Monday, June 30, 2014

Side Pike, Lingmoor Fell and Cathedral Quarry

The magnificent Langdale Pikes across the valley from Side Pike on the left as we look back from the climb up the side of the wall to Lingmoor Fell

A nice Saturday walk with good friends.  Dean has just got into fellwalking and is starting to tick off his Wainwrights.  For David (the famous Wainwright Fellwalker) and myself, the walk also had something new in Cathedral Cave.

We set off from The New Dungeon Ghyll (Stickle Barn) after failing to get a parking spot at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.  This meant a bit of a walk before picking up the winding path up to Side Pike.  We went through the field and, after a bit of a stand off with a group of stubborn cows, we picked said path up and carried on up to the top of Side Pike.  After negotiating the squeeze, we carried on over to Lingmoor Fell and then onwards to Little Langdale and Cathedral Quarry Cave.  We came back along the road, picking up the path around Blea Tarn before the final road section back to the Stickle Barn for a pint.

Dean at Side Pike

David's photo of me passing through the squeeze.  We met a bloke here who was so excited to have made it through.  He said that nobody would believe that he had done it and got us to take his picture.  See David's photos here.

up on Lingmoor Fell looking towards the Langdale Pikes

Little Langdale Tarn and the Greenburn/Tilberthwaite Fells

Slater's Bridge

the entrance to Cathedral Quarry Cave

looking out of one of the 'windows'

main cave with pillar (and David)

10 miles

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sale Fell and tree felling

big load of trees have gone from Wythrop Woods

I've been off work this week and have been taking it easy.  It's been quite hard for me to take it easy, and at the same time, my motivation has been pretty low.  I had planned some mountain biking yesterday and a big run today but the weather wasn't great and so it was an easy excuse to chill out.  I dragged myself out for a run today.  I headed to Sale Fell, my local fell.  A round trip of Sale Fell is about 3 miles so it's not a massive commitment but I had a feeling that, once I was actually out, I would want to carry on.  The good thing about Sale Fell is that there are multiple routes so runs can be extended.  I was completely right.  I checked my watch and it was at 0.2 of a mile that I was having a great time.  This continued for the rest of the run.

I think I've become a bit of a plodder.  I don't really do any training, I just go out for a run.  My hill climbing has become really weak and I don't have anything like the speed I used to have.  My plan is to do some specific training sessions: different hill workouts, speed intervals as well as the long slow runs which all my runs seem to have become lately.

Today, I decided I wanted to do hills.  Some long steady climbs rather than very hard efforts, and concentrating on getting into a rhythm going up rather than bombing down.  I had planned to run down the road from my usual parking spot and wind up through the woods at Routenbeck.  This would have provided a gentle but continuous hill climb, something that I was wanting to practice.  When I parked up, there was a sign on the gate showing my route was out of bounds due to tree felling.

Instead then, I headed anti-clockwise on the main bridleway and climbed up the nose of Sale Fell.  Slow but steady, I made it to the top.  I then headed south to Rivings and Lothwaite, taking the path back north west along the wall, climbing up by the fell wall and then back up to the top.  I then took the long descent down the nose, back to the bridleway, this time going in a clockwise direction.  I took the ledge path through the old quarry then around the east side of the fell, climbing again up the wall, this time carrying on over the shoulder back to the main path.  I continued around and then took a path up the north side which seemed to contour around before I turned off and headed up to the top.  From here, I headed back down the nose, around in a clockwise direction back to the car.

quite a lot of trees have gone

there were some nice tree-lined paths in there (as well as this one) from a run in August last year

Monday, June 23, 2014


looking up Jack's Rake sloping to the left.  Now time to run ahead and get in front of this crowd

I was hoping to get up to Pavey Ark then run around over the Langdale Pikes to Rossett Pike and Bowfell, coming down The Band.  It was a day of experimentation.  Jonathan and I were both trying out our Hokas on the fells.  I was also trying out some samples KT Tape had kindly sent me.  I had a go at some Plantar Fasciitis taping.  It was a bit of a mistake to try out two new things at once as I couldn't attribute any benefits to one particular thing.  I also quickly realised that I should have shaved the hair around my ankles where I was going to apply the tape as I had some problems getting it to stick.  I'll write a full review at a later date, it's a work in progress.

Jonathan's Hoka experiment was also a failure with him twisting his ankle coming down Martcrag Moor.  It was bad enough to cut the run short, ending with a walk down Stake Gill and along Mickleden before finally breaking into a jog for the last half mile or so.

