Saturday, December 26, 2015

Gavel, Blake and Burnbank

heading up to Blake Fell summit along the fence line

Jonathan and I always like a Boxing Day run.  There was a nice group today.  The original plan had been to take the low path at Loweswater and then up the steep side of Melbreak coming back over Hencombe and over to the high Loweswater path.

We had a little navigational malady around High Nook Farm, one of those where nobody can be bothered to get a map out and so we ended up heading along the main track with a plan to continue to the fence, following it around to Gavel Fell, over Blake Fell and on to Burnbank where we took the steep path from the summit across the fell and down to the coffin trail.

The weather was wet but not as bad as I was expecting and we could have managed a Melbreak ascent.  Although, I did start to feel sick just before we started the climb up to Gavel Fell.  A touch of a cold I think, I don't like to make a big deal of these things.

All in eight miles on the fells.  A great Boxing Day jaunt out.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 2015 Catch Up

I've got a bit behind with blogging.  I will use this post to combine some runs from December and hopefully get me up to date.

13th December:
Interesting run this morning. I was planning to go over Burnbank, Blake, Gavel then across to Hen Comb and back along the low path at Loweswater. I noticed these dogs hanging out with me at the top of Gavel fell. By the time I got to the bottom and was about to join the track onto Hen Comb, I realised that they were not going to get back on their own so I turned around and went back up Gavel fell. I met some walkers on the top who said that there was a woman shouting for them. I ran a bit further over to the col between Blake Fell and Gavel Fell where the dogs finally heard the shouting and headed back. Lovely dogs, I think they were pretty worried because they were staying very close to me, almost tripping me over at times. I took the track down Highnook Beck to the coffin trail and back to the start. About 9 miles I think.

from Burbank looking up to Blake

my buddies

16th December:

A run up Walla Crag with Hardly AC.  The snow was falling...

rest of the gang on top

23rd December:

A Wednesday night run up Burnbank and Blake Fell, back along the coffin trail.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Blake Fell

Clear night on Blake Fell

A lovely clear night for Hardly AC.  The views from Blake Fell over the coast are great.  I even saw an owl on the way back.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lonscale Fell

profile of Lonscale Pike on the way down to Burnt Horse

This is one of my all time favourite routes.  It's a good one in poor conditions as the route finding is very easy, following fence lines or bridleways for the majority of the route.  Alastair agreed to drive up to Latrigg car park, a decision he perhaps regretted when he saw the very large potholes in the road.  It saved us a few miles though, particularly that difficult first uphill from Spooneygreen Lane.

This was the first time I had done this route in the dark.  I've done it in very deep snow a few times as well as in thick cloud.  The only real thing to remember is to take the single track off the main Skiddaw track just at the point that the track bends to the left.  Tonight I measured it and this junction is exactly one mile from the car park.  If in doubt, keep going in the same direction as the fence.

The rest of the run, up to the top and down over the beautiful (even in the dark) Burnt Horse, was great fun.  It's such a great run over Burnt Horse and then down through the field towards Skiddaw House before turning back right onto the track around Lonscale Fell.  Towards the end my back started to hurt a bit.  Perhaps going a bit heavy on the digging at my new allotment!

the moon was out over Lonscale Fell

that bloody 'orrible Skiddaw path

misty night

David and Alastair at the summit

me and David (I think)

Burnt Horse

back on the Glenderatera track

twice as cool at night

Thursday, November 19, 2015


up on the top

A Hardly AC run in particularly wet conditions.  The forest tracks of Dodd Wood provided some reassurance considering the high volume of water running off the hills.  We made a steady run to the top.  

Despite the very wet conditions, it was pretty nice on top.  We stopped to admire the lights of Keswick and I tried to take pictures which proved quite difficult at night with a phone.

There is a really nice single track down from Dodd summit.  However, it was so wet that we decided to stick to the forest track and took it easy back to the cars.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


at the carpark, watching runners' lights approach

Latrigg.  A good wet weather and dark night run.  Both of these factors were encountered as we ran up Spooneygreen Lane to Latrigg Carpark, up to the summit along the 'accessible' path and then down to meet the railway line.  Great to get out on a rotten night like this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lords Seat from Braithwaite

cold and dark

Jonny, Joanne, Jonathan and I.  We started at Braithwaite church and ran up the road, taking the track off on the right and picking our way through dark trails up into the forest and ultimately to the summit of Lords Seat.  I got there a little bit ahead of the others.  It was very spooky with the mist blowing past in the dark being lit up by my headtorch.

