To make up for last weekend’s disappointment we had decided to spend this weekend running. Sunday was already planned—a three hour mini-mountain marathon starting from Edale, but we needed an activity for Saturday as well. Recently, Rachel has been trying out a flash set of Nordic Walking poles courtesy of her friend Catherine Hughes of Midlands Nordic Walking, so we decided to head out to the Long Mynd in Shropshire to give them a test drive in slightly rougher terrain.
We set off from Little Stretton up Ashes Hollow to the top of the Mynd with Rachel setting a cracking pace with the help of the poles (since we don’t really do walking at present, this was definitely Nordic Running). The idea is that you use your upper body to supplement your leg muscles so can go faster more efficiently. The motion is much like cross-country skiing, but they’re a bit tricky to use on rough ground because you never quite know when they are going to make contact. I had a go as well, but I think I was putting too much force on them with my arms, so despite the fact that they let me go surprisingly fast up hill, I quickly got tired. Rachel seemed to have the opposite problem—she wasn’t always sure she was getting any benefit from them at all. The conclusion is that more practise is needed.
To our surprise, it was reasonably snowy on top of the Mynd, with up to six inches where the snow had collected, and an inch or so everywhere that was a bit sheltered. The first snow of the season really requires a snowman. You can see the results in the photo.
From the top we headed down past the waterfall into Carding Mill Valley, and then back along the front of the hill, through some lovely autumn colours to Little Stretton. When we arrived there, we got to watch a lone AA man attempting to get the front wheel of the car in front of us back onto the road rather than hanging in mid-air over a stream. It took him half an hour, including a spectacular failure when the car fell on his jack with an expensive sounding crash. Fortunately for the owner, 20 year old Mercedes are made of stern stuff!
Sunday morning we drove up to Edale for the mini-mountain marathon, a three hour visit-as-many-controls-as-you-can event on Kinder Scout. For a change we were competing as individuals, mostly because Rachel had been top woman at the previous event in the league, so wanted to improve her score and hopefully win a prize overall. The weather was pretty awful, and it was very muddy underfoot in places, but it was a lovely day’s running. Rachel stayed mostly on the southern slopes of Kinder Scout, and managed to be back with ten minutes to spare, with enough points to be third in the women’s class. I opted for the high risk/high reward strategy of running over the hill to the Snake Pass side, collecting lots of high-scoring controls over there, and then coming back over the top to the finish. This involved running hard virtually non-stop, and for a while it wasn’t at all clear I’d make it back in time. The real risk, as those who have tried to cross Kinder Scout will know, was coming back over the peat bogs on top of the hill. If things go badly, it can be incredibly slow as you climb up one peat grough, and then slide down the next. Fortunately, I followed a stream up from the north side that was going in the right direction, and to my amazement it connected perfectly with a stream running the other way, so although I couldn’t see any distance at all—being down between two metre high peat banks all the way across—I plotted a pretty-much direct route across the whole plateau.
The fast route through enabled me to pick up an extra control on the way to the finish, and I arrived with 14 seconds to spare, with enough points to take second place, a result I am very pleased with. We finished with (sadly un-photographed) Yorkshire Curd Tart at the Woodbine Cafe in Hope before making our tired and very muddy way home.