Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Pooley Bridge – 05:00 18th April

Cold morning and already there is some light in the sky and the moon is just going down over the ridge we will soon be climbing. These are the worst moments, I want to be off, to be away and submerged in the simple task of getting to Greendale Bridge before 20:00 tonight. No thoughts of the 30 summits, the 48 miles or the 17000 feet of climbing that lie ahead – I just want to be running again.

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With Gary and Karl waiting for 05:00

Gary and Karl seem relaxed while Pauline seems anxious, I don’t know if she is but it will be a long hard day for her and Keith doing the road support. Keith counts down, I start my stopwatch and we are away. Across the car park and down the lane, over the field and up through the caravan park and out on to the fells. Reaching the intake wall leading up the hill means we are really on our way. I am still concerned about the schedule, the first leg is tight and perhaps too fast but I don’t know if by going slower now I can be sure of making up the time later. Late last week I decided my 14 hour schedule might be too demanding at this stage so all the leg notes now show both a 14 hour & and a 15 hour (14:40) schedule and I am going to try to stay between them.

Before we are halfway to Arthur’s Pike it is bright enough to stow our torches and the early light shows this is going to be a very bright, sunny day. The ground is already dry and will only improve as the day goes on and I can hardly believe it. Before reaching the cairn marking the turn to Arthur’s Pike we can see Iain Kelly waiting by the summit. Iain is going to come as far as Fairfield before heading for home. We reach Iain 42 minutes after setting off, exactly on the 15 hour schedule.

Iain’s blog has photos of the early legs taken from just after first light until he left us on Fairfield.

This first leg is all very runnable, too runnable and so tempting when you are full of adrenaline and have been tapering for days but Gary keeps gently reminding me there is a lot of running left to do after this leg and so I stop trying to push on. The views all around are stunning and, of course, at this time of day we have the fells to ourselves – there are very few sheep around here – until approaching High Street when two deer stop to have a look before running down into Riggindale. There are no navigation problems and few route choices until leaving Thornthwaite Beacon. Between there and Stoney Cove Pike is a stoney descent and a rocky climb out but a couple of visits last autumn with Pauline identified a grassy descent and a grassy climb out both of which seemed faster than the usual routes. The final descent to the Kirkstone Inn has a number of possible lines and we had two or three looks at them until we were happy that the good grassy rake could be found from the ridge. The route to Stoney Cove Pike worked well as the splits show but we ran into clouds after Pike How and I couldn’t find the top of the rake I was looking for but we still picked up 3 minutes on the descent. This leg was ending too soon, it seemed only minutes since dawn but we had covered 16 miles & 3900 feet of climbing in 3 hours and 1 minute, 7 minutes faster than my 14 hour schedule.

Place 14hr 15 hr Actual 14 hrs 15 hrs Actual
Pooley Bridge 05:00 05:00 05:00
Arthur’s Pike 00:39 00:42 00:42 05:39 05:42 05:42
Loadpot Hill 00:57 01:02 01:02 05:57 06:02 06:02
Wether Hill 01:07 01:12 01:12 06:07 06:12 06:12
Red Crag 01:21 01:27 01:25 06:21 06:27 06:25
Raven Howe 01:25 01:32 01:31 06:25 06:32 06:31
High Raise 01:35 01:42 01:41 06:35 06:42 06:41
Kidsty Pike 01:44 01:52 01:48 06:44 06:52 06:48
Rampsgill Head 01:49 01:57 01:52 06:49 06:57 06:52
High Street 02:03 02:12 02:07 07:03 07:12 07:07
Thornthwaite Beacon 02:14 02:24 02:16 07:14 07:24 07:16
Stoney Cove Pike 02:40 02:52 02:37 07:40 07:52 07:37
Pike How 02:49 03:02 02:46 07:49 08:02 07:46
Kirkstone Pass - arrive 03:08 03:22 03:01 08:08 08:22 08:01

Arriving early meant things were a little less organised than usual and for the first time all morning we had encountered low clouds that obscured the tops and the pass was funnelling the chilling NE wind so the car park was the coldest place we had been all morning.

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Red Screes – the climb out from the Kirkstone Inn

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