Friday, July 25, 2014

Coca-Cola River, Higher Shelf Stones and the B29 Superfortress

July has been splendidly hot and there may be those that argue that it has been too hot and resorted to splashing around in cooling water. Rather than be roasted by the afternoon sun we set off at 0930 from the Snake Summit in search of the B29 Superfortress on Higher Shelf stones. In beautiful sunshine and the cool morning air we headed north along the Pennine way towards Bleaklow.

Setting Off

Higher Shelf Stones in the Distance
On our way to Higher Shelf stones we had a few pauses. We examined a stripy and furry caterpillar wriggling across the footpath. We stopped to munch delicious Bilberrys, Louis called them Blue Bils which we all thought was a good name. Keisha and Louis christened the petey water of the stream the Coca-Colar river and derived great pleasure from scrambling over the rocks in the stream bed.

Caterpillar roving across the martian landscape

Bilberries that are juicy to eat

I've just eaten a Bluebil!?

Coca Cola River
Well what can I say, it was warming up and following Keisha and Louis example of splashing around I decided to jump into a puddle it was refreshing to feel the cooling water on my legs.  We all had a turn at jumping into a muddy puddle, here is Keisha's turn

Suspended in mid-air.

It was eventually time to turn off the Pennine way and head towards  Higher Shelf Stones, the path from Hern Stones was quite faint with the newly seeded grass on the moors. We enjoyed yomping across the beautiful wide open moor. Where was the B29, K and L kept asking, "it's on that hill over there, it's not far". We had the fun of dropping into the occasional peat grough and scrambling up the steep sides, there was that freaky sense of loss of direction.

Louis enjoyed yomping over the rough moor
Hooray, we finally arrived at the B29
Finally we arrived at the crash site, there is a lot of wreckage


The memorial to the crew of the B29 superfortress

Louis enjoyed looking at the engines
Keisha was quite disturbed by the wreck, she studied the writing on the memorial carefully and talked about it over the following few days.  The story of this is described at the Peak District Air Accident Research website. After wandering around the crash site we walked to the summit of Higher Shelf stones for a well deserved lunch.
The trig point on Higher Shelf Stones

These rocks on higher shelf stones are covered in graffiti
Our walk down was fun we became fell racers jogging along the path, we found a waterfall and a very deep valley. It's miles back to the car and we have to do this seemingly huge detour around the valley! Tiredness was setting in it was time to start some games once again we were in search of the Coca-Cola river.
We wandered back across the moor

Scrambling up the stream bed

Louis wandering in the tall grass

Louis fell over and needed a cuddle
Louis is a typical boy falling over and with permanently scraped knees. Keisha, counted the number o f times Louis fell over, 8 in total. The final fall today resulted in a bleeding knee and elbow on the flag stones of the Pennine Way. I got my water bottle out washed the wound and hoped the cooling effect would ease the discomfort. Louis sobbed and hobbled back along the path, after a cuddle from his sister I relented and he enjoyed a carry on my shoulders. We enjoyed the cooling breeze on this hot summer day and after an ice cream at the Curbar gap we realised just how hot the day was! It was so pleasent up in the high peak.

Our route on MapMyRun

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Together for Short Lives: Peak District Adventure 50 Mile Challenge

The day has finally arrived! For the last few months I've been running 5 days a week with long distance runs at the weekend. The objective was to run 50 miles around the Peak District in memory of Amanda's sister, Tanya, who died aged 15 months. We decided to raise money for the charity Together for Short Lives. I was the willing victim selected by our fundraising team to run the 50 miles.

The route started from Yorkshire Bridge and included well known hills such as Win Hill, Lose Hill, Mam Tor, Rushup Edge, Brown Knoll, Kinder Scout, Mill Hill, Bleaklow, Margery Hill and Back Tor. The last half of the route went over the famous Peak District Gritstone edges, Derwent, Stanage, Burbage, Froggatt, Curbar, Baslow and finally finished at  the Robin Hood Inn near Birchen Edge. The first part of the route is described in detail here Dark Peak 50 Mile Classic: Part 1.

After a pasta tea, a porridge supper and an early night, I was collected by Pete at 03:45. I thought the excitement was the run but it was the drive through the dark, mist and rain. Pete was keen to get to the start... the adventure had started!

 Head torch at the ready a dark rainy morning at Yorkshire Bridge.
It was great to meet Charles at our first checkpoint (Mam Nick). Charles car was an Aladdins cave of supplies, I stuffed my face!
Gordon and Pete at the Jacobs ladder checkpoint. At this point we were both wet through we had to keep moving to avoid becoming chilled. Given the good conditions it was so good to reach our check point and take on board some food and drink.
 As we emerged out of the mist we saw our wonderful support team.
 They all cheered us on it was so exciting.

Amanda had prepared a fresh fruit salad this was a wonderful treat. Apparently soon after this point Pete enjoyed a humongous bacon sandwich. I took advantage of the stop and changed into my "Together for Short Lives" shirt. I appreciated the donation of quality socks provided by the SockMine. My first pair of socks were damp, I found this surprising. After the conditions on Brown Knoll that we had just experienced the socks should be dripping wet. My shoes have a hole in the top (where my toe pokes through). The next section of the route has more extended sections of peat bog. There was plenty of opportunity for soggy feet so the sock change was appreciated. I looked through my kit and realised that I did not have my mobile phone, what a disaster! Fortunately I remembered where it had been left. Pete let me borrow his mobile phone but the real heroic act was his offer to head back up Win Hill to retrieve my lost mobile!

