Going into Spring, Tom and I both felt a bit tied down: lambing was taking up many hours of the day and too many of the night and Tom was working too much. However, now we lived closer to the Lakes, the Bob Graham round that I had hoped to do before my accident was pressing unfinished business, giving us a necessary compulsion to get out in the hills. 

With a date set for an attempt in late July, we focused any days off on getting plenty of height climb in the legs. Feeling about as ready as anybody might, and with 3 weeks to go, we headed north to Scotland for 10 days of holiday. We were exceptionally lucky with the weather – clear skies, warm weather and cloud inversions, which meant that tapering was abandoned in favour of long alpine-esque adventures in the Cuillin and elsewhere! 

Back home in Cumbria, feeling fit, but with worryingly used legs, I started to finalise the logistics for the day. It was still so sweltering that sitting in the shade induced a sweat. On the one hand, running 65 miles and ascending 27000ft in the heat would be pretty unbearable, but if the weather broke it could be just as bad, if not worse! The forecast was certainly not stable and contingency plans for a midweek attempt were rapidly put together as the forecasted electric storms became more probable. As it turned out the weather was on our side and Saturday 28th July dawned with not a cloud to be seen and temperatures of “only 25c”.

Just as the campsite finally grew quiet enough for sleep, the late-night drone flying stopped and the ten o’clock ice-cream had van driven home, it was time to get up. Tom had got out of the tent a couple of hours before to tell a party to be quiet and they were still chatting around the campfire and looked very surprised to see us. It had been a perfect evening on one of the longest days of the year and the hot sun had been replaced by a bright full moon. I wiggled out of my sleeping bag, already dressed in my running kit, and bundled into the car for the short drive into Keswick.

Outside the Moot Hall, I loaded Dom Spracklen up with my food and water for the first leg and Roger Laycock with the spare layers and emergency kit; I was carrying nothing apart from a map in a money belt. I touched the door, poised and excited to begin whilst Roger counted down the seconds on his watch until 2am. I was so excited I had to stop myself from sprinting as we started. We jogged through the outskirts of town and out onto the track towards Skiddaw, our first peak. Our head torches illuminated the stony track, but the moon was bright enough to show the peaks in the distance. Unfortunately, Dom’s night had been even less successful at sleeping than mine, and rather than the restful day off work that I’d had, he’d endured a busy week and a long drive back from Scotland the day before so his body wanted to sleep rather than walk quickly uphill in the middle of the night. We carried on, expecting him to catch us up, but as we walked the flickering light of his torch became more distant. We paused at the fence corner on Great Calva and deliberated over whether we should wait. We still couldn’t see the head torch and time was passing so, guiltily, we climbed over the fence and ran down the trod amongst the bilberry bushes to the stream. We were effectively now a group of two. Roger had kindly brought a bottle of water to supplement what I had asked Dom to carry and I drank some before the next climb, although to our surprise he had accidentally bought fizzy water. I tipped it out and drank from the stream. I felt strong throughout the leg and enjoyed the time to talk as we easily navigated our way around the northern fells. The ground was much drier than when I had reccied the leg and the trods used by other teams had become more obvious over the last few weeks of summer. The sun rose as we climbed Mungrisedale common; the sky was orange and pink cloud rested on the top of Blencathra where Tom was waiting for us in the mist by the trig point. Roger waited for Dom and I descended the parachute in Tom’s footsteps after eating any snacks that he had carried up for himself. We were 6 minutes up. Jude had provided a mini feast in Threlkeld and, after a shoe change and some mini-rolls, I was ready for leg 2. 

The second leg of the BG which takes you over Helvellyn and the Dodds from Threlkeld to Dunmail was joyful. The early morning air was warm without being too hot and my legs still felt light. My pacers, Martin and Matt Holroyd, effortlessly guided me from one summit to the next quietly reassuring me at each peak that we were steadily gaining a couple of minutes here and there. I ate very little on the leg, just one packet of crumbled crisps, but drank sips of my water almost constantly as Matt ran with the bottle in his hand and kept giving it to me. I had chosen to descend Dollywagon via the fence posts to avoid any slippery stones on the zigzag path and did the descent entirely on my bottom, watched by Julia and John Murfin who had come to meet me at Grisedale tarn. After the out and back to Fairfied, my mum appeared through the bracken as I jogged gently down to the road at Dunmail. I felt free and was surprised that I was enjoying it so much. 