We started with a nice steady climb up from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to Stickle Tarn and then up Jack's Rake.  We went to the summit of Pavey Ark, then over to Thunacar Knott before heading towards Pike of Stickle (after deciding against Harrison Stickle and Loft Crag.  After Pike of Stickle we set off across Martcrag Moor before I heard a Jonathan profanitively announce the end of the run.

8 miles

looking across Stickle Tarn to Pavey Ark and Jack's Rake which runs from lower right up to the middle top.  Perfect conditions for it today, dry with no wind.  Lots of people going up, we just got up before a large school party.

looking down to Stickle Tarn.  Tarn Crag is the little prominence on the left with its own small tarn.  Lingmoor Fell is central with Wetherlam, part of the Coniston Group, to the right and behind.

although exposed in places, it's a relatively easy climb when dry.  Good handholds and little loose rock.

it was a hot day - on top of Pavey Ark

I look impressed eh?

it was still a little bit squelchy on the way over to Thunacar Knott.  It was the first real try of the Hokas and it was difficult to tell what they were like.  From here there was a very nice run down towards the main path.  Although Jonathan said that he wasn't enjoying the Hoka experience.

Here looking over towards Bowfell to the left of centre.  The Scafells get a bit mixed up with others in front.  Great Gable is distinct on the right with what I think is Allen Crags in front.

As we were planning to put a few more miles in, we didn't bother going to Harrison Stickle or Loft Crag.  This is from Pike of Stickle looking back towards Harrison Stickle on the left and Loft Crag centre right.  To the left of Loft Crag is Thorn Crag.  The lake beyond is Windermere.

now descending into Langdale with Pike of Stickle prominent on the left and our long walk home stretching along the beck.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Steve Birkinshaw's Wainwright Record - The Last Leg

Steve on Cat Bells, his final Wainwright

Last night I got to witness a legend.  Joss Naylor's record for the completion of the Wainwrights was set in 1986 (when he was 50).  All week, I and many others have been tracking Steve Birkinshaw on his attempt. 

Steve's run is remarkable on many fronts, one of the most impressive things to me is the amount of planning that he has put in.  Even more remarkable is that Steve has kept so closely to the schedule, rarely dropping more than an hour over the whole 300 odd miles.

Steve was due at Newlands Haus, the top of Newlands Pass at about 6pm last night.  From this point, he would have approximately 11 miles to go, up Robinson, then picking up the route of the Anniversary Waltz fell race around to Hindscarth, Dale Head, High Spy, Maiden Moor and finally Cat Bells.  The route finishes at the Moot Hall in Keswick.

Steven, Jonathan and I, along with about a hundred others, met him at Newlands Haus for the last leg.

There's plenty of pictures, so I'll let them do the talking.

Steve getting a pep talk at Newlands Haus

heading up High Snockrigg

stopping to wave at the helicopter that was buzzing us, apparently making a documentary on the run

Steve has had hot dry conditions all week

almost at Robinson

at Robinson, "I'm sorry, I don't usually go this slow"

heading off, a big descent before climbing back up to Hindscarth

Steve, with the sticks, reaching Hindscarth summit

handing the sticks over as he sets off towards Dale Head

It's a nice run down from Hindscarth but I bet Steve was feeling it

the short cut along Hindscarth Edge

Going along Hindscarth Edge, I ran into fell running legend, Billy Bland.  I think he had come up from Honister, "I was going to show him the quick way along here" he said.

chatting happily at Dale Head
heading down towards Dale Head Tarn.  He was gaining on his schedule at this point

the climb up to High Spy 

High Spy, two more to go

the woman from Trail Running Magazine - celebrity stalking

going at a good pace now

Cat Bells ahead, the last of 214

well ahead of schedule

looks like there's a posse on Cat Bells
any excuse for a beer?

classic view on a gorgeous night

arriving at Cat Bells


and we're off

descending from Cat Bells

shortly after this picture was taken, the man in the white shirt took a fall and rolled into the back of Steve's legs.  Steve basically stopped him from rolling right down the steep side of Cat Bells.  He smashed his glasses in the fall but it could have been much worse for both him and Steve.  Someone said, "you weren't sent by Joss Naylor were you?"

on the flat now, Steve is about an hour ahead of his schedule, about to smash the previous record by 12 hours

plenty gathered at the Moot Hall

he's done it.  With his family after an epic, epic run

unbelievable.  Steve is raising charity for two MS charities, a condition that his sister is affected by.  Please visit his fundraising page and give generously