Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sunday morning at Greendale

To complete the weekend Joss leads a walk from Greendale on the Sunday morning after the dinner and we were delighted to join him and the sizable group gathering under a grey threatening sky. The rain didn’t look far away and it wasn’t.

Meeting at Greendale

After collecting his dogs we strolled up Buckbarrow to see worsening weather rolling in from the Irish Sea. The views into Wasdale were disappointingly hazy and the cold wind meant lingering like yesterday wasn’t an option – none of which bothered either of the two dogs.

Tich  Titch clearly enjoys both the company and the audience the group provides.


Wasdale from Buckbarrow

This is a part of the weekend Joss clearly enjoys, out on the fells chatting with people who share his love of these hills and our idiosyncratic sport of fell running.

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I feel extremely lucky to have enjoyed a huge amount of support and enthusiasm from friends, old and new, on the fells this year. Without them I wouldn’t have reached Greendale Bridge on time in April, I wouldn’t have been at The Bridge last night and I wouldn’t have been here on Buckbarrow with Joss this morning.  There is a intense camaraderie enjoyed by runners sharing long days on the fells together and it is a humbling privilege to be a part of it, especially to be a recipient of it. I still am unable to find the words to express my appreciation to all of you who helped on that “perfect day” in April, “thank you” seems so inadequate when, quite simply, I couldn’t have done it without you. Most of all, of course, I couldn’t have done it without Pauline’s constant encouragement and support.

PaulinePauline on Joss’s Millennium seat overlooking Lower Greendale 

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Joss Naylor Dinner

We were in Wasdale last weekend for the Joss Naylor Dinner which took place in The Bridge Inn, Stanton Bridge at the mouth of Wasdale. This completed a journey that started almost 7 years earlier at the Wasdale Head Inn at the head of Wasdale where I first mentioned a desire to complete an ultra distance run across the fells in the Lake District. I didn’t really have any idea what would be involved but I did start running again and get myself fit enough to tackle long days out on the fells. Eventually, on 18th April 2009 I found myself at Pooley Bridge for the start of the 48 mile, 18,000 feet journey over the 30 Lakeland summits that make up the “Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge”. It was just a perfect day and I reached Greendale Bridge well within my allowed time of 15 hours for congratulations and a handshake from Joss. There are more details here.

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The entire journey finally ended  with another handshake from Joss when he presented my engraved tankard to recognise the achievement.

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A few weeks later, at the end of May, I helped a club mate, Ed Swift, complete his run in conditions far more difficult than those I enjoyed. Ed was there on Saturday to receive his tankard too. There are some details of Ed’s “Joss” here along with a link to his own blog which contains more photographs and contributions from others involved on the day.

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Another Warm Wasdale Afternoon

Having had one warm Wasdale afternoon already the prospect of another, this year, seemed unlikely until we returned last Saturday. Minded to run over Yewbarrow and Red Pike we set off up the nose of Yewbarrow passing the Rowan trees by the fence.




The number of cars parked by Wastwater suggested there must be plenty of people in the hills but we only saw one couple enjoying the view below, back down the valley over Wastwater. and passed one other on the top of Yewbarrow.



Wastwater from Yewbarrow

Before reaching the summit we found and followed a small trod high on the flank of the fell overlooking Wasdale and decided to linger rather than rush on to Red Pike.

Wasdale Head

Wasdale Head from Yewbarrow above Brackenclose


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Wasdale Head from Yewbarrow above Mosedale

The whistles and cries of the shepherds, barking of the dogs and the sight of sheep on the move far below us were a reminder that these fells are not just a playground. On a very few weekends a year shepherds and their dogs can be found on the high fells gathering the sheep and this was one of them. For many minutes before we could see them we heard the shepherds on both side of the valley whistling and shouting at their dogs and as if by magic, small groups of sheep became bigger groups and started moving down the valley. Almost like streams in flood the sheep poured off the hillsides and gathered on the valley floor driven by the incessant harrying of the dogs.

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Coming down from Yewbarrow is much more fun than going up


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Up the valley towards Wasdale Head

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Down the valley towards Whin Rigg

Wasdale Head

Friday, 16 October 2009

Autumn In Lakeland

Another LDWA event organised by the Morecambe Bay & Bowland group, this one from Rosthwaite in Borrowdale with the route going north, towards Keswick, by Dock Tarn, Watendlath and Walla Crag. After Keswick the route turns south over Catbells and around High Doat before dropping into Rosthwaite for the finish. See bottom of post for map.

The forecast suggested a cloudy start followed by clearing skies and perhaps some sunshine – what happened was a stunning start to the day as the sun burnt off low lying mist before low clouds rolled in around midday before clearing through by mid afternoon. This is often the last of the “20 mile” LDWA events of the year for us and, as always, it is great way to see the best of lower Borrowdale (this one is 20.8 miles, if you don’t get lost) . The start and finish were changed from previous years with one or two other consequential changes in the route, none of which can excuse us for missing a turning before Keswick and adding half a mile or so of tarmac to the route.

Borrowdale morning Borrowdale just after setting off

RosthwaiteLooking back to Rosthwaite 


Dock Tarn

Dock Tarn



Derwent Water

Derwent Water after the clouds rolled in


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Derwent Water from the other bank after the clouds rolled away


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Robinson, Hindscarth and the other Buttermere fells

Causey Pike

Causey Pike and the ridge running over Scar Crags to Sail with Ard Crag to the left


Catbells summit with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance

Derwent Water

Final look at Derwent Water from Catbells

View Larger Map

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Great Gable on a cloudy day

Earlier in the year on a overcast day Colin, Albert and I did a grand tour of Upper Eskdale well away from the crowds except on Scafell Pike. Without patchy sunlight to provide some variety the light would have been very flat indeed and looking through the photographs again today I wondered if there might be just enough variety for a black and white image. I think there might be and, as always, click to enlarge the picture.

