Monday, May 30, 2016

Cairn Toul, The Angels Peak and Devils Point

Our holiday in Aviemore started with excellent weather and after an excellent day on the Cairngorm we decided to embark on an ascent of Cairn Toul, Angels Peak and Devils Point. The weather so wonderful that we had a difficult choice to make between this route and a climb on Ardverikie wall  (UKC guide). It's always a tricky decision when you're bagging Munro's! This 22 mile day out needed lots of energy and early start. The mountains looked fabulous, eager
 we left the sugar bowl car park on the road to the Aviemore Ski Centre. Our first objective was to head to the Lairig Ghru we reached this major pass via the narrow and rocky Chalamain gap.

We were soon walking along the Lairig Ghru in the early morning light with splendid views of the Devils point and the slopes of Carn Toul. Enjoying the call of the amazingly camouflagued Ptarmigan.

As we neared the pools of Dee it was soon time to head  into the allt a Garbh Choire. Instead of dropping down we contoured around the hill side cross country. The going was rough, typical of the highlands and energy sapping. In hindsight we should really have lost height and walked along the valley of the allt a Garbh Choire.

The views of Carn Toul, Angels Peak and the Dee valley were magical, our plan was to ascend the Angels peak via the scramble on it's north east ridge.
The colours of the beautiful flowering Lichen were so translucent. We soon arrived at the river, with lots of snow melt the rivers were quite full we paddled across the river and had lunch on a rock as our feet and legs dried in the sun.
Our next objective was to ascend to Lochan Uaine and commence the climb onto Angels peak and Carn Toul.

The scrambling was fun amidst the granite were some interesting outcrops of a sandstone not dissimilar to the Torridonian variety. We soon arrived at the icy waters of Lochan Uaine. There was a problem, it had taken us a lot of time to reach this point. A scramble would be time consuming, we ascended the North ridge of Carn Toul. I went ahead along the ridge to Angels peak and used a contouring route to arrive at the col between Carn Toul and Devils point, here I met Gordon.

The ridge continued easily along to Devils point there were fabulous views it was wonderful to be here.
The descent to the Corrour bothy was OK, here we had a good rest and chat with people staying at the Bothy before starting our 10 mile walk back.

As we wandered down the Lairig Ghru the sunset and we viewed the distant lights of Aviemore. The walk through the boulder strewn Chalamain gap was challenging in the darkness. We arrived back at a crazy time, it was great to have food at our holiday cottage thanks to Amanda and Fran.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


My first munro

we went on holiday to Scotland with our friends Fran and Gordon we stayed  at Aviemore

we looked at a large map of the cairngorm before we went up it. 
After that we looked at another map.we went high up the mountain
we took a picture  of some of the mountain.
we took a picture of this view.
we took a picture   of another bit of the mountain.we went up a bit more
soon we achieved a mile
we stopped at  a pile of rocks.
we went down a bit.
we saw another pile of  rocks.
we went down the funicular.
we went home.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Keswick Mountain Festival 50km Ultra Trail race

A holiday in the Western lake district and running the Nine Edges Endurance race inspired me to run the Keswick Mountain Festival 50km ultra. Borrowdale, Buttermere and Crummock water are some of my favourite areas of the lake district, therefore this route was perfect.  I was soon on the look out for a training plan for a 50km race. A plan found on the intenet alternates between high mileage weeks and recovery weeks an eminently sensible strategy for building up to 50km. The plan assumed a level of fitness where you could comfortably manage 20mile run from the outset.
I managed to follow the training plan with not too many difficulties. The training was most enjoyable, by the time I completed an expanded circuit of Kinder Scout it was evident that I was race ready. After the taper in the training plan and a week of good hydration and carbo loading we were ready to go! Unlike previous long distance training, for this first ultra race I would follow a different approach to feeding during the race. On a recommendation from the RunnersWorld training forum, 2016 Marathon training thread I used an endurance running energy drink known as Tailwind. We were soon leaving the comfort of our Hobbit Hole on the Quiet Site at Ullswater at a ridiculously early time. This was required so that I could make the 6am start at Crow Park in Keswick. On the way I started with small regular sips of caffeinated tailwind.
 With the promise of excellent weather and in fine conditions we were soon heading out of Crow park and along the shore of Derwent water. This was a nice warm up it wasn't long before we were heading upto Walla Crag. I took this at a very steady pace ( a walk) we were at the top and heading downward to Ashness bridge, someone shouted "come on North Derbyshire". In the first hour I completed 5.5 miles. Walking up the hills I took small sips of the tailwind. I need a better approach to hydration e.g. handheld squeezy, hydration in backpack and feeding tube or a bottle holster. Today, there would be trouble from the support team if I didn't hydrate sufficiently! The path follows the beck to Watendlath at one point we arrived at a bridge destroyed by the flooding. At this point I felt like a fake fell runner because I stopped to seek a suitable crossing point. Realising this was wasting time I enjoyed the satisfaction of splashing my way across. The route dropped steeply down to Rosthwaite for the first checkpoint and feeding station. Here, I realised that I was not going to make my first split, I picked up the pace still not managing much more than 10minutes per mile I made it with ease at 9miles after 1hour 41 mins (11.2 min/mile). What a relief my 7.5hour plan was still on track (I was hoping to average my pace between 12 and 14 minutes per mile). It was wonderful to see my excellent support team.

