Saturday, 23 November 2013

Today's fell running gear

My plan for today was a 28km route from Glossop, over Kinder, round the Kinder Downfall route and back to Glossop. I've written about the run on my post, Frozen Glory.

So what did I carry for this run? Heading out solo onto Kinder is not to be undertaken lightly. Although a popular route for walkers and runners, and with a good (though cold) forecast here's what I packed:

OMM 6ltr bumbag (whistle is integral)
Sol Emergency Bivi bag
Waterproof trousers
Waterproof OMM smock
Food & water
3x handwarmers (I did think I'd need to crack one so took 2 spare, as it was none were used)
Big warm waterproof gloves
Warm hat + windproof beanie
Spare buff
Money (first time I've ever needed this in an emergency, not that this was an emergency, if you know what I mean!)
(no map as I know the route/area very well, but I do have viewranger on my phone just in case)
Phone in waterproof pouch
Torch - zipka - it does go dark every day, and even though I wasn't planning to be out late I always have one with me

Plus I was wearing:
Mountain Equipment Ultratherm jacket - wonderful and warm, but not too hot and great to just unzip when I need to vent.
Thin gloves
Long running tights
Base layer
Blister-inducing Orocs!!

What I should have had with me:
Compeed + plasters + tape
Different shoes for this one today

Brief comments on the INOV8 Orocs:
Apart from obviously giving me a blister, which is fairly standard for some new shoes I'm reasonably happy with how they performed. They are very loud and obvious when you're on tarmac, and though I would love to not run on tarmac at all there's the bits from home to open country/paths that are just not possible to avoid. On frozen ground the shoes were lovely, very confidence inspiring. But, on total glassy ice on the flagstones they were lethal...just as any shoe would be. I had hoped with the studs they'd give some grip on ice but no such luck. I'll report in again once I've worn them again.

Frozen Glory

Today dawned crisp and clear. A great day for a long run. I'd pondered going to Pendle with Tim and doing my own long run version of the full tour but decided I'd like to be home by lunch rather than spending time travelling.

My plan was to set out from Glossop, go up to Chunal cabin, Mill Hill, then around the Kinder Downfall fell race and return home whichever way took my fancy. Being icy and crunchy underfoot I thought today was a good opportunity to break the Orocs out of the box. They've patiently been waiting in the cupboard since May. The temperature was set to stay around freezing until mid morning, and setting out at 8.30am I reckoned on the ground staying hard all the way round. It did. Great.

Wormstones catching the morning rays, taken near Chunal cabin
Looking down on Mill Hill as I climb up onto Kinder edge path
James Thorn and Higher Shelf Stones in the sunshine, distant right horizon
What's not so great is that I had to abandon my run in Hayfield. I'd felt a small niggle in my left heal fairly early on but dismissed it as a new-shoe-twinge. Sadly by Kinder Downfall it was a hot spot verging on blister but I didn't want to look. I didn't want it to be real.

Kinder Downfall...a little ice but mostly white foam 
I could have gone back home from the downfall, but took a big swig of HTFU and continued. I ignored the growing pain, tightened my laces and carried on running on what otherwise was an absolutely amazing run. I was going slowly, but this was a planned 28km run so no speeding required. The views were stonking. So so clear....I could make out distant chimneys and power stations on the west coast easily. Looking eastwards there were smoke stacks I couldn't place...Nottingham perhaps? Certainly in that direction by a long way.

Kinder Low trig point with Hope cement works chimney in the distant right

Mount Famine and South Head
I paused briefly at the LuvShack (those of you who know this place know where I mean) to beg a plaster...cheers Andy!! I was now seriously contemplating bailing in Hayfield and had been doing so but shutting out those thoughts since Kinder Low trig. Damn. Such a good day. Feeling so good about this long run. Perhaps the pain will bugger off now I'd put on a plaster. Would the magic of a 5cm bit of sticky plaster work? Running from Bowden Bridge through the campsite I swiftly turned across the river and up the hill to test the heal pain 'going up' a short stretch. The route I had planned would involve probably another 400-500m ascent and about 13km. On the tiny uphill section my heal screamed at me to stop. Damn. Bailing it was.

After loitering around Hayfield for about half an hour I got the bus back to Glossop (£2.60 if you ever need this option). The wait gave me plenty of time to would it have been if I'd carried on? Did I make the right decision? Well yes I did. But sitting here typing in my fluffy slippers and no pain with the sun still beaming down on the hills I so so wish I could have continued. I'll do the route again soon, this time maybe not wearing new shoes. Perhaps that was a foolish error, not to worry, I'm keen and human! Plus, I'm home and safe.

