Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bob Graham Round: Leg 5 – 26 May

Most people with an interest in the Bob Graham Round (BGR) think of Leg 5 as the section that includes Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson and the stretch of road to Keswick but there is an older tradition of running it the other way round and this is maintained by Clayton-le-Moors Harriers and other individual runners who prefer an anti-clockwise round finishing with Blencathra, Great Calva and Skiddaw – the “Clayton Way”. Towards the end of June, if the weather holds and injuries are avoided Paul Murray will be marking his 70th birthday with another BGR attempt. All being well, I’ll be helping him on his last leg over the Northern Fells which is why we had a day looking at the route on Saturday.

NFells-1-Edit-1First look up the first climb to the summit of Blencathra

NFells-3-Edit-2Looking south with Clough Head prominent

NFells-8-Edit-3Back down Hall’s Fell ridge as we near the rocky section

NFells-13-Edit-4West from Mungrisedale Common

NFells-20-Edit-5Paul with Skiddaw beyond

NFells-26-Edit-6Enjoying the view from Skiddaw summit

NFells-27-Edit-2-7Derwent Water from Skiddaw

NFells-32-Edit-8Howell Memorial Cross on Skiddaw with the Helvellyn ridge beyond

NFells-36-Edit-9North Western fells

We had a good outing, a good look at the ground and I think we have more or less decided on the best lines and how to find them if the hills are shrouded in mist – unless Paul is a long way ahead of his schedule we be doing this in very early morning light to reach Keswick in time from breakfast.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Old County Tops fell race – 19 May

59 kilometres and 3050 metres of climbing, as the 2012 calendar notes, now that fell racing is metric but for many it will remain the 37 mile, 10,000 feet classic it has always been. The middle of May means the weather could be anything or everything and when the race could take 10 or more hours to complete, kit selection is critical. After taking just over 10 hours a year ago Albert and I were back and while he may have been wondering about a sub-10 finish I was worrying about the cut-off time, to Albert’s amusement. A slow time at the “Teenager”in April was a fair reflection of a poor winter’s training and as miracles are rare in fell running I anticipated a bit of suffering before we finished and I was right to do so.

OCT-102-Edit-1Bowland club mate Yiannis plots with partner Adrian before the start

A bitter wind blew on Helvllyn and we were glad to get down over the snow and ice covered grass to some shelter for food and drink at Wythburn car park. The long boggy climb out towards Greenup Edge is followed by a contour round High Raise and as near a direct line as possible to Angle Tarn and the first check-point with a cut-off time.

OCT-103-Edit-2Wyth Burn waterfalls

OCT-105-Edit-3Looking back down Wyth Burn with the Helvellyn ridge shrouded in cloud beyond

OCT-106-4Angle Tarn check point

40 minutes ahead of the cut-off time here should mean, even allowing for increasing weariness, being out of the check-point at Cockley Beck before it closes and therefore that barring accidents, injuries or getting lost we have put ourselves in a position to finish and get the 2012 t-shirt. There is still much to do but weather is improving, as forecast, and we should have no more of the icy wind that Helvellyn provided.


OCT-108-Edit-5Angle Tarn and Bowfell

OCT-110-Edit-6Great Gable (just in cloud) with the rest of the Mosedale Horseshoe fells beyond

OCT-112-Edit-7Scafell Pike summit

From here it is just a matter of down and round to Cockley Beck for some food and drink ahead of the fierce climb out en route to Coniston Old Man.

OCT-114-Edit-8Looking back to Cockley Beck with the Scafells in the distance

OCT-116-Edit-9Looking back to the Scafells

OCT-120-Edit-10Coniston Old Man

OCT-121-11Coniston Old Man check point

OCT-123-Edit-12Final look at Slightside, Sca Fell and Scafell Pike before dropping down to the 3 Shires Stone

Unofficially, we finished in 10:42:24 but we finished and, perhaps, a sub-10 next year?

Huge thanks to everyone from The Achille Ratti Climbing Club and elsewhere for the 2012 Old County Tops.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Winter Hill – 12 May

After the extravagance of hills, miles and feet climbed last weekend, from which my legs are just about recovered, I was happy to have a short, gentle jog over Winter Hill this morning. Usually I wouldn’t be all that concerned about tired legs but they were tired on Thursday night, so tired I had to bail out of the run, somewhat ignominiously, after not very many miles and next weekend is the Old County Tops for which they need to be fully recovered.


winterhill-1-2Sunshine through the trees above Rivington

winterhill-12-3Rivington Pike from the stream crossing as it is known on the Winter Hill fell race

winterhill-15-4The Mast is at the other end of this cable

winterhill-16-5The mast, at the other end of the cable

winterhill-20-6A “finger post”

winterhill-22-7Rainbow towards Preston

winterhill-23-8Rivington Pike from above Pike Cottage

winterhill-27-9Horwich and The Reebok

winterhill-101-1Oak Trees at the Upper Barn at their most vibrant

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Wainwright’s Seven Summits – 05 May