Lord's seat is a good option for the dark though.  Pretty easy to stick on the track and there is additional shelter provided by the forest.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Barf and Lords Seat

from Barf summit looking over towards the Skiddaw fells

Some strange goings on today.  I parked at Powter Howe and followed the track straight up the beck below The Bishop.  As I approached the top of Barf I saw a couple of people in big ponchos and wellies.  The woman had a selfie stick and was busy filming herself descending from the top.  It takes all sorts eh?  I said "hello" and carried on.  Up on top, I stopped to chill for a bit.  I could smell smoke and wondered if there was a big fire on one of the farm fields way below.  Then I looked just past the summit and saw one of those disposable barbecue trays, still smoking.  I assumed that it was the people I had just seen that left it.  Nice eh?

I ran over to Lords Seat and then took the usual track down, turning off to pick up the Barf descent track.  I ran past the same people on the way back around.  I gave them a stern look.  That should teach them!

smouldering coals on the grass

strange people

up at Lord's Seat

nice view of Barf on the way back down

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ling Fell

top of Ling Fell with the Hardly train coming in

Wednesday night runs with my little running club make me so happy.  Tonight we took the classic coffin road route up to Ling Fell summit before heading steeply down easterly from the top to pick up the track around the south of the fell.  We followed this to the Green Lonning at the west of the fell taking the road for about 3/4 of a mile back to the starting point.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dunnerdale Forest Run

Harter Fell summit

The plan for this run was a round of the Duddon Horseshoe.  It's a route I did a few years ago, a nice 17 or so miles, although I extended it slightly.  Our fortunate position of living right next to the Western Lake District means that we sometimes see these southern fells as a bit of a hike.  I think we drove for an hour!  Alastair and David were looking forward to visiting some less frequented fells as well as the challenge of the route.  When it came down to it, David's foot problem meant that we sensibly cut the route short after five or so miles and took a relatively flat route back to the car.

Starting from the Newfield Inn at Seathwaite, the route goes around the local climbing hotspot of Wallowbarrow Crag and into Dunnerdale Forest.  It goes through the forest.  The path is much improved at this stage compared to the last time I was here.  As soon as you leave the forest, you climb steeply up to Harter Fell.  After taking the north western grassy track over to the high point of Hardknott Pass, the route crosses the road and goes up to Hardknott fell.  Due to David's injury, we stopped at the road.  We went down the road to the bottom of the steepest part, past a stationary car with the familiar smell of burning clutch in the air, to the point where a footpath and good track turns south off the road along the side of the River Duddon.  This was a nice track although some recent logging activity has made it less pleasant in a few spots.  It brought us back around the opposite side of Wallowbarrow Crag and an impressive boulder field scree back to the car and a quick pint in the Newfield Inn.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lords Seat

at the summit - fading light

Feeling recovered from the 3x3000 Ultra, this was a nice weekday run with no pressure.  I met with Alastair and David and we drove up to Whinlatter Visitor's Centre.  We wound our way through the woods and I was pleased to manage to run all the way to the summit without stopping.

We got to the top in the last of the daylight and headtorches were used for the easier run back down.

Great run out and a good catch up.  Cheers guys.

me and David.  Bit blurry in low light

Alastair at Lords Seat summit.  The Dodds visible behind.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


home turf

Sale Fell on my own.  First fell since 3x3000 Ultra.  I went at my own pace, chilled out and thought about life.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

3 x 3000 Ultra 2015

heading into daylight at Seathwaite

The 3 x 3000 Ultra was an event I looked at last year and thought, wow! Maybe someday.  It's a race that takes in the three fells in the Lake District which are over 3000ft, linking them up with a 50 mile route.  Last year's horrendous weather conditions added to the perceived impossibility of the event.  This year, I wasn't actually that phased about it.  I did the usual, sign up after not much persuasion from my friend Paul.

heading up Broad Crag.
Leading up to race day, I found out that a really good old friend of mine had died.  It had really upset me and I had been feeling down the whole week.  Come race day, I was pretty indifferent on the race, looking at it like it was a job to do.  I thought, I'll get up and down Scafell Pike and see how I feel after that.

