Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Just had a wonderful run in the snow from Croston, across the moss, through Mawdesley, Rufford and to Sollom along the canal then back home along the river. Fantastic scenery along my route, this weather is magical.

I didn't wear my Garmin so not sure how far I'd expect about 10-12 miles, it was hard work through the deep snow towards the end was heavy going.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The OMM - Dartmoor

It's taken me a bit to put this together, was feeling very worse for wear last week after the OMM. Important lesson learnt, to check water carefully from streams, especially during heavy rain causing surface run off. Or carry some puritabs or similar. I spent most of last week doing sprint sessions to the loo after managing to pick up gastroenteritis, 3 out of the 4 of us who travelled together were affected. ON a positive note though I did manage to lose 10 lbs, the best crash diet I've tried !!!

Friday - The weekend started with a packed train to Manchester, John was picking me up from Piccadilly at 9:00 to go back to his house, check the gear, familiarise ourselves with the tent and agree the plan of action. The tent is relatively simple to put up, we decided it would be easier to leave the inner tent and fly sheet fastened together in John's sack and I would carry the pegs, poles, gas and stove. I don't know if you have ever seen these pegs but they don't really look that strong, they weigh 1g each, but used in the right way and pushed right into the ground they are pretty effective.

Ben and Sam joined us and we compared sacks, mine was, by far the smallest with an 18l sack John, Ben and Sam were all using the Terra Nova Laser 20l pack, We had all managed to get everything inside our sacks and were all carrying <5kg !
After chucking all the gear in the car we hit the road, as usual the M6 was rubbish, one giant, slowly moving snake of traffic. It seemed to take an age to get to Hilton Park services, where we stocked up at M&S on munchies for lunch and for breakfast, bananas & scotch eggs, the food of champions! We eventually reached the M5 and after a final toilet stop at Exeter services we headed off to the OMM HQ at Okehampton Camp. John took us on a merry excursion through the narrow country lanes to an alleged short cut, that turned out to be a muddy track, but we made it in the end after climbing a very steep hill up to the camp (I didn't think there were any hills down here ?).
After pitching our tents we set out in search of the Up & Running shop and some food. The shop was packed, but I did manage to pick up a bargain pair of Saucony leggings for £10 (RRP £45). I decided these would be perfect for the weekend as they are tight fitting round the ankles so would not go baggy like other leggings, and hopefully keep my legs pretty warm. Dinner was Carbonara, bit of a shame that Wilfs (or Scotts) were not on site as their fare is ideal and tasty. We went and registered and picked up the dibber (I was the dibber boy), then after a couple of pints in the bar we hit the sack, alarm set for 6:00 ready for our 8:03 start.
Saturday - After getting up and having some breakfast in the car, we changed into our gear, had a final kit check, then dropped the tent, wished Ben & Sam all the best and headed off for a cup of tea before heading to the start. I was feeling slightly nervous, it was a while since I had done any serious distance carrying kit, but I hoped that my light bag and experience would prevail, I didn't expect to finish highly but I expected to finish.
I don't know how but we missed our start by two minutes ! We rushed up as they were just calling the 8:05 starters forward, we were pushed through, dibbed and handed the map, the straight line distance was quoted as 44.7km, I chose to ignore this and just concentrate on the first control location. We picked this off relatively quickly and then you know the script "Try and pick the best line across bloody awful terrain, dibbing the controls as you go". I was surprised at how undulating the ground was, the tussocks everywhere made it hard going, occasionally you would pick up a trod where you could get up a bit of momentum but these inevitably turned the wrong way and it was back to tussock bashing.
There were times when we could see plenty of other teams, snaking their way to controls, which took a bit of skill out of the navigation. It was a clear bright day with a head wind most of the day, we were moving okay but not quickly, I think the terrain was getting to us both, John put his ipod on at one point to try and find the "Zone" but I don't think it was happening for him.
Just before the penultimate control, Ben and Sam caught us up, it was good to see them and it gave us a bit of a lift, we ran all the way into camp with them, it did mean they had made up quite a bit of time on us though. Our route taken for day 1 can be seen on Route Gadget ('A' Class - John Roberts & Karl Taylor) It was a long hard day and we were all tired, we pitched the tents, grabbed some water in the sandwich bag and then dived in the tent to sort ourselves out. The results had us 62nd out of 89 starters, several teams appeared to have dropped out during the day and there were 79 teams going into the second day.
