Saturday, December 13, 2014

Grizedale Trail 26 recce

down on the shore of Windermere before climbing back up

The Forecast today was abysmal.  Definitely didn't look like a day for the fells so I invited my mate Dean to do a recce of half of the Grizedale Trail 26 race.  I reccied it a few years ago and injured my knee doing it which meant that I never made the actual event.  Today's run was just a run around somewhere I knew would offer a bit of shelter.  I'm not planning on entering the event, which is in February, well at least I wasn't planning on it...

It started to snow as we went through Keswick and roads were quite icy, we saw two span out cars on the way through.  We got to Grizedale safe and well, parked up and then headed off up the initial rocky and wet path.  We were doing the second loop today on the east of the forest which would be started at about 10 miles in.

It looks like the course has changed since two years ago and I set off on the old course, only to work out after about 500m the change.  We carried on and looped around to join back up with the route where the track dropped steeply and rockily to the road.  We ran down the road, which was icy with the fresh snowfall on top, went around Esthwaite Water, through Near Sawrey and then over past the tarns and down the steep slippery path to Belle Grange on the bank of Windermere.  We ran south along the bank before climbing up again after about a mile and a half and heading back via Far Sawrey before climbing up again through the forest back to the start.  15 miles in all and a decent pace.  Quite tempted by the event now.

Esthwaite Water through the trees

bit of snow Claife Heights area

at Moss Eccles Tarn, bit misty today

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Base Brown, Green Gable, Brandreth and Grey Knotts

from Green Gablle looking down into Ennerdale and, further to the right, Buttermere

Sunday was always going to be the long run this week but as it got closer, the weather forecast got worse.  I picked out a route with a few options, the shortest of which being a run from Seathwaite up the Gillercomb valley to Base Brown and then back down via Stockley Bridge.  A longer option included continuing on up Green Gable and then on over Brandreth and Grey Knotts to Honister and then down the bridleway back to Seatoller.  As we drove to Borrowdale (through a hailstorm) the longest of the plans seemed ambitious.  We parked at Seatoller and took the Seathwaite road for half a mile before bearing off on the footpath which eventually leads to The Borrowdale Yews:

 I had read about these ancient Yew Trees, "The Fraternal Four" as Wordsworth dubbed them, now only three remain following a storm in 1866.  

The trees are thought to be about 1500 years old.  You can go into the little fenced off area and have a good look around. Understandably, you are asked not to climb on the trees.

They certainly look old, the trunks are hollow and the wood very knarled.  Some post run reading suggests that they are in quite a delicate state, particularly the oldest of the trees, which is probably not the largest.

The sign says that in 2005, the canopy of the largest tree was completely lost.  I think this is the one on the right.  Apparently, despite loosing so much of the tree, it will regenerate and there are certainly lots of green shoots coming from the old wood.

More information 


and here 

and perhaps more than you ever needed to know here 

about The Borrowdale Yews.  Fascinating.  
Now let's get going up some fells.

We carried on on the very wet path over to the footbridge over Sourmilk Gill, picking up the path along and over the wall before climbing the steep path up the side of the gill.  After the little scramble, made slightly more difficult by the wet conditions, we were into the Gillercomb valley, taking the nice track up to the top.  Here we doubled back to pick up the summit of Base Brown.

Gillercomb valley looking quite nice

Base Brown summit, quite windy up here

We ran back down to the col at the top of the Gillercomb valley.  I had suggested that we head down to Sty Head and down via Stockley Bridge but when we got back to the junction, we decided to carry on up to Green Gable and make a decision from there.  This point was probably the wildest the weather got, some sleet and hail.  We were warm enough though and chatted away happily through it up to Green Gable summit by which time, the conditions had mellowed.

Dean enjoying the conditions

heading up to Green Gable

Dean at the summit.  I told Dean that the summit behind (Great Gable) was the actual summit.  From the look on his face, he definitely believed me for a second.

