Monday, 28 June 2010

Chris Armour CRR – 19 June

Last weekend Mathew Hack who would run Leg 2 accompanied Chris up Ben Nevis at the start of Leg 1, carrying extra fluids and still managing to get a couple of photos.

CA CRR II (5 of 9)Chris on the summit (photo M Hack)

CA CRR II (6 of 9)

Chris descending from the Ben (photo M Hack)

Being able to revisit the weekend of the 19th provides an excuse to have a look at some of the nearby hills and by travelling north very early on the Saturday morning meant I found myself in Glencoe enjoying the morning sunshine without having to climb any of the surrounding mountains.

CA CRR II (1 of 9) Looking west at two of the Three Sisters in Glencoe

CA CRR II (2 of 9)Same two Sisters with Bidean nam Bian behind

Beyond Glencoe I sat on the beach on Loch Leven looking at the Pap of Glencoe (Sgorr na Ciche) remembering our visit to the summit a year or two again in pouring rain that stayed with us almost to the other end of the Aonach Eagach. Today would have been just about perfect for the traverse.

CA CRR II (3 of 9) The Pap of Glencoe above Loch Leven

As Chris set off across Glen Nevis I took a gentle stroll up the glen and a little way up Ben Nevis to have a look at, both the Glen and the Munros Pauline and I had visited in damp cloudy conditions a few weeks earlier on 30 May 2010.

CA CRR II (4 of 9) Stob Ban above Glen Nevis

CA CRR II (7 of 9) Glen Nevis with Sgurr a Mhaim, Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean on the skyline

CA CRR II (8 of 9)Heather Bells on the side of Ben Nevis

CA CRR II (9 of 9)Stob Coire Sgiodain above Loch Treig at the start of Leg 2

Geoff and Mike who would have run the third and final leg came out to see Chris on his way into Leg 2 and like the rest of us were very surprised at the exceptionally low water level in the loch - the water level should be almost as high as the greenery on the far bank.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Chris Armour CRR Leg 2 – 19 June

Ramsay’s Round (CRR – Charlie Ramsay’s Round) is the classic Scottish 24 hour challenge – 24 Lochaber Munros in 24 hours - 56 miles with 28,500 feet of climbing. First completed in July 1978 and with only 55 completers since it is a hard day out. More details can be found on the Ramsay's Round website.

Last Saturday saw Chris leave the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel at 12 noon on a clockwise round in glorious warm sunshine – perhaps a little warm but with the prospect of a breeze on the tops to provide some relief.

CA CRR-001 Underway, at last

Wendy Dodds, Mathew Hack and I would meet Chris at Loch Treig just beyond Fersit for Leg 2. Leg 1 was warmer than Chris would have wanted and while eating didn’t seem to have been much of a problem keeping adequately hydrated had been difficult. Leg 2 contains two significant climbs which should allow Chris to rehydrate and to keep eating.

CA CRR-002 North west back towards Loch Treig (lower left)

The climb is steep and just gets steeper as the climb continues and the views unfold to the north west behind us. There is just a hint of golden colour in the sky as we approach halfway on Stob Coire Sgroidain.

CA CRR-003 still smiling

CA CRR-004 Wendy, Chris and Mathew with the summits near Glencoe on the far horizon

CA CRR-005South over the summit of Stob Coire Sgroidain

CA CRR-006 South from Stob Coire Sgroidain

CA CRR-007 Crossing to Cho Dearg

CA CRR-008 South from Cho Dearg

CA CRR-009 South from Cho Dearg

CA CRR-010 Sunset from Cho Dearg

After sunset so much light remained that we were able to reach the third of the three summits on this leg just after midnight without having to use head torches and there was just enough light left for a final picture at 6 minutes to midnight.

CA CRR-011 north west from Beinn na Lap

Unfortunately by now Chris was struggling to keep up with his schedule and feeling somewhat less than completely sparkling. The decision to retire seemed almost unavoidable and Chris decided on the descent from Beinn na Lap not to continue beyond the end of Leg 2. Our walk out from the end of Leg 2 was later than scheduled which meant, having seen the sun set on Saturday night we watched it rise on Sunday morning.

CA CRR-100 Sgurr Elide Mor – first summit on Leg 3

CA CRR-101 South west over Loch Elide Mor

CA CRR-102 South west over Loch Elide Mor

This turned out to be a very special night in Lochaber in conditions experienced all too rarely and while commiserations are due to Chris so are our thanks for providing the opportunity and excuse for a magical all-nighter in the hills.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Two Lads fell race – 17 June

Tonight saw the Two Lads fell race run over Winter Hill under a sky darkened with smoke from a nearby moorland fire. 5.25 miles with 900 feet of climbing it is a classic short race with runnable climbs and very fast descents starting and finishing at the Bridge Inn in Horwich. Pauline & I were marshalling and so were able to thoroughly enjoy the race!

Two Lads 2010-001  Grey smoke drifts over the moors


Two Lads 2010-002 Albert Sunter

Two Lads 2010-003 Rob Green

Two Lads 2010-004 Karen Murray

Two Lads 2010-005 Tony Varley

Two Lads 2010-006 Mark Sammon

Two Lads 2010-007 Mark Burbeck ahead of Ed Swift

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

One Year Later – 16 June

A year ago tomorrow I started putting together this blog although the first post didn’t appear until a few days later. Today, I am overwhelmed to see that it has attracted over 8,500 visitors from all over the world. Today, also, I want to say “thank you” to all of you who stop by and especially to those of you who leave comments here or on Twitter or Facebook - thank you for taking the time and trouble to so do. I really appreciate your feedback.

