Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A taste of things to come

The path which leads from Wrynose over Crinkle Crags to Bowfell is one I know well and one I have enjoyed running in all weathers, but this was an exceptional day in more ways than one and I hope, a taste of things to come.
In between the gales and rain that have dominated the weather of late, a cold snap brought the first snows of winter to the Lakes and with it, a return to the conditions I love on the fells.
Starting from the Three Shire Stone at the top of Wrynose Pass a short climb soon levels off and the stony path leads towards the broken buttress of Great Knott.
It provides a good warm up for the climb that follows, the views into Langdale giving a good excuse to pause a moment if the legs still feel a little cold.
Bowfell from the summit of Crinkle Crags, the Links thrown into relief by the snow and low sun.
Heading down a little later, a mix of soft snow, icy steps and semi-frozen bog trotting made for an entertaining descent...
...the clouds shifting rapidly across the Coniston fells as the sun turned the sea to silver. 
All good.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

First snows of winter

Langdale - Pike O'Stickle, Gimmer Buttress and Harrison Stickle, dusted in the first snows of winter...
...seen from Cold Pike while running over Crinkle Crags. More to follow.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Falling into the Valley of Desolation

During the floods of 2009, I remember running in the Wharfe valley, the river swollen beyond recognition - the strid, upstream of Bolton Abbey, several metres below a standing wave that would not have looked out of place on the Nile. It was a remarkably wet month although the rains that fell then could not have compared to those in 1826 - the storm that year and subsequent flooding, the event which gave the valley through which Posforth Gill falls, its name: The Valley of Desolation.
Despite the name, it is a beautiful valley, the path which follows the gill giving a lovely route up onto the moor. It makes for an excellent run, never too steep and with great variety; first following the twisting wooded trails of the valley and then up and onto the exposed, rocky tracks on the moor passing coarse grit outcrops and on days like these, tiered ridge lines fading into a blue haze across miles of heather, before falling once more into the Valley of Desolation.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

An autumn day in The Dales: Buckden Pike and Great Whernside

Despite running more in the last year than is usual - I still think of it as more of a winter thing - with one exception I have done little in the last couple of months. A fine autumn day in The Dales seemed a good opportunity to redress the balance...
...and leaving Kettlewell I set off along the Dales Way, following the River Wharfe towards Buckden, intent on taking in both Buckden Pike and Great Whernside before returning to Kettlewell via the beautiful valley immediately south of Hag Dike.
A gentle start, enjoying the sunshine in the valley and a nice warm up for the climb that followed - approx. 500m over 3km - to the summit of the pike.
Looking north from the top, towards Naughtberry Hill, Carlton Moor in the distance and Crag Brea just visible to the east of Walden Head.
Passing the summit I moved quickly along the ridge, the warmth of the sun stolen by a chill wind, pausing a moment as always when here, to reflect upon the memorial cross raised in tribute to the Polish aircrew killed when their Wellington Bomber crashed in a severe snow storm (30 January, 1942). Joseph Fusniak, the rear air gunner, survived the impact and with a broken ankle, crawled, slid and fell through the storm to reach the village of Cray. His story is told here BBC WW2 People's War: Polish Survivor of Tragedy in The Dales, contributed by Richard Fusniak. From the cross I followed the ridge south - classic bog trotting - toward Cam Head, before turning east towards the steep climb of Nidd Head.
Looking back towards Buckden Pike, my route following the skyline from right to left, then cutting back across the moor to start the climb of Nidd Head and Great Whernside...
...and west across Fountains Fell, the sun still strong but the wind bitter before plodding on, eyes streaming, to the boulder strewn plateau above.
Another brief pause on the summit of Great Whernside, Buckden Pike the high point on the left looking gratifyingly distant.
It was a fast descent - a mix of soft peat, bog, tussocks and finally the winding path along the beck falling to Kettlewell - and sheltered in the valley floor, gentle birdsong and the smell of wood smoke hanging in the still air gave an idyllic finish to a fine autumn day in The Dales.

Monday, 19 October 2015

A glimpse of the Glyders

I remember well my first trip to Snowdonia - driving through The Pass as it was known to most, the ridges above more rugged than the softer more familiar lines of the Lakes, the crags starkly obvious on a bright, cool early summer morning. We climbed Main Wall on the Great Buttress of Cyrn Las that day, made famous by its inclusion in Ken Wilson's Classic Rock and a better introduction to Welsh rock I could not have asked for - a 400ft HS, never particularly difficult but like all the best climbs, passing through some formidable rock architecture with not insignificant exposure. It was one of the first routes I remember completing with Paul, and we continued on to Snowdon, descending via Crib Goch to make a proper mountain day of it. There followed many trips to Wales and with Paul and others I climbed everywhere from Cloggy on Snowdon to the sea cliffs of Pembroke, ticking off the classics as well as a few best left to be reclaimed by the heather. Tryfan was a popular destination though for some reason I had never visited the summits beyond - the long ridge capped by the twin summits of The Glyders - something I finally put to rights recently, running in via Llyn Idwal, beneath the slabs and up via the Devil's Kitchen.
 Looking across to the slabs - another crag whose lines I remember surprisingly well given the nature of proceedings the night before a day spent simply trying not to fall off. I seem to recall a sheep descending an alternative line to our right with rather more grace than our own hung-over retreat. 
On the ridge, the clag lifting to give a a glimpse of The Glyders and a route that was little easier to run on the level than on the ascent.
The view south-west towards Snowdon and its satellite summits...
...and back along the ridge to Glyder Fawr (999m).
Llyn Bochlwyd and Llyn Ogwen beyond the distinctive profile of Tryfan, some 700m beneath our route along the ridge.
And a last view of Snowdon before the clag dropped again leaving us to pick our way down the steep gully from the summit of Glyder Fach (994m) - a test of any fell-runner's agility and one, like so many climbs hereabouts, which I was happy to complete without a fall.