Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This Week

Ran to the Pike from home last night where I met EYJ (still suffering slightly after Saturday's exposure), young Chris from Peter Ramsdale's squad, Albert, Mrs Albert, Mrs Albert's friend who fell out with Albert after falling in half way bewtween the mast and the Pike and yet another John, who without being canvassed, asked how he goes about joining the Harriers. This happens frequently because we make it all look so much fun and so easy.

Tuesday 31st ~ Wilderswood Car Park ~ 5:45

Thursday 2nd ~ Physio Clinic/Stocks on COR ~ 6:30

Saturday 4th ~ Bottom Barn ~ 8:30 a.m.

Equinox Do

Friday 8th October?



Yes, NLN, I remember Ian, but don't know where he appears from. He just seems to appear for a short while then merge back into the scenery again. I'm sure there's some mythical equivalent, but can't bring one to mind. The best I can do is that marine in that song; was it Cam O'Uflage, or was that the guy he saved?

Saturday ~ The Not So Swifts

After the parting of the ways outside Higher Whittaker Farm YJ and I continued on to Bucket Dog Farm, thence via the Witton Weavers Way, Belmont Rd and onto Spitlers. Then Hordern Stoops, Ammunition Corner, across the fields and back to the barn.

YJ had suggested that I may like to take in Winter Hill as well, but I was wet, cold, tired and ready for home.

As it so often seems to do, the sun came out as we lost height and we warmed up slightly as we all regrouped along with Alan and Christine on the car park.

About twelve and a half waterlogged miles.

Sunday saw me pricing heavy cags in Kirkby Lonsdale!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gordon’s Joss

No not that Gordon, (although it’s about time T’Y sorted himself out with one with all that Pyrennean fitness!) - Mr Johnson who FSS ran a couple of legs with on Sunday.  EtU served as a messaging service when Dave P-T was trying to establish if the party were on schedule, and only recognised one name that of FSS on Gordon’s submitted schedule.   Dave was able to meet the party on Middle Fell only as a result of being able to contact EtU, who then spoke to FSS on his mobile on Great End just before the gully descent.  It’s a small world, that of fellrunning and you’ll see why below as well. 

Despite appalling weather from midnight, when he started, right through ‘til lunchtime Sunday, Gordon was up on schedule and completed a sub-18 hour round despite having 24 to do so at age 65.

Gordon (1 of 7)

Breakfast at Dunmail, in driving rain and high winds

Ian Roberts who last week I referred to as Ian Parker (Bowland) and me took flasks and food up to Black Sail Pass and accompanied the runners up over Pillar before returning to Wasdale Head via the scree run/path at Wind Gap, just before Black Crag.  It turns out that Ian did exactly this on YJ’s BG – is that going back a bit YJ?  He also knows EtU.  So it was a bit of a surprise to him for me to reveal that we are all regular running partners.

Gordon (2 of 7)

Taking supplies up to Black Sail Pass in much improved conditions, although the gusting wind was still enough to knock you over.

Gordon (3 of 7)

Leg 4 runners – FSS ??? Gordon, Yiannis

A further coincidence was that of the runner who completed Legs 2 and 4 (above ???) – Nic’O should recognise this chap.  I’ll leave that one with you - any clues Nic’O?

Gordon (5 of 7)

Sunshine at the end – DP-T pushing the pace for a sub-18 hour completion

    Gordon (4 of 7)

Joss had visitors, but managed to welcome Gordon at the end – and to participate in a little fizz handed out by Yiannis with Ian Roberts on the right – remember this chap YJ and EtU

Gordon (6 of 7)

Another fantastic day in the hills. 

Scotland next weekend, FSS doing the Ben, so no UTUP Sat for me.


Water, Water, Everywhere

Heavy rain wasn’t just confined to the North West of England on Saturday.  Dramatic downpours resulted in mud slides and conditions so dangerous in the French and Italian Alps, that the Ultra Tour of Mont Blanc was cancelled.  Jez Bragg eventually won a much curtailed race which the organisers, North Face, came up with as an alternative.  Lizzie Hawker was the first lady – so hats off to the Brits in a highly acclaimed European line up.   Lots of distraught forumites where amongst the disappointed of Chamonix, one of whom, Alan Lucker was with us last weekend in Scotland.

But back to the North West, four determined runners set off from the Lower Barn EtU, EYJ, YJ and yours truly, having sheltered in the car for a while as a particularly heavy squall battered us.  Sadly there was no let up.  Having taken the Amble route over the Pike, Two Lads, WH and then up the green lane to Higher Whittaker Farm where we had a chat with Steve who was going to play golf (now that is mad) body temperatures were becoming dangerously low.