The next section took us gently up to the Honister slate mines, I had to finish the remainder of my drink before the change over. Arriving early I stopped for a brief chat and took my next supply of energy drink for the next 10 mile section around Buttermere and Crummock. Heading up along the old tram way there is a steep climb. This is followed by a steep technical descent on the path running down to Buttermere between Fleetwith pike and Haystacks. I picked my way along like twinkle toes, this was a joke shared with a fellow runner. This section joins the road for a couple of hundred yards. A lucky coincidence and my support team were just pulling into a nearby parking area.

I'd planned to run this section at a faster pace, I couldn't seem to will my legs to do this but I seemed to be cruising OK. This section of the route was quite rough and undulating the route markers took you above the "nice" path running by Buttermere. This was actually quite a pleasant woody section, the section around Crummock was quite boggy. I arrived at checkpoint 3 at  20.5 miles after 4 hours just ahead of schedule I had half a banana at the feed station and moved quickly on. I met my family again on the start of the Newlands pass path. Here, I had another quick minute to change a shirt and to take on a full bottle of caffeinated tailwind. Of course I was tired but I felt the energy of excitement as I was about to commence the final climb. It was now bright and sunny.

I knew this  section was famed for its field of bluebells but I was unprepared for the beauty of that blue carpet sweeping across the hillside on either side. It was becoming quite steep here and I took the opportunity to hydrate. There are three steep sections at the stream re-entrants. As I moved closer to the top of the pass I reduced the walking  and started running again as soon as possible, here I started to leave one group behind and pick up another in front. Once at the top of the pass the run down Rigg beck was splendid and I managed to pick up the pace. Here there was a another shout go on North Derbyshire. I reached checkpoint 4 at 27.7 miles after 5.5 hours (20 minutes ahead of my "fast" plan) I took a quick swigg of coke. Although we'd completed the final major climb I knew that running back to Keswick around the base of Cat Bells would require further hill climbing.

Here I seemed to go quite well I caught up with someone I met on one of the recce runs, we ran along and chatted but  we encouraged one another to move on. We were soon at Hawes End and my family were there, this time I carried straight on trying to build on the gain which had been made. The run through Portinscale and around the end of the lake seemed to go on a long time. During the last couple of miles I was really feeling the distance and found it difficult to summon the energy. I'd hoped to conserve a bit more pace. With the finish in sight I pressed on through the exciting festival show ground and the buzz of people.

My garmin watch showed a distance of 33.7 miles and 6003 feet of ascent. With a chip time 6hr28min35s I was 46th Place overall and   3rd in the supervet category. The race marshalls were wonderful, the best, they were so encouraging I was also very fortunate to have an excellent support team pushing me on my way. 

This was a wonderful race, the adventure had ended and now I'm craving another...   what next?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Kinder Orbital from Hayfield

Today was the day of the Hayfield May festival the houses were decorated with bunting and there was a number of exhibits, this year there appeared to be a Hollywood theme. Fortunately I'd arrived early on a cool, bright and sunny morning to meet up with a  friend from my Uni. days. 

The plan was to walk a modified version of the Kinder Down Fall fell race. The modification was that from the top of William Clough we'd stay on the Northern edges of Kinder Scout and return to Edale Cross via the southern edges of Kinder. T
he route is essentially a circuit of Kinder. It's a repeat of a training run for the KMF 50km Ultra a walk the week before the race would be perfect part of the tapering in the training for the race. Training for this race has been great fun wonderful places and a challenging variety of weather adding to the experience.
Looking along the Northern edge of Kinder. The last time I tried this route, the start of the Northern edge was the 16 mile mark, this section of the route felt a long way. But today it felt much easier.
Wind weathered rock formations reminiscent of the kissing stones of Bleaklow
Walking along Seal edge to Fairbrook Naze and then onto Blackden Clough where we had a spot of lunch on a rock looking down on the Clough below.
The trig point at the 590 spot height between Blackden Edge and Golden Clough (SK 12927 87809) features a plaque commemorating the Viking Venture Scout Unit
We crossed to the southern edge and arrived at Golden Clough, looking towards Mam Tor we enjoyed Hare spotting.

Edale Cross dates back to 1157 and was placed there by the Cistercian monks of Basingwerk Abbey (quoted from the Megalithic portal entry).

We stopped in the George for a quick refreshing pint a good end to an excellent day. Supping a pint we discussed plans to scramble the Kinder down fall and aanother one to scramble Gordale Scar in the Dales. Part of the motivation here would be for the "Harry Potter tour" for Keisha and Louis.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Lathkill and Cheedale

We've had a pleasant bank holiday weekend starting with a wander along Lathkill Dale and the following day (bank holiday Monday) along Cheedale. We parked just up the hill from the medieval Conksbury Bridge and wandered back in the direction of Over Haddon. After the cold arctic winds of the last week it was quite nice spring day. Amanda enjoyed resting her knee sitting on a bench enjoying the new flowers, listening to the birds and enjoying a good book. The river Lathkill appeared to be unusually low in some places, I'm not sure why, it would be interesting to take a look further on towards Monyash.

On the bank holiday Monday we drove to Blackwell and walked to Cheedale. The route along Cheedale is an old favourite and after a further repeat we certainly have not tired of it. It's funny because in the earlier post there is a picture of Keisha with a compass today she was helping to work out where we were on the map.

Beautiful spring flowers.

Our greeting party on arrival at Blackwell

Heading down into the Dale.

Heading along the old railway track

Our favourite bit the stepping stones

The second set of stepping stones

Louis found a mini cave

We came out close to the crown of trees on the summit of Chee Tor it was quite fascinating to what used to be a small settlement near here.