The tent was cosy indeed, it is definitely not possible for you both to do something, like getting changed, at the same time, so we took it in turns to sort gear, change clothes etc. Once we were sorted and dry/warm we got the stove going, dinner was a doddle to cook as planned, I had also slipped a small hip flask of brandy in my bag so we had brandy custard and ginger sponge, gourmet!! John had brought a chocolate protein shake to share so we warmed that up to help with the overnight recovery.
The fun then started when it came time to start blowing up the balloons for the balloon beds, with the limited room, cramp and general knackered ness this was entertaining. It took us about an hour to get both beds done, all we could hear from Ben and Sam's tent was popping balloons!! but eventually we had managed it. It was probably about 19:00 when we went to bed, so, with the clocks going back an hour it made it 18:00, 12hrs sleep ahead! We topped and tailed and managed to find a comfortable, not too contorted, position to sleep, I was boiling and had to take my hat off and unzip my tops to feel comfortable, the balloon bed was like luxury, so comfortable. John was okay till he turned on his side, his bag only has down on the top, when he felt a bit of cold. Sleep was okay, intermittent with the noise of the wind and rain lashing against the tent, but I felt pretty refreshed in the morning.
Sunday - We were woken by the 6:00 wake up call for the chasing starts, It was a bit of a struggle to sit up, but taking it in turns gain we sorted our stuff out and got some breakfast on the go. I could feel my calves were stiff when I walked across to the toilet, day 2 was going to be tough, the weather was looking like it was going to test us.
We managed to make the start early this time, we dibbed and grabbed our map, the straight line distance was 31.6km, a shorter, but no less difficult day. I spotted river crossings and some contours very close together between two of the later check points, something to look forward to !
The first couple of controls were okay, a bit of climbing but not bad ground, the 3rd control though was "miles!" I expect this was a low point for all teams but the ground was tussocky, boggy and just energy draining, the Tor where the control was just seemed to get further away, everywhere you looked in each direction there were teams stretched out all heading in the same general direction. Eventually we reached the control, after here we had two river crossings before the next control, something that doesn't really phase me but there was a lot of water about, did I mention it was chucking it down!
The stretch after this control was tough going again, I think by this point neither of us wanted to see a tussock again. Ben and Sam caught us just before the control, we all had a quick stop to put on an extra layer, the rain and wind were having an effect, and the photographer caught a couple of great shots especially the 'thumbs up' one of Ben.
The next control was across was the steep section I had spotted earlier in the day, I had promised myself mentally that I would treat myself to a rice crispie square at the bottom of here, mind games, after dropping down to the river we linked up to cross the river as a foursome, it was pretty wide and strong but we got across OK. We could see other teams heading up stream as we started climbing, it was a steep climb but not that long, the bar worked and I felt pretty good as we dibbed the next control. Ben was limping now and struggling to run, we could maybe have made back the time deficit at this point but it wasn't the honourable thing to do, we stuck with them as we dibbed the last few controls together.
Our route taken for day 2 can be seen on Route Gadget ('A' Class - John Roberts & Karl Taylor)
We all had a bit of a John Wayne swagger coming down the road to the last control and the finish line but did manage a bit of a burst for the finishing photo. Final positions we came 60th, Sam & Ben 50th, 72 teams finished. Results
Summary - To summarise on what was a tough weekend, Dartmoor is pretty hard terrain, quite picturesque with all the Tors, but a bugger under foot. More training would have benefited us both and perhaps provided a higher finish but, I don't think we did too bad to finish the two days. The kit was about right, I had just enough day food, plenty to eat at night and a really comfortable nights sleep. The cooking equipment could maybe be lightened by using foil trays but I do like how the mess tin can accommodate the food, protecting it. I was warm enough during the day and night and did find my windproof useful on day 1. Water sources should be checked thoroughly and peaty run off water should be avoided! I have got a full 12 months to train for the next one now, think I'm a bit off the pace for winning but definitely feel we could challenge the higher places with some decent training behind us.
I didn't take my camera but Sam has got some pictures which hopefully he'll forward to me and I can supplement this post with something nice to look at.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The OMM Final Kit List