2009-10-17_Joss_Dinner_I_ 182-10 

I wondered about trying to find a few favourite photos from the last twelve months but selecting them just become more and more difficult as the anniversary approached – instead, just one photograph – Joss with his dogs, Tich & Spy on a November day on Buck Barrow above Wast Water in Wasdale. This wasn’t a carefully composed landscape or a scene I had in mind beforehand; it was simply a snapshot taken as he turned to walk away from looking at a sheep on a ledge below us. Only much later did I realise it seems to capture something of the essence of a man at one with his surroundings and it remains the my evocative image of the last year.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Ennerdale Horseshoe fell race – 12 June

A bright sunny warm morning awaited the marshals, runners and supporters in Ennerdale last Saturday for the Ennerdale Horseshoe fell race – one of the ‘superlong’ Lakeland Classics races at 23 miles, 7500 feet and in 2010 an English Championship counter. Ennerdale is a remote valley in western Cumbria very close to the recent tragic shooting and these events were acknowledged by a 1 minute silence immediately before the start of the race.

To my mind this is, by far, the best of the Lakeland long races (a view shared, incidentally, by Joss Naylor who won the first nine of them), epitomising long distance racing in the hills. Starting at the mouth of the valley, running up one ridge to the head then turning and running back down the ridge on the other side with a mixture of rough rocky ground, steep climbs (both up and down) and long (all too) runnable grassy sections. Ennerdale is too remote to be troubled by many tourists and the absence of a road beyond the outfall of the lake ensures the upper valley and its Youth Hostel is a quiet, remote place.

EH FR-001 Ennerdale with the first climb (Great Bourne) on the left and Green Gable at the head of the valley in the far distance

EH FR-002 Great Bourne

EH FR-003Green Gable in the far distance with most of Crag Fell (the final hill) on the right 


EH FR-004 Joss Naylor MBE (on the right) with Peter Thompson before the start.

Like all long fell races there are cut-off times and for many of us the race or parts of it are against the cut-offs rather than against other runners. The early cut-offs at Ennerdale are particularly demanding and although they were to be relaxed a little, the later ones were to be strictly enforced – according to the last minute instructions issued on the start line.

EH FR - 100 Climbing Great Bourne


EH FR-005 Approaching Red Pike (second check point)

EH FR-006 From High Crag looking north west into Buttermere with Crummock Water below Grasmoor

EH FR-007 Looking back up Ennerdale from Crag Fell approaching the final check point

Rob Jebb (Bingley Harriers) led the field back in 03:34:06 and Jackie Lee (Eyri Harriers) was first woman in 04:23:43 The full results are available on the SportIdent website here.

EH FR-008 Almost there (photo: P. Charters)

My own performance was a somewhat more modest 05:41:07 in 207th place but only 10 minutes behind my best time, probably in similar conditions, from three years ago and my second fastest time overall so I am not disappointed.

Pauline, too, had a good day – a stroll up to Haycock with Joss where he helped the marshals hand out cups of, very welcome, water. This isn’t usual or expected but Ennerdale is a particularly dry route and there is only one source of water that can be relied upon and this is before the end of the outward leg and the return leg can be completely dry.

Huge thanks are due to the organisers and the marshals on the day – the race couldn’t happen without them and all the work they put in to it.









Almost there

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Mark Jackson BGR Leg 3 – 05 June

If part of the title seems hauntingly familiar, it probably should do – the last time I was at Dunmail was waiting for Mark Smith to start Leg 3 of a clockwise Bob Graham Round was around 6 months ago at 04:30 on a very cold, dark morning (Mark Smith's Winter BGR). This time, with Mark Jackson, it is a warm sunny morning and keeping cool rather than keeping warm will be an issue.

MS BGR - 001Albert and some of the road crew waiting on Mark 

MS BGR - 002 The sun is going to come over Seat Sandal before Mark

MS BGR - 003 Hearty breakfast and a change of shoes for Mark

MS BGR - 004 Mark (in white) with two pacers approaching Steel Fell

MS BGR - 006 From High Raise with Great Gable in the distance

MS BGR - 007

On Sergeant Man, still enjoying himself and with time bite to eat 


MS BGR - 008 The ever prominent Pike O’Stickle with Bowfell beyond

MS BGR - 009 Approaching the summit of Pike O’Stickle

 MS BGR - 010

Coffee on Rossett Pike before climbing Bowfell

MS BGR - 011 From the left - Sca Fell, Scafell Pike and Ill Crag

MS BGR - 013From Scafell Pike – Great Gable with its own cloud and Grasmoor beyond

MS BGR - 014 Great Gable and its own clouds

MS BGR - 015 Almost up Broad Stand on Sca Fell

MS BGR - 016

Leg 4 appears on the other side of Wasdale

 MS BGR - 017

Wast Water and lower Wasdale

 MS BGR - 018

Running off Sca Fell to the last drop (of Leg 3)

 MS BGR - 019

The Last Drop of Leg 3 – the scree run down into Wasdale


 MS BGR - 020

Upper Wasdale with Kirk Fell and its own clouds

 MS BGR - 021 Enjoying the break at Wasdale

Comfortably ahead of his schedule at Wasdale, Mark continued strongly to finish at the Moot Hall in 23:11, having covered about 70 miles and 28,000 feet of ascent and descent, to be eligible for membership of the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club. Welcome to the club, Mark!