The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Weekend – Two in Two Days

19 06 2013

I have been pondering on how I was going to go about writing two blogs about the Yorkshire 3 Peak’s we completed this weekend without one of them seeming like a broken record. My answer was this, write them both in the same post.

So for those of you that don’t know, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is a 24.5 mile circuit of Yorkshire’s highest peaks. Pen Y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

Saturday 15th June – Lin, Evan, Colin, Fred, Sharon and Lisa

The alarm woke me at 4.45am and I hopped out of bed. By 5.15 I was in the car and on my way to Yorkshire. The weekend epic had officially begun.

I met the group outside the Pen Y Ghent Cafe at 7.30am. Unfortunately the group had suffered a few injuries and illnesses so our group of 10 actually turned out to be a group of 5. The town was bustling with people as Heart Research UK were also hosting a challenge day. They must have had a couple of thousand entrants, easily.

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We set off towards Pen Y Ghent, most of us donned in our waterproofs. I was expecting a poor day weather wise, and no long challenge event can be that fun in constant rain, it gets wearing eventually. On our way up the rain did come down quite heavily for a few minutes, but after this the entire day was mostly dry, and we even had times when we were just down to base or mid layers – Result.

Just an hour and a quarter passed and we surmounted Pen-Y-Ghent. We got the usual summit shot before heading off of the mountain. There is now a new path that diverts the worst of the bog off of Pen-Y-Ghent, the bog that the Y3P is so famous for. I had not yet had a chance to walk the new route so I was excited to know what it was to be like.

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It turned out to be first class. No walls or stiles, a couple of gates, but best of all, now knee deep bogs to dodge!

We made good progress across the flatter stretch to Ribblehead, the first road junction. We stopped for just a few minutes to refuel before heading on for peak 2. On our way up past the rail line it appeared ‘Fred’ was starting to be affected by an illness that had been lingering for that past few weeks. One by one we reached the top of Whernside where the wind was howling across the plateau. We descended down into Chapel Le Dale where Fred had decided she was best to leave it at 2 peaks. Sharon and Lisa also wanted to take things easier and decided to stop with Fred for a bit. On this occasion I was happy for this to happen- the weather was clear, and there was a konga line of people for them to follow to Ingleborough should they want to continue the challenge.

20130615_142521I pressed on with Lin, Evan and Colin. A sort while later Colin headed up to the summit of Ingleborough and then ran back to Horton, so I was left with two. We made it to the summit of Ingleborough after about 9 hours, we just had the long descent to deal with now.

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As we descended, young 9 year old Evan started to find it tough. He had done so amazingly well but was now feeling the full effects of walking for such a long distance (this lad spends pretty much every day of his life walking the fells). We coaxed him on, reminding him he had done so well. We pulled back into the Pen Y Ghent Cafe after 10 hours and 45 minutes. Y3P one done.

Sharon and Lisa did go on to complete the Y3p, and in a very respectable time of 11hours 40 minutes – well done!

Full album of pics can be seen here.

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Sunday 16th June – Felicia, Anne, Lindsey & Hayley

There I was again, standing outside the Cafe, de ja vu was setting in. I had no idea how I was going to feel, more mentally than physically. I had been well looked after the night before. My original plan was to camp in the village but Felicia and her partner Steve offered me a room at their place in Dent. I was well looked after with some amazing home cooked food and a lovely bed to sleep in – oh and not forgetting the wine and G+T! This hospitality no doubt made a huge difference to my day 2, I don’t know how I would have felt should I had been in a tent with some crappy boil in a bag meal (thanks again Felicia and Steve!)

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We set off from the cafe and once again made great progress up onto a misty Pen-Y-Ghent. The time matched he previous day’s of 1hr 15.

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We descended off of the mountain and the conversation in the team was rife. Sometimes you get groups who chat a little, sometimes you get some who get along, and then you get groups who seem to really hit it off, this was one of those teams. We followed the new route once more and got to Ribblehead in good time. We used this natural stopping point as a place for a sandwich before heading off again within 10 minutes.

