Sunday, 10 March 2013

NOT The High Peak Marathon

As often happens in sport, the best laid plans of mice and men......... Last weekend, I was supposed to be running the High Peak Marathon but over the last two weeks the team of 4 had fallen apart at the seams with injuries. Though I was looking forward to the race, it was really just a means to an end in order to get a good long work out in difficult terrain and enjoy the craic of running in a team instead of individually. With this in mind, I made some other plans and decided to take in a couple of legs from the Bob Graham Round.

When I mentioned this at work, Simon (our Headmaster) jumped at the chance to have a look at part of this classic route, so we arranged to meet up after work on Friday and have a yomp round the first leg, taking in Skiddaw, Great Calva and Blencathra, before running back to Keswick along the old railway line. This would Simon's longest mountain adventure to date and he couldn't have picked a better night to have a look at the route.

Simon on Skiddaw at sunset
We had a fantastic evening, and enjoyed a wonderful sunset from the top of Skiddaw before dropping off into the shadow where the temperature took a dive. As we climbed Great Calva, the light started to fade rapidly and we had our head torches on soon after the top as we started the descent.

Sunset from the top of Skiddaw
We took a slightly longer route to Blencathra to avoid the steep drop off Calva and the wider crossing of the river Caldew, but as we started the slog up towards the Cloven Stone we had a chat, mulling over the time of day (late!) and the fact that we did not have micro-spikes with us, eventually making the sensible decision to drop back down to Glenderaterra and head back to Keswick. We had a great night out, covering about 16 miles in 3:48 hours and I suspect it has planted a small seed in Simon's mind about a Bob Graham round in future years.

 That was only half of my plan, so the next morning I caught a bus out to Threlkeld with the intent of running leg 2 of the BG, along the Dodds, taking in Helvellyn and Fairfield, finishing at Dunmail Raise. I don't think I have been up on this route since my own Bob Graham round back in 2007. Back in those days I knew every blade of grass on the route but still thought it prudent to take map and compass with me (it's just a comfort thing) and I spent most of the run remembering BG recces and, obviously, the round itself. As I went further south, the snow and ice got thicker but there was always enough safe ground about, meaning I didn't have to stop and put my Yaktrax on. The views were stunning and I particularly enjoyed seeing a frozen Grisedale Tarn with Fairfield behind.

Grisedale Tarn
The whole adventure really got my mojo going for life back on the high fells after a couple of years of running the lower trails - so there is just one more tweek to add into the training equation. How many tweeks make a full change? It was a great couple of outings and another back to back grouping, the old legs seem to have coped well enough so I'm starting to feel like my fitness is going in the right direction and, so far, the slight rise in mileage is working.

I've had a nice easy week since then, with just 4 sessions, but plan a much bigger week from tomorrow, finishing off with a long day out either on the West Highland Way or, more likely, the Lakeland 100 route - depending on the weather/work/domestics.

Two Bob Graham legs from Recovery Beyond on Vimeo.


Ali Bryan-Jones said...

Great photos Dave. There's nothing quite like being on top of a mountain at night when you know that most sensible people would be at home or in the pub.

Mark Denham-Smith said...

Excellent Dave - we must get out for a run sometime - are you about over Easter?