Sunday, March 10, 2013

20 miles along the Cumbria Way

Skiddaw House - conditions worsening at 14 miles in

I had a few different plans for today including some higher fell challenges.  My fell run from last weekend taught me how much more difficult a bit of elevation can make a run.  With this lesson in mind, and the relatively flat course of the upcoming Rivington 26.2 coming up in two weeks, I decided on a flatter course.  The weather also had a say, bitterly cold with widespread snow was the forecast - perhaps not the weather for higher lakeland adventures.

I had my heart set on the first section of the Allerdale Ramble, a 54 mile route starting from Seathwaite.  We could meet in Cocermouth, drive one car to Seathwaite and then run the 23 or so miles along the Allerdale Ramble to the other car.  I did my planning on Memory Map Software using an OS 1:50k map of the Lake District which has the Allerdale Ramble clearly marked (you can see it in the maps below).

In the morning, when I went to work out which maps I would need to take with me, I saw that the Allerdale Ramble is not marked on the OS 1:25k Explorer Maps or the Harvey 1:25k Superwalker, or the Harvey 1:40k BMC Lake District Map.  Obviously, not having the route on the map makes it more difficult to follow.  I could have made up a route card with the main locations to run through but I really did fancy just following a premarked route.  So instead, I decided we would run a section of the Cumbria Way, which is a 70 mile route starting in Ulverston, but that today we would start in Rosthwaite.  The Cumbria Way is marked on maps and is also well signposted along the way.  Here is our route:

this way
I had measured the car park at Overwater to be 20 miles from Rosthwaite so we headed there first, leaving Jonathan's car there.  We spent a few minutes working out some logistics, yes, I need to take all my running gear but my clean clothes should stay at Overwater, along with my wallet (although I'll take my bank card and a fiver, just in case of emergencies).

It seemed like a very long drive to Rosthwaite.  Our route was not that different to the route we would be running, the main part being that we would run around the back of Skiddaw.  We had the same logistical considerations on leaving my car at Rosthwaite, with one minor error (more on that later).  Then we headed off towards the river and alongside it to Grange.

heading off from Rosthwaite

back on the road at High Close
The first few miles were the familiar route along past Castle Crag.  Once in the woods, you pass Milican Dalton's Cave and then carry on through the woods, past the camp site and out onto the road at Grange.  We probably didn't take the official route here as we found ourselves hopping over a fence at a large property called High Close before running along the driveway to go through the very grand gate onto the road.

We ran down the road for a bit before joining the track across to the Derwentwater shoreline path at Great Bay.  We spotted reassuring yellow arrows at various points along the way.

The path along through Manesty Park and then Brandlehow Park is a really beautiful section of the Lake District.  It is very popular and probably underrated for this reason.  A run around Derwentwater is a lovely route to take after work in the summer.  I think it's about 7 miles.  Today, we would follow the path along the west shore for about 3 miles.

heading towards Derwentwater

The route continues through Portinscale, then Keswick, joining up briefly with Bob Graham territory and the climb up Spooney Green Lane towards the Ormathwaite car park.

heading towards Keswick with a moody Cat Bells visible across the playing fields

climbing up to Latrigg and Cat Bells visible again, now across Derwentwater

Ormathwaite car park and a reassuring yellow arrow on the post

snow starting on the run around Lonscale Fell
Once out of Keswick, the hardest section of the run today started.  We would run around the back of Lonscale Fell and Skiddaw to Skiddaw House and then on to Peter House Farm.  The weather was changing for the worse at this point (although it had never been particularly good).  

As we split from the main track up Skiddaw, turning east, there we were hit by snow and an icy wind.  Further around Lonscale Fell, where we had a bit of shelter, the snow was heavier but at least we were out of the wind.  The track gets a lot rougher here but at this point the major climbing is done and the route is a lot more runnable.

high level track towards Skiddaw House
arms length portrait - brrr!

Skiddaw House

fork in the road
The track splits after Skiddaw House.  One arm goes up to High Pike, the fell that we spectacularly failed to find the last time we were in this area.  Luckily, we did not want to go that way.  Our plan was to continue straight ahead on the main track towards Dash Falls.

The track is very clear at this point, impossible to stray off so we carried on along the few miles to Dash Falls.  From this point, the track goes mostly downhill to Peter House Farm.

I enjoyed this section.  We were at about the sixteen mile mark but I felt like I could have carried on for a lot longer.

Despite being very clear about where we were, it's always a relief when a familiar area comes into view.  I recognised the Dash Fall area from previous runs and walks.  I also remembered the downhill bit.  The last mile or so towards Peter House Farm is on smooth tarmac and felt really nice.  Jonathan was breaking new ground in his distance totals.

climbing up, Skiddaw House is back in the trees

frozen gate at Dash Falls.  Dead Crags ahead

the track down from Dash Falls, Jonathan on the right (catching up)

At Peter House Farm, we had the option of running up the road or continuing on across fields, through a wooded area, around a tarn and then up the road.  We were at about 17.5 miles so we chose the latter option to make it up to the 20 mile mark.

The route finding got a bit more difficult from here on in but we managed ok.  The climb up through the woods was not expected but this did lead to a nice gentle run though fields on the other side.

We got back onto the road at Orthwaite and then ran along the road for the last half mile or so to Jonathan's car.  It was at this point that Jonathan realised that he had left his keys in my car, which was 20 miles away in Rosthwaite!  A quick check of the map showed that the village of Uldale was about a mile up the road so we headed here, calling Jonathan's dad on the way to bring spare car keys.  In Uldale, we found a nice tea room (fully licensed) with a wood burning stove.

We set about redressing the calorie deficit.

Here's the run on Strava:

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