An early 5am start to the race.  I set off with Paul and his mate Pete, pretty much right at the back.  The trails from Keswick along the side of Derwent Water up to Watendlath are familiar and fairly easy going.  I was trying to take it easy but was pushed along somewhat due to the single track nature of much of the trail and being pushed on knowing that people are behind me.  I pushed on a bit at Ashness Bridge but walked the hills on the road until I picked up the trail alongside Watendlath Beck.  I took it easy on the fast descent from Watendlath and then ran along through Seathwaite where I met enough daylight to take the headtorch off.  I found the walk up to Styhead Tarn easier than usual but the corridor route always catches me out.  I got the sticks out for the first time here and had a few gels.

heading towards Esk Hause.  The Langdale Pikes in the
distance floating over a nice cloud layer
The run down and over Broad Crag wasn't too bad.  The weather was pretty much perfect for running.  Pretty clear conditions, quite cool, hardly any wind.  I had to admit that I was enjoying myself.

The track from Esk Hause over towards Langdale was the start of the section that I wanted to recce last week.  It turned out that the event was really well marked out and there was very little chance of getting lost.

I had taken a different way to High Raise on my recce run, the event took a very direct line across boggy ground.  More gels into me and from the top, it was easy to pick the route down to the god-awful valley of Whythburn.

Tim's photo of me, Paul and Pete on the way up to Latrigg
The Whythburn valley was as awful as I thought it would be.  I had chosen trainers for cushioning rather than grip.  I was falling all over the place.  The weather had been pretty dry leading up to the race but it was still wet and boggy down here.

Eventually, I made it onto the road and around to the Whythburn church checkpoint and aid station.  This was a drop bag point.  I had a few items in my drop bag that were absolute winners: a little bottle of fresh orange juice and a fresh pair of socks.  As I sat changing my socks, Paul and Pete caught up and we completed the rest of the event together.  We hung around for quite a bit here but then eventually headed up the steep climb to Helvellyn.  This was definitely the hardest climb of the day but I think we all knew we had it in the bag from here.

Skiddaw - it's all downhill after that!
The run across the dodds is always nice.  This is my favourite direction to do it in.  As we headed across, we saw our, soon to be friend Tim, at one point we saw him fall on his arse, at another point we saw him head up Great Dodd, which you don't have to do!

The run down Clough Head was really hard.  Again, I was slipping in my old shoes.  As we ran along the track, Tim caught up with us at the next checkpoint and then again as we started to climb Latrigg.

At the race briefing, they had said that, if when you get to Latrigg carpark, you are really tired and don't want to do an extra ten miles around and over Skiddaw, you can turn left down into Keswick.  They said that they would still give you a finishers time - that they wouldn't consider it a DNF.  I thought at the time that this would be very tempting but, despite being tired and sore, there was no way any of us wasn't going to put that last ten miles in.

My knee started to hurt as we passed Skiddaw House.  Paul gave me some ibuprofen which seemed to sort it out.  We both dosed up on gels.  The final climb up to Bakestall wasn't as almighty god-awful as I thought it would be.  We broke up the climb and I had my sticks which helped a lot.  At the fence corner, we put on jackets and other warm items.  I put my headtorch back in my pocket and it was on at the top of Skiddaw.  I was really pleased to get to this point in the daylight.  My aim had been to get down off the dodds before it got dark.

There was a self-clip checkpoint on Skiddaw summit before we enjoyed a nice run down to the car park and last checkpoint.  A few swigs of coke and then we chilled our way down the Spooney Green Lane path.  We walked past the leisure centre, and past the park, thinking we would save our energy for a final run into town.

at the end.
Well this was a great race.  It got me out of my slump.  Definitely the hardest in terms of longest, most elevation.  The easy pace I took it at meant that it didn't feel as though it took as much out of me as some of the events this year that I have tried to get a decent time in.

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