Louis was surprised as I set off north on the Pennine way  to start the Bleaklow section. Apparently Louis could not understand why I kept heading off into the distance. This route over Bleaklow, Swains head, Howden Edge, Outer Edge, Margery Hill, Round Hill, Back Tor and Derwent edge is described here Dark Peak 50 Mile Classic: Part 2. As time progressed the mist lifted and the weather improved markedly.

Gordon caught the bus from Fairholmes to King's Tree, He had an epic walk to meet me because he missed one of the buses. If I kept up my pace he would be in danger of missing me. Gordon had already had an early morning at the top of Jacobs ladder so he was doing really well.  During the wait on this 27 mile section of the route the support team found entertainment and enjoyed cups of tea at Fairholmes. The children collected feathers and found a friendly baby duck which they christened Yellow. Note, there is not a petting area here, are you really supposed to pick the ducks up.  Fran had a really long wait Gordon arrived back at Fairholmes at 1640.

The route across Bleaklow was fine, I followed the line of stakes along the Derwent watershed. With the recent re-seeding there was a lot of new growth, this  made the going a little harder as you could not see where you are placing your feet. I met Gordon between Outer Edge and Margery Hill. It was so good to meet Gordon,  we set a bearing towards Round Hill. Gordon was heading back down Abbey Brook to return to Fairholmes. I headed for the track which would take me to Back Tor. I attempted to stay well hydrated and ate "bird seed balls" (actually a bounce energy ball) supplying protein and energy for the run ahead. When I regained the path after round hill the pace picked up again  and I carried on to Moscar. It was a shame because I missed the checkpoint. That was disappointing for both the support team and myself. I sent a text to let the team know that I had missed them and gave them an estimated time for arriving at Burbage. Fluid was running low, Amanda would have been proud because I was taking on board sensible quantities of fluid.

I had felt fantastic all day and as I proceeded up Stanage edge my morale dropped the reason for this was simply my pace on this climb dropped to a walk. In training I told myself that I'd run this. After this event I'll treat myself to a run along Stanage and make sure I jolly well run! After the loneliness of Bleaklow, Stanage was heaving with hoardes of jangling climbers and lots of walkers. As I reached the popular end I started to have some fun picking up my pace again. The pictures below show my greeting at Burbage what fun we all had running along.

I was restocked with fluid Clare thrust a bottle into my hand and said that I had to drink everything, Amanda had passed these instructions on. Something which motivated me on this section was the idea of meeting up with my running friends for the final section of the route (described at Dark Peak 50 Mile Classic: Part 3). From left to right me, Pete, Bryce and Angela.

The children followed us along the path as we headed for the Green drive. It was great to run and natter. 

Once again we missed the support team we were supposed to meet near the Longshaw wooden pole. I think our fresh footed runners headed off at a good pace. We eventually met up at Curbar gap for the final section, there was a great sense of euphoria it seemed that the route would finally be completed. Once again, when we left Curbar, Louis wanted to join the run. My legs still felt quite strong. However, when we reached the short climb to the end of Birchen edge a little wobbliness made me realise that I had just run, how many miles was it? A bit of motivational talk and the final straight ahead and the finish was great. I enjoyed hopping over the rocks and dropping down the hill to reach the Robin Hood. This was the high point of the run, chatting with friends and enjoying the home straight.
 Where was everybody? They were all in the pub.

Everyone came out of the pub there were many hugs and smiling faces and comments that I looked too fresh! We'd finally made it yehhhh.

I'd actually made fairly good time my friends had kept the pace up and we arrived at the Robin Hood a little ahead of time. The list below shows the timings which I had estimated they are quite close to what I actually managed.

Start Yorkshire Bridge    04:30
Lose Hill                       06:00
Snake Pass                   08:58
Outer Edge                   12:00
Back Tor                      14:00
Moscar Lodge               15:00
Burbage-Ringinglow Rd  16:15
Longshaw Wooden Pole 17:30
Curbar Gap                    18:45
Robin Hood                    19:00

There was a real party spirit in the pub  and it was great surprise when friends from the Castle Mountaineering Club called in. I received some really warm congratulations and although feeling quite ectstatic the realisation was dawning that maybe something had been achieved here. Even the landlord bought me a pint and shook my hand. As I write this a few days later I'm still on a high. We ate at the Robin Hood I tried fish and chips in the pub which were delicious, however after a day of eating energy food my stomach had decided that it too was tired.

The day after, we enjoyed a glass of bubbly and some delicious Salmon and new potatoes, I appreciated glorious food at last. Tanya would be proud of us. Thanks to all my friends, family and everyone who donated to our appeal. I've had an amazing support team they put so much effort into meeting up with us its a privilege to be supported by such amazing people who know their stuff. The main victory however is that we'd raised over £1300 for Together for short lives. I was also reminded by one of my colleagues at work that we were doing a great job of raising awareness of Together for Short Lives and the fantastic work that they do.