With only a few days left till the drive down south to Dartmoor for the 42nd OMM/KIMM  the kit list is coming together.
Things may change at the last minute but I think this is pretty much it.
The Team - Myself & John Roberts
Class - A
Following the OMM kit list these are my choices of kit

During the day I will be wearing my trusty Decathlon 3/4 length leggings, they are a little worse for wear, with a few holes here and there but they do the job. I have a choice of base layers dependant on conditions, but I think I'm going to go with a medium weight top with zip neck and long sleeves so I can roll them up if it gets warm and un zip the neck. Then my breathable pants underneath to stop the jingy jangling and some lightweight Bridgedale socks. Gloves are some old North Cape ones(59g) My hat is a buff, I'm taking two though so I have a dry one for the overnight camp (30g each).
For the overnight camps I then need extra full leg cover, I was going to use some Spray Way microfleece trousers (250g) but they are a bit bulky, although light, so I think I will need to go with some Helly Hanson Lifa Long Johns instead. My additional warm top is an X-cellerate fleece lined windproof (256g) that packs down really small. Then some dry socks(62g), if I need to leave the tent I have two large sandwich bags for my feet so they stay dry when I put them inside my trainers. The wet socks will go back on in the morning as the dry ones will be lighter to carry and would end up wet after 10-15 mins anyway.

Tent & Sleeping
John has invested in a Terra Nova - Laser Photon Elite (720g) it will be a considerably cosy night, at the widest point the inner tent is 87cm, the term 'spooning' has been mentioned in conversation. My sleeping bag is a Snugpak Travelpak (680g) I bought it originally for camping in Thailand so it's not exactly suited to October in Dartmoor, but I'm sure it is going to be cosy in that tent and it kept me warm enough in the barn after the storm of OMM 2008 ! I am sleeping in luxury this time as well as I have bought a balloon bed (120g). I could probably do with investing in something like a RAB top bag or similar but I'll leave that till next year.
My only concern is how much room there is in the porch of the tent for cooking if the weather is bad but I guess we'll have to take the risk.

Food & Cooking
Using my scientific "OMM Food Calculator" that I developed in 2008 I figure I have a fraction over 1.5kg of food for the two days. Providing me with 5258.7 KCal of energy, 738.7g of Carbs and 145.3 g of Protein.
During the days I'll be eating a combination of Trek, Clif, 0 and Power Bars, Rice Crispie Squares, Shot Bloks, Jelly Babies and Nakd bars, I have tried to use mainly natural energy bars with minimum additives as these tend to disagree with my stomach! I'll also be adding Nuun to my water during the day, I will just carry a 500ml bottle in a shoulder strap holder, and drink from streams.
Saturday night's food will be 200g of wholemeal cous cous with chorizo, pepperoni, sun dried tomatoes, stock cube and some spices this basically just requires hot water to cook so very easy and light on gas. I have a small Trangia mess tin the mix will go in here with the hot water, the lid goes on and after 5 mins or so it is ready to eat. This should give me plenty of carbs, protein and salt and then will be followed by Jamaica Ginger Cake and Custard, luxury!
I will take a 5l sandwich bag as a water carrier as well for drinking and cooking, we are borrowing an MSR pocket pocket (85g) as it is slightly smaller and lighter than my Coleman stove, this will be used with a 100g gas canister, together with a tin foil heat shield/wind protector, this should be pretty efficient.
Breakfast Saturday is 75g of Ready Brek made with hot chocolate, this will all be supplemented by cups of tea and warm Nuun. The food handily fits inside the mess tin together with the foil, handle, lighter and spork.

My waterproofs are an old pair of Spray Way Horizon leggings(238g) it is highly unlikely I will wear them, my jacket is a Marmot Precip Ladies Large (It was cheap in the sale) (316g) depending on conditions on the day I may run in a windproof but I'm undecided.

Anything Else
I have got a Heatsheets Survival Bag(113g) this is compact and light, and if I get cold in the tent I could always put it over my sleeping bag. Emergency rations are a small tablet of Kendal Mint Cake and my adequate first aid kit is a couple of plasters, vaseline, safety pins, a small bandage/dressing and a few pain killers, plus a bit of gaffer tape round my rucksack strap, the latter can be used for repairs to coat, tent etc as well. The pencil and paper are inside the first aid kit, small pencil from Ikea, inside the bag this should be able to be used in the wet.
Torch will be my Petzl Tikka (75g) and all of this will be in a dry bag inside my inov8 Race Pro 18 (470g) with my day food in the mesh pocket at the front. I have picked up a top tip to have my food in the front of John's bag and his in mine for easy access, the only problem being that he doesn't have a pocket on the front of his bag ! Most of my day food fits in my waist pockets so I should be okay.
I really wanted a thumb compass but I'm going to leave it for now and make do this year, but having used one last in 2008 they are really easy.