I've written a short blog on the equipment I used/carried today here.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Snowy night run

Another Tuesday night, another Glossopdale Harriers club night run. Five of us were out plus our four legged friend Elsa - complete with her own reflective collar. Our route took us from the Leisure Centre, through Manor Park, up to Swineshaw Reservoir and up through the forest. What I hadn't figure on was bumping into a tractor with a herd of cows following it down the track. Rather oddly the farmer shut the gate and kept the cows in the field, rather than taking them further down - this meant they could just wander back up the hill from where he'd fetched them. Not to worry, they did delay us slightly but we only had to do a slight detour to avoid us having to push through the herd. They did seem rather attracted to our lights and followed us up the hill a little, but thankfully lost interest before we emerged higher up in the field.
The tractor
Climbing steadily the obvious paths in the daytime sort-of-eluded us a little. There are many little trods up onto Cock Hill, and we eventually found a good one that took us straight to the trig point.

At Cock Hill trig point - from the left: Zoe, Elsa the dog, Becky, Alison, Steve
Glossop way below our vantage point
Ladies Captain Alison modelling the club long sleeved vest at Cock Hill trig

The grass and trods were wonderfully sprinkled with snow and the freezing temperature meant underfoot was rather crunchy. Everything glistened beautifully in our head torches. 

Our route took us from the trig point higher up to Glossop Low cabin, and a little further to the spot height at 481m so we could look towards Holme Moss mast. The night was so clear it felt like the mast was much closer than it is. Earlier in the run we'd seen Winter Hill mast way over to the north of Manchester, and from our elevated position we could make out both very clearly. 

50% of our feet, Elsa included
The run off Cock Hill was lovely, easy underfoot with good grip from my Mudclaw 300s. With thicker socks than I'd worn in the morning my feet were lovely and warm. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Snowy Dawn Patrol

Today's dawn patrol run took me and Tim to a secret location. If you're in the Glossopdale Harriers (and Pennine) then you'll know all about the goodie box Tim has been hiding in various locations. Today's pre-dawn run was to place the box once more. Apart from knowing we went above the snow line there's no other clues coming from me about this new location, just a couple of photos:

My almost new Mudclaw 300s having their first taste of snow
Definitely snow....not just a frost
There is something most satisfying about getting out of bed and going for an early run. Today's run was one of the more spectacular in recent times. As we left the edge of Glossop there were signs of frost, yet not frost. Too damp really to be frost, though there was a slight covering of ice on car windscreens. We ran higher, clag hiding the view and sunrise from us. I did a short bit of running without my torch, all good practice. Then within a matter of moments there was enough light for torches to be turned off and put away. My feet were starting to feel the chill of the snow underfoot and the foggy clag rolled in and out revealing the hillside before us. A glistening almost full moon still high in the sky beamed through the murk. And then, daylight, and a good smattering of snow. 

With the goodie box nicely hidden, both our gps watches recorded the location, we were off on our way home. Horses which we could barely make out not 30 minutes earlier were now clearly visible and the owl we heard twit-twoo-ing had long gone with the dawn.

My Mudclaw 300s have now done about 100km and I'm really liking them. The grip is much better than x-talons (or are my x-talons just quite worn down?!) and my foot is surrounded by more fabric so they should in theory be a little cosier. Today's chill was partly down to sock choice, not knowing it was going to be wet and snowy underfoot, and partly a bit of loitering around.

What a magical run. I'll reveal a couple of other photo's later, once the goodie box location has been revealed.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Bog Trotting

Lovely run up onto Bleaklow today, quite windy blowing in from the west but beautifully clear. Here's a few photos to give you an idea of the terrain I was on...
Looking towards Grinah Stones from Higher Shelf trig
Higher Shelf trig point, and the highest point on today's run
New-ish mudclaw 300s enjoying the boggyness of the run and performing very well
Near Dog Rock, looking over to The Pike, with Shelf Benches and James Thorn behind
Looking up Dowstone Clough
I was nicely surprised to reach the trig point via Doctors Gate in just under an hour, I reckon that is my quickest time up that route to date. Here's my strava log:

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Twinkle Twinkle

Last night was club running night. I did what I often do - I looked at the planned route and knew that attempting to run that route would not be entirely enjoyable because of the distance and pace some of the (mostly) guys go at. So, I planned an easy run, just about 8km and the idea was to go slow, get used to running in the dark, and have a social run rather than a full on night time training expedition at tempo pace. Sorry guys, but that's what the regular club runs feel like to me sometimes (most of the time? which is clearly the point of training runs, but darkness on top of pace isn't easy for me)!