A decision  was taken for the group to split, with EYJ and myself backtracking and taking a route, which I think Nic’O has led previously somewhere around Longworth Clough, working our way back, eventually to Scout Road and up over Egg Hillock and Whimberry Hill, after which we paused momentarily.

Guess where?

 P's Sat Morning 001

Just before the dive!  Well we couldn’t get any wetter.

P's Sat Morning 004

We then made our way back down via the shooting hut and to the Two Lads again, Pike cottage and back.  Not having my Garmin with me, and trying to trace this on the map I made it 14.8miles.  We met up with the Sweatmans and YJ and EtU at the car park which was a good finish to the morning.  No doubt a report on the alternative route will be forthcoming.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

You Can Weasily Tell a Ferret...

...by the colour of its stoat.

Whilst grabbing a short run this morning, between downpours, I was privileged to see a weasel from quite close quarters just across the road from Albert's. It was in the undergrowth on the eastern side of the road and kept moving along in front of me wanting to cross to Albert's side. I stopped and it plucked up courage to cross over and disappeared into a garden. My best ever sighting of this smallest of Brtain's carnivores.

This reminded me that I had seen a hare a couple of weeks ago up near Scotsman's Stump. At the time it occured to me that if I had arranged to see t'Y the day after, using TLoB's vernacular, it would have been a case of "hare today, Goon tomorrow" ouch!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Brrr, in fact double Brrr

What a sterling effort that was! Me White Man, You Brave. I don't know about the Swimmerbraves but we spectators had goosebumps. And that was just our clothes! I've had a one-second discourse with myself and plumped for being a spectator again should the event be repeated next year.

Let's pretend we're looking forward to this.

Well, I suppose we'll have to get in sometime.

EtU contemplates turning back

Who's who

Mary takes the lead. Unfortunately it was Rafe's, so he spent the rest of the time threshing around in the water in a somewhat demented manner.

FSS surges away from NicO. Okay then, FSS inches away from NicO.

EtU establishes a commanding lead

EtU just gets in before Mary. Or should that be out? Sorry about the ungainly pose EtU.

The Brass Monkey expression.
NicO starts showing off now she's in the comfort zone. Well, near the end then.

I'm forever blowing bubbles.
About those pictures at the end of your blog NLN. Are you sure you've not mixed some holiday snaps in? There was no such weather coming down the ramp.

Stopped shivering at last. Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement. Brilliant pics NLN, we love the one where the competitors are setting a blistering pace following the whistle to start. I dont actually remember the whistle and seemed to forget it was a race in my attempts to survive the challenge without needing external assistance. Mr K's comment that I was very relaxed like I was on a gentle paddle on my own were quite near the mark. The concept of swimming faster paled into insignificance compared to braving the cold and even worse the darkness of the water. For those who haven't tried it, when you put your face in the water and open your eyes, in goggles, you can not see anything - it is like strong black coffee! Need more practice before any other outdoor swim challenges. Well done EtU on a great victory. My daugther though you looked very muscled indeed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open Water Swimming – Winter Hill

Awesome – freezing cold but this didn’t deter our brave (insane?) participants one iota.

 smithills swim (1 of 14)

where’s the sun then?  Not looking promising

smithills swim (2 of 14)

EtU points the way forward!   FSS is keeping that hood on as long as he can

smithills swim (3 of 14) 

Here they are  …. Nic’O, , EtU, FSS and Mary smithills swim (5 of 14)

It’s 7.00pm and TF has blown the whistle – a slightly, well… tentative start

smithills swim (6 of 14)

but they’re soon into the swim of itsmithills swim (7 of 14)

Cleo can’t believe what’s going on  – they must be mad, I’m not going in

smithills swim (4 of 14)smithills swim (8 of 14)

the spotters taking care of EtU and Mary

smithills swim (9 of 14)

Almost there FSSsmithills swim (10 of 14)

A deliriously happy to be finished Nic’O with MrK relieved that the madness is over

smithills swim (12 of 14)  …and then the sun came out on he hill and looking out to Manchester

smithills swim (14 of 14)

smithills swim (13 of 14)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Have whistle. Can blow. Have legs(not easily detectable and certainly not delectable). Will run. Specifically from the former Wrights Arms, up the ramp, over Counting Hill to the reservoir, in time for the big splash.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bill’s Ramsay Round

Having spent a very relaxing week with father-in-law in Aspull – well actually Southport and North Wales, Friday saw us heading north for some fun in the mountains to help Bill Williams on his Ramsay Round.  Bill has been defeated by the weather previously and the forecast wasn’t brilliant but the decision to go ahead was made and supporters all made their way to the Rucksack Club Hut at Craigallan, near Ballachulish.

