Monday, 27 June 2011

Winter Hill – 25 June

Running over Winter Hill twice in as many days in contrasting conditions shows just how erratic summer weather in the north west of England is. After another delayed start to avoid the worst of the weather, another delayed start that didn’t, in fact, miss the worst of the weather, I was soon enveloped in the grey swirling mass of wet air and rain that would be constant companions.

20110625-winter hill-1Foxgloves just above Horwich

20110625-winter hill-3Scotsman’s Stump near the summit of Winter Hill

(There is a B+W version of the above along with more information about the iron pillar on my blipfoto journal here)

Despite the conditions it was a joy to be out, and near the Scotsman’s Stump I could hear the cries of Curlews swirling all around me while the birds remained concealed in the clouds. Down to Belmont, over to Darwen Tower (still without its “hat”) and back to Horwich over Great Hill for about 21 miles is just over 4 hours.


20110625-winter hill-6White and Purple Foxgloves

20110625-winter hill-8Winter Hill above Belmont – the best it was all day

20110625-winter hill-11Oak trees on Great Hill

20110625-winter hill-14Looking back up Great Hill to Drinkwaters Farm (where Joe’s Cup may be found)

20110625-winter hill-16Anglezark Reservoir and almost below the cloud base

Pauline was out running on these moors too and we met, quite by accident, just below Darwen Moor to exchange tales of how awful the ground was where we had been – and where it was bad it was very bad indeed. The low level of water in the reservoirs served as the only reminder that it was a mid-summer day and that we had enjoyed a warm, dry sunny Spring. Perhaps it will be better next Saturday.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Summer Evening on Winter Hill – 23 June

After wondering where the summer had gone I found it lurking on Winter Hill last night.

20110623-winter hill-13

There are more photos, including a couple of Foxgloves, here – Winter Hill album

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Wainwright’s Seven Summits – 18 June

After most of a week fretting about the weather for the weekend and, in particular, about the band of heavy rain due in Cumbria on Friday night and Saturday morning we decided to postpone the start time by two hours. Setting off at 11:00 should mean missing the worst of the rain and enjoying the improving weather as the day went on.

AW7-2011-100Potatoes, pasta and a vegetable sauce for Saturday 

“Decision made” means kit and food to prepare and even more weather forecast checking and unsettled seemed the only appropriate description. Last year I attempted to solo the route but the weather got the better of me and I was pleased when Helen said she would like to have a run round it with me. Rae, Helen’s husband, would help Pauline and Keith with the road support and so all we needed was some good weather and a bit of luck.

AW7-2011-1With Helen almost ready to start

At 11:00 on Saturday morning we set off from Cow Bridge car park to visit High Raise (1), Scafell Pike (2), Great Gable (3), Grasmoor (4), Skiddaw (5), Helvellyn (6) and High Street (7).

AW7-2011-101Deepdale Hause

Little could be seen of the fells surrounding Deepdale because of the low cloud which is very atmospheric but makes route finding that bit more difficult. Once over the hause we should have been able to see several of the Seven Summits but we could only just see Grisdale Tarn.


AW7-2011-102Grisedale Tarn

AW7-2011-103Looking north from High Raise

After High Raise conditions began to deteriorate, imperceptibly at first, but on Scafell Pike visibility was very poor and I was unable to find my preferred descent and we returned to the top of Little Narrowcove for he descent to the Corridor Route and Great Gable.


AW7-2011-104Great Gable from the Corridor Route

AW7-2011-105Descending into Ennerdale (1)

AW7-2011-106Descending into Ennerdale (2)

AW7-2011-107Fleetwith Pike on the right with Buttermere and Crummock Water beyond

AW7-2011-3Enjoying the pasta & sauce at Buttermere

AW7-2011-2Enjoying the day and the pasta & sauce

We struggled to keep to the schedule all day; Helen had to wait for me on the ascents and I for her on the descents which meant we left Buttermere an hour later than planned – which wasn’t in itself a problem but when added to the delayed start it meant we were three hours behind the original schedule and probably wouldn’t have daylight for the descent from Wandope. Rain and thick clouds swirled around Grasmoor and visibility was so poor that we failed to find Wandope until our second attempt. Descending in thick mist and rain we were unable to find the path to Rigg Beck and lost another hour doing so. We hadn’t expected the weather to deteriorate like this on Saturday night and by the time we reached Rae, Pauline and Keith at Rigg Beck it was obvious that without a significant improvement in conditions we were just going to lose more and more time through the night and so bailed out and went home.