This brings me in at about 4.5 - 5.0 kg so pretty happy, just wish I was a bit lighter and fitter now, I don't think we have much chance of winning I'm just looking forward to a good weekend.  I think I'm going to take my camera as well, I know it's more weight, about 200g but I think it would be good to take some time and get some good pictures.
Any thoughts on kit ?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Langdale to Pillar Rock

Had a great day out with Ben & John, we camped over at Great Langdale on the Friday night, John and Ben in the camper van and me in the boot of John's car, luxury! Had a good chilli, rice and chips and a couple of Old Peculiars from the ODG before retiring. The valley was looking fantastic on the drive in Friday night.

The plan was to run from Great Langdale up Rosset Ghyll, over Esk Hause and drop down to Sty Head Pass, before following the climber's traverse round Great Gable and then over Kirk Fell and from Black Sail Pass follow the traverse path to Pillar Rock. There was a memorial service scheduled for 14:00 for Dave Ridout, mentioned in a previous post, an old scouting and caving friend who died last month. The last top he had to complete in the Lake District was Pillar Rock, unfortunately he died befor he managed it. So West Lancashire Scouts Mountaineering Group were taking his ashes to the top.

So that was the loose plan run there and back.

John & Ben crossing the ford at the head of Great Langdale

Looking back into Langdale from Esk Hause

John at Angle Tarn

We were moving well and probably a bit too quick, we realised  when John announced he thought the memorial was 13:00 why we were moving so fast!  We took it a bit easier and just enjoyed the scenery as the sun started to burn the cloud off. By the time we got to Sty Head Pass it was warming up nicely and we were basked in sunshine on the climber's traverse.

Sty Head Pass with Wasdale in the background

We decided as we were doing well for time to "thread the needle" the scramble up behind Napes Needle, a bit hairy in fell shoes as you can see above.

Looking down into Wasdale from Napes Needle

Napes Needle
Scafell sun bathing

We had run out of water by this point so skirted round Kirk Fell to use the spring to top up our bottles, before picking up the traverse route to Pillar Rock from Black Sail Pass. We caught up the rest of the group, that had walked up from Wasdale, the memorial was thoughtful, we held a silence and a few people said some words about Dave. Then here you can see Dave being transported to the top of Pillar Rock. By this point we had started to get a bit cold as this North side of Pillar was chilly, we made our apologies and dropped down to Ennerdale.

We followed the beck to Windy Gap between Great and Green Gable before dropping down to Sty Head and following the route back we had taken in the morning. I was struggling by now and not moving as quick uphill as I would like, but I'm sure that fitness will come back as I increase the time on the hills.

Looking back into Ennerdale

A good day out and 22 miles plus about 7500ft of climbing. After making our way back to Great Langdale we grabbed a quick pint of lime and lemonade and the stopped for fish and chips in Bowness on the way home. Excellent.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Still Going.......