 Ramsay Round (1 of 7) 

Weather was very changeable right from the start with high winds and heavy showers but the forecast was for improvement as Bill gets ready.

Ramsay Round (2 of 7)

Even Charlie came down to wish Bill well at the start

Ramsay Round (3 of 7)

and to say hello to Yiannis who completed a solo round in 2002

Ramsay Round (5 of 7)

Ramsay Round (4 of 7)   He’s off – disappearing through the trees

Ramsay Round (6 of 7)

First support point at the Dam at Firsit at Loch Trieg

FSS completed the second leg with Rhiannan arriving at a point about 4 miles beyond Lubeilt where Ian Parker (Bowland) and I had carried in supplies and set up a shelter.  The weather had deteriorated badly by this time and Ian and I and the two leg three runners were being lashed by heavy rain and strong winds.   Good job I’d had plenty of practice in the tent department recently but the darkness brought an extra level of fun to the proceedings.  Bill, Ian and Rhiannan appeared out of the gloom only a little behind schedule and were duly served with hot soup, coffee etc and then Bill and his two supporters were off leaving us to dismantle camp and stroll back to the Mamores Hotel (or as the Bowland runners refer to it - the Bates Motel!) at Kinlochleven.  Conditions by now were pretty foul and it became a struggle for our two runners to maintain body heat, making the walk out of about 8 miles or so with the backpacks fairly challenging.

The hot shower at Craigallan at about four in the morning was more than welcome – it’s not like summer is it?

Ramsay Round (7 of 7)

Well, Bill completed the round with all the summits ticked but over the 24 hours, which given the conditions was a huge achievement.  He can now relax with a couple of weeks climbing in Cornwall.

I now have a new set of bites but thankfully the midges of Scotland are not nearly as bad as the mozzies of Canada.

FSS and I will be at the swim – traffic permitting, I’ll have a camera with me and FSS will have his wetsuit!

Looking forward to a run out on Saturday UTUP – no running done for quite a bit now but hoping for 15m.


Pythagoras ~ Correction

No, not to his theorem, but to my use of it.

FSS has pointed out that my method of arriving at the distance between two grid references is flawed when the two points are in differently lettered 100km squares. Lancashire as far south as Bolton, west into the Irish Sea, north as far as South Lakes and east into Gordonland is all in square SD, so it works for all this area.

But when the two points straddle a vertical boundary, you need to put a 1 in front of the more eastern first three numbers and when they straddle a horizontal boundary put a 1 in front of the most northerly second three numbers.  If they straddle both, put a 1 in front of both ~ simples?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ducks & Drakes

Have you seen the forecast for Thursday? Us spectators might get as wet as the swimmers.



Having whetted your appetites (or not) by an earlier mention of applying trigonometry to grid references, here's what you do:-

Using six figure references take the first three digits of one reference from the first three of the second and square the result. Do the same with the last three digits and square that result.  Add the two squares together and take the square root of the sum.  This gives you the straight line distance between the two points in multiples of 100 metres.

All together now... The square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares...

As I believe we say nowadays ~ simples.

This Week

Tuesday 24th ~ UTUP

Thursday ~ The Not So Des Res:- see previous posts

Saturday ~ UTUP

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Failed to get to Sedbergh - luckily

For probably the first time in nearly three months, I slept past 7 and didn't wake up till 8.40. No problem I tough still got plenty of time to get up there for the traditional noon start. Finishing my breakfast at 9.15, I had a look on the web to see if anyone had posted last night wanting to lift share. As there had been no posting about the race at all on the FRA forum, I decided to double check that I'd got the right day. Then I saw it - 11am start. Oh sh1t - 1hr45 to make sure I've got everything, get there, park at the school and get across and register - possible but cutting it very fine.
Common sense prevailed - thought there is no point busting a gut to get there - could go and do a training run in the Howgills but is it worth the near 3 hour round trip.
Decided to do JtE's Great Hill route in the afternoon. Quite warm but no problem apart from the masses of people and cars to thread through around Rivington. Got to White Coppice in 45 with a bit of wind against me - not fast but okay. Up to Great Hill, stopping to have a chat with an LDWA walker I know : a bit behind time but I suppose it's a bit wet underfoot. Just over 30 minutes descent to the car park. Not fast but okay. Through the Chinese Gardens then quite quickly my legs are dead and can hardly run at all, having to walk bits of the descent to Rivi school. Final time 2hrs 22 - maybe knock off 5 minutes for stops but as slow as I've done for year and I think I've run it in under 1:50 a few years ago.
So obviously the weight loss is fine for short distances but I've no stamina. I would have really suffered at Sedbergh. I will just have to build up my strength and stamina gradually.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Backpacking Practice