By Rigg Beck we had done about 30 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing which wasn’t a bad day out and it was one we both enjoyed, until the last hour or so. I think we might be back for another attempt although we will need to reduce the amount of time spent waiting on each other and, perhaps, we need to try to remember that “unsettled weather” is likely to be far from ideal. Huge thanks are due to Pauline, Rae and Keith for the road support!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Two Years Later – 17 June

A year ago I was overwhelmed to see that 8,500 of you stopped by to have a look at what we (and sometimes you) had been doing. Today I am equally overwhelmed, gratified and humbled to see the Visitor counter at around 24,000 and want to say a huge “thank you” to each of you for looking in. Thanks also due to those of you who take the time to leave comments on Twitter, Facebook or on here – getting responses makes a very real difference, so thank you especially.

Looking at the photographs from the last twelve months and reliving the memories they trigger has been great fun and made me realise the “rush”, and often it is a rush, to post something, more or less, every week sometimes means potentially interesting shots are overlooked. This is the main reason for creating other blogs (the PHOTO ALBUMS in the side bar on the right) where I post photos from time to time. This is a kind of excuse for posting two “Photos of the Year” – one that did appear here and one that didn’t appear here, or at least didn’t appear here in its final form.

The one that did appear here in its final form was taken on a morning in September last year, travelling home from my first Ben Nevis race, when we came across this steam train heading south to Crianlarich.

Highland Steam Train 007-1The Great Marquess" 61994 Heads South

Only weeks later, at the Langdale Horseshoe fell race, I had some shots taken during the race and after posting them I went back to have another look at one or two. One in particular, as Rhiannon (whose blog remains a favourite) said, seems to capture something of the essence of fell running. In this case the colour in the original seemed a distraction and the black & white version is, to my mind, a more powerful, more evocative image.

Langdale 035-2A lone runner on a lower line

The last twelve months have been great fun, I have enjoyed sharing them and we are both looking forward to the next twelve months and beyond. I hope we may see you somewhere on the hills and if not, I hope you enjoy what you are doing and it would be great if you could look in here from time to time.

Thanks again, Ian

Two Lads fell race – 16 June

Took a few photos marshalling at the Two Lads fell race last night and posted them on my Winter Hill blog. Mainly Horwich runners and a couple of dramatic skyscapes.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Andrew Crook’s “Bob Graham” – 11 June

On Friday night at midnight Andrew Crook, Andrew Tibbetts, and Kev Smith left the Moot Hall in Keswick to attempt a clock-wise Bob Graham Round – about 65 miles and 28500 feet of climbing over 42 summits within 24 hours. To try to put this into some sort of perspective; it is like starting at sea-level, 33 miles from the summit of Mount Everest and running to the top and back down within a day and don’t forget more people have stood on the summit of Everest than have completed a sub 24 hour Bob Graham Round (BGR). This weekend is approaching the BGR “rush hour” and there may have been as many as 10 runners out on attempts on Saturday and Sunday.

Earlier in the year I had a couple of recces with Andy and didn’t doubt either his fitness or his commitment and I was delighted to be asked to help on the fifth and final leg from Honister to Keswick. The “Two Andrews” set off together and shared support teams until Dunmail at the end of the second leg when, as planned, they separated to continue at their own pace. The good conditions they enjoyed at night continued throughout the day with only a bit of rain at they were approaching the end of the fourth leg.

At Honister we found many of the earlier leg support runners waiting to encourage them into the final leg with its last three summits.

