Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hardly AC Rannerdale Knotts

The run up the valley is a nice little climbing challenge, made more difficult by conditions today

At the end of May one could be forgiven for expecting favourable weather conditions.  The Facebook chatter on the Hardly AC group page during the day indicated that this was definitely not the case and several members were going through the, all too familiar, process of #Ashworthing.  With numbers depleted, but having embarrassed at least one group member into turning up, it was a select few that gathered at the Cinderdale Common car park for the run.  The original intention had been to head up Rannerdale Valley and on to Whiteless Pike, over to Grasmoor and back down my favourite descent line of Red Gill scree.  With the conditions as they were, the plan was unanimously changed to a much more gentle run up and around Rannerdale Knotts.

It was the first time in a long while that I have had full waterproofs on from the start of the run.  I still got quite wet but it was a summer wet, not really cold, just soaking wet.  We made our way up the valley.  I had a good go at getting to the top without stopping and, as is often the case, would have carried on if I had known how near I was to the end when I stopped to wait for the others.  From the col, we turned back to run along the ridge to Rannerdale Knotts summit.  There are a few false summits along this ridge but the top is evident when you find it.

After a few rushed pictures, we dropped steeply to the lake side and then around the woods and down into Buttermere village where Howard showed us a really nice trail through some old woods.  We continued on this path and eventually got back to the col at the top of the valley and enjoyed an easy descent back to the cars.

It was wet, really wet, the kind of wet where you can't see because there is too much water in your eyes but I was really glad to get out.  This is what running with friends is all about.  On those days when it's all too easy to find a reason not to go out, the thought that others are waiting for you and that you don't want to let them down spurs you on to get your lazy arse up.  Well done team for a great evening out in challenging conditions.

6.7 wet miles

the crew coming back along the ridge to the summit

Hardly any climbing

wet and windy summit

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bowfell and Rossett Pike

Rossett Pike summit cairn with the Langdale Pikes in the distance

looking back down The Band
The forecast was for low cloud but I really hoped it might burn off before we got to Bowfell.  We set off from The New Dungeon Ghyll along the road.  After about 3/4 of a mile, I realised that my watch was set to 'swim' so I restarted it.  We went along the track to Stool End Farm and then started the steady climb up The Band.

I had thought about picking up the Climbers' Traverse but in the cloud, I decided to continue to the Three Tarns before turning off towards Bowfell summit.

The Great Slab on Bowfell.  Usually a good spot for a bit
of a play around but not when it's cloudy and wet.
From a cloudy summit, we took a bearing and headed north towards Esk Pike.  I was looking out for Angle Tarn as a drop off point but it wasn't visible until we dropped down a bit further.  

There is a very small tarn/pool on the map where the path bends around and I thought we had identified this on the ground but couldn't be entirely sure.  It turned out I was right and dropping down a bit, Angle Tarn came clearly into view.  

We picked up the track around it to the junction of Rossett Pike/Rossett Gill and then headed up to the summit of Rossett Pike and along to the end of the promontory.

From here, we dropped back down to the Rossett Gill path and enjoyed a leisurely run down and along the track back to the Stickle Barn where we had a cold drink and some chips.

cloudy on Bowfell

coming around Angle Tarn looking over to Hanging Knotts

Dean on Rossett Pike

1:25k map (click for larger image)


Friday, May 22, 2015

Skiddaw and Skiddaw Little Man

Dean on the summit, Joanne shivering in the shelter

According to my tally sheet, I've so far been up Skiddaw eleven times.  It's my local big fell and it's easy to find your way around on so there have been plenty of times that I've headed up there on a whim.  I was quite surprised therefore that neither of my running partners last night had ever been up it.  They were in for a treat.

Downstairs at the start of the Spooney Green Lane track it was quite warm.  We thought that we would warm up going up Spooney Green Lane but I knew it would be very windy on the top floor.

I'm always a little surprised to be able to run all the way up Spooney Green Lane.  The very first bit, the very very first bit, that goes up to the bridge, is a rude awakening.  After a short downhill, the climbing starts, getting steep after the first gate.  Once up to the path junction where the track bends around, it evens off a bit and you can either pick up the pace or just run in the remainder of the climb.  Last night was a running it in type of evening but at least I got to the car park without stopping.

it's a bastard of a hill - beautiful view over Derwent Water though
From there it was past the monument and up the main track.  We met two young men, it sounded like they were German, who asked us the way and how far to Skiddaw House.  I thought it was five miles but looking at the map now, it was about three.  Better to be pleasantly surprised.  As we climbed past the Hawell Memorial, I shouted back to point them on the right track.  We wound our way up the track.  Once at the top gate, where the track goes around Skiddaw Little Man, we had a little run.  The cloud was coming in a bit now and it was windy and cool.