20130616_115358The route was much much quieter today as there was no charity event. This made the progress up the narrower path onto Whernside much easier. After 5 hours 45 we had peak 2 under our belts. We were doing well and were once again looking at a good time. Anne and Hayley had both walked the route a couple of times before and wanted to get under 11 hours on the route. 20130616_133207

When we got to the shop at Chapel Le Dale we stopped again. We changed socks, got more drinks and took on some food. The stop was again a swift one and before we knew it we were on our way towards Ingleborough. The team kept up a fab pace and we made it to the top of Ingleborough after 8hrs 25minutes.

 

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On our descent a few injuries and ailments started to come through in a couple of members so the pace slowed. As we neared the village myself,  Anne and Lindsey continued ahead and clocked a time of 10 hours 28. Just a few minutes behind Felicia and Hayley joined us with a time of 10hours 35.

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Full album of pics can be seen here.

There I was, back at the cafe. I had completed the two circuits, both in quick times, but my lord, my feet knew that had walked 49 miles. For now I shall say, I’ll never do two in a row again!

Thank you to all that came and took on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge with us at the weekend! Well done to all that completed, and I hope you feel better soon Fred!

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24 Peaks Challenge in aid of the Anthony Nolan Trust

12 06 2013

The Lakeland 24 Peaks challenge is one of the tougher challenges that the Lake District has to throw at a group of walkers. The challenge comprises of two days. Day one is 17.5 miles in length and day two is 14 miles, but with a massive 4800m+ of ascent thrown in for good measure.

Day 1:

Our challenge started in Buttermere at 7.35am after we had been picked up and transported from Ambleside. The forecast for the entire weekend was very positive, and this was evident from the second we stepped off of the minibus. After a quick brief we got on our way, our first objective being Red Pike (Buttermere). The quickest way up Red Pike must be one of the more loathed routes in the Lakes, but it was the path we needed to take. We started up on the staircase through the forest taking care to not go too fast in these opening stages. There could be nicer ways to start such an epic challenge as this but the team took it all in their stride. Soon enough we we’re on the open zig zags nearing the tarn under the summit. Although it was early we were all already sweating, this started to raise a few alarm bells in my head already. With such as hot day on the cards we had extra factors battling against us, these being Heat Exposure, Exhaustion and of course Dehydration. With the weather having been so nice recently I knew our opportunities to grab water from natural sources was going to be few and far between. As a guide, I had to be really careful how far I pushed this team before something, or someone buckled….

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We rounded onto the top of Red Pike by 9.17am, a pretty respectful time for 750m of ascent. We took a moment to catch our breath before heading off. The first three summits come relatively quickly as we just needed to follow the high ridge southwards. After bagging High Stile and High Crag we faced our first chunk of descent. We descended all the way to Scarth Gap before scrambling up onto the summit of Haystacks, a summit that is merely regarded as a bonus peak on this challenge (it does not stand over 2,400ft). With the first quarter of the route under our belts we could now see the second quarter over towards the Gables. Our time to this point had flagged a little, and maybe I had been over-cautious with the team under the conditions, but we had to ensure that we made good progress over ground to come.

Peak 2

We wound our way around the lumps and bumps on the back of Haystacks, which actually turned out to be easier than usual as all the bogs were virtually dry. We joined the grassy slope on the side of Brandreth and started to head back up hill. The grass was sapping on the legs and the heat was starting to slow our progress that little bit more. The team drove on and one by one we all pulled ourselves onto the summit of Green Gable. After a quick refuel we were on our way, this time just a short hop over Windy Gap would bring us to our climb up onto peak 5, Great Gable. By this point one of the girls was really suffering with a leg injury. It had been twinging her for a couple of hours now, but now it was really causing her some agony. Once again, the team reached the summit one by one where we stopped for the lunch I had promised them, it was also now decision time….

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Although our pace hadn’t slowed up too much, it hadn’t picked up either, and with these injuries now coming through, I had to evaluate our chances of completing the set route. After a long think I proposed a couple of ideas to the team and we went with trying to complete 9 peaks for the day, even if they didn’t happen to be the peaks on the official challenge website. It was at this point I learnt something very valuable as a guide – to check the objectives of your team. These guys weren’t doing this for a quick time, nor to bag a certain set of mountains, they were here to finish a grueling course over the mountains, and what mountains they did on the way they didn’t really mind. This put my mind at ease, but we still wanted to get up another 19 peaks.