Great Gable from Great End Great Gable and Green Gable from Great End

The patch of sunlight on Sty Head Tarn was simply lucky – we were out for a run and all the pictures were taken during the briefest of pauses. I don’t think this needs any colour and if you want to compare the original colour version can be seen here Classic Day In The Lakes.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Rucksack Club Fell Race

This is an annual orienteering event which although taken seriously is low key enough to be able to go and practise your navigation skills. After last weekend’s FRA Navigation course this might have been an ideal opportunity for Pauline to hone her recently acquired expertise however the weather forecast thought otherwise, promising 35-50 mph winds, gusting to 80 mph. These winds were also forecast to bring showers of rain around the middle of the day. Even in the valley floor in Edale the winds were enough to confirm it would be difficult on the Kinder plateau. We contented ourselves with the shorter route and agreed routes and attack points for each of the six checkpoints before setting off.

The wind didn’t wait until lunchtime to bring rain and the first light showers arrived not long after we reached the plateau for the first crossing. Neither of us are really familiar with Kinder and we fell into the beginners’ trap of looking for bee-lines instead of runnable tracks, trods or paths. The rain arrived while we struggled with the wind and rough ground and then we were seduced by the first path we found. Without checking a compass bearing we followed it – back to the southern edge overlooking the Vale of Edale again!

Vale Of Edale

Vale of Edale


Remembering that my compass doesn’t lie I eventually conceded we hadn’t actually crossed Kinder and that we needed to try again. Having got the serious error out of the way early in the day we got on with the business of visiting the controls. After the third control we had two more crossings of Kinder to reach the 4th and 5th controls and by now the wind was stronger than it had been when we left and so, like a number of others, Pauline retired and headed back down to Edale.

Between 2 & 3 heading south Heading South East with the Derwent Moors on the skyline

Jaggers Clough South East in Jaggers Clough

Vale of Edale

Vale of Edale from the east

Hope Valley

Looking South East into Hope Valley

All these photographs are taken on the sheltered southern side of Kinder and not long after the one immediately above we reached the third control and went our separate ways. Almost immediately the weather deteriorated and by the time I had crossed to the north edge the cloud base had dropped well below the height of Kinder and the heavy rain started. Approaching control four meant leaving behind any shelter offered by the hill and I found myself facing a wind into which I was barely able to walk. Sheltering from the wind and driving rain behind some rocks was only a very short term option but it gave me time to look at the exit from the next control – uphill into the wind and rain. I now began to doubt if I could move fast enough to keep warm and decided to have some food and sort a bearing to take me back across Kinder to the sheltered side.

Once there the weather improved and and so rather then heading straight to the finish I visited the sixth and final control on Grindslow Knoll where this standing stone is to be found.

towards Kinder Looking back towards Kinder

Looking down Grindslow Clough

Looking South down Grindslow Clough

For the second year our attempt at the Rucksack Club Fell Race has ended ignominiously. Last year in the Lakes the weather was even worse but perhaps next year?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Weekend at home

With Pauline away at the FRA Navigation Course in Elterwater and the Bob Graham attempt I was planning to help on cancelled at the last minute I found myself without any plans. So after several days with spectacular sunrises I decided to enjoy Saturday’s from the summit of Winter Hill which would mean running there in the dark – not that it would be a problem and it can be done on tarmac which, unusually, would be a benefit. Last weekend on Bill’s Ramsay attempt I kicked a rock near the summit of Beinn na Lap and unfortunately, rather than merely resting on the mountain, the rock was attached to it. Although not too painful to run on, the big toe on my right foot had been weeping all week and it seemed better to avoid running through peat bogs.

The first light in the sky showed the day was going to dawn grey and overcast without even a hint of sunshine as the sun slipped over the horizon. The overwhelming, omnipresent greyness provides poor light for photographing landscapes and so I decided to have a closer look at some of the man made additions to Winter Hill.

Communications Mast

The most recent addition is a considerable array of communications masts. The tallest, know simply as “The Mast” reaches up to almost 2000 feet above sea level (the summit is at 1496 feet) which is a very convenient guide to the cloud base both locally and for the Lakes which are only about 100 miles away to the north west. Winter Hill has been lived on, cultivated, mined and grazed on for hundreds of years. The mining is long gone and the mines, more or less, all sealed. When the reservoirs to the west were built the land was cleared of farms to prevent contaminating the catchment area – ironically one of the farms to be cleared was “Drinkwaters Farm” on adjoining Great Hill, so named because of the spring (that still flows) near the farm house. A fascinating history of Winter Hill can be downloaded from The Winter Hill Scrapbook.


There are about twenty ruined farm houses on this, the west side of, Winter Hill. Little remains of them apart from low walls and in a few places there are the remains of boundary walls that seem to have survived better.

Sunday’s forecast was a little better but at 05:30 even the lights on the mast were obscured by the low clouds and so I waited a while and had a run along the Leeds-Liverpool canal which climbs out of Wigan to New Springs. This is also where the ambitious plans of the Lancaster Canal Company’s plans to reach Manchester via Westhoughton ended in a very short stretch of canal and one bridge.

The Top Lock The lower of the gates of the Top Lock at New Springs

Basin below Top Lock

Basin below Top Lock at New Springs

Sunk boat with duck

Sunk boat and a duck that expected to be fed

New Springs

New Springs above Top Lock

The ‘very short’ stretch of canal is only a little longer than the distance from the narrow boats to the ducks in the foreground. This was taken from the bridge that marks the very end of the ‘Manchester extension’.