New year in Hawes

We spent the week after Christmas in Hawes, North Yorkshire with Tony and Catherine, our friends who are both runners and orienteers.

Day 1

The holiday started with a 7.5 mile walk into Widdale from our cottage in Hawes. After a short time on footpaths we were beating our way through moorland tussocks to get to the top of Widdale Fell. It was pretty windy and cold on the tops, so we soon descended the Widdale Valley and made our way down the valley via Snaizeholme where we saw a number of pretty red squirrels. Once back at the cottage we feasted on soup made by Catherine and ginger cookies made by Tony and then we headed into Hawes to have a look around and to say hello to my Uncle who runs the Whites of Wensleydale clothing shop. Tony is from Yorkshire and proved this fact by purchasing a very nice flat cap!

Running down the side of Widdale
Running down the side of Widdale
There was sun at times... just not where we were
There was sun at times… just not where we were
Happy people :-)
Happy people 🙂

Day 2

T+C rode their mountain bikes on the local trails, whilst Richard and I went for a 14 mile run. We headed from the cottage up Wether Fell, to the Cam High Road. We then cut across the open access land to the top of the Bardale Valley and ran the 4.5 km descent to Semer Water, which was rather nice. We looked around the ruins of Stalling Busk Abbey and refuelled on cake, before continuing on to Butterset and back to Hawes. We spent the evening relaxing and working on a jigsaw (a very Christmassy activity!).

The long descent to Semer Water behind me
The long descent to Semer Water behind me
A view of Semer Water from the north
A view of Semer Water from the north

Day 3

The rains came down and no-one felt like going out! Eventually we decided to walk into Hawes and take a look at the creamery and the ropemaker. This took longer than expected as there was a flood on the main road just outside Hawes. I was wearing boots and trudged across happily giving Catherine a piggy back. Richard, who was wearing trainers, turned around and went off to find an alternative route. Meanwhile Tony, who was also wearing trainers, and his new flat cap, thumbed down the next car and managed to blag the world’s shortest hitch of about 25 m (probably because he looked like a yorkshireman in his hat)! The creamery was less exciting than the journey there, as no cheese was being made… the ropemaker was also closed. So, we headed into my Uncle’s shop where Richard purchased a very stylish harris tweed jacket. After purchasing supplies and a few bags of wood, we headed back to the cottage via the flood. This time, Tony braved the water and gave Richard a piggy back and I provided the same service to Catherine. By this time it was about 1300, so after a quick bite to eat Tony dropped Catherine, Richard and I at the top of Sleddale in the pouring rain and we ran the 6.2 miles back down to Hawes via the Roman Road and Wether Fell.

Day 4

On New Year’s Eve we went for a run-walk from Muker. We walked around the southern side of Black Hill and then along Jingle Pot Edge to Lownathwaite, from where we walked across to Keld and then back down the Keld Valley to Muker. At the end of the 9 mile route, we were displeased to see that the pub had closed, so we headed back to the cottage for tea and cake. To celebrate the new year, we ate at the Crown Inn in Hawes, which was very nice. We just about managed to stay awake for new year, but were in bed soon after!

View down to Muker from the side of Black Hill
View down to Muker from the side of Black Hill
The remains of mining activities around Gunnerside Gill
The remains of mining activities around Gunnerside Gill

Day 5

The weather on New year’s day was not exactly nice, so Catherine, Richard and I made a plan to run early and get home before the worst of the weather set in. Tony planned the same, but on the mountain bike. We ran from Hawes up the side of Great Shunner Fell. The weather was wet, windy and cold so after ascending a fair way, we realised that the view from the top would be rubbish (and cold), so instead of making our way to the top, we descended into Cotter Dale and then back to Hawes. About 0.5 miles from the cottage we bumped into Tony who was making his way back to the cottage after a wiery mountain bike ride. We were tired after the 11.4 miles; Catherine even needed an injection of cake to make the last kilometre back to the cottage! In the late afternoon and evening we were entertained with skeleton building… See Richard’s post!

Day 6

The weather improved and so we decided to entertain ourselves by taking a 13 mile run-walk on Ingleborough. We parked in Clapham and ascended Ingleborough via Gaping Gill. After a short cake stop on the top we headed back down through the limestone pavements above Horton in Ribblesdale, and then we traversed the slopes back to Ingleborough. A lovely day was enjoyed – Richard didn’t even put on his waterproof, which was quite amazing given the recent weather. We got back, feasted on Wensleydale cheese and worked on completing the skeleton 🙂 .