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From the summit of Great Gable we descended over 400m to Styhead Pass. This knee crunching descent is both physically and mentally wearing, and 45 minutes later it was over. From the pass the route would usually head up the Corridor route to Lingmell and Scafell Pike before returning over to Esk Hause via Great End. Our new objective was to head to Esk Hause and see how we felt. On our way up to the pass we located the stream and filled up our water bottles. It seemed everyone was either running on very low or empty, this helped to compound my decision of a route change a little more.

We reached Esk Hause and dumped our bags. Chantel with her injured leg stayed with the bags while we quickly bagged one of our new peaks, Allen Crags. By this point it was evident we had another injury in the group. One of the lads was really suffering with a knee issue, but he soldiered on.

Climbing to Esk Pike

After picking up our bags I sent Chantel off to Angle Tarn to wait for us while the rest of us made our way over Esk Pike and Bowfell. From the summit of Bowfell we once again re-traced our steps back to Ore Gap where we descended to Angle Tarn and picked up Chantel. We were now on the homeward leg. The time was about 7pm, we had almost been out 12 hours already. We made a short and quick ascent up onto the summit of Rossett Pike to claim our ninth peak of the day. We all wished a helicopter could just come and pluck us off of the summit, but alas, we had to make the long descent back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

Summit of Rossett Pike

The descent did drag on, especially when we hit the flat track that heads down the Mickleden valley. The sky started to go pink, the sun was on it’s way down. We reached the pub in little groups, with the last of the team stepping into the car park at 9.30pm just as the bus pulled in.The important thing was that the team didn’t feel at all disheartened about the route change. The day had been long, hot and tough, and I was so very proud of what they had achieved. Just 10 hours later we would be back on the trail for day 2….

The Langdales at Sunset

Day 2:

8am and we were standing at the top of the Kirkstone Pass with Red Screes standing above us. The team was two members down, but Mike, the lad with the injured knee was determined to crack on, and with a bottle top strapped to his knee (don’t ask me!) he was keen to complete the challenge.

Climbing up to Red Screes

Everyone knew the second day was easier, but was by no means going to be easy. We set off on the steep path and it seemed the Fish and Chips they had grabbed when they got back to Ambleside the previous night has given them a new lease of life. We flew up the steep path to the summit in just 34 minutes, just 4 minutes slower than my fastest group ever. We had started day 2 in the right frame of mind, we now just had to maintain it for as long as possible.

Red Screes

From the summit we descended and ascended again to the summit of Dove Crag, again making good progress. The day wasn’t as warm as the previous day, and there was even a little bit of mist around, this was welcomed. We traversed over Hart Crag onto the summit of Fairfield by 11am. We had 4 summits in the bag and everyone seemed to be doing well. Being the slave driver that I am I said we could have our lunch break after our fifth peak. Unfortunately that peak was to be Seat Sandal. We descended down the steep scree covered path towards Grisedale Tarn before dumping our bags at the bottom of Seat Sandal’s northern slope. Along this section we had even felt a few drops of rain come from the rather moody looking clouds above our heads. Determined for our lunches we yomped up the steep never ending slope onto the summit. We stayed for just the time it took to take a picture before getting back to our bags for food.

Heading away from Seat Sandal

Unfortunately for us, the midges didn’t care what we had been through over the course of the last day and half. All we wanted to do was sit down in peace and have a well deserved rest. All they wanted to do was bit the living daylights out of us…

The first half of the route was complete, we now had to climb onto the Helvellyn Range, after which the summits quicker and easier. There was a real air of determination within the team to get the event done now. Some people were starting to run low on energy, and injuries were grinding others down.

The team on Dollywagon

At 2pm we had our picture taken on the summit of Dollywagon Pike, our fifteenth peak, just 9 to go! We cruised to Helvellyn via Nethermost Pike, the end was nearly in sight. I could see the relief on everyone’s faces as they reached another summit, and I could also see the need to let them have the few minutes rest at each, even if we didn’t really have time for it. Be bagged Helvellyn Lower Man, which was followed by White Side and Raise.

I pointed out Great Dodd in the distance and said that it was the farthest we had to walk – I’m not sure it did any good…

Making progress along the Ridge

We cracked on. Our next summit of Stybarrow Dodd from which we made our way straight over to Great Dodd. From this summit we descended onto the summit of Watson’s Dodd. This would usually be the finishing summit for the challenge, and although we had actually done 24 Lakeland peaks including Haystacks, we didn’t have our mandatory summit shot with the numbers for 24. Our finishing point was to be Castle Rock.

