Monday, 27 July 2015

A leisurely weekend in the Peak District

We had no races planned and our volunteering was not required after all at Lakeland 100 so what to do? Then a message popped up on facebook or the FRA forum- running slowly around Bullock Smithy over two days does anyone want to join me? Actually YES. I have only done the BSH once before and it was after a long drive back from the Alps. I knew virtually nothing of the route and was still only getting into ultras. The first half I know a bit and also doubt I will be alone too much here so the plan was to join Andrew for the second half on Sunday. Bob is toying with doing the Long Tour of Bradwell this year but does not know the route. A plan was hatched. Watch the Tour de France on Friday, have tea and drive to Stanage.

We slept at the parking below High Neb but got an early wake up call from the ranger who said we shouldn't be there, but never mind. It was chilly as we left the van but the sky was blue and we soon warmed up climbing up to the Edge.

 I remembered to show Bob the sneaky little self clip that is easy to miss and was pleased to find the track had been repaired from its very eroded state two years ago when I last did the race. The 3km along the edge and up to the trig point were a joy.

 It was warm and sunny and the ground was dry.It did not take long to drop to the road and CP spot at Upper Burbage bridge.

There is a choice of three routes here. The western route is shortest but has some climb. The middle route in the valley can be boggy and the eastern route is slightly longer but very easy. We agreed on race day the eastern option might be favourite so off we trotted. The next self clip at Toads Mouth should be on the gate/path etc according to the grid ref and the description but I know I have had to stand on a rock in the stream and stretch up so I mentioned all this too. The next section to Bolehill went well and even without any tapes Bob thought the nav was quite easy. I stressed he must look for the self clip in the wall corner as last year Andy and I met runners climbing back up from the railway line. A few fields and then the riverside path brought us to Leadmill bridge near Hathersage.
View from Stanage tooking across the the mast at Wolf Pits
No CP today so we ate our own food as we climbed the road past the pub and then the lane to Hazelford Hall. The section to Stoke Ford was longer than I remembered but I was enjoying myself at a pace I found comfy. The path to Abney was a bit overgrown but as dry as it ever gets.
Not sure where the blue blob came from

I managed to run almost the whole way from Abney to the quarry track- bet I cannot do that in a fortnights time! There was no need to drop all the way to Bradwell today but we did need to get some climbing in our legs and so went almost to the tarmac before turning back uphill to rejoin Brough Lane. At Elmore Farm Bob thought the blue gates looked familiar and then realised this was the way the short route returns up and over to Bradwell.

 We stopped on Townfield Lane to admire a barn 'dressed up' for a wedding; it looked stunning. Shatton was quiet and non-touristy compared to all the other villages in the area. Footpaths from there led us north until we could join the disused rail-track path. It was a gentle gradient and we soon reached the cut-off where the long course drops to the fields by the river Derwent.

We admired the mill, weir and sculpture before climbing to Bamford to cross the main road.

 Bob had printed off new instructions and it seems Bamford Clough was shut.
Great views of the early part of the route
The diversion took us on an undulating route south-east past the water works and then north east up Hurstclough Lane. It seemed further to me and the climbs were broken up into stages. I wonder if we will go that way on race day? From the last hamlet there was just a short section on a quiet road to reach the van.

 Running backwards and forwards meant I covered 21 miles. We were not racing and were happy to have been out 5 hours 20 mins. I cannot get my garmin to load to strava so I have no idea what the climb was but on race day the overall will be 2094m. We refuelled at the van  and then set off in search of a shop and place to spend the night. I have done a few races in the area but do not know the roads well so it was interesting to keep arriving places and thinking 'I have crossed this road here'. The car park below Tideswell at the entrance to the dale was fairly quiet and starting to empty. We were joined by a huge german lorry/campervan that looked like it was set up to circumnavigate the world off road. I was tempted to explore the dale but Bob was tired so we sat eating, drinking and reading.

Sunday saw us up bright and early ready to meet Andrew on his campsite near Chelmorton. We do not know each other well so I was looking forward to making a new friend and having company on my run. Bob was doing his own thing near Shining Tor and then collecting me in Hazel Grove. The forecast said rain by 11 so not a morning to hang about. A rather sheepish Andrew met me at his tent. He was crocked and did not think his achilles would survive the run with me. Having explained where he had stashed some water we said bye. Bob dropped me on the edge of Chelmorton and I climbed a couple of fields to join the BSH route. I had only hazy memories of this but bits did come back to me as I ran and when I reached Earl Sterndale I spotted the church hall CP and the unusual pub (The Quiet Woman). The views on the next part were wonderful with funny little edges that I really wished I had time to go and explore. I helped a lost cyclist and pushed on to Dowel Dale.

 The section I most wanted to check was Booth Farm to Brand Top but actually it seemed easy. The old school room CP and the telephone box are good landmarks. I made one small error climbing to the road at Hilltop when I lost the path in a field of very long un-mowed or un-grazed grass but it did not cost me much.

The route to Knotberry looked complicated on the map but was easy and I was soon heading down to Three Shires bridge and then Cumberland Cottage.

From Clough House it is a road section but I was making good time and in positive mode told myself to make the most of the good surface. I met almost no traffic and was at Forest Chapel before I knew it.

Climbing up Charity Lane the drizzle started and I stopped to put my cag on. I did check the off road route but by now the rain was heavier and on race day it will be dark at this point. There seemed little point taking the scenic route here or over Kerridge Hill. One day I will go back and run the ridge and get to see White Nancy!

I was happy to leave the traffic on the main road and joined the lane contouring the hill but with good views over the Cheshire Plain. The next lane past all the quarries seemed to drag on and I think I must have been taken a different way in the race.
I left my camera in the van as the forecast was rain
I arrived on the edge of Bollington but made an error that took me in a look around the big factory so adding a few hundred metres. Hopefully I will get it right in the dark on race day. I was dreading the next section as tow paths and rail lines both stretching on into the distance are not my thing. The tow path was OK and I found the CP.  Along the rail track I tried to concentrate on a good pace as it was so level. I used other walkers and runners to pull me along and the bridge numbers to tick off the distance. Near Wood Lanes I stopped under a bridge to eat the last of my food. The rain pushed me on and a quick glance at my watch showed with a bit of effort I could be back before 1pm. Bob and I had arranged to meet at the garden centre and I had estimated I would be there by 2pm. As I was running along Towers Lane admiring the posh houses my phone pinged. In under 5 mins I would be there so I raced on and arrived at the van just as Bob was putting on a waterproof before heading to the cafe. Perfect timing. The van is great on days like this. I stripped, got dry clothes on and made food. Revived we decided against the garden centre and drove to Decathlon in search of bargains instead. Not a bad day with 5 hours and covering 24 miles. I will not have time to recee the rest but feel happier to have done the second half. We drove home in time for the final day of the Tour de France and Froomes victory.

1 comment:

  1. Karen - I think that at least of the leading guys make more of the road in the last half than you have intimated in your recee, I certainly do nowadays. It makes nav much easier in the dark and the underfoot going is better to - just a huge amount of tarmac to contend with. That said I have alternated years between Macclesfield Forest track and the longer, less height gain road loop. The route up to the A road before the descent to Cumberland cottage can be tricky too - pin pointing the tall stile to get over the wall. I'm sure you'll be fine...