......Had a fantastic couple of weeks in Fontainbleau, photos to follow.
The weather for the first couple of days was pretty grim to say the least, I had to stop on the drive from Dunkerque for an hour of shut eye to let the downpour subside slightly. After arriving early morning and pitching the tent, followed by some more sleep, then trying to find a shop open on a Sunday in France! we hid from it in the tent eating pate and cheese!
We completed the Circuit de 25 Bosses which I thought would translate as something grand like 25 Hills, but unfortunately after checking the dictionary it is only the 25 "Bumps!" oh well, it was good fun. The route does a lot of up and down, admittedly on small hills, and scrambling through the boulders and rocks so it's a pretty interesting outing. We did plenty of bouldering and a bit more walking, I even managed a few runs in the evenings.
One of these was slightly disastrous, to cut a long story short, I was first blocked by a lake, then a motorway and I was considering swimming across the river to get back when I did find a road in the right direction. My own fault I should have taken the map with me, I came back exhausted to a slightly panicking Gemma who had expected me back about an hour earlier!
I've been getting out in the mornings and evenings gradually increasing my mileage, and I'm getting back into the groove. I've got a few training runs planned for the OMM over a couple of days and I am now obsessing over weight, my kit as well as my own!  I received my balloon bed through the post last week, and I have had the scales out weighing leggings, tops, gloves trying to keep as compact and light as possible so I can get it all in my inov8 18l sack. I'll blog with my final kit list when the final decisions have been made. My last OMM experience was 2008 and the great Borrowdale storm, I was one of those unaccounted for runners! so I'm hoping for a slightly less lively experience this time.
I am full of a cold this week which isn't helping, neither is the grim weather, but I have got out a couple of times and have some more mileage planned before the week is out.
Just trying to decide what to do with my days off for OMM training. The 15 Trigs of the Dark Peak looks like an interesting and probably similar terrain to Dartmoor? I quite fancy doing the Ribble Way over a couple of days, Longton-Gisburn the Gisburn-End, coming back on the train. There's also the Bowland 1500' s so I'll have to make my mind up, lots of inspiring stuff on Tony Wimbush's GoFar web site worth a look at.
Should have some more regular updates to the blog now so stay tuned.........

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Training ......................

I am back on plan I hope..........................
I now have several goals and a training plan to achieve them.
I have struggled since last year, with a niggly knee, general laziness and lack of motivation, not so sure why but I have been busy changing jobs and getting into a new routine, weekends seem to have been filled with other things and planning my training and getting out has just taken a back seat.
The other week on Bill's Ramsay reminded me though that I can still do it and I still enjoy it, so, with renewed vigour and glucosamine I am back into the groove I think. I am now running in the morning before breakfast, this fits in better and then hopefully getting a few evening sessions in with Gem as well.
We have both entered the Edinburgh Marathon in 2011, Gem really fancies doing a marathon so I said I would run with her and help with her training, this will in turn hopefully give me a bit of a chance to do some tempo/speed work to supplement my training.
I have also entered the OMM, 'A' Class with John, the last one I did was the Elite course in 2008 when the weather went completely wild and the event was cancelled (As shown on the BBC, I was on the news!) Looking forward to this and currently my training is geared up to compete well at this event, or at least beat Ben and Sam. Just need to sort out my kit now and get my weight down as much as possible including my own weight as well !
Future plans for this year/next year are to try and complete several long walk/runs, I would really like to complete a couple of long distance paths in a mountain marathon style, like the Coast to Coast, Dales Way, Ribble Way etc. and increase my endurance. With a long term goal to try and complete an ultra a month next year, culminating in the UTMB in August.
I'd like to do the Wuthering Hike (Haworth Hobble), Calderdale, Fellsman (although this is the week before the Edinburgh Marathon, no PB for me!), West Highland Way Race & the Lakeland 100, I think with a solid 12 month plan like this I can get back into the swing of regular training.
Got a couple of weeks climbing in France coming up so will try and get a bit of running in there as well, before really getting stuck into the diet and training when I get home, including giving up the beer!

Does anybody else keep getting strange comments in Chinese, by the way, on their blog ?

On a sad note, an old caving and walking friend of mine, Dave Ridout, from the scouts who taught me a lot of navigation and mountain craft skills, as well as taking me on my first caving trips, has died aged 63. He had been a scout leader for nearly 30 years in Preston and an article appeared in the LEP last week. Happy memories of exploring underground on the Karl & Karl, Dave & Dave trips will always remain with me. Thoughts go out to his family at this time.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Bill's Ramsay Round

I received a request earlier in the year to support Bill Williams on his attempt at the Charlie Ramsay Round (24 Tops, 56 Miles & 28,500ft). His attempt last year, which would have seen him complete a Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsay round within 12 months, was unfortunately thwarted by bad weather. The plan was that Bill would leave Glen Nevis Youth Hostel at midday, we would then see him for the "2nd Leg" at 20:00 at Loch Treig Dam.

