As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Going long (again)

With a seriously big fellrun planned for next weekend I took myself off down the Borrowdale valley to Seathwaite to run the central section as a recce.

A stunning morning in the Lakes today. The early morning was to be the best of the day, though I didnt know that at the time. 

a few hours after sunrise,  it breaks over the ridge

I set off up Ruddy Gill at a leisurely pace to reach Esk Hause in just under one hour. Great Ends face looming above the walk-in never fails to make an impression (although on this occasion I didnt photograph it)

looking over Ruddy Gill back to Skiddaw and Keswick

From Esk Hause I continued to Angle Tarn then took  a deviation left to follow around the back of  Rossett Pike. As I neared Stake Pass the magnificent Langdale Pikes dominated the skyline (again, no photos - I'm thinking maybe I should have had camera round neck as well as compass, dog lead, rucksack)

From Stake Pass was the slightly tricky section - the natural path would take you up to High Raise then Northward to Low White Stones then NE to Greenup Edge, but I had been advised to contour around to the East of High Raise and High White stone to avoid gaining unecessary height. I got this half right - its very unnatural to put trust in myself to go off the marked paths and simply choose a line around a hillside and although I avoided climbing onto High Raise I came out on Low White Stones summit - must do better next week.

From there I took a beeline toward the Wyth Burn Valley which I could see quite clearly. Crossing straight over the path that would take me to Easedale I droppd into the valley bottom with some speed for the ground was grassy and  boulders easily negotiated. 

At the valley floor there is a bog - a bog like no other I have encountered previously. I mistakenly found myself on the North of the bog and after consulting the map realised I needed to be the South to get onto the path.  To be honest the path on the S was as good as useless - but getting to it proved... well lets just say eventful. 

The bog was strewn with thick coarse tall reeds. These prevented short legged Scamp seeing very far ahead and there were frequent loud sploshes as he fell in yet another trough/ditch. He went in black and white and came out the other side black and shitty brown. I also went in up to my backside more than once. It was quite disconcerting and but for the thick reeds to pull myself out with and half lie on to take weight off my feet I think I might still be there.

At that time it also began to rain - the soaked shorts, horrible ground, rain and general gloominess of this valley did little for my mood and I was not looking forward to revisiting it soon after for the return trip.

I reached the road at Steel End 2hrs 15 mins after leaving Esk Hause. I would say that could easily be reduced to 1hr 45 by not stopping to look at maps, take photos at Angle Tarn, fall in bogs and laugh out loud at Scamp. From Steel End I ran to the A591 then via the woods to Wythburn Church. Just another 10 mins. 

And there endeth the  recce. 

I still had to get back to Seathwaite of course

I figured on taking a little less than 3 hours to return as there would be less climbing and I shouldnt need to stop to check maps.  But I would have to go through that horrible valley again and also do the rather crappy contour back to Stake Pass. I thought struck me that if it was about 15 miles via road I might be better served to go back via Keswick instead. So off I set from Wythburn Church, north along the A591.

Terrible idea. Stupid idea. Bad move. An ill advised course of action

The road was too narrow and busy to run with a dog on a lead so I had to walk mostly. Making such slow progress I looked across Thirlmere and wondered why on earth I hadn't doubled back to Steel End to run on the W side of it.  I still could have done so for it was only a mile or so but doubling back is like admitting a mistake and I was still intent on running to Keswick (where I thought I would get a coffee (but anyway later realised I had taken no money with me)). When I got St john vale road end I checked my map and noted that there was a path from Armboth over High Tove to Watendlath - hmmmmm.

Just after that a very large road sign loomed into view. I knew it would say how far to Keswick and I reckoned either 2 or 3 miles, probably 3.

Just to Keswick!

I knew it was then 9 miles exactly to the van as I had tripped it on the drive down. So, another 14 miles of road running with poor Scamp on his lead, or turn down the back of Thirlmere road and over High Tove? No contest - although it about 2 miles I didnt need to have done (had I stayed on the back road at Steel End) it was far nicer having Scamp able to run alongside or sniffing about  - I could also move faster too.

As I turned sharp right  W to begin the climb it began raining quite heavily. I stashed away into dry bags my camera and phone. I  had been running with my phone in my hand trying to make a call to someone I knew was in the Keswick/Borrowdale area that day. I wasnt too proud to admit I had made an error in judgement embarking on the road run and was hoping for a lift all the way back to Seathwaite. There was zero reception and  I later discovered that said  friend had been back at home  home many hours earlier anyway. Plus, if I'd taken the lift I would never have lived it down.

Nearing the top of the steep climb I had a bit of a wash in a small waterfall. I was a bit minging after falling in the bog and a freshen up was badly needed for mind body and soul. I also filled my bottle and mixed up another sachet of Kinetic energy for the final push.

We reached High Tove - the only summit of the day, and despite the rain I figured a photo was in order
The gate leads down to Watendlath
I realised I was once again enjoying myself immensely. The low points of that hellish valley and dreadful busy road were all but forgotten as I was back on familiar ground - both in terms of location and terrain underfoot.

At Watendlath I washed Scamp in the tarn outfall - what a state he had gotten into. I even managed to run all the way up the short pass out toward Rosthwaite. I didnt bother with the map - I knew not to keep left for I would end up at Stonethwaite. Unfortunately though I kept too fat Right and came out on the B5289 about one KM North of Rosthwaite instead of right in it. No matter, a couple of miles later I was back at the van.

A man who we passed a few hundred metres before finishing passed us back as I changed clothes at the van. He remarked that Scamp looked ready to go up Gable. I actually reckon I could quite easily have done so myself for although tired and pleased to finish, I was by no means wasted and could have gone on. I suppose that just as well as 6 hours today and one hill small hill is merely a warmup for next weeks 45 miles, probably 12-14 hours and the 4 highest mountains in England.

Unsure of distance today - probably 25 miles. Kinetica energy sachet and bars continue to prove to be the best in-run nutrition I have tried. Approx 1000 cals consumed in run today (plus maybe a couple more from the bugs in the fellwater).

Perhaps more so this year than any previous I continue to learn more about my own ability to run long in the fells. It seems a long long time ago I struggled to complete the Derwent watershed with Iain Kelly and took 12 hours for the Lakes 50.  I think my 40s are going to be the years I remember as being the best times of my life.


1 comment:

  1. for comedy value 10/10
    for sheer stupidity 10/10
    for sheer ugliness 10/10

    good luck next weekend - it will be a breeze after today!