From Green Gable we had options, carry on to Aaron Slack, taking this way down to Sty Head and back via Stockley Bridge.  However, I was quite keen to head over Brandreth (although I couldn't remember its name until I looked) and Grey Knotts.  From Green Gable the route finding is pretty easy as there are fence posts to follow.  We decided to get down to the bottom of Gillercomb Head and then make a decision whether to follow the Moses Trod path or go higher over the summits.  Our only slight concern was time (daylight) although we both had head torches, I really didn't want to be up on these fells in the dark.

Dean led the way and ran straight past the path junction.  I was happy to follow him and we had plenty of time anyway.  I had to get the GPS out to confirm the summit of Brandreth but I do remember the bundle of fence posts that have been up there for a long time, certainly since the last time I was up there.

Dean summiting Brandreth

and Grey Knotts (I told him that that bit of rock was the actual summit and it didn't count unless he stood on there).

From Grey Knotts we managed to pick out the track which took us down nicely to the Moses Trod path and over to the slate mine.  From here we took it easy down the Honister bridleway.  It was very wet here but I was thinking that my feet couldn't get any wetter so we just ran through.  We did a few laps of the car park to make the distance up to 10 miles.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Lonscale Fell

me running down the back of Lonscale Fell towards Burnt Horse
Skiddaw path looking back over Derwent Water
Another weekend early start as my wife was playing hockey and I needed to be home for about 11am.

It was still dark when I first set off and most of the Skiddaw group was in cloud so the extent of the overnight snowfall could not be fully ascertained.

I parked up at Spooney Green Lane and set off up the Latrigg Path.  I thought I had no chance of running to the car park and almost stopped to walk before the bridge but I slowed my pace and took it easy, gradually getting into a groove and finishing off finding it quite easy to get up.

From here I carried on over towards that path up Jenkin Hill.  About a mile from the car park, where the path almost meets with the wall before sweeping off sharply to the left, take the path straight ahead following the wall and this comes out at the col between Jenkin Hill and Lonscale Fell.  It's a short climb to the right along the fence line and then another short run up to the summit cairn.

having left the main path and now into the snow on the path along the fence line towards Lonscale Fell
summit of Lonscale Fell - not much to see
Back to the fence junction and the fence (and an old wall) lead you down, then steeply down.

The path crosses the fence and takes a ridge route along the wonderfully named promontory of Burnt Horse.

As you leave the ridge, the path continues through fields through a gate and heads on an easier gradient down towards the Cumbria Way track, just a bit before Skiddaw House.  From here it would have been an easy run around Lonscale Fell on the same track but I decided to try to pick up another path along the Glenderaterra Beck.  Checking afterwards reveals that I set off for the path a bit too early and ran over rougher ground than necessary but that I did pick up the track.  This eventually turned into a really nice track that took me down to Derwentfolds.  I followed the path and crossed the beck then ran up the road to the bottom of the Latrigg Path where I followed the old road through Brundholme Wood back into Keswick.

Lonscale Pike

Burnt Horse ahead after the steep descent


heading along the Burnt Horse path

back onto the Cumbria Way and looking along to Lonscale Pike

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hardly AC - Dodd

top of Dodd

Back again to Dodd.  Not much to say about it apart from a really lovely moonlit night and good crack on the way up and down.  Well done all.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cat Bells, Maiden Moor, High Spy

looking down onto Cat Bells

We had an early start today as I needed to be home for 10.30am. I set off from home at about 6.30am and we were running just after 7am.  We needed head torches at the very start but had turned them off and packed them away after the first of the two main steps on Cat Bells.

We parked at the usual spot just over the cattle grid on the road to Skelgill and then went the usual route up Cat Bells and over.  There were great views as the sun rose, the anticipated cloud inversions seemed to be happening over towards the Dodds and maybe deeper into Borrowdale.

We carried on up over Maiden Moor to High Spy.  Here, with an eye on time, we decided to drop down through the old Rigghead Quarries, peering into some mine openings but not chancing going in further.

