Monday, June 29, 2015


great views from Dodd summit
Nice evening run out with Gerard and Jonathan.  Slightly different from the usual route up but a nice run down the singletrack through the woods.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Langdale Fells

Dean towards the end of Jack's Rake

Seven Wainwrights today plus Jack's Rake on Pavey Ark, some classic Lake District fells.  We set off from The Stickle Barn, straight up the steep path to Stickle Tarn, around to the right and up the thrilling Jack's Rake on to Pavey Ark.  From here there was a choice of either Sergeant Man or High Raise.  Whichever we chose, we would go on to the other one next.  We ended up going up to Sergeant Man and then on to High Raise, turning around to bag Thunacar Knott, not an impressive peak but seemingly the natural high point of this range.  Then on to Harrison Stickle, Pike of Stickle and catching Loft Crag on the way back.

across Stickle Tarn Jack's Race sloping right to left

great little scramble

Dean tops out on Pavey Ark

up on Sergeant Man

High Raise
Thunacar Knott

Pike of Stickle

Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle behind

Monday, June 22, 2015

A bit of Hadrian's Wall

After 16 miles of St Bega wonderousness on the Saturday, I was hoping for something a little bit different on the Monday.  Jonathan had also taken a day off from work but due to his lady needs, he needed to be in Dalston for a certain time.  Meanwhile, Howard's lady needs meant that he wanted to head towards Dumfries.  I should point out that I am referring to their needs to be with their respective ladies, not any particular feminine attribute of either Howard or Jonathan.  

I thought the perfect option would be a look along Hadrian's Wall.  Running guru Howard did the whole thing as one of his first longer runs, so he knew the area well and had several books and maps.  Jonathan is always asking to do "trail rather than fell" I think meaning less climbing, so I thought a two car linear run would fit the bill.

As it turned out, Jonathan decided he needed longer to prepare himself for said lady union and eponymously didn't come, an activity known as #ashworthing among my little group of running buddies.  Howard was still game but having just the one car meant that an out and back was the best option.

We parked at Greenhead, just away from the wall and then followed the track.  As it was a Monday, we saw a lot of people coming towards us, more than likely finishing a long weekend trek of the whole wall.  I think Howard said it was about 80 miles.  As we set off, Howard said something like, "I think we'll only have time for about 24 miles."  I grumbled some non-committal response and we headed off.  It was a bit weird because I think the people coming the other way thought we were perhaps running the whole way.

It's a very nice and well marked route along the wall.  There is a event, The Wall.  It doesn't get good reviews.  The trail goes right next to the wall (actually on top of it at one point) and there are mile castles, forts and other ruined buildings along the way.  It has quite a lot of steep up and downs but the elevation each time is fairly small, making them more manageable.  We went along to the big fort at Housesteads and back.

It's fair to say that Howard pushed the pace and I was flagging on the way back, taking some of the lower options as he continued on the higher path.  Back at the car we had 20 miles under our belts, I dropped Howard at Carlisle train station and then headed home.

we had pretty good weather all day.  You could see distant rain moving all around.

these ladder styles get a lot harder to climb later on in the run

at the highest point

a lot of up and down

the famous tree

Howard pushing on

Thirlwall Castle, near the start/end of our run.  Not in bad nick for about 700 years old.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

St Bega's Ultra Recce run

climbing up through Honister Slate Mine - biggest climb of the route

all set.  Jonathan forgot his PE kit.  Lined up in heigh order, I'm the small fry on the right

the face of innocence
The St Bega Ultra, our local ultra race and one which my little fell running group Hardly AC have a special connection with.  We count amongst our ranks a previous winner, nervous first timers and those that have ardently stated that they will never again undertake such a momentous task.  It's touted as an ideal first ultra race at a mere 35 miles (psst, closer to 37) but you can make it as tough, or as relatively easy as you want.  Today we had planned a recce of the hilly middle section.  From the end of the first flatter section at Rosthwaite (although we actually got dropped off a bit earlier at Grange) over the main climb of the route at Honister Slate mine across the open fells, descending to Ennerdale along the valley and then to our cars at Ennerdale Bleach Green car park at the far end of the lake.  

Today, race director, Jon had managed to squeeze us all into his camper van and we enjoyed a cosy ride and interesting conversation to the start point.

