Friday, 15 May 2009

The Fellsman

Last Week: 101.2 miles; 12800 feet; 29:00:16

62 miles with 11000 feet of climbing in a race of two halves, it might be said. A steady start because there is a long way to go and a great deal of climbing to be done. I think we can manage a sub 20 hour time and I have a 22 hour schedule in my watch so that we measure our progress throughout. The weather in the middle of the day could be rough but the wind is forecast to drop after that. The ‘big three’ pass quite quickly and it is good to have the wind behind us on the way to Great Coum and Dent. The bad weather is late in arriving and we are at Dent when it does so we wait in the tent until it passes – the rain/hail on the tent is so loud it is almost impossible to speak and nobody was going out in it.

After the weather clears through bright skies and sunshine provide some cheer for the long drag to Blea Moor and having rested at Dent we are feeling pretty good. Since Gragarteth we have been passing people, pretty steadily and picking up time so that by Dodd Fell Hill we are looking at a 19.5 hour finish. We have also just caught a group who appear to be moving fairly quickly and I think they might be OK for the night section. We get “grouped” at Fleet Moss and although we get across before dark we have three novices, never done it and never reeced any of it. After nightfall the pace drops dramatically and we lose hours over the next two big hills and while two of the novices know they can’t navigate the third thinks he can. He helped in a couple of places – getting things slightly wrong but I am glad not to have to do it all myself – and for the last descent he gets a compass bearing wrong by almost 90 degrees. We are in clag and can’t see far enough to realise how wrong we are until it is way too late and although Pauline spotted the footprints we should have been following ‘the compass never lies’ so we went wrong again coming off Great Whernside. This adds over an hour to our time and so while the three novices are pleased to get round in under 24 hours we are pretty disappointed with our 23:33:16, not least because we walked it quicker the last time!

It was a good long day out and with so much climbing already done I don’t need any more for the week. This means I can just grind out the miles aiming for 100 for the first time since 2006. By Thursday night when I finish my legs are tired but with only two more hard weeks left I guess that is is how they should be.

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In the Start Field and Ingleborough on the skyline is visible most of the day

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Empty Hills going on forever and eventually some late evening sunshine

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