From the final gate, we continued to climb.  I pointed out the cairn set off the track which marks the trod which cuts off the final steep climb up to the south.  We ran along the top and dorked around at the summit for a while.  It was very windy now, we didn't hang around long, coming back the same way and dropping down the trod.



Dean at Skiddaw Little Man
As we went down towards the top gate, I suggested taking a different route.  We had planned to descent over Sale How to Skiddaw House and then around the Cumbria Way track.  The cloud was down and it felt like it would get dark soon (even though we knew it wouldn't).  We agreed to go back down the same way.

Dean and I headed off to bag Little Man, Joanne stuck to the main track and beat us to the bottom.

I found the descent tough, hard on the feet and the knees.  It didn't help when I kicked a rock and almost went flat on my face, just managing to rescue myself with some quick leg turnover.

Joanne was waiting for us at the bottom (I had the car keys after all).  Everyone was happy.  Nine miles and my twelfth time up Skiddaw.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Carrock Fell and High Pike

Dean celebrates on High Pike

After a lazy Saturday I was planning to get a decent distance in on Sunday.  Dean was keen to bag some Northern Fells and I planned a route around the back of Skiddaw.

Come Sunday morning and it was wet and windy outside so rather than get blown around the back of Skiddaw, I decided we could do Carrock Fell and High Pike.

We parked just off the road at an area called "Apron Full of Stones" and headed up the obvious track which continues up Further Gill Sike eventually reaching to summit of Carrock Fell.  It was very windy here and there was not a lot to see.  We dropped into the shelter just by the summit and took a compass bearing over to Miton Hill.  The cloud cleared a bit and we were able to see the track over.  From the second cairn, we took another bearing and then picked up the path, following over wet but easy ground until we intersected the Cumbria Way track.  We ran about 50 metres and then picked up the High Pike track.  After a few pictures at the top, we ran off to the north east and picked up the old mine road along Carrock Beck, crossing the beck further down and running a last mile or so down the road.

Easy running today, good company and nice to be out.

the initial climb up to Carrock Fell.  The path winds up past that tree

windy and wet at Carrock Fell summit cairn

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Around Gowbarrow and Little Mell Fell

Little Mell Fell summit cairn 

On Thursday I sort of had to pass through Penrith and along the A66 on my way home from a work meeting.  Great excuse for a stop off at one of my favourite running spots, Gowbarrow.  I had worked out a route I wanted to try out.  My plan had been to work around the familiar trails over to Little Mell Fell (small road section) and then have a go at contouring my way up Little Mell Fell.  I parked at the usual spot at the side of the road in the old quarry.  This has now been made into a National Trust car park and had a bit of a spruce up so National Trust membership is needed to park here unless you pay (although you're probably fine in the evenings).

I headed across the field, over the footbridge and along the usual path but carried on along the path rather than turning up along the wall to Gowbarrow summit.  The path splits at some farm buildings, keep to the right, and then it follows the wall around Norman Crag and up to Ulcat Row, where I went on the road for about a mile and a half.  At Little Mell Fell, after a short dash over a very muddy section, I began the weaving up the steep ascent of Little Mell Fell.  My plan was to weave left and right, zig-zagging my way up.  On fresh legs I think I would have managed.  it starts off steep and then has a rounded top.  I had to resort to a power hike about halfway up, where my track stops zig-zagging and goes straight up.  A challenge for another day, perhaps parking at the bottom.

favourite trails around Gowbarrow and through Swinburn's Park

Towards the top it got a little boggy but I was very pleased when the summit cairn came into view.

Little Mell Fell is a relatively small fell but from the top there are great views to the east over the Eden Valley and over to the Pennines.  To the North I could make out some Scottish hills.  To the west and south great views over the Eastern Fells as well as Blencathra.

There was a path off to the East which I considered.  Looking at the map, it looks like it would link up to the singletrack road, or I could always have contoured back to the way I came up.  I decided to head back down the way I came and then followed the road along, taking a right turn and then picking up the footpath on the right which goes past Priest's Crag.  There have been a lot of trees felled here but there are still beautiful wooded paths, made soft by leaves and dark by the tree cover.  Great to run on when it's hot and your feet are a bit sore.

heading into the woods

This track leads onto the open fell at Gowbarrow Park and what is probably my favourite secion of trail in the Lakes.  Winding singletrack, rocky in places, mostly downhill, steep drops to the left and great views over Ullswater.