Our route up Ingleborough, with the summit in the cloud
Our route up Ingleborough, with the summit in the cloud
On the top of Ingleborough
On the top of Ingleborough
Views over the limestone pavement on the route back down
Views over the limestone pavement on the route back down

Day 7…

… was unfortunately our leaving day. The holiday was very enjoyable. Catherine described it as like a boot camp… and I tend to agree, it was pretty active… but of course we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Aysgarth Falls
Aysgarth Falls

Buttermere Shepherds Meet Race

This weekend was scheduled to be the Buttermere Shepherds Meet and Show. Disappointingly, due to an over zealous poor forecast which was wildly inaccurate, the show was cancelled. There was only slight, occasional drizzle on the day, and the race, part of the show race series went ahead.
Being a show race, it was only short, about 3km, but very steep. This fact I had omitted to tell my sisters 2 girls, who were up from London for the weekend. As the show was cancelled, the juniors were allowed to compete in the main race. They arrived with completely inadequate kit and footwear, but still took part and finished as first and second junior girls!! (they were the only junior girls). They weren’t last as one adult dropped out, and there dad, Steve came in woefully trailing them!! It was a great effort and they were pleased to get a prize. Anna managed 2nd in her class, and despite the forecast, the turnout was excellent for a show race…. over 50.

The start of the race
The start of the race
The field ascend from Langthwaite green to the top of Whin Ben
The field ascend from Langthwaite green to the top of Whin Ben
A sprint finish from Crystal
A sprint finish from Crystal
....closely followed by Emerald
….closely followed by Emerald
well earned scones in the Buttermere tea shop
well earned scones in the Buttermere tea shop

A successful first fell race for the girls, and hopefully they will have fell shoes for the whole show race series next year (hint to my sister!!)

Four Lakeland Passes

This weekend was the Rab MM. I decided that I didn’t fancy chasing Richard around the fells, so I opted for an LDWA event called the Four Lakeland Passes. The route started from Borrowdale and went over Styhead Pass, Black Sail Pass, Scarth Gap Pass and Honister Pass visiting Borrowdale, Wasdale, Ennerdale and Buttermere. It was a beautiful day and I had great fun running the flats and downhills and walking the uphills, usually chatting to some other competitor. The 18 mile route was punctuated by pretty views, but more importantly great refreshments stops. My favourite was in Wasdale, where the refreshments on offer included party sausages, chopped up sausages, frankfurter sausages, sausage rolls, cheese rolls, cheese and jelly babies! What a feast! The end of the walk was marked by pie and cheesecake in the Rosthwaite Village Hall :-).

Styhead Tarn
Styhead Tarn
View down to Wasdale
View down to Wasdale
View back to Scafell
View back to Scafell
Ennerdale
Ennerdale
Buttermere
Buttermere

On Sunday I slept in and had a relaxing morning in Keswick before awaiting the arrival of Richard, who was a little worse-for-ware!

Richard
Richard

Fairfield Horseshoe and Latrigg

Someone from Staveley once told me that there was no point going abroad in May, as it was the best time to climb in the Lakes. Well, that was a few years ago, and climate change has since been introduced by the government. Also, in that time, Anna has taken up fell running, which can take place in all weathers. Lucky really. Last Saturday dawned with low cloud and driving rain. Not the best conditions for the Fairfield Horseshoe Race, but this was an English championship race and the 500 or so competitors were not to be put off.
The race was delayed by half an hour with cars struggling to get into the car park field(bog), and this allowed the cloud to lift above the summits and the rain to stop. It was still soaking underfoot and very muddy and slippy on the descents.

Mad dash at the start of the Fairfield horseshoe
Mad dash at the start of the Fairfield horseshoe

Despite the conditions, Anna had a good run, equalling last year’s time.

Anna powers up the finish hill....
Anna powers up the finish hill…..

Not content with one race a week, Anna entered the “sprint” of a fell race, up and down Latrigg overlooking Keswick. This is only 3 miles long but with 950 ft of ascent. The winner only took about 18 minutes!!

The start from Keswick cricket ground
The start from Keswick cricket ground

Anna had another good run, getting another bottle of wine (I think most fell runners must be alcoholics), but I think she is more suited to longer, stamina based races…… bring on the Borrowdale later in the year.

The field near the top of Latrigg
The field near the top of Latrigg
Anna in high viz gloves ( in case she needs to wave in the dark) in the finishing straight
Anna in high viz gloves ( in case she needs to wave in the dark) in the finishing straight

Fairfield Horseshoe Recce

With the Fairfield Horseshoe Race next Saturday, Anna and I decided that it would be a good day to recce the route. “Only 14.5km and 914m of ascent” I was told, and as I’d nearly blown a gasket on last year’s recce run, I knew it would be hard work. At least the weather was predicted by the ever reliable BBC met men to be sunny………. DOH! they got it wrong again; the sun appeared in the late afternoon after we’d finished. On the tops it was misty, cold and windy, but I was sweating like a good’un and it takes more than a breeze to blow my bulk around!

Anna coming off the top of Fairfield
Anna coming off the top of Fairfield

Anna races past
Anna races past
.....and continues towards High pike. She took some catching!
…..and continues towards High pike. She took some catching!

With the thick mist it was difficult to spot a lot of the short cuts and faint trods that miss the tops that aren’t checkpoints, but it was a worthwhile run as Anna got to take some bearings off the top of Fairfield, and if the weather is the same next week this may prove invaluable……..
Log on next week to see how she does!!!!

