Saturday, September 26, 2015

Scafell Section Recce

from High Raise

I had been conned into entering the 3 x 3000 Ultra race, a 50 mile race taking in the three summits in the Lake District over 3000ft in height.  I was familiar with most of the course but had never been down the Whythburn valley, mainly due to everybody saying how awful and boggy it is.

at the start, running along the track by the side of Dunmail Raise
looking towards Thirlmere before climbing the fells to the left
I had a route planned out which would allow me to take in the return leg from Scafell Pike to Whythburn church and would cover about 20 miles, meaning it could double as a good training run for the actual event.

This went over the fells passing Harrop and Blea Tarns to Watendlath before picking up the race route.

up at the beautiful Harrop Tarn
the fence going up to High Tove.  I've been along the fence,
 I've crossed overand kept the high line and I've crossed over
 on the footpath past Blea Tarn (today's route).  There isn't a
 dry way over but I'd say the footpath is the least wettest out
 of those oprions.
After discovering that the Armboth Car Park wanted about £7 for parking, I drove on to the Bob Graham verge at the side of Dunmail Pass and parked there, following the footpath over to Steel End Farm where I crossed the road to the Thirlmere shoreline path.  I then climbed steeply to Harrop Tarn and on to Blea Tarn.  Tough ground on this section, very boggy and then a steep descent into the hanging valley of Watendlath before taking on the familiar route through Rosthwaite and on to Seathwaite.  I took the shorter route around the tarns going straight from Styhead Pass to Esk Hause (or the shelter just by Esk Hause), missing out on the summit of Scafell Pike in an effort to save some energy in my legs but also because I was finding it tough going.

Blea Tarn, quite lovely
The Esk Hause shelter marked the start of the unfamiliar territory.  Once I had picked out the track over towards Rosset Pike, it was pretty easy to find the way, following the path over to Angle Tarn.  From here I took a path up towards the Langdale Pikes, contouring round a bit to High Raise.  The actual race route takes a much steeper and more difficult direct ascent to High Raise, the big fell they don't really tell you about on the 3 x 3000, it still reaches 2500ft and is a significant climb.

another beauty of a tarn - Watendlath
I met some Duke of Edinburgh award people there, planning to camp in Langstrath valley.  I picked my way over rough ground (more direct but tougher going than the race route) to pick up the famously wet and boggy Whythburn valley.  By this point, I had some pretty bad blisters on my feet.
I should have stopped at High Raise to sort my feet out but pressed on.  Quite a bit of walking towards the end until I got back on the road and then crossed over to take the footpath on the east side of Dunmail Raise, heading back to the car.

This was a tough run.  Only 23 miles but felt like a lot longer.  On reflection, some long runs in the last few weeks.  I could have done with a rest!

past Styhead Tarn and on to Sprinkling Tarn.  Green and Great Gables behind

from near Esk Hause looking towards Langdale

Angle Tarn with Bowfell behind

Monday, September 21, 2015


Binsey summit

Fiona makes a rare appearance
Binsey was a good option for an easy recovery run after the Cumbria Way Ultra relay a few days before.  As my mum and dad were staying, my wife and I had a rare opportunity to go for a run.  

The main challenge on the Binsey circuit is the first climb from the road, straight up the eastern side of the fell.  It's definitely runnable.  Today I zig-zagged across the path and dropped back a few times to meet up with Fiona again (yeah, she's a bit slow).  

Once at the top, I was able to tell her about the relative absence of further climbing.  We continued on my usual route, over the farm land of Whittas Park (no right of way but never had problems there) to pick up the footpath over to High Ireby and then back on the roads with a bit of a sting in the tail hill at the end.  

All around 5.5 miles and a lovely evening out.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cumbria Way Ultra relay

Howard and I receiving our prizes for being the first pair

So my little pretend running club, Hardly AC, which stands for Hardly Any Climbing, put forward a few teams for the Cumbria Way Ultra.  The whole route is about 73 miles.  We put in a team for the five person relay, Kelly, Paul, Ryan, Bobby and Joanne which was roughly 15 miles each.  They came in third out of nine teams.  Howard and I did the two person relay with Howard doing the first 43 miles and me doing the last 30.  We came first out of two teams.