This is a good bit of the race to recce.  There are a few little turn offs that it's worth knowing about, like the route out of Rosthwaite through the youth hostel and the turn up the steep grass bank onto the bridleway.  Once you are on the track across the fells and have found the drop down Loft Beck, the navigation becomes a lot easier.

drop off point in Grange

we're a serious bunch

Just outside of Rosthwaite is a steep short climb up a grassy bank onto the bridleway up to Honister.  We tried to tire Howard out by sending him back down to run up again, supposedly to get a better photo.  It didn't work.

The bridleway goes alongside the road at Honister, crossing the road to the Slate Mine.  This picture is taken at the start of the climb through Honister Slate Mine.  These two reprobates still having fun.

the weather closed in, as it often does, over the tops.  There is a good track and cairns to follow but some basic navigation ability is needed.

the entrance to the steep drop down Loft Beck.  Ennerdale Valley below.  This is a steep descent but there is a decent stepped path so should pose no real problem if you take your time.

looking back up

The track is a lot nicer along Ennerdale valley and it's an opportunity to get a few fast miles in, but a lot of people are caught out by how long this section is.  Trail shoes, rather than fell shoes, help to dampen out some of the sharper stones that can hurt your feet after a while.

The whole team got back to the cars safe and well.  It was certainly nice not to have to ferry people back to Rosthwaite.  It had been a hot and muggy day so we went our separate ways for refreshment and rest.

Thanks again to Jon for the lift (and the SBU35 in training shirts).  This really is a great event, get yourself entered before it's too late.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Whiteside, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor and Red Gill Scree

Once up the steep side of Whiteside, there's nice running along the ridge

me and Lucy on Whiteside summit
This is one of my favourite short routes, the highlight being the scree descent at the end.  I had been wanting to do it for a while but weather conditions had resulted in a few downgraded runs over Rannerdale Knotts (sorry Rannerdale Knotts, I love you too).

Setting off tonight, it wasn't guaranteed to be clear on the tops but it was good enough to have a go.  There are a few short cut options plus Howard was in the group so if need be, between us, we could have found a safe way off the tops in cloud.

We set off running up by the side of the road and, rather than go the slightly longer but probably dryer way, we cut across and it wasn't long before I sunk up to my knee in a boggy puddle.  We carried on this way and picked up the steep climb up Whin Ben and on to Whiteside.  At the top of Whin Ben, where the track levels out slightly, I took a gel (something I have been experimenting with since the Scafell Marathon).  It really seemed to work, I felt like I motored up the steep final stretch to the top.

One of our party struggled a bit with energy on this bit, one had already turned around as she was feeling ill.  We hung about on the top, took a few pictures and then everybody seemed to be feeling good.  It's a really nice run over to Hopegill Head and we all ran over without difficulty.

from Hopegill Head looking back along the top to Whiteside
From Hopegill Head there is a little run over to Sand Hill and then a nice long descent down to Coledale Hause.  We had to go past Gasgale Gill, a route which some of the party were threatening to take as a short cut back.  I knew that the track down the gill was horrible and washed out and I thought that my way was much better.  I took the lead running down and carried on past the Gasgale Gill turn off.  There was still a bit of Gasgale chatter but I persuaded everyone to go my way.

the gang coming down Sand Hill

cloud starting to come in 
There is a good track up to Grasmoor.  It's possible to cut across but in the mist I decided to stick to the track and follow it around to the summit cairn.  There is a bit of a climb at the start but then it evens out and is quite manageable.

heading up to Grasmoor

a quick glimpse of Whiteless Pike as the cloud clears on our climb to Grasmoor

Grasmoor summit
From the summit, I knew that you went three cairns over.  The entrance to Red Gill is one of those places where you are thinking, "is that it?", "is that it?" then when you see it, you know, "That's it!"

It's fair to say that there was a mix of enthusiasm and proficiency in descending the scree.  Some of those that I thought would love it practically crawled down while others who are notorious fannies at going down hill enjoyed a vigorous descent.  We all got down, eventually.

coming off Grasmoor

the very best way down

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rannerdale Knotts

from the top of Rannerdale Knotts looking over Crummock Water towards Melbreak

in the other direction - Buttermere and surrounding fells.

Melbreak from across Crummock Water

looking back to Rannerdale Knotts

I had tried to meet up with my mate Paul but some miscommunication over meeting spot combined with a lack of phone signal in Buttermere valley meant that he drove up and down for a bit and then ran some trails while I headed off on my own steeply up the side of Rannerdale Knotts, along the ridge from the summit and then down the valley.

Nice to get out and clear my head.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sale Fell

from the top of Sale Fell putting life into perspective

Happy Trails

I don't often let work stresses get me down but today I had a shit day.  Thank god for Sale Fell.