The penultimate peak, Watson's Dodd

The descent from Watson’s Dodd to Castle Rock is nice and grassy, however it is steep. It is another knee crunching route at the best of times, let alone when physically wiped, and for some, nursing knee injuries. However, it was the quickest way off the fells. The team dug in deep and probably hated every second of it. At 6.45pm we were on top of Castle Rock, challenge complete! We took the final picture and out came the little bottles of Prossecco the group had been carrying. We had a toast to our success before finishing the descent back to the roadside.

Finished!

The team clambered onto the minibus feeling, and in the nicest way possible, looking drained. They had worked incredibly hard and achieved something spectacular. For a group of people with good fitness but limited mountain experience, they had bagged 24 mountains and survived a grueling 25 hours walking over two days. In the process the team has also managed to raise over £2700 for the Anthony Nolan Trust, a charity very dear to some of the walkers hearts. If you should want to donate here is a link to their page.

For a full album of pictures please follow this link.

If you would like to put yourself against this challenge we are hosting an open event over the 14th & 15th September 2013. The cost is £180pp. Please email us at lakelandmountainguides@live.co.uk for more details.

We can also host this event for private or corporate groups over the summer months. Please contact us if you wish to discuss suitability and availability.

Celebrations on Castle Rock





Lakeland 3000’s in 24 Hours 2013

30 05 2013

The Lakeland 3000’s is one of  the toughest mountain challenges the Lake District, England, and the UK can throw at a walker. The challenge is to summit the 4 summits in the Lake District that stand taller than 3000ft. These mountains are Skiddaw, Scafell, Scafell Pike and Helvellyn. Anyone who knows the Lake District will know that these mountains are split across 3 different areas of the Lake District, making the route a giant 45 miles long with a total ascent of 11,000ft.

The team at the start of the Challenge

I met the group of 7, plus George my assistant guide outside the Moot Hall just before half 7, and after a short brief and kit faff we we on our way. 19:39 was the magical time that we needed to be back in Keswick by the following days. What was the next 24 hours going to hold? How we’re we going to feel when/ if we got back to Keswick? These were all unknowns to us, but one thing we did know was it was a beautiful evening and we we’re ready for the challenge!

We set off through the streets of Keswick heading northwards, Skiddaw was our first objective. We set off at a good pace, everyone was keen to get this first mountain out of the way. After heading up Spooney Green Lane past Latrigg we made our way up the steep and laborious Jenkins Path. As we climbed the sun was setting and casting an awesome light across the Lake District. We made sure we stopped from time to time to admire these fantastic views. At the far end of our views we could see the Scafell massif standing there, looking so far away at this point, and then over to the east Helvellyn. The extent of the challenge we were taking on had just hit home.

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By 21:44 we we’re standing on the summit of Skiddaw and we had made it just in time to see the sun drop out of the sky leaving an amazing  sunset. The usual Skiddaw winds we’re present so we were on our way back down the Jenkins path within 10 minutes. On our way down the path the darkness set in and the moon rose from behind the Helvellyn range. It came up completely full, massive and glowing orange, it was as though the sun had dropped out of the sky on one side of the hill and risen on the other.

On the summit of Skiddaw

We dropped into Keswick and picked up the kit that we didn’t need to lug up and down Skiddaw. Now we had the first tough bit of the challenge. The 8 mile road walk down Borrowdale to Seathwaite in the dark was going to be more of a mental battle than a physical one, but there was no use in moaning about doing it, so we just got on our way. We walked at a good pace down the road, looking pretty swish in our hi-viz kit!

Descending off Skiddaw

We managed to keep the pace up and ate up the road quite quickly, much quicker than I had previously thought.  2 and a half hours passed in the darkness and we arrived at the cargo drop I had pre-placed at Seathwaite. I put the water on the stove and dished out some food. Everyone started sorting their feet and filling their bags with more food and drink. 40 minutes passed, a little  longer than planned, and we we’re once again on our way. Unfortunately one of the group had opted to stop at Seathwaite so we left her in the tent where she could get some sleep till morning. We now had 25km until we got another chance to re-supply, or drop out of the challenge.

