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.


  1. Well done, what a toughie, and good pictures too. Our first try at the OCT, we'll be back. A true Classic.

  2. What a tough race! Well done... I reckon you'll sub-10 it next year for sure.