This way down took us onto the Allerdale Ramble track which we followed to the road and then took the road for speed due to time limitations.

Nice morning run out.

a dark start

Keswick waking up

from High Spy looking over to Dale Head

one of the many mine entrances at Rigghead Quarries

back on the Allerdale Ramble track passing Castle Crag on the right

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hardly AC - Dodd

David, Jonathan and Alastair (I think) on top of Dodd

A bit of last minute organisation and we managed to get a group of seven together for an evening run around Dodd at Bassenthwaite.

The first mile is uphill and it's a test of pacing - all about getting into the slow uphill rhythm.

It levels out for a bit before winding up to Dodd summit.

What goes up, must come down and, after an initially steep descent, the gradient becomes much mellower and breezy as you sail downhill for a couple of miles.

Four and a half miles but including a good hill test.  This is a great, easy to follow, winter route on good ground.

Good to get out on a dark cold night.  Ideal running conditions if you ask me.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Four Lakeland Passes

Paul and Jonathan heading towards Buttermere along the old mine track over Honister Pass

A testing run today.  I woke up with a sore heel.  Plantar Fasciitis hurts the most in the mornings as your foot has been relaxed through the night.  A bit of walking around and stretching it out made it feel a bit better but I was still a bit nervous about taking on today's route, a reverse of the classic four lakeland passes route.  It's a Long Distance Walkers Association route, usually starting from Rosthwaite.  There used to be an event every year but we don't think it has been put on for a few years.

Our route started at Seathwaite Farm, we went along the road to the car park at Seatoller and took the track through the car park which meets up with the bridleway that runs alongside the road up to the Slate Mine.

I got my running sticks out here, something I was trying after winning them for getting a photo in Trail Running Magazine.  I thought it might make it a bit easier on my feet too.

Through the slate mine and we took the straight and direct old mine track over to Dubs Bothy and then down the really rocky track to Warnscale Bottom and along to Gatesgarth Farm.  We ran along the bottom of Buttermere Lake and then started the climb up Scarth Gap Pass.

Honister Youth Hostel and the slate mine
We had a little run along the top before picking up an initially muddy and then a nice track down the other side into Ennerdale and on to Black Sail Hut.  We were planning to refill water bottles here but saw that the hut is closed for the winter.  Paul filled his bottle up from Sail Beck - he needed to after swallowing a fly in Ennerdale.

We passed by the famous gate mentioned by Wainwright at the top of Black Sail Pass and then headed down the long descent into Wasdale.  Jonathan and I filled up on water from Gatherstone Beck at the point where the track crosses over it.

Down at Wasdale Head, Jonathan and I had a can of coke each and then we had an easy walk up the front of Great Gable to Sty Head.  I was tired at this point but not as tired as the last time I had a go at the route.

The path down to Stockley Bridge is rocky but I find that kind of terrain pretty good to run on and I was feeling good, really happy that my heel wasn't hurting.  Down at the bridge, it was just an easy mile or so back to the car.

Really really happy to get a decent distance in without any real heel issues.  The longest run I've done for a bit.  We celebrated with a pint in the Scafell Hotel.

heading down the very rocky path to Buttermere

our path down into Buttermere can be seen on the right hand side of the picture, starting from the corner and winding along Warnscale Bottom parallel to the beck on its left.  There is a group of trees on the near left side of the lake.  These are at the start of the climb back up this way over Scarth Gap Pass.

topping out on Scarth Gap Pass with cloud hanging over High Crag

heading down into the shadow of Ennerdale

top of Black Sail Pass and the famous gate mentioned by Wainwright

Paul heading down the other side of Black Sail into Mosedale

now at Wasdale, the track up the front of Great Gable is just visible in the centre of the picture.

Jonathan trides out the sticks.  The flat fields behind are at Wasdale.

passing Styhead Tarn

down at Stockley Bridge.  Seathwaite Fell behind.

Jonathan and Paul coming along the track back to the farm.

route elevation profile