We we’re now on very familiar ground for me, we we’re going to follow the same route towards the Scafells that we take on our guided walks up Scafell Pike. We continued to make great progress up towards Styhead Pass. We arrived at the pass at about 4:00am and it was already getting quite light, light enough for us to take off our head torches.

Sunrise behind Skiddaw

By 5:00am we we’re high on the corridor route. We looked northwards and could see the obvious shape of Skiddaw standing what looked like miles away with the sky going pink behind it. Although we had made it underneath Scafell Pike, our second peak was to be Scafell. We followed the lesser trodden path that traverses underneath Pikes Crag until we were standing in front of Scafell. Scafell has multiple ascent routes, two of which were options for our ascent. Lord’s Rake will have been the easiest effort wise but unfortunately a big slab of snow was still present on the lowest section. This meant we had a tricky couple of hours to deal with, this time both physically and mentally.

Scafell

We had to ascend to Mickledore, Descend about 100m, ascend to the summit of Scafell, then Descend 250m and re-ascend 100m….once again, it had to be done so we just got on with it!  We tackled the loose rock up the Micledore in quick time and then started to make our way down the other side towards Eskdale. I located the East Buttress traverse which meant we didn’t have to descend quite as much. From the end of the traverse we made our way to the summit via another loose scree slope. It was 7:00am when we reached the top, 9 hours had passed between summits, it was good to finally be on another.

Team on the summit of Scafell

We descended off of Scafell and made it back to Mickledore all feeling a little bit drained. The heat of the day was starting to set in so we took a moment to have a rest. A short walk from Mickledore took us to our third summit, Scafell Pike (8:15am).  Although we had 3 of the 4 summits, we had only done about half of the distance.

The team on the summit of Scafell Pike

We stopped for some lunch (breakfast really) on the summit and enjoyed not having to pick out a space amongst hoards of people, something that was bound to be happening about 4 hours later. As we rested we sat and admired how far we had travelled already. but we could also see Helvellyn standing on the skyline about 10 miles away.

Helvellyn in the distance

We were soon on our way again. We headed over Broad Crag and Ill Crag to Esk Hause where we dropped down to Angle Tarn. Our route now traversed around the side of Rosset Pike to the Stake Pass. This next section of the walk was to prove to be one of the hardest parts, just as the books had warned. It was now about 10:00am and the sun was starting to radiate some real heat. At our own paces we trudged our way up to the summit of High Raise, a summit that didn’t come soon enough. Our route up was via a steep grassy slope, all 300m vertical ascent of it!

Once again we had to rest on the summit. 5 miles down, 5 to go to get to Wythburn, our next re-supply. By this point we were slipping back on time, I think most of it had been lost on our way up Scafell as we had to take the longest route up. From the summit we descended down to the Greenup Edge from which we picked a route through the Wythburn Bog. Fortunately the bog wasn’t all that boggy so our progress wasn’t slowed up too much. This part of the walk seemed to drag on and on, the valley didn’t seem to want to end. By 13.10 we were in the Wythburn Church car park re-supplying our bags once more. The original plan had been to have another 30 minute break here, but some quick timings in my head, plus not knowing how people would fair going up the steep slopes to Helvellyn, we had to call it short and head off ASAP. Naomi had been waiting for us at Wythburn and she had made us all some bacon sandwiches. At this point in the challenge they were amazing, and exactly what we had needed. Unfortunately this last section had taken its toll on a couple of the guys and so they decided not to continue.

The grassy slopes of High Raise

 

From the car park the track is steep right from the start. We set off with the aim of getting up Helvellyn in 2 hours. As we reached the end of the trees I sent Colin and Tony off ahead as they we’re travelling much faster than the remainder of the group. I was happy they knew the route so the next time we would see them would be in Keswick in a few hours time. I continued to plod up the steep slope with 3 of the guys. We actually made amazing progress and reached the summit of Helvellyn after just 1hr 30. It was now 3.00pm, we had 4hours 45 minutes to descend off of Helvellyn and walk 6 miles back to Keswick. Our chances were now looking good again, provided we made a reasonable time off of the mountain.