For those in the know one of my challenges for this year is the Rab Mountain Marathon (25/26th Sept). This is a 2 day navigating event done in teams of 2 or solo, with a remote campsite midway. It's a 'score' event, which means find as many controls as you can in 6hrs on the first day and 5hrs on the second.

I'm soloing, so wanted to practice to make sure I'd got my kit etc sorted. To make the practice as realistic as possible, the car had to say at home. Some amount of planning later and I'd come up with the following

Day 1 (Friday 20th Aug)
Train from Bolton to Penrith
Taxi from Penrith to Pooley Bridge
Walk the JN Route from Pooley Bridge to Stoney Cove Pike, where I would turn NW and drop down to Brotherswater and camp overnight at the Sykeside campsite

Day 2 (Saturday 21st Aug)
Walk from Brotherswater to Ambleside (via route to decide on day)
Bus from Ambleside to Windermere
Train from Windermere to Bolton

Well it weren't cheap. I'd pre-booked the campsite but all other outlays were made on the day. Total sum was a whopping £73 (including campsite fee). Ok the taxi was a bit extravagant, but only option to fit in with logistics. Next time I'll pre-book the train tickets, single Bolton-Penrith £27:50 on the day, web price £9.

After all that, didn't see a thing yesterday. Set off from Pooley Bridge at 10:00am and arrived at campsite at 16:00pm. I'll admit to skirting some of the summits, it was pretty grim conditions, but my kit was dry even if I wasn't. Early pace was pretty much on the JN 24hr schedule, dropped off towards the end as found it a lot harder going scrambling with a heavier pack, (very tricky getting up to Stoney Cove Pike). Didn't realise how much I use my arms to pull myself up.

Today I took the path up over Scandale Pass and dropped down into Ambleside. Not the easiest option, I could have got the Bus back!

See you all on Thursday

The Swim

For the avoidance of doubt:-

Assembly point SD 676 135 at 7:00 pm (1900 hours) BST Thursday 26th August 2010 AD.

Splash off soon after.

If driving part way there and you're not confident of finding parking on the road approaching the Trespass Stone, I think there's parking on Walker Fold Road round about 692 128 less than two miles away.

Do you know that you can work out the straight line distance between two grid references using trigonometry? Watch this space.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A good week - but not the first to retain t'cup

Yes, I have retained the Fielden Cup but I'm not the first to do it. H.K. Williams won in 1955 & 56 and C.E. Stringfellow in 51 & 52 (any relation to Mark?) so after trying in vain for 20 years for a first win, I'm the third in the trophy's 112 year history to successfully defend it.
I did manage to convince Pete land that one victory over Mr Ramsdale back in February (and none since) was insufficient evidence to force me give him a start. If were a gambling man, my money would have been on Ali, who made a last minute decision to race. To be honest I doubt the handicapping could have been any better. Pete set off slightly quicker than me. I caught him just before the first turn by the bowling club and he then sat on my shoulder until near the end of the out-run on The Street. He overtook about 20m before the turn but I hung on and realised that I wasn't going flat out so re-took the lead which tactically may not have been the best thing to do but I went for it.
The margin of 4 seconds shows how close it was and it was virtually a dead heat between Pete and Ali. Pete must have dipped better. I don't recall the exact time but doubt that Neil was more than 4 seconds further back, with the fastest time of the night.
I suspect that a number were missing because of the fell race but if you don't buy a ticket, you ain't going to win the lottery.

So the handicapper was not to blame - I needed to improve from 15:28 to 14:08 to beat the handicapper.

Anyone up for Sedbergh?

Having had only one run since last Saturday lasting a miserable 45 mins. at that, I'll miss this Saturday. I need to get back into a routine so that I can make Saturdays worth turning out for. I thought time was freeing up but it isn't. I'll confirm whether or not I can be a "minder" on Thursday as soon as possible. Weather permitting it would be a good excuse for a long run from home and back. Though it's more likely to be from the former Wrights Arms.

