Sunday, March 30, 2014

Walla Crag

it's a popular summit

Jonathan and I did a long road run yesterday so wanted a fairly chilled run today.  It was a beautiful sunny day, the start of British Summer Time!  We headed to Great Wood down the Borrowdale road to do a familiar route around Walla Crag.

one of my favourite views in the Lakes - looking back down Cat Gill over Derwent Water towards Cat Bells

there's a viewpoint in Castlehead Woods.  Jonathan sprung into action

five miles

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The British Trail Running Podcast - Episode 17

I have an interview about fell running and my blog on episode 17 of this excellent podcast.  The interview starts at about 30 minutes in:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Whinlatter Fells

Hopegill Head, the way on from Grisedale Pike

Initial plan today was a Kentmere Round recce but the forcast was poor.  I sleep in an attic room so I hear the weather all night.  I had one or two of those dreams where you think you are awake, each time waking to perfect sunshine.  Then I would wake up properly and hear the wind and rain on the velux window.  In the morning, conditions were much better than I had expected.  I had decided I was going out no matter what and so heading to Sale Fell for familiar territory and nearby forest tracks seemed like a good plan.

Sale Fell looking towards Skiddaw
From the usual parking spot along from the church, I headed up and turned left to loop around clockwise.  When I got to the stream, I turned up the fell, climbing steeply to the top.  After a few selfies for my new Facebook Group, I took the nice grassy track off towards Rivings and Lowthwaite, two subsidiary tops on Sale Fell.

From Rivings I dropped down through the trees to the back of the loop path.  Crossing at the row of windswept trees (Hawthorn?) and then picking up cycle track 71 which is a lovely downhill track through Wythop Woods.

view from Rivings
If you follow this track to its natural conclusion, you end up on the road.  The last time, we ran along and climbed up past the Bishop onto Barf.  I wanted to try to find a track through the woods so today I followed a track along Beck Wythop, to the waterfall.  I concluded that the track was only in place either to look at the waterfall or to service the water tank that is up there.  Whichever it was, it didn't go any further so I climbed steeply up through the woods.

A good tip is that if you see trees marked with a spraypainted ring (marking them for chopping down) you can usually find a track nearby.  This technique worked today and I found myself on a wide forest track from where I was able to work my way around to the corner of the forest and the back on Lord's Seat. 

just out of the forest looking up to Lord's Seat.  I climbed to the left and looped around.

Lord's Seat summit pole looking over Barf and across to Skiddaw (very windy here)

track into Whinlatter Forest.  Grisedale Pike up ahead
It was very windy on top of Lord's Seat so I didn't hang around too long.  There is a nice track off into the forest.  After a while this turns into a wider forest track which goes nicely downhill to the visitors centre.

I met a couple carrying a young child who asked me the way to the visitors centre.  I pointed them in the right direction (the opposite direction to which they were going) and then headed down.

At the visitors centre, I headed across the road to Revelin Moss and picked up the track up the wall for The Grind up Grisedale Pike.  There was no attempt to run up The Grind today, it was all walking.  Again, very windy making it difficult to stay upright on top.

I headed across to Hopegill Head, dropping down to Ladyside Pike and then taking a track away from the wall which took me to a rickety bridge over Blaze Beck.  I crossed a few fields and then was at the quarry at the bottom of the climb up to Graystones.

a rare downhill photo - heading down to the visitors centre with The Grind visible up Grisedale Pike

over to Hopegill Head

and Ladyside Pike

the slippy descent off Hopegill Head towards Ladyside Pike - nice running here eventually out of the wind

looking back from Hopegill Head to Grisedale Pike on the left

over to Grasmoor

looking to Graystones, straight up from the wall - my next big climb

bridge over Blaze Beck has seen better days

Ling Fell summit looking over to Sale Fell where I started. 
Look at the waves in the puddle
I was too cold on Graystones to get the camera out.  I went to the two summits (I'm never sure which is the Wainwright, I think the one on the eastern side of the wall).

From here I continued along the wall over soggy ground to climb up Ling Fell.  I'm a bit disappointed that I missed the Corpse Road track down Ling Fell as this is a very nice run down on a wide grassy track.  I seem to have made a more direct descent and eventually got to the road where I climbed along the wall over onto the Sale Fell track, descending back to my car.

This was a big run for me with my current level of fitness.  I was pretty done in from the start of the climb up Graystones but I'm very happy to have got it in.  There was a fair bit of climbing, almost 8000ft and 17miles distance is alright.

Easy day tomorrow I reckon.

