Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Update after a bit of a break

I've realised it has been pretty quiet on here for a while now.

Partly this was because we had a three week holiday in Morocco during May.

I ran in the GL3day at the start of May in what turned out to be a weekend of real contrasts. Saturday saw me run in thick low cloud, then crisp snow, then thigh deep drifts followed by more packed snow and then sunbathe at the end of the day. Sunday on the other hand beat me off the tops and caused my first dnf at a MM. The winds were strong and the rain heavy. I was not convinced it was safe for me to be on Ill Crag. Monday was less extreme and the RO this day decided on bad weather courses with a fair bit of running on quiet lanes.

Morocco was great. Fantastic scenery, culturally interesting and good trekking.

Despite some frustratingly short days there never really seemed a good opportunity to run although I did manage some great solo walks once the 'official' trek for the day was done.

I returned to find myself in a bit of a rut. Chores and family kept me at home for some time but I felt no inclination to run locally. I did try a couple of short local runs but felt pathetically unfit and cross. Making myself run also triggered my as yet unresolved foot injury. Luckily climbing on the indoor wall was going well and I enjoyed having both the boys around for my birthday. I had secretly hoped to run the Dales Way but was not in the right mental or physical state for this.
By early June I was itching to be away in the van and running somewhere interesting. Plans to reccee some of the Pennine 39 route changed when I discovered it was the Appleby Horse Fair and the area would be crowded. Instead we went to Shap.

Sadly the LDWA 3 Rings of Shap is cancelled this year due to lack of entries so or plan was to do rings 1 and 3 over two days - not fast but with lots of chance to explore interesting paths off to the sides when ever I fancied and also to make the most of the glorious hot and sunny weather.

 Ring 1 is like a fell race heading west up Mosedale and up to Branstree. The ground was as dry as it is ever likely to be (Mosedale and dry are not two words often found together) and I loved exploring the ridges to the sides of the valley path.

 The views from Roberts Seat were great and I wondered why the trig points in this area are just concrete rings on the ground?

From Branstree instead of following the race route I added a big descent and climb by going out to Harter Fell. This gave me some of the best views of the day- down Haweswater, over to Kidsty Pike and through into the higher peaks of the central Lake District.

Back at Branstree I trotted off to Selside on a lovely dry path.

Dropping on the race trod and past the crags I heard an agitated bird. The local buzzard was not happy and for the next ten minutes neither was I. It repeatedly swooped, sqwarked, dive bombed and attacked me.

 On it's second attempt at an attack from behind it's claws touched my sack. I was not sure whether to be awed by it all or scared. Luckily they have planted saplings on the fells side and used metal cages to keep the deer off. I used these and a zig zag run to escape. Bet it looked really comical.

 I arrived at Truss Gap tired and a bit frazzled. I had hoped to call in on Richard Lendon and see his new home but the place was deserted. Double shame as I had also run out of water now. They say things come in threes. At the next farm I was chased by cows and then at the next cottage I found an outside tap but could not turn it on. I resorted to steam water but the streams were very low so I was not really happy with this.

 None of this spoiled my day. It was very hot, wonderfully sunny, deserted and I was having fun. The pace wasn't fast overall but I clocked up 36km and was no longer in a rut. My foot behaved well until almost the end. Two litres of water back at the van rehydrated me enough to walk to the village shop for a tub of ice cream and a visit to the chippy later provided the starter for our evening meal.

 Sunbathing in solitude near Oddendale was the perfect finish to the day.
Friday was perhaps even hotter and I foolishly opted for a vest not a T shirt. Most of me was well weathered and brown but not the backs of my shoulders. Ring 3 in the race has always been 'let's get the job done and beat the dark'. Today I was determined to explore the side paths and interesting summits and limestone towers.

From Oddendale I headed south to the trig point beyond coalpit hill before turning back SE and joining the C2C towards Orton. I saw nobody for ages and the skylarks were the only noise. close to the Orton road I spotted Bob up ahead and ran with him until we reached Beacon Hill and it's stone cross.

The views into the Howgills and up onto Cross Fell and the Pennines were wonderful. Instead of dropping straight into the nature reserve I ran off to the Knotrt and another trig point. I ran along the ridge too but there was not much of a path so the ground was a mixture of tussocky grass and limestone. After exploring some stone towers /cairns I dropped back to the nature reserve and the big track to the road.

Bob would be far ahead of me again and I wondered when I would catch him up. Near Great Asby I ate and emptied my water bottle. the streams were empty so there was not chance to refill on the way to Gaythorne Hall or after it. The lane from the hall was easy running and I was soon past the road and on the grassy track leading to Crosby Ravensworth. Here I caught Bob again and as the pub was shut he gave me some of his water. He stuck to the route and plodded back to the van while I explored the track from Town Head. This was great and better than the race route. The stone track had a wide grassy verge and the whole thing soon became a grass track anyway. I turned left away from the van at every opportunity and found myself on a lovely path that led me back to the first trig I had explored in the morning. This just left a steady jog past Pot Rigg and the stone circle remains to arrive back at the van. About 38km of exploring in glorious sunshine. We lazed in the sun waiting for the rush hour traffic to disperse before reluctantly leaving. Reluctant because home meant decorating, gardening and planning an orienteering event. Tuesday was so humid that checking control sites became a walk rather than a run but by evening it was cooler and we drove to Lancaster for a sprint O. It was great fun but I will never be a sprinter and my orienteering and decision making was rather rusty. 9 minutes for the prolog and 20 for the final left me panting and my muscles thinking 'OK we are warmed up now so what is next?' It was too far to sensibly run home.
Time was running out to recee any of the Pennine 39 route so despite dodgy weather we drove to Dufton on Friday.

 Near Carnforth the rain was so bad we almost abandoned our plans but I am glad we didn't as by the time we parked it was dry and the low cloud was starting to break up.

I had no memory of the village so we explored a little and then joined the Pennine Way and set off for the hills. The initial climb is steady and fairly gentle so I was able to run almost all of it. We had planned to stick together today so I ran on and then back like an enthusiastic puppy.

By the time we reached Green Hill the sun was out and we could see Cross Fell.

The run over the tops of Great Dunn, Little Dun and then Cross Fell was lovely and a mixture of grass, a little bog and stone flag stones.

These stones should make the running easier but on the steeper downhills I never quite trust the greasy peat on them.

Cross Fell now has a big shelter cairn and we stopped to admire it and chat to walkers on the PW and one on LEGOG.

The descent to the col northwards gave us our first really wet feet of the day. Bob turned for home but |I explored onwards to Greggs hut and then cut up to the NE ridge and back to the summit.  Back at the col I chased down the wonderful grassy paths to catch Bob just before Kirkdale.

He had waited there and we set off to find the Hanging Walls of Mark Anthony. I am not sure we did find them but we saw some old earth terracing so maybe? We then suffered from only having a 1:50000 map and lost the path.

After deep bracken , a stream crossing and a field of very lively and excitable bullocks we got back onto our planned route and arrived in Milburn. The sky was now purple and it was clear we would get wet; very wet!

The last five miles on lanes were warm but the roads were awash and fields were flooded so by the van we were drowned rats. Almost 26 miles and a good day on mostly new territory. Either I was not running hard enough or my experiment with a wider shoe suited my poorly foot.

We then spent the weekend in the Lakes meeting friends we will go to Nepal with later in the year. Saturday was wet although we did manage a low level walk but Sunday was lovely and we scrambled in Duddon valley.

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