I'm going to let you into a well known secret about fell running: most people don't run the whole way. In fact, hardly anyone actually runs up the steep bits. There are lots of good excus...errr, reasons for walking: at a certain angle, it actually becomes more efficient to walk as you can take bigger strides and cover ground faster - this is when you press on your knees to push down as you climb up. One of the advantages of blogging about your fell runs is that you have another good reason for stopping every now and then (to take pictures). Today's run took a really long time and, as well as climbing up a steep slope, and stopping to take pictures, the main reason was that I was battling my way through a forest. You see, there was a bit of panic about snow hitting the uk:
So, when it's forcast to be really rubbish weather, I always think that running in the forest is a great idea. When you look on your map, if the forest has trees like this one on the right, it means it will be a lovely forest with old trees, nicely spaced out and left to grow tall and strong. There will generally be really distinct paths through it and it will be a pleasure to run in. There are lots of forests or woods like this in the Lake District and I would advise that you look for this sort of forest if you want a nice run.
If the forest on the map has pointy trees like in the picture on the left, you are in for quite a different experience. These are the fir trees of the larger forests in the Lake District (Grizedale, Whinlatter). These trees are planted closely together, grow really fast and quickly form a dense forest that is almost impossible to navigate in or get through in any other way apart from along the wide forest roads left for forestry vehicles. I do enjoy running in these forests as I like the idea of the cover that they provide from strong winds or adverse weather as well as the security of a solid track as opposed to a footpath or open fell. The trouble is, I always seem to find myself hacking through trees like Bear Grills, crawling under, climbing over and untangling my clothing from the spiky branches.
So there were a few qualities that I was looking for when planning a run for today. First, starting in a forest and second, near a main road rather than down quiet lanes where the chance of getting snowed in would be much greater. I had thought about a circuit of Thirlmere but opted for a run up to the impressive Raven Crag - well maybe more of a walk up, and a run down.
Here's the route:
note the pointy trees!
Parking at Armboth car park, making sure to park on a very slight slope facing downwards in case I needed to get out of any snow or anything like that. Across the road there's a wide track. My planning had led me to realise that there was a foresty track along the top of the forest and one going up to it through the forest, the only problem was that they didn't seem to join up. I guess I could just head up the track and see what happens...
Hack, Hack, Hack, ouch! Snag, Crawl, Climb, urgh! Just a minute, almost there:
that's more like it, pretty much at the top of the forest and a nice wide track to run on.
not a bad view back over Thirlmere to the South with Helvelyn Screes on the left looking like they are falling into Thirlmere (the A591 and some pointy tree forest stop this happening).
looking the other way, I was chasing a deer along this fence - obviously I'm too inadequate to get a picture of the deer but watch out for tomorrow's run where I get up close to some wildlife. I'm guessing here but I would say that was Castle Crag up ahead.
up above the forest now, sun trying to break through
pointy trees fall over a lot, especially when they are planted on the side of cliffs. Trail hurdles, I really enjoyed hurdling these three trees.
looking down from Raven Crag, you can see the road by the side of Thirlmere
Across to Great How
Thirlmere is a resevoir constructed in 1890 to supply water to Manchester via the Thirlmere Aquaduct
Thirlmere Dam visible below
these were a bit big to hurdle
back on the track and cloud closing in. Easiest and safest thing to do was to go back the way I had come so that's what I did. I drove around to the other side of Thirlmere to take a picture of Raven Crag from the road but visibility was very poor by the time I got there. I'll definitely come back here, it's good to run, getting the difficult climbing done at the start. It would be nice to draw the descent out a bit and I know there are paths which take you round and underneath Raven Crag.