Coniston Fell Race

Being a glutton for punishment, Anna decided that today she would enter the Coniston Fell race; 14kms, with 1065m of ascent. “It’s just a short one” I heard her mention in the van on the way down to Coniston, a round Wetherlam, Swirl How and The Old Man of Coniston. Lucky for me, it’s an area we don’t often get to, so I knew that once the race had started there would be a lot of coffee shops to scope out. Also being in the S Lakes, we noticed a lot of different club vests on show, from the Peak and North Lancashire.

The field attack the first asent
The field attack the first ascent
Anna picked out on the first ascent
Anna picked out on the first ascent

The conditions weren’t as good as the weatherman had promised with thick cloud on the summits, but Anna emerged in a good time, with only a few cuts and bruises from falling on the descent.

Anna in the fishing straight
Anna in the finishing straight

OW!!
OW!!

So our journey to the south Lakes was deemed a success, with Anna beating her target time of 2 hours by a full 3 minutes. I couldn’t find a decent cake shop though, and now I’ve been left with the washing up………. oh well , that’s what support is all about!

A great day not to get out of bed for!

Some of you may remember Rachel’s epic High Peak Marathon adventure from last year, in which she ended up chest deep in a bog half way across Bleaklow. Somehow, despite that experience, she agreed to race again this year, but unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute with a chocolate calf muscle. That left me as her substitute, but when two more of her original team-mates also withdrew we were left trying to find another runner at the last minute. Happily, the Fell Running Association forum provided a solution, and the legendary Yiannis Tridimas, joined us the night before the race. Yiannis has done the event at least ten times and knows every little short-cut on the whole course, so was a perfect addition to the team. The final team was Amy, Natalya, Yiannis and I.

The team waiting for the start - Natalya, Yiannis, me, and Amy.
The team waiting for the start – Natalya, Yiannis, me, and Amy. [Picture: Natalya Kennedy.]

The HPM is around 42 miles, starting in Edale, and doing a circuit of Ladybower Reservoir on the watershed, so visiting Hollins Cross, Lose Hill, Win Hill, High Neb, Moscar, Derwent Edge, Bleaklow, Snake Pass, Kinder Downfall, Lords Seat, Hollins Cross again, and finally back to Edale. We set off just after 11pm, watching the lights of the few teams ahead of us climbing up the first hill. The weather was fantastic – cold and clear, so we could see Win Hill across the Hope Valley in the moonlight. Soon we were charging down the ridge to Hope, then up to Win Hill, and down again to cross the dam at Ladybower before climbing to a checkpoint below High Neb.

After that we had a long flat stretch to Moscar where we filled water bottles and got fed sandwiches, cake and bananas before running down the road to Cutthroat Bridge. At this stage we could see the route behind us, with little groups of lights making their way towards us.

The hardest stretch of the route is from Cutthroat Bridge to Snake Pass – parts of the route have no path, and it’s easy to get confused in bad conditions. However, with the moonlight and clear weather, plus Yiannis’ expertise, made navigation relatively easy, and we made excellent progress, helped by the fact that the recent cold weather meant we could run straight across many of the bogs that usually require diversions every few metres – although Amy had a few anxious moments as the dreaded bog monster tried to pull her into a less-frozen bit!

Dawn broke as we ran towards the Pennine Way and Snake Pass.
Dawn broke as we ran towards the Pennine Way and Snake Pass. [Picture: Natalya Kennedy.]

Sheepfold Clough came and went, followed by Cut Gate and Swains Head, then the trackless bit to Bleaklow Stones, where we chose a less-than-optimal route. To make up for getting caught by a couple of teams we elected to take a Yiannis’ short-cut to the next checkpoint. Leaving the stones we switched off our torches and took a sharp turn off the normal route – fortunately dawn was just arriving, and there was enough light to run across the snow. The other teams didn’t follow, so shortly afterwards we were flying across the hill again, picking up time on the way to the Pennine Way.

Leaving Snake Pass.
Leaving Snake Pass. [Picture: Natalya Kennedy.]

After that we had the glory of watching the sunrise on the way into Snake Pass, a short stop for breakfast, and then on (and on) around Kinder, Brown Knoll and back to the familiar trails around Edale. We finished up at Edale Village Hall almost exactly 11 hours after we started, very tired, but happy to get around so fast, and finish in a very respectable position.

Glorious views over Kinder Reservoir.
Glorious views over Kinder Reservoir. [Picture: Natalya Kennedy.]

It must have been good because I’m already looking forward to doing it again. The team really made the whole experience – everyone kept going and stayed cheerful. I’m still amazed that Natalya kept going so well despite never having run more than 20km before! We also loved all the costumed control marshals, especially the crime scene investigators at Cut Gate!

Amy and I coming down the final hill from Hollins Cross.
Amy and I coming down the final hill from Hollins Cross. [Picture: Natalya Kennedy.]

Even more surprising, I felt sufficiently good to go orienteering on the Sunday morning.

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