Monday, 21 February 2011

Beacon Bash – 20 Feb

Sunday saw the 10th “Beacon Bash”, a 21 mile LDWA event near Wigan, Lancashire. As it turns out we have done half of them and on more than one occasion vowed never to go back. Nevertheless we found ourselves, on Sunday, at the 09:00 start for runners. The route uses the local canal towpath and miscellaneous bits of tarmac to link muddy fields and, in this part of the world, they do muddy fields like nowhere else.

Beacon Bash 001-1Water colour gives an idea of how muddy the surrounding fields are

Beacon Bash 002-2Most of the leading runners

Beacon Bash 009-4One of the better paths


Beacon Bash 006-3Windmill ruins on Harrock Hill

Beacon Bash 010-5Moss covered tree

Beacon Bash 011-6Pauline running through a group of LDWA walkers in Fairy Glen

Beacon Bash 015-8Goose with carrot & goose without carrot

Beacon Bash 014-7Snowdrops

Beacon Bash 018-11Crocus & Snowdrops


Beacon Bash 016-9The Beacon we “bashed” 17 miles to reach – Ashurst’s Beacon

Wikipedia notes - the local landscape is dominated by Ashurst Hill, which rises 570 feet (170 m) above sea level and is crowned by Ashurst's Beacon. The beacon once formed part of a relay league stretching from Everton Brow above Liverpool to Lancaster Castle, which was in place (though unused) during the Anglo–Spanish War of 1585. The current structure dates from around 1800, when local landowner Sir William Ashurst decided that a more permanent beacon was needed for the oncoming Napoleonic Wars. From here it is all downhill to more muddy fields and the finish where a “pie and a pint” await, if you so desire. We finished in 04:24:35, only a few minutes outside our best time despite the conditions. I strongly suspect this was achieved only because we didn’t go badly wrong as we have done previously.

Beacon Bash 019-12Mark’s recovery is well underway!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Winter Hill Weekend – 12/13 Feb

Most years see Sunday’s Winter Hill fell race preceded by the LDWA “Anglezark Amble” on the Saturday. Few people consider the 24 mile, 3000 feet Amble as the ideal preparation for the following day’s 11 mile, 3000 feet fell race but the combination is a searching test of the effectiveness of winter training. The ground over Winter Hill which both routes use has been either saturated or simply flooded for the last week or two making both events more difficult than last year when the ground was frozen in places.

AAmble-1Before the start of the Anglezark Amble

Conditions on Saturday were worse than expected and the poor visibility caused some runners to go a little astray but added only a few minutes to my own time despite two such errors. I estimated the ground conditions would cost me about 15 minutes and so anything just over 04:15 would be fine. The leading group of a dozen or so was soon spread out and largely hidden in the low clouds and I managed, for most of the first 18 miles or so, to hold on to the tail of this “group”. Poor route finding by a small group in front allowed me to keep catching them and finish just ahead of them in 04:22:45 with only 8 or perhaps 9 in front of me. Closer to 04:15 would have been better but then so would not missing a turning twice and I wasn’t disappointed. There were few opportunities for photographs until the last few miles along by the reservoirs.


AAmble-2 Anglezark Reservoir

AAmble-3Yarrow Reservoir

AAmble-4Rivington Reservoir

AAmble-500Still running after almost 24.5 miles (photo ©Mark Birbeck)

On Saturday I made no effort to pace my “race” knowing the early pace would be unsustainable but also knowing it would be a much harder training run than I usually undertake. On Sunday this approach would likely lead to blowing up completely and a probable DNF. Starting steadily, climbing steadily throughout and trying to pick up places on descents worked well and I finished in 02:27:23, 144th overall and 2nd M55 of 7. Slower but better placed than last year. 2011 Results are here

AAmble-700Before the start

AAmble-701The start (1)

AAmble-702The start (2) with me in my new Bowland FR vest

AAmble-703The start (3)

2006      Amble: 04:03:01      Winter Hill: 02:29:56     combined: 06:31:57

2010      Amble: 04:06:16      Winter Hill: 02:18:34     combined: 06:24:51

2011      Amble: 04:22:45      Winter Hill: 02:27:23     combined: 06:50:08

Perhaps I need to try to pace the Amble better than I have in the past to try to get the combined time reduced. Ah well, there is always next year.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Drookit – 05 & 06 Feb

On Sunday we met the Westmorland & North Lancs group of the LDWA in Staveley, as we have done for each of the last 9 years (I missed one in 2005 but Pauline hasn’t missed any), for a short walk and then a long Christmas lunch – our last of the season. The weather forecast was awful and, unfortunately, correct. The rain rarely let up, the clouds never lifted and the strong blustery wind always blew. The hills around Staveley are all low but almost all of them disappeared into the clouds.

5-6 Feb-10Bare trees under low clouds

5-6 Feb-11Bare hedge needing some work

5-6 Feb-12Bare trees and saturated ground

5-6 Feb-13 Drookit

5-6 Feb-14River Kent

5-6 Feb-15River Kent again

The company, and lunch, more than made up for the weather and it wasn’t long before we were warm, dry and well fed.

On the Saturday Pauline went out looking at part of the Pennine Way where we will be supporting a long run later in the year while I elected not to go as far afield by running over Winter Hill where the weather was as bad as it would turn out to be on Sunday. The cloud base was very low and the rain unrelenting. After a couple of attempts to photograph the local Highland cattle I couldn’t keep the rain off the lens and so I just put my camera away and carried on running. 

5-6 Feb-1

Before the cattle I came across this green mossy broken wall complimenting the last of the copper leaves for the only Winter Hill photo.

In between these two wet outings we met my brother and his wife for a meal and encountered a birthday celebration on the next table. Serendipitously I had a camera in my pocket and was able to email them the photo later.

5-6 Feb-20Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Magical Day in Great Langdale – 29 Jan

Even without the promise of good weather we were going to Great Langdale and prepared to take our chances by changing routes to accommodate the conditions. No such accommodation was required as the weather delivered as near to perfect a winter’s day as anyone could wish for.

Great Langdale-100Morning sun on the boats on Windermere with the Coniston fells behind


Great Langdale-101Sun arrives in Great Langdale

Great Langdale-102Pike O’Blisco and Crinkle Crags – some of the afternoon’s fells

Great Langdale-103Looking back down Great Langdale

From the Old Dungeon Ghyll we headed up the valley and out at the head via Rossett Ghyll and on through Esk Hause to Great End, meeting Kev Davison on the way. Kev went on to Scafell Pike when we turned to come back over Esk Pike, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and finally Pike O’Blisco for the descent to the bar at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

Great Langdale-104

Looking back over the top of Rossett Ghyll with Rossett Pike on the left, one tiny figure in the centre and, probably, Ingleborough in the very far distance

Great Langdale-105South west towards Harter Fell (with its own local cloud)



Great Langdale-107South west from Great End with two figures to the right of the cornice above Esk Hause

Great Langdale-106South west over Harter Fell with the distinctive Ill Crag on the right

Great Langdale-108Across Great Langdale to the Langdale Pikes

Great Langdale-109

The shelter on Pike O’Blisco  looking up Great Langdale with Bowfell on the left, the Langdale Pikes on the right and the North Western fells in the distance

Great Langdale-110The Langdale Pikes in the last of the afternoon sun

Our Google Earth Route is here