 Loch Treig Dam and Support Team
Ian Cookson and I travelled up on Saturday morning to the Rucksack Club 'Craigallan' Hut near Fort William. We got here around 14:00 and enjoyed some cheese on toast, cakes and plenty of cups of tea provided by Whinn Cliff (Bowland) and Jean (Bill's Wife) till it was time to make our way to Thirsit and down to the dam. It was good to meet a couple of the Bowland guys who were providing the static support, Ian Roberts and Andy Farmer and to see Ian Charters who had arrived on Friday evening. We relaxed and conversation revolved around the usual subjects till the allotted hour arrived and it was a quick dash to sort my kit out and out of the door.
We unloaded all the kit from the cars and carried it all the ten minutes from the road to the dam, once we had set ourselves up on the dam it was time to wait and watch the horizon for Bill, Will and Carwyn to appear. It was quite shocking to see the level of the loch, the water level is usually around the white tide mark you can see on the sides. Luckily there was a pretty strong wind which kept the midges away so I didn't have to wear my mosquito net hat, fashion statement though it is! Our wait was a few minutes longer than expected but we soon saw the three figure appear in the distance and they soon joined us at the dam for feeding and watering.

Bill, Will and Carwyn

Ian and I readied ourselves and as soon as Bill was ready we were off across the railway line and climbing Stob Coire Sgriodain, I was slightly concerned how I would cope with the climbing but obviously my strategy of eating cake all afternoon had succeeded and I felt quite energetic, and was almost setting the pace on a couple of occasions! It was about half way up the climb that the rain started and we were forced to put our waterproofs on, there was not much visibility on the tops and to be honest, not really knowing the route apart from a look at the map the week before, I just followed, occasionally handing Bill food and water as we progressed.

Stob Coire Sgriodain 
We reached the top of Stob Coire Sgriodain and continued on to reach the summit of Chno Dearg before the long downhill to the valley bottom and onto the climb up Beinn na Lap, it is a long way after the initial steep climb to the summit, in fact we almost missed it! It is then another long downhill section followed by a long section of track/path, a river crossing and then a really leg sapping boggy section. I needed a gel to revive my legs after this and to keep up with the pace along the track and down to the next support point and the end of our leg.

 After a bit of cake, and some hot chocolate we saw Bill off with Ian Charters and Bob Wightman and then walked out with Ian and Andy for about an hour and a half back to the car park. We got back to the bunk house for just before five and after a quick bacon and egg butty and a cup of tea we crawled off for a sleep.

Unfortunately the weather deteriorated after we left Bill and he eventually had to cut the round short due to high winds. Hopefully he'll have better luck next time. A great night, although very wet, Scotland is very remote and wild and the only signs of life we saw in six hours were a couple of deer, the Ramsay Round is definitely a serious undertaking and big respect to Bill for a superb effort.

Start of the leg shown by the Green Line

2nd Half of the Leg

Leg Profile

Walk out

Friday, May 21, 2010

11 Fell Tops and 15 miles

Earlier in the year I had purchased tickets to go and see the Legends of Fell Running talk in Keswick at the Theatre by the Lake, Ali and myself decided we may as well make a day of it so we had booked the day off work and headed up early to Keswick with Steve Fish.

We parked the car at Whinlatter and made our way up Grizedale Pike, the sun was out but it was fairly overcast and there was plenty of cloud at summit level, a theme that would continue throughout the day. I felt ten times better than Friday night, maybe due to the slightly slower pace, but I felt like I had different legs!

After the steep drag up Grizedale Pike we had soon bagged our first summit of the day, the conditions are visible here, Steve at the summit.

I had roughly planned a route taking in a horseshoe type shape around the North Western fells, an area of the Lakes I haven't visited in a long time, and we followed the plateau over to Hopegill Head.

We then turned to head over Sand Hill and dropped down to Coledale Hause.

From here we started our climb towards Grassmoor, the cloud was thicker over this side and unfortunately we didn't really get any views, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at the summit shelter and then headed off in the direction of Whiteless Pike.

Ali took over the navigation from here, I am trying to teach him a bit more about map reading and navigation and he's not a bad pupil! As we dropped off Grassmoor and and headed over the head of Rannerdale Beck we caught our first glimpses of Buttermere below and over to Newlands Hause on the other side.

We turned back on ourselves and ran over Wandope and on to Eel Crag, practicing taking bearings on the way. This is Steve and Ali at the summit of Eel Crag.

I really enjoyed the descent over Sail and down to Sail Pass, no pain and my legs were flowing well, getting back into my downhill groove. We ticked off Scar Crags and then took another 5 mins for a quick bite, before we carried on to Causey Pike.