On the summit of Helvellyn

Just over an hour passed and we had reached the roadside. Neil, one of the guys who had dropped out at Wythburn had waited for us and wanted to complete the final few miles along the road. It is always a shame to finish a walk along a road, but on this challenge we just wanted to finish, however it was. Once again we got into our stride and started to eat up the distance. Mentally we weren’t helped by the miles to Keswick signs and markers every mile. Each mile felt like 2 miles on our legs.

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It took us just under 2 hours to get back to Keswick. The final mile as we made our way back through the back streets took ages, but finally the Moot Hall came into view, we had done it! Colin and Tony had completed the circuit in 21hrs and 50 minutes, and I finished with the 4 other guys in 22hrs 38mins, both great times for such a challenge.

We rounded off the challenge with some champagne to celebrate, as well as finding the closest bench to sit down on!

Thank you to all that came along and took on the Lakeland 3000’s. It was a fantastic challenge, made better by having such a good group!

For a full album of pictures please follow this link.

If you would like to take the Lakeland 3000’s in 2014 please drop me an email at lakelandmountainguides@live.co.uk to register your interest.





Challenge Event Recce – ClifBar10 Fell Run – Wythburn to Langdale

11 05 2013

Everyone has days in their life where they astonish themselves. I’m not about to tell you I was impressed with the way I ran today, this tale is about how I astonished myself with sheer stupidity. I’ll set the scene…

Colin, as you may have read in last weeks Challenge Event Recce Blog, is doing the ClifBar10 Challenge and had another section of the fells he wanted to recce. The section that he wanted to Recce was the route up from Wythburn through the boggy terrain, followed by the route from High Raise to Angle Tarn. As this is quite a long stretch we decided to do it in a linear fashion so met outside the Old Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale. We dumped my car in the car park and took Colin’s back around to Wythburn so later on we can descend to the ODG and drive back to Wythburn in mine.

We got out of the car at Wythburn in the rain and it seemed it would probably be the theme of the day once more. We set off from the car park and started to make our way up the Wythburn valley to the northern side of Steel Fell. This valley is notorious for being boggy, both at the bottom and also on the plateau at the top before you climb towards High Raise. With all the rain we have had recently, the bog certainly was boggy. We made excellent progress up by the Gill and once we reached the plateau we started picking our way around the larger bogs.

We eyed up the various routes onto the summit of High Raise and we finally opted to follow a large beck called Birks Gill.

Shortly after we started up the slope I stopped dead in my stride….

“S**T! I’ve left my Car keys in your car!”

Colin looked at me. it was either a look that meant he hadn’t heard me, or a look that was saying he was hoping he had heard me wrong….

“Bugger! I’ve left my bloody car keys in your car, what a tool!”

I felt stupid, what an absolute idiot!

I don’t know many people who would have taken the news as well as Colin did, but he told me to not worry about it and put it down to ‘one of those things’. Despite this, I still felt like a fool.Keen to continue with the recce, and not have to retrace our steps over the horrendously boggy ground we carried on up the hill whilst thinking of a plan.

The options that ran through our heads were:

Go back, get the keys, then head back up – This had no chance of happening!
Head up to High Raise and then head back and cut off half the route – We were already soaked, and having fun!
Descend to Langdale and then complete a 10mile road run back to Wythburn, via Dunmail Raise – sounded appealing, would be hell.
Get a Taxi/Bus back to the car from the ODG and stomach the cost – This looked the most likely.

I continued to curse myself, asking myself how I managed to get a First Class Honours degree, and then pull something as stupid as this off. It may have been easier to take if I had forgotten the keys in the car, but I had actually made a concious decision to put them in the door compartment!

Anyway, we trudged up the final slope onto the wind blasted summit of High Raise. Surprisingly, there was no-one around.

Our next major point was Angle Tarn so we set off down towards the Stake Pass. Now running again we we’re warming up. I managed to slip on the grass and slide for a few metres. Water was flying up around me as though I was sliding down a flume at a water park! If I wasn’t soaked before, I definitely was now.

We reached the pass and headed up and over the ridge to Angle Tarn. From Angle Tarn we descended down the Rosset Gill path which had now turned into a river. Just as we reached the base of the Mickleden valley the sun started to appear, and then blue skies. It was like a different day, it was a welcomed change from the constant rain we had been running in for the previous 3 hours.

We got back to the ODG and called a taxi. £27 later we were back in Wythburn.

