said it was no more than a shower on his back. I w as hoping to test out me Petzl torch but at 10pm it was still very light so I gave up and went to bed.

Wednesday was for the remainder of Ring 3. It is the best loop in many ways and although I was tired last year I did enjoy it even then. We set off across short grass and what seemed to be big wide mowed paths.

The ground is undulating but it is all runnable. I explored a nearby burial mound and allowed Bob time to check his notes. The written instructions are pretty good. Before long we were passing the huge glacial erratic and descending to the minor road.

The verge of this led us south towards Orton and the limestone. After a short climb we reached the memorial cross on Great Asby scar and wonderful views into the northern Howgills and the Pennines further east.

We stopped to read the memorial and to soak in the views, after all it was a recee and not a race.

The path through the limestone nature reserve was great and it was warmer as we moved off the tops and out of the wind.

 I showed Bob where the CP would be and then there was a short section of road. I remembered the next section as a long climb up a farm road but today it passed very quickly and High Cup Nick and Cross Fell looked wonderful.

Crossing the next fields the sheep ran madly and one with huge horns got tangled in the wire fence. Bob got a smashed thumb for his thanks but the silly creature did seem to understand that we were trying to help him.

Gaythorne Hall is an interesting historic pile and we got through just before the cows.

 Again my memory of the next section was a long drag up to the real road but it passed in no time and I looked forward to the grassy path down to Crosby Ravensworth. It is a lovely village and without an discussion we agreed we could live there!

Unlike on race day I had time to admire the buildings and the old sandstone lump by the church.

 It was getting warm now and I feared the next section would be too much road. It did start as quiet lane but soon became a rough track and then a path across the fields. Oddendale is a cluster of at least 5 farm houses although I suspect they are not all farmers now.

 I raced ahead (well not really raced) and was back and changed but without the kettle on! We had eaten on the route but now tucked into bread and cheese with gusto. It was only early afternoon and far too many hours were left to just sit.
So we drove down to Shap and set out to recee Ring 1. This is the mountain loop and the shortest but perhaps the toughest. On race day beware runners racing who are not doing all 3 Rings.

I knew we would not keep dry feet for long although without a queue of hikers we were able to use the stepping stones. Wet Sleddale itself was fairly dry and it was only after Sleddale Hall that we started to get wet feet.

 Once we crossed the watershed and dropped into Mosedale it was very wet. I don't think this valley EVER get dry. I still felt fairly fresh but Bob was tiring a little so I explored the cottage and waited.

 The virtually pathless slog from the cottage to the wall on the lower slopes of Branstree was the toughest section.

 I spotted two big deer but they shot off across the fellside without letting me get close. I explored out to the funny trig point and also the two little tower cairns.

The views into The eastern lake fells and High Street were a bit hazy and into the sun but still worth admiring.

The grassy drop to the col before Selside was fun and then the climb fairly short.

I knew we had to turn left but tried to turn too early- Hobgrumble Gill is not a place to try to descend. We climb back to the fence and went on. Then it all made sense, for a few minutes. I was using last years instructions and Bob had printed fresh ones.

Ah. I found a grassy descent that cut the corner a little and we jogged on to CP1. Here I spotted another deer and this time it looked at me for some time before trotting off.

 Then came the United Utility obstacle. the footbridge was gone and the stepping stones inaccessible. We climbed their locked gate and used their vehicle track. I wonder what the instructions will be on race day? A rising traverse soon brought us to Tailbert. It was getting late and we were both flagging a little. We cut it short and headed for Keld. We probably only saved 2-3 km in the end but from Keld it was an easy run across fields and past the Googleby stone and back to the van.

 We moved the van a short way onto the fell near Hardendale and were happy with our day.
Thursday dawned bright and sunny.It would be very warm later. Again we dropped to Shap and after a few minutes in the New Balance shop set out on Ring 2.

This was my least favourite ring last year as it has so much track and road but perhaps I was also just tired after racing Ring 1 so hard. The start is up a wet, overgrown and rocky lane but fortunately it is only short. A few fields and the hamlet of Hardendale and we were off.

A turn to check on Bob showed the Lakes looking beautiful. Once over the M6 we were soon close to where we spent the night and jogging up through very pleasant open woods. Heading down on a lovely field I spotted beautiful green grass and stretched my legs out. Mistake. The bright green hid deep watery mud. One leg went in up to the thigh and I threw my hands down only to find them disappear up to the arm pits. It must have looked hilarious.  I used my spare top to wipe myself down and prayed that I had not drowned another camera. There was a slight route change after Reagill Grange with it's odd chimney pots where they skipped a bit of woodland with an awkward path.

 The first 3 fields after Reagill village are downhill and fun but then we met the cows (I am not a fan and these were decidedly frisky) and then the rough area where they have felled one lot of wood and planted another. Following the path here is awful for several hundred metres.

 What follows is good though, Several Km along the River Lyvennet almost all the way to the pretty village of Morland.

A few dinks through the village up steps, round corners and past the church and we were back on the river again.

The climb out of Cliburn goes on a bit but we had a 3 day old foal to entertain us in the sunshine. 2-3km on quiet road led us to Great Strickland and the CP at the pub.

 This bit was taking an age and I wanted to run so we split. In no time I was under the M6 and crossing the A6 at Hackthorpe. I found a better line through the common land and entered the Lowther Estate deer park. I set myself the challenge of getting back before my garmin ran out. It would be close but I could try.

 I raced down to High Knipe and the concrete block where the water would be. Sadly there was no water today and I had run out. I had a short play on the suspension bridge and contemplated filling my bottle with river water.

Running along the river was  easy even in the heat but I failed to find water even in Bampton Grange. I should have gone in the pub but was racing my garmin now. I almost made it. 2km from Shap it stopped.

Ah well. It meant I did not feel duty bound to race the last three fields and just as  well as the grass was almost knee deep and very energy sapping. Phew. back to the van for water and more water. Then a wash and a sit in the sun reading as I waited for Bob. He too had run out of water and it slowed his last miles considerably. We stoked up our energy stores with a bag of chips each. They didn't last long.
So. All 3 Rings receed bar the very end of Ring 1 and we had both caught the sun.

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