Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Emma’s BGR Leg 2 – 14 May

Cruising north towards St Johns in the Vale with Albert & Alex late on Friday night and more than an hour ahead of Emma’s scheduled arrival all seemed to be going smoothly when Alex’s phone rang. A garbled conversation ensued and it became apparent that the small group of torches we could see descending from Blencathra were, more than likely, Emma and her pacers considerably ahead of schedule. Something a bit short of panic occurred as we now raced through the night to beat the torches to Threlkeld. Happily we did with sufficient time to get our own kit sorted before Emma arrived.

Emma's BGR-001Anxious wait for the road crew and Derby Tup & Brett – peering into the darkness for the Leg 1 team

Emma's BGR-002 Leg 1 Done

The prospect of arriving late invoked something less than panic which couldn’t be said about the next few minutes. The Leg 2 team comprised of Brett, Derby Tup, Alex Fowler, Albert Sunter, myself and Mark Smith who is to navigate. As Emma was about to stand up and set off Mark announced he was unable, having navigated Leg 1, to continue on into Leg 2 but he would endeavour to meet us before the descent to Grisedale Tarn. Someone asked Emma who should navigate this leg in the absence of Mark – to my horror (as was apparent from the look on my face, I believe) I heard my own name called out and a map was thrust into my hands.

While last minute changes are not uncommon and even late changes of navigator are not unheard of it is considered prudent to select someone familiar with the leg in question. This is a clockwise round and, as one or two others began to realise, I am an “anti-clockwise” man and had never run this leg in a clockwise direction, not even in daylight, and so navigating in the dark is going to be interesting. By now it is too late to do anything else, Emma is off and I am trying to obtain, from Mark and Ian, directions to Clough Head (the first summit) as Mark hands me a GPS. Clough Head was fine but even before climbing into the clag on Great Dodd I knew things were going to get more difficult when I discovered my reading glasses had broken and lost a lens. Overshooting Watsons Dodd triggered the active use of the GPS – huge thanks, Brett – and by and large the rest of the leg wasn’t too bad, apart from a very short walk-about on Dollywagon Pike led by Mark who joined us just below the summit.

Emma's BGR-003 Leg 2 Done

Job done by Dunmail, Alex took a lift back while Albert & I headed back into the hills hoping to see the sunrise on our way back to Threlkeld. The weather conspired against us and robbed of the sunrise so we dropped down off the tops after Helvellyn to get out of the wind and below the clouds.

Emma's BGR-004 Thirlmere under a threatening sky

Emma's BGR-005 One of the waterfalls on Fisher Gill

Emma's BGR-006 Early morning companion – sure to get the worm at this time of day

All the way back north it seemed the weather was deteriorating and our thoughts we with Emma on the long leg to Wasdale. We needn’t have worried as she seemed to get stronger after Dunmail finishing in 23:08. More details here Emma's blog. Ready for breakfast by Threlkeld, we woke Alex (who had only just fallen asleep, he says) changed and headed off for a “full English” after another all-nighter on the fells.


  1. Ian, I will never forget the look on your face as you were 'handed the compass' so to speak. I'll also never forget the sight of the dawn breaking behind St Sundays Crag as we were climbing Seat Sandal. What a night! DT

  2. Most amusing, Ian.. and despite the surprises, a resounding success.

  3. D. Hi Ian, I. Hi Duncan, D. which way you going up Clough Head? I. I dont know I'm not navigating, never done this leg clockwise, - 30 seconds later - M. Ian I'm not coming now, I. OK, whose navigating? M. You are.. quiet thud as jaw hits ground.
    But taken on like the true gentleman & man of the hills you are.
    Well done Ian, great to see you.

  4. Thanks Duncan. Those minutes will remain with me for some considerable time, I suspect. Great to see you again, Duncan. We must try to get out in the hills again, soon.

  5. I will never forget the look on your face Ian when you were asked to navigate. What a splendid evening we all had and what a great result for Emma! DT

  6. nothing like a bit of added pressure ;)

  7. Andrew - I can laugh about it, now, but I knew before setting off that unless the navigator knew the first half if the ridge very it could be awfully easy to go wrong and if the clag is down - going wrong is almost certain. Glad you enjoyed it, I did too (eventually) and it was good to see you again. And, as you saw, a great result for Emma which is all that really mattered.

  8. Ian, I owe you one!! The pints on me - thanks again, I think it's safe to say I'm glad I was blissfully unaware of the predicament....you're a real star xxx

  9. Emma - there didn't seem any need to trouble you at the time. I was really pretty relieved to reach Lower Man as the rest of the ridge is somewhat easier but most of all I am so pleased you reached the Moot Hall with time to spare,

  10. I just wandered over from Quadrathon and know only very little about Fell running (actually really only what I've read on Kate's blog in the past) but I have to say it sounds really interesting. What does Fell actually mean (I hope it's not a stupid question)?

  11. Hi Groover - "fell" is an old norse word for hill or mountain, used only in north west England where there was a significant Viking influence on place names. The Fell Runners Association have a website at http://www.fellrunner.org.uk/ with a forum where some of us are to be found when we are not on the fells