It was getting time to head back to the car, so we picked up a trod from Causey Pike in the direction of Outerside, climbed this and dropped off the other side to Coledale Beck enjoying the scree run on the way down.

From the top of Outerside we had great views down over Keswick and Derwent Water.

We followed Coledale Beck down to Braitwaite before retracing out steps back to the car. An excellent day out and one that still had plenty of fun to come. We headed to Keswick for a swim and shower before grabbing something to eat.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leg 1 Emma's BG

Friday night was a bit of an eye opener for me, I was looking forward to supporting Emma's BG leg 1 with some trepidation due to the lack of time I have spent on the fells in the past 6 months, and the fact I had spent the previous weekend in France eating cheese and drinking wine. I got away from home slightly later than planned but made good time up to Keswick, I did however forget that I had only had a cheese sandwich earlier that day and had forgotten to get something for dinner on the way, whoops!

I joined Emma in the square in front of the Moot Hall as she prepared herself for the next 24hrs on the fells and let the nervous energy build up. I was carrying Emma's sack with her kit and water/food, the plan was that we would meet Yiannis at the top of Halls Fell to follow his "parachute" descent. We were a group of 4 support, Mark Smith(Swiss Toni), Mark, Dave and me.

I could tell from the start that I was going to struggle, she was setting a blistering pace and I had forgotten just how quick the BG pace is compared to my leisurely wanderings in the fells of late. I had to take a short cut below Skiddaw to Hare Crag and then join the group again, I swapped bags with Dave and skipped Great Calva and went direct across the river and up Mungrisdale Common. The group caught me at the foot of Atkinson Pike but I noticed that Mark had dropped off the back. I wasn't sure if he knew where he was going so I walked with him up the scree to the summit of Blencathra. I was now starting to regret wearing shorts as my legs were cramping due to the cold, the temperature had dropped quite a lot.

We could see the torches of Emma's party heading down the gully but I decided to stick to what I know and used Halls Fell, it was pretty greasy at the top and it was now getting quite dark. We picked our way down and after what seemed like quite a long time we made it down to Threlkeld. Emma was long gone but we still managed to grab a brew and a muffin. I also bumped into Duncan which was great to have a chat with him, and being the gentleman he is he gave me a lift back to Keswick before I drove home.

I'm pleased to say that Emma finished in 23hrs 8mins, a fantastic time and well earned. Well done Em :-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

A day in the lakes

Last weekend we had a day out on the bikes on the Saturday catching some sun and then decided to make an early start on the Sunday and head North for a run/walk round Skiddaw taking in the BG descent down Hare Crag and then following the Cumbria way track past Skiddaw House and back down to our start point at Threlkeld.

Heading up Latrigg looking back over Keswick and Derwent Water

We parked at the Cricket Club in Threlkeld and took the old Railway line path through the woods to Keswick leisure centre and then followed Spooney Green Lane till we joined the path round Latrigg and onto the ascent of Jenkin Hill.

 The North Western Fells

It didn't feel as easy as this time last year when I was doing 40+ miles a week but it felt okay and I still move uphill pretty quickly so hopefully I won't get left behind on Emma's BG in May. The climb doesn't get any shorter up Skiddaw and as usual for a nice Sunday there were plenty of people to share the path with. There was still a bit of snow hanging onto the upper slopes just out of the sun, as you can see on the picture below.

 Gem having a quick rest in the sun

It was good to get to the top for the wonderful views over the Lake District on a sunny, hazy morning in April. This time last year I was supporting Ian Charters on his JNC and I remember us having an equally nice day, see the post from April 2009. We crossed the fence at the three fence posts and headed down Hare Crag towards the Cumbria Way, this is where I decided to see how well my knee had recovered and I'm glad to say that I was running downhill with no pain at all, so fingers crossed I am fixed and can get back into some running. 

It was quite dry near the bottom of Hare Crag in the usually boggy area, and we made good time across to Skiddaw House before dropping down towards Threlkeld and back to the car. A good day out and I don't think far off 15-20 miles (I forgot to wear my Garmin, Doh!).

This weekend Gem was away on a hen do so I had a ride out on the bike on Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours, I was going well just over 32 miles in 2hrs.