Anyway, seven of us gathered and headed out with the clear rule that no-one runs alone, and we run at the pace of the slowest....most of all, we were to enjoy it. Which we did. Quite wonderfully. There was no pressure, plenty of stops, walking on some slightly technical bits of terrain, definitely walking most of the uphill bit, and a wonderful lights-out pause at the top of Lightside to appreciate the view, the stars and how lucky we are to live in a fabulous place with the hills on our doorstep. You really don't need to go very far from the streets of Glossop to be away from everything.

Twinkling lights of Glossop from the top of Lightside
I'm much more positive about running at night now. While I can run during the day because of the way my work is scheduled I do miss the social aspect of club runs so my easy/short runs with the club will be a great way of keeping the social side up over the coming months. I'm aiming for at least one night run every fortnight.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Glossopdale Harriers Away Weekend: Patterdale, Lake District

dropping down to Angle Tarn
You never quite know what the weather is going to be in the UK, let alone the Lake District in November. Well, 18 of the Glossopdale Harriers gang headed to Patterdale youth hostel this weekend and were blessed with (almost) totally glorious weather. Sunshine, autumnal colours blazing from the trees and hillsides, blue skies.....oh, and a couple of exfoliating hail/sleet/snow showers to make the mountain running weekend complete. Well, we wouldn't be fell runners if there wasn't some 'weather' to enjoy.

Of course there was running, there was cake, beer, lots of food and to John S's surprise an impromtu birthday celebration with a literally celebration hat! (photo below). Saturday's run was on mass, all of us setting off on a vague Ian Hodgson relay route with the option for various bail out points. Weather and inclination would dictate how far each of us would go.

Heading out from the start of leg 1 we made our way up Stony Rigg and past Angle Tarn, skirting under Rest Dodd we climbed up The Knott and on to Racecourse Hill trig point. All the time, the sun is shining, there was a chill to the air but it was OK as long as we kept running. Looking back northwards the sky was entertaining us with distant falling showers and some fabulous mini rainbows.

We were also very lucky to see a couple of good sized herds of deer not too far away. In the group photo below the deer are on the hillside behind, too far away to see on this photo though.

almost at Racecourse Hill

Thorntwaithe Crag Beacon (its about 14ft high)
We were now running on a smattering of hail/snow, my first wintry conditions of the season (slight giddiness may have caused childlike grins). Next up was Thornthwaite Crag and the spectacular beacon that marks the high point. There then followed an unexpectedly airy (to my vertiginous head) and rocky descent, before a steep climb up on to Stoney Cove Pike. I was now very much aware of the incoming showers which had a distinctly wintry tinge to them. Sure enough, by the time me and Tim had reached the summit of Stoney Cove Pike we were sheltering on the lea side of a stone wall putting on extra big gloves and pulling up buffs over our ears/mouth. The wind was whipping up and once we'd regrouped we moved on quickly, hail smashing directly into our faces and me wishing I'd got my peaked cap with me. I did in fact end up putting my OMM Smock on top of my Mountain Equipment Ultratherm jacket because the hail/rain was pretty torrential - but only so I could make use of the small peak on the smock. The Ultratherm was performing very well in the conditions apart from that.

Birthday John in his Celebrations Hat

Soon enough we were descending the final steep section and all stood at the roadside by Kirkstone Pass Inn. After a brief pause there was a natural split in the group. A few of us decided to continue down straight away, heading down the pass to the youth hostel (thereby bagging the first showers!), some ducked in the pub for refreshments, while a group of seven (with Tim leading the way) continued up Red Screes and down Hartsop-above-How. I'd have loved to have joined that group but totally accepted that there was going to be quite a bit more ascent (maybe 500m looking at Tim's route) and it would be longer, and on top of that the weather. As it was, I did over 1100m ascent and 24km. A very decent run out for me. The evening passed wonderfully, lots of discussions and merriment over dinner and in the pub - quickly for some followed by an early night.

Today dawned so beautifully - calm blue skies and the hill tops nicely covered in snow. We couldn't resist a quick wander up Red Screes on the way home. We always knew another big day out was unlikely given yesterdays long day, but the hill beckoned - so much so that Tim went up twice! I settled for coffee in the car and the binoculars to watch his speedy progress up and down.

Our shadows on top of Red Screes....Helvellyn is the one in the distance (in cloud!)

Looking east from the top of Red Screes