AC_BGR 003Sarah & Huw looked in while Will & Steve waited on incoming runners

AC_BGR 005Yiannis & Rob arrived with Andrew Tibbetts

AC_BGR 006Andrew Tibbetts preparing for his last leg (Andrew finished in under 22 hours)

AC_BGR 015Low cloud rolling through Honister Pass

AC_BGR 078Waiting for Andrew Crook- Beverley’s anxiety is reflected on the car window

AC_BGR 032Darwen Dashers’ team (and Andrew’s sister) wait on Kev Smith arriving


AC_BGR 085Anxiety gone, especially for Beverley, Andrew’s fiancĂ©


AC_BGR 035Arriving with Stewart (ahead) and Duncan (behind)

AC_BGR 056Leaving Honister for Keswick

AC_BGR 086Last look down to Honister, the last support point

AC_BGR 058A last look up at the departed runners

AC_BGR 089Nearing the top of Dale Head (No 40) and climbing through a layer of cloud

AC_BGR 097Looking north towards Skiddaw the first of the 42 summits

AC_BGR 098Leaving Dale Head

AC_BGR 100Looking west from Robinson

AC_BGR 101Approaching Robinson with the Darwen Dashers team following

AC_BGR 103Robinson summit the 42nd and final summit – just the descent and the road back to Keswick left to do

AC_BGR 062Quick change to more suitable shoes

AC_BGR 109Job Done in 23:14 (I think it was 23:14)

AC_BGR 065“Congratulations”

AC_BGR 111Thirsty Work!

AC_BGR 113Kev Smith (centre) finished minutes later

Congratulations also to Andrew Tibbetts and Kev Smith and amongst the other runners who completed BGRs this weekend is Mark Palmer who got round in a remarkable 14:59. The fourth fastest ever, the second fastest debut and the fastest V40 & V45 round.

It was a huge privilege and an equally huge pleasure to be a part of the Bowland team that helped Andy get round in comfortably under 24 hours. Congratulations Andrew, job very well done.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Whit Week 2011 – Part 4: Ennerdale & Duddon – 02/03 June

After the dash south from Lochaber we woke to a warm morning with everything wreathed in low clouds but without the gale-force wind and torrential rain. With a long race on Saturday in Ennerdale I should probably have been resting so we went to Ennerdale to walk, rather than run. There are some remote fells at the western end of Ennerdale that we wanted to visit again and I wanted to look at a counter-intuitive “racing line” over Caw Fell. Last year I lost about 400 yards to another runner who took a line that appears longer and adds climbing so I wanted see how he done it.

20110602-Whit Week 004Caw Fell in low cloud in the distance (from Lank Rigg)

20110602-Whit Week 007-EditLank Rigg Trig Point

By midday the clouds had lifted and the fine weather we had hoped for began to arrive – it also meant I might be able to find the line over Caw Fell that I wanted to see – and it almost seemed like summer.

20110602-Whit Week 021Looking into Ennerdale with the Buttermere fells in the middle distance

20110602-Whit Week 038Ennerdale with the first half of the race route on the ridge beyond

20110602-Whit Week 049Ferns by the final descent of the race route – won’t be time to look at these on Saturday

20110602-Whit Week 058Evening light in Duddon Valley


We found the line over Caw Fell and it is further and does involve more climbing but it is much, much more runnable even at that late stage in the race – and so it proved on the day.

Friday in Duddon valley was a glorious hot summer day, way to hot for racing but way to good to just sit about so we strolled up on to the end of the Duddon Valley race route and sat in warm sunshine contemplating the hills and the sea beyond (and worrying about hot to carry enough water if it is this hot on Saturday).

20110603-Whit Week 001Dry stone wall with Caw (final CP in Duddon Valley race) in the distance

20110603-Whit Week 003Looking north west to Harter Fell (first CP in Duddon Valley race)

20110603-Whit Week 021Back down into Duddon from the Walna Scar road

20110603-Whit Week 050North east up the Duddon Valley

20110603-Whit Week 057The end of a glorious day in Duddon