This trail winds gradually downhill, getting significantly steeper and rockier towards the path junction where I joined the popular Aira Force track.

Feeling pretty tired by now, I took it easy along the side of Aira Force and the rest of the way back, checking out the various bits of art and sculpture that have been put in the woods.

I'm really pleased with this route, it's got some really nice runnable sections as well as the direct climbing of Little Mell Fell and even a bit of road if that's your thing.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ling Fell

Ling Fell summit trig 

Wednesday's after work run was a trot up Ling Fell.  I had a bit of a wander, choosing to hike up the steep part rather than try to run the easier gradient that we usually use for descending.  I though there was going to be a downpour and was resigned to the fact I would get a soaking but I managed to get around with only a light drizzle on the top.

Rainbow over Sale Fell

Keswick Mountain Festival 25k recce

the boys looking pretty tired on the way over from Watendlath

The Keswick Mountain Festival has been going for a few years now.  Lovely local event with speakers, sporting events and have a go sesssions for various outdoor activities.  The trail races this year include a 5k, 25k and 50k courses.  The courses are designed by Charlie Sproson of Mountain Run.  They are great courses with an emphasis on trail running rather than open fell running.  Last Saturday a few of us got together to have a run around the 25k route.

for the Lake District, there's not an awful lot of climbing in the course.  This is near the high point, the relatively lowly Walla Crag.  The course doesn't go over Walla Crag but we were nearby so why not?

First mistake of the day was thinking that I was running a half marathon (13.2 mile) course as opposed to the 15.5 miles that a 25k equates to.  This was a week after the Highland Fling race and, although I'd had a few easy runs during the week, my legs were still tired.  We met up in the carpark near to the start of the race and made a more or less immediate wrong turn, mistake number two, adding in an extra mile or so, we eventually found our way over Castlehead Wood to the short road section before the climb up to Walla Crag.  At this point, two of the party decided that the pace and climb was a bit much and that they would circle back to the start.  Fair enough, they ended up doing about 11 miles and it was going to get a bit tougher.

From Walla Crag there are nice trails down to Ashness Bridge.  I headed off down Cat Gill and needed to climb a little way back up to pick up the nice high level trail.  On the descent to Ashness Bridge, I slipped in mud and, although I managed to keep my footing, I felt like I threw my shoulder out in the frantic windmilling I did to stay upright.  We had a walk/run up the road, picking up the trail alongside Watendlath Beck up to Watendlath.  I was expecting this section to be difficult, having run it in the opposite direction plenty of times, I thought that it would be uphill all the way in this direction.  It was actually quite easy to run.  Looking at the gradient on the map, it's quite level.  Just before we got to Watendlath, I decided the drizzling rain was too much for my pertex top and took my bag off to change into my waterproof jacket.  Mistake number three, I had left it in my car.

nice trails over from Watendlath
After an initial steep climb out of Watendlath, there is nice running all the way over to Rosthwaite.  It gets steeper towards the end and one of our group, Joanne, took a spill scraping her knees quite bad.  Down at the bridge by the Hazel Bank Hotel, I told her that her road runner legs would put her in front from there on in, the route flattening out considerably.

The route from here follows the Cumbria Way, alongside Derwentwater and back around to Keswick via Portinscale.  I ran out of steam a bit at about 14 miles, I think having done a long run the week before, I underestimated the difficulty of the course (which isn't very difficult).  It didn't help that I thought I was doing 13.2 miles rather than the 18 it turned out to be.  Of course, I was also still a bit tired from last week.  Mistake four?  With a few walk breaks thrown in, we made our way all around.

It was a very enjoyable run out and big respect to Joanne and David who both extended their long run records significantly, I think Joanne almost doubled her trail distance record.  Harry also said it was the longest he had ever run.  Well done mate.

As I predicted, Joanne's road running came into it's own and she finished strong.  Although she did say she wanted to throw up at the end and seemed to need her husband's assistance to take her shoes off.  She's entered for the event next week, I'm sure she will smash it and I'm happy we were able to show her all the wrong turns to avoid on the course.

classic Keswick view over Derwentwater.  The route goes all around the lake