I had said to Howard that I would have preferred to do the first bit, even though it was significantly longer, I thought I would rather do this than run in the dark.  Howard convinced me that we would finish in daylight so I went with his original plan.  After meeting during the week to work out the, not insignificant, logistics of getting all our kit to kit check on Friday night or Saturday morning and then back to the runners in time to start, it seemed like it was going to be a pretty relaxed day.  It was certainly a bit strange not having to get up particularly early.  I think I ended up setting off at about 2.30pm from Keswick after an hour or so waiting nervously.  Howard got a bit behind schedule after experiencing some stomach issues but, as he got close, I got text updates and was ready to go when he came down the street.

waiting nervously with Paul from Derwent AC
I set off quickly, running through the Saturday afternoon Keswick crowds.  At Spooney Green Lane, I walked the steep parts and then made my way steadily up to the car park at Latrigg.  By this stage, I knew I was going to find it difficult.  Not that great as I was about two miles into the thirty odd miles I had to run.

As I headed around the back of Lonscale Fell and reached Skiddaw House, Paul, a runner on the five man team from Derwent AC, came thundering past me.  I turned off to take the North East branch of The Cumbria Way, all the time thinking of the horrible track up along the beck on the way up to High Pike.  I got to the beck and turned left up the track.  I was happy to see it was well marked, I've spent plenty of time here previously, thinking I had found a better route through only to get very wet feet.  I was finding it very hard going and sat down for a bit to have a bit of flapjack for some energy.  As I sat, the eventual second place solo runner, Pete passed me.  I caught up with him towards Lingy Hut and ran into Caldbeck and then about half of the last section with him.  Once he had established that I was not in the solo race, and so not competing with him, we had a really nice chat.

At Caldbeck I drank coke, ate cake and sweets, refilled my water and tried to cool down.  Running with Pete had pushed me on a bit.  He asked if he could run the last bit with me and we set off together but he was going faster than me and I was relieved when he eventually pressed on.

The last bit of the route from Caldbeck is nice enough but it doesn't compare with the fells and trails of the Lake District.  The track traces the outlines of fields and I was relieved to get to Dalston before needing a headtorch.  At Dalston, I changed into a warmer top and then, even though it was flat ground along the cycle track, it really was a slog to the end.

Joanne and Bobby, Hardly AC five person relay team members, were waiting at the end.  This was lucky as Joanne was giving me a lift home.  I had a few drinks, felt a bit sick and then fell asleep in the back of Joanne's car.

I found this event a lot harder than it was.  Maybe I was tired from the St Bega's Ultra a few weeks before or maybe the afternoon start messed up my running.  It was nice to get Hardly AC on the podium and a good group effort.  Well done team.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Walla Crag

From Walla Crag with Skiddaw and Dodd on the other side of Keswick

David on the summit with Derwent Water and the Newlands/Coledale fells behind

another lovely evening

There are lots and lots of trails around here.  It's great for an after worker.  We started at Keswick Theatre and crossed through Castlehead Wood, through Castlerigg and up the grassy slope to the wall where we ran over to the summit.  Beautiful evening light at the summit, we took a few pictures and then headed off towards Ashness Bridge, turning at the wall to pick up the track which forms the last part of the Scafell Trail Marathon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags

Bowscale Fell - beautiful night

Apart from a few easy runs around Cogra Moss, this was my first time on the fells since the St Bega Ultra.  It was a brilliant Monday evening and I was out on my own so a great opportunity to try out a new route.  I've been around Souther Fell quite a bit and had established that the run down from the Mouthswaite Combe area was a great few miles of trails and mud.  I wanted to try a different way up to Bowscale Fell along a grassy track I had spotted on previous runs.

It turned out that the track ends at a building, I think housing water flow machinery and it was a trudge over heather from there.  I took a pretty direct route up to the summit and enjoyed great views at the top.

I then had a nice run around the ridge to climb back up to the summit of Bannerdale Crags before dropping off steeply down the ridge route back to the track along the beck.

if ever a gate invited you through...

Bowscale Fell summit shelter

on Bannerdale Crags summit looking back to Bowscale Fell

the steep ridge back to the valley bottom

route and elevation