The start of October 2011, looking for something simple and safe after a great experience learning some of the basics of fell running. The family were having a blast at the newly updated playground at Whinlatter Forest:
So I decided to go off and try some proper running. "I'll be about an hour" I told my, ever understanding, wife. Now then, on face value, Whinlatter Forest should be a good option for a first fell run. Clear tracks, plenty of people, not too steep. I've since learned, and began learning on this run, that forest tracks can look pretty similar to each other and it's easy to get disorientated. Still, started off nice enough:
The plan, follow the track, keep going higher until you can't go any higher. Seemed ok to me. Heading West from the visitors centre onto the Wainwright summit of Whinlatter (apparently there are two summits) - I happened to cover both of them, more out of luck than anything else, I think because I was running and thought, "that looks interesting, I'll head that way". Still, some lovely views while climbing out of the forest:
Out onto the open fell and a feeling of this being a serious run now. Still beautiful:
that's got to be Grisedale Pike rising to the right of the picture
not just the countryside that's pretty
The tracks on top of Whinlatter were a mixture of ok and not very nice. I think I probably followed a number of sheep trod paths that were on the steep sides of hills. Now, with a bit more experience, I would probably run across the soft heathery grass rather than trying to stick to rocky and steep paths.
Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head and Grasmoor from the top of Brown How
My plan of running up as high as you can go and then heading back down seemed to work ok. Quite a nice circular route. Very tough going but then I was looking at the time and expecting my pace to be comparable with road running (I've learnt that you really cannot do that with fell running). All in all, I was glad to get back to the visitors centre. Running through the forest from the top of the picture above (where I took a sharp right hand turn) was great fun. Back to the cafe for a soya latte and then home.