Wainwright’s Seven Summits comprise High Raise, Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Grasmoor, Skiddaw, Helvellyn and High Street being the highest fell in each of AW’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. A linear route visiting each of them was devised in 1995 by Geoff Saunders of the LDWA as a 60th Birthday celebration. More recently John Fleetwood established a circular route starting in Ambleside. More details can be found on Tony Wimbush’s GoFar website. John’s route includes more tarmac in and out of Ambleside than I would like and so I had previously linked High Street with Dovedale, Dunmail and High Raise but on both previous attempts the weather was poor and I was unable to get round. The route generated interest amongst the long distance specialists in The Rucksack Club and so I was “persuaded” to organise an attempt on Wainwright’s Seven Summits as a continuous walk.

Leaving Dunmail Raise on a sunny but cold morning we could barely believe our luck with the weather. A cool breeze blew on the tops of the fells and was pleasant most of the day.

AW7_RC-1From High Raise (1) looking towards Scafell Pike (2) with Great Gable (3) on the right

AW7_RC-2From High Raise (1) looking north to Skiddaw (5)


AW7_RC-3Second breakfast at Esk Hause where footwear is more interesting than food  [Rae, Helen, Mark, Tom and Will]


AW7_RC-4Looking south west across Eskdale from the approach to Scafell Pike (2)

AW7_RC-6Descending Scafell Pike (3)

AW7_RC-5Looking towards Great Gable (3) with Grasmoor (4) to the left and Skiddaw (5) in the distance

AW7_RC-7Approaching Great Gable (3) on the right and looking into Wasdale

AW7_RC-8Mark on Great Gable (3) with Wasdale and Scafell Pike (2) behind him

AW7_RC-9From Great Gable (3) looking back to Great End

AW7_RC-10Looking into Ennerdale (left) and Buttermere (right)


Despite a late start and without pushing the pace we reached Buttermere pretty much on schedule, impressing our road support with our punctuality for the first and only time. Pauline and Geoff were all set up and prepared for us before we arrived. This was the longest leg and took most of the scheduled nine hours which made me begin to think my schedule might be about right.


AW7_RC-12Climbing out of Buttermere

AW7_RC-13Mark with the Buttermere Fells behind

AW7_RC-14From Grasmoor (4) summit looking west to the Isle of Man as the sun begins to colour the evening sky

AW7_RC-15Rigg Beck – Support Team caught out when we arrived almost an hour early!

Whether it was the dropping temperature, the reviving tea at Buttermere or the looming visit to the chippie in Keswick I don’t know but we cracked on up and over Grasmoor to arrive more than a little early.

AW7_RC-16Newlands valley

AW7_RC-17Latrigg in the evening sun as we approach Keswick

Early in Keswick didn’t matter as it gave us extra time to get sorted for the night section and time to “sit in” at the fish and chip shop – a real bonus. Pleased as we were with the weather we were barely aware of the special full moon that was rising as we ate – a perigee full moon. The word perigee describes the moon’s closest point to Earth for a given month and this would be the brightest of the year. So bright and strong that we didn’t need torches on Skiddaw where we were accompanied by moon shadows both up and down the mountain.

Eventually, dark clouds blew in and obscured the moon and we were obliged to use our torches. We left Keswick about half an hour ahead of schedule assuring Pauline and Geoff that the combined effects of weariness, darkness and the fish & chips would ensure our pace would slow and we wouldn’t be early again but we were. After breakfast and before first light we headed south to Helvellyn on a very cold morning. High hazy clouds developed and the sun was long over the horizon when we summited.

AW7_RC-18Helvellyn (6) Trig Point looking east

AW7_RC-20Looking west a little later

AW7_RC-19St Sunday Crag under its own cloud cover

AW7_RC-21Angle Tarn with High Street (7) in the distance

AW7_RC-22Seventh Summit [Will, Tom and self]

AW7_RC-23Looking down into Mardale

After the glorious weather on Saturday and through the night we watched the clouds build during Sunday morning until we could see heavy showers to both the north and the south of the High Street ridge. Approaching the summit the first of the showers, snow showers, arrived – a perfect finish!

Six of us set off from Dunmail for High Raise and Mark had to head home after Keswick while Rae & Helen had to head home after Helvellyn leaving Tom, Will and myself to complete Wainwright’s Seven Summits before dropping down to meet Geoff and Pauline. Thanks to everyone who came along but most especially to Geoff & Pauline for providing flawless support despite our inability to get anywhere near the schedule.

The numbers: about 61 miles, 19,000 feet of climbing and 29.25 hours of eating, drinking & walking.