If you are reading this Colin, Thank you for your patience, and thank you for not beating me over the head and leaving me to die in the bog! haha Another Epic to remember in the years to come!

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Challenge Event Reccee – CliffBar10 Fell Run

7 05 2013

Lakeland Mountain Guide regular, Colin Gardner has set himself some challenges in recent years, but at the end of June he is going to undertake the gruelling ClifBar10 race. The race takes on the Lakes’s top 10 peaks over a 73km course, with 5600m of ascent, in just 24 hours – madness you may agree!
Colin has been putting in some epic levels mileage over recent weekends but wanted to head out with me to reccee some sections he was a little less sure about. After consulting by email about the sections he wanted to cover, I suggested we start in Wasdale.

We met on the village green at 8.30am and there I was, for the second time in my life, in fell running gear – what was I doing? haha Fell Running is a sport that I have always stayed away from for a few reasons. Firstly, I didn’t think I would be that good, secondly, I didn’t fancy putting extra pressure on my knees, but here I was, about to give it a shot with an experienced fell runner on a gruelling 10 mile circuit.

We set off up the path across the nose of Lingmell and then walked at speed up the Brown Tongue path.  I could already feel the advantages of being out for a run instead of a hike, I was travelling so lightweight! The MWIS forecast had predicted an amazing day by all accounts, clear skies, sunshine and hardly any wind, unfortunately at this point in time it was misty and it didn’t look like changing any time soon.

Shortly after branching off on the Mickledore path Lexi managed to scare the crap out of me. Some moron had littered the fells with a glow stick which she decided to pick up and bite. She then proceeded to roll around on the floor in discomfort whilst foaming from the mouth. I managed to grab her and wipe away the foam and then wash her mouth with water, but I was still concerned she may have ingested some of it. I smelt my glove that I had wiped the foam away with and it stank to high heaven, so god knows what it would have tasted like! Fortunately within a few minutes she was fine, but I was infuriated. I am not preaching to you good people reading this, as I am sure you wouldn’t litter the fells, but I will ask is that if you see litter on the paths, please pick it up. I know we shouldn’t have to clean up after other inconsiderate people, but we need to lead by example and help clean up the fells. (Thank you!)

Anyway, we headed up towards Lord’s Rake as it is one of Colin’s potential routes (of 2) to the summit of Scafell. As we neared the rake we noticed it was still full of snow and was definitely not an option in our fell shoes. We traversed across and picked up Rake’s Progress (the path that meets Lord’s Rake from Mickledore) and followed it up to Mickledore. Keen to get our planned circuit done we didn’t head up to the summit of Scafell via Foxes Tarn and we descended back down Mickledore.

The second objective of the trip was to do the traverse across Pikes Crag on the western face of Scafell Pike. In the mist we located the path and followed it across until it met the main motorway heading up Scafell Pike. We traced it up and popped onto the Corridor Route. We now started fell running for the first time and it was amazing! Jumping from rock to rock, over puddles, carefully selecting each step at speed, it was exhilerating. The best thing was we made super fast progress, well actually the best thing was that I hadn’t fallen over and broken my face! As we neared the end of the Corridor Route we bumped into a familiar face, Tony Williams, another LMG regular. After a quick chat we headed off to Styhead Pass where we had a quick snack.

From the pass we hiked at speed up Great Gable and soon enough we were on the misty summit. We didn’t stay long in the winds and headed off of it’s western slopes down to Beck Head. After locating the tarn which would be one of Colin’s checkpoints we joined the path that traversed around the back of Kirk Fell. For the first time we got some views as the mist seemed to start to lift. We stopped for a bit to admire the views down Ennerdale and to the Black Sail Hut, as well as to Haystacks behind it.

We continued our run to the Black Sail Pass where we returned to a fast walk and made our way up to the summit of Pillar in a very good time. After another short break on the summit we set off heading back to Wasdale. We ran at a good pace and finally the sun started to shine through, and then soon after the mist lifted. We got back to Wasdale in the sunshine in about 45 minutes and it was fair to say I was pretty pooped, but, I had survived!

Lexi was fine for the rest of the day, and I was so very impressed with her own fell running abilities. All day she was either up ahead setting the pace or running alongside! I also think I may have found a new hobby, and fortunately me and Colin are back out again on Saturday!