17 miles
7966ft elevation
5hrs 41mins

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Foggy Fairfield Horseshoe

just coming out of the cloud on Low Pike

Jonathan struggling to give the banana the slip
We had planned a linear route today, up Nab Scar onto Fairfield and on over Helvellyn and The Dodds coming down Clough Head to Threlkeld where we had left Jonathan's car.  

Very low cloud and high winds made it tough going and at Fairfield, we decided to curve round and do the classic Fairfield Horseshoe route.  

We thought that by dropping down this way, rather than carrying on at relatively the same level (as per our original route) we would have a better chance of getting out of the cloud.  We also thought that we might be lucky and turn the headwind we were experiencing into a tailwind.  Neither of these things happened.

As we were climbing Nab Scar, we saw a young man wearing a banana outfit, apparently doing the Fairfield Round for charity.  His mother asked us to look after him which he wasn't pleased about.

The path from Rydal Hall to Nab Scar winds up steeply and we were finding it tough going.  We overtook the banana and on looking back, we couldn't see him so he must have split.

Nab Scar

there are runnable sections between Nab Scar and Great Rigg and then on to the climb up to Fairfield but it was very windy which is why Jonathan is dressed as he is in this picture.
Dove Crag?
Pretty soon after Nab Scar, we were in cloud and we didn't come back out of it until Low Pike near the end of the run.  There was still a bit of snow left on top of Fairfield.  

We sat in the summit shelter and made the decision to turn off to do the Fairfield Horseshoe rather than carry on over Helvellyn and the Dodds as planned.  I took a compass bearing and we soon picked up the path towards Hart Crag.

As we got to Hart Crag, the going got very tough with slippery wet rocks so we took it very easy.  Once we got to Dove Crag we had the wall to follow and there is a good section of runnable track here.  I remembered that the track is better on the west of the wall but today we got more support from the shelter of the wall from the wind.

follow the wall, a welcome shelter from the wind too.

Jonathan at High Pike

starting to come out of the cloud
Low Pike

Looking back to High Pike

9.6 miles
3d route shows the horseshoe profile

Friday, March 14, 2014

Barf and Lords Seat evening run

no time to play around climbing on the bishop - it's going to be dark in 10 mins

After work fell running always feels good.  The nights are getting lighter and it's properly dark by about 6.30pm at the moment.  The plan was to climb up Barf past the bishop while it was still light and then have some safe running across the grassy tops and Whinlatter woodland.

looking over to Skiddaw and Dodd

come on mate

Slape Crag
The bishop is actually quite low down on the scree slope up to Barf summit.  There are a few different tracks to take if you travel on upwards, we took a different track today than last time.

Eventually, you get to the bottom of Slape Crag.  This impressive flat iron type rock can be seen prominently from the A66 and looks as though you would need climbing gear to get up it.  In fact, there is a shelf that crosses diagonally from right to left which is much more of scramble than a climb.

Once up this part, the track is fairly well defined up to the edge of the gorse and onto the flat grassy top parts of the fell.

It was getting very dusky at this point.  We took a few photos on the top of Barf and then headed across the way to Lords Seat summit.  The head torches were out about halfway across.

dusky Skiddaw reflected in Bassenthwaite

ten minutes later from Barf summit looking over to the dodds across Keswick

Jonathan on Lords Seat

looking back to Barf
From Lords Seat summit there is a nice, well defined track down into the forest.  It's the kind of track you want if you are running in the dark.

We followed this until we got onto the main forest track where we worked our way downhill, generally going in the right direction.

After a while I recognised a track I had taken before and we turned off to climb down steeply through the woods, coming out just by our car.

slow progress on a slippery wet track through the woods 

four miles

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gowbarrow Fell after work

up on Gowbarrow Fell, now the climbing is done, we can have fun

Jonathan and I were working in Penrith today.  It's about 40 minutes from home along the A66 and you pass lots of fells, effectively going from west to east lakeland.  We agreed to pack our running gear and get up a fell on the way home.  Gowbarrow seemed a perfect choice.  It's just a short drive off the A66 and is a fell that can be done quickly.

It was a beautiful evening, after climbing to the summit, we explored the trail that goes all the way around the fell.  This is a brilliant track, all very runnable and great scenery looking over Ullswater across to Place Fell.

After messing about on the summit a bit, we started the run properly.  My legs were tired from lots of running this week and I felt it most on the initial downhill from the summit.  Once the track turns the corner, it levels out quite well and turns into a brilliant single track run.

great trail

across Ullswater

running selfie

We stopped at an area where the path drops down Yew Crag to admire the scenery and take some more pictures.  We decided to head up as the path dropped because I was worried about losing height and having to climb up again.  Looking at the route we took, I think we could have stayed on the path and would have been ok.  We eventually picked up the path along the beck and had a short run back to the footbridge and back to the car.

4 miles