A Good Week for Yorkshire

Not only has that county enjoyed a short visit from three Lancastrian fell runners, but one of its sons seems to have been the first person to win the Fielden Cup two years in succession ~ is that right Gordon?

Mind you, I blame the handicapper.

Dennis Stitt Memorial Race

Did this because it's in the Horwich fell championship and I thought it would be a good wheeze to grab a few points and move further up the rankings than my miserable form justifies.

The venue, Cartworth Moor Cricket Club, high on the moors above Holmfirth, at 1,014 ft above sea level, is reputed to be the loftiest cricket ground in the north of England and possibly second highest in the UK ~ do they play cricket in Scotland?

This altitude gave the race (which I don't think should be in the fell calender at all) a strange character, in that the first quarter of the race was downhill, the second quarter was back uphill to the start and the second half (similar to the second verse of Joe Brown's song "I'm 'enry the Eighth") was the same as the first. At no time were we on open fell, just tracks, fields, a wood and road, twice.

Despite this, a fun evening; Tony Varley picked up first V60, Albert was third V50 and I was last man and, job done, now equal sixth in the Horwich fell championship.

Wonder what the Tour will bring.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

UTUP or races this weekend?

This weekend seems to offer up a choice of racing with Darwen Gala Fell Race on Saturday and Sedbergh Hills on Sunday and many more alternatives. I really ought to have a go at Sedbergh to see if the weeks at altitude has made any difference to how I cope with a longer race.
And where was everyone last night. Probably the lowest ever turnout for the Fielden Cup resulted in the defending champion retaining to trophy - shouldn't really happen. But happy that I reduced my time by 1 minute 20.
I'm still planning to try the swim but have not done any outdoor water training so it remains to be seen, or not, whether I venture into the water. David and I did run past it about 2 weeks ago but not sure that was helpful because I didn't feel the desire to get in and try it out.
Let you know if I back out.
Love all the photos. It's like going on holiday without all the effort of going on holiday.

Not Very Des Res

Taking account of inputs so far, suggest we assemble at 7:00 and splash off as soon as all interested parties are ready.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Res swim

I don't mind being a lifeguard so long as I can keep dry, so everyone has to promise not to drown. Lack of swim training relegates me to the sidelines. What time is the proposed 'swim off' as I've got an appointment in Horwich until about 6:10/6:15pm so I'll probably need to drive round to Scout Road and access the Res from there. I'm guessing I can manage 6:45-7:00pm.


I am slowly getting back to running (very slowly) after the long lay off managing 9.5 miles of mixed terrain around Hampshire on Sunday with no ill effects. The problem is still there but diminishing and I plan to test the foot further tomorrow with a run from the bottom barn, route not yet decided.

I shall be at UTUP on Saturday and will make a late decision on whether to run with the squad or take it more easy.
Reservoir bogs

I'm well into training for the ressie swim but am not sure how the old bones will cope with the cold water. Has anyone taken the temperature on a typical evening? I will turn up ready to swim but won't be able to manage a minder so if anyone else is short of support I will bring a whistle just in case.
Austria pics

NLN asked for some holiday snaps so blame her. Not as spectacular as the Rockies, in fact the least spectacular of our Austrian excursions. I was out of my depth on Saturday whilst the rest of the gang were pretty impressive. My flourish at the end was only because I'd missed out Great Hill. It's not good when I have to cut corners.

On the way up to Kitzbuhler Horn(1996 mtrs). Our first walk, so with over 4000 ft of climbing Christina did well. Had I realised beforehand I'd have left it for another day.

The start of the Hahnenkamm ski course which is featured on Ski Sunday. I'm not sure if the guy's looking at the info about next year's races or if he can't believe what he's seeing in the opening!

Bar behind our hotel in waterproofs(me not the bar) after 3hrs of rain out of a 6 hr mountain walk

A seriously large piece of meat at the Kitzbuhel festival

A well-earned pint in Kitzbuhel after a 8 hour hike in the mountains.

Some small goat-like "critters"

Coming down from the aptly named Staffkogel(2115 metres). We climbed over 4600ft which is a compliment to Christina as she doesn't walk the hills much.

A ridge we walked last year on our way to Sonnspitze(2062 mtrs)north of Staffkogel.


The Hinterglemm valley where we stayed last year. It was nice to come across places we'd been to previously.

View from our balcony of the Wilder Kaiser range

Schwarzsee just outside Kitzbuhel with Kitzbuheler Horn in the background and Christina's boat in the foreground. The squares on the blue mat are for a triathlon which was due just after we left.