 

The furthest I had run in my preparation for the round was the first two legs together and so I was a little nervous starting the next leg. Legs 3 and 4 are the crux legs, being longest, roughest and hilliest. I had badly broken my leg in a rock-climbing accident two years previously and I wasn’t totally sure whether I would find myself struggling with my leg shortening or damage to my joints. Leg 3 felt like the most daunting obstacle to completing the round. It was long and hilly and would have been a big day in itself. I had also not run it in its entirety since being a pacer on it several years ago, largely because of the logistical difficulties in getting back to the car from Wasdale. However, up to steel fell, across to calf crag and onto the pikes, I felt like I was flying. I had eaten well at Dunmail raise (half a pizza and a can of peaches) and the combination of Steph Dwyer, Mike Bottomley and my sister as pacers provided constant conversation and entertainment. The high temperature was starting to be a problem, but I kept drinking water in the hope I would be spared from dehydration. Sabrina Verjee met me to accompany me from Pike of Stickle to Rossett pike and, humbled to be in her company, I felt like I ought to run that section really quickly! Sabrina sent Steph off to find water whilst Mike and I continued up Bowfell. When she left, however, I started to feel strange and my vision was going a bit blurry and it felt like I was giving myself water overload by drinking so much without taking on much salt. I lay down on the top of Bowfell and ate Steph and Mike’s packets of posh crisps. It may have been a placebo, or it could have been the calories, but it felt like the salt was making me feel better enough to stagger up Ill Crag and Broad Crag. At Mickledore, Tom’s dad had rigged a short rope up Broad Stand – easy when dry and fresh, but potentially disastrous when weary and wet. From here, Steph, Mike, and my sister left and headed off to Styhead tarn for a swim and Tom took over. At this stage, a swim felt like a much more sensible idea than running another 30 miles! However, Scafell did feel like a big milestone on the round and once I had passed it I was quietly confident that I would succeed.

The day was heating up and, whilst way ahead of schedule, I was starting to hit a rough patch. My back was really painful for the descent down to Wasdale and I lost time on my schedule. I don’t have very good posture at the best of times, but since my accident, my right leg has been shortened by about 1cm and the back pain is accentuated on long runs. I was sure I would make it round, but I definitely wasn’t sure if i would make it on time. 

Tom’s mum and Joe Hobbs (Lonsdale) met us in Wasdale with orange juice and a bacon sandwich. She also had poles, which I hoped would make me feel more comfortable on the climbs. We weren’t going fast for any of leg 4, but we were steady and I was able to keep up my pace and not lose any more time. We stayed with another pair from Dorset who were doing the round supported only by each other, and we were able to help them find some of the BG trods that they didn’t know. I wasn’t able to eat much until Joe mentioned that he had a veggie sausage sandwich in his bag. His food sounded much more appealing than mine so he dutifully donated me the sausages from inside, retaining the squished bap. 

It was amazing to arrive to so many supporters waiting for me in Honister. The temperature was cooling down and was much more comfortable and I once again felt energetic and injury free. I sat on a crate to eat a tin of rice pudding and then strode up the hill with Josh Westwood and my sister. I made up time rapidly on this leg, and was really surprised when Josh said that beating 21 hours was now well within my reach. Unfortunately, on Robinson, my sister started to slow down and throw up. She didn’t know the descent route and we deliberated over whether we should leave her, but Josh managed to get in touch with Tom and my mum who could come and pick her up from the road. Her pre-exercise dinner choice of three hard boiled eggs had not been particularly wise! Josh was fantastic down the rocks, despite living on the opposite side of the Dales, he had found time to learn where every rock was and skillfully led me down to the road where Joe and Andrena were waiting on the tandem to accompany us back into keswick. I jogged the road sections steadily but comfortably but I was worried that my sister and her search party wouldn’t see me finish, but fortunately, just after the outdoor centre in Portinscale I heard a whooping as they drove past. 

I ran into Keswick as fast as I could to a round of applause from strangers. My legs felt fine and I was ecstatic to finish in 20 hours and 23 minutes – 1 hour 37 minutes faster than my schedule. My Bob Graham was probably the best day of my life, and one that would not have been possible without the generous support from my friends – thank you!

Hi all, I’m Kirsten, and I joined the committee team last year as Women’s representative.  Things barely got going last year did they, for obvious reasons, but I felt I should introduce myself, to those who don’t know me, and let all the women, well anyone, in the club know I’m here for you. Apologies, if you haven’t come across me, work and childcare commitments often prevent me from joining regular harriers training (in normal times that is).  Despite being a Settle Harriers member since I was a junior, I’d never given much thought to how the club was run and what goes on behind the scenes, so this is a reminder that there are club members organising and planning in the background to support our great little club. I’m very passionate about our friendly and diverse little club.  I’ve been around most local races, taken part in the Harriers’ own fantastic and friendly events, I love to explore the local area, and now my kids are enjoying junior training too.   

When I’m not on the hills, you’ll find me with the kids, teaching Pilates (shameless plug for Yorkshire Dales Pilates) or working as a Physiotherapist at a local hospital. 

Anyhow, please get in touch if you’ve any questions, items for committee meetings, awesome ideas, or feedback for the club. I’d love to hear from you, and maybe one day soon, I’ll catch you on the fells. 

Yours

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t my original intention to do so many Lockdown Challenges in one day. I had planned to do the 3 Trig point and 5 Postbox route last Sunday but, being a Southern softie, I was put off by the weather. The forecast for today was much better and so I decided to make my attempt despite celebrating my elder grandson’s 18th birthday at a family Zoom party last night. By a pure fluke, I calculated that my route would cover 2 more Lockdown Challenges, 100km for the month and 3,000 metres of climbing.

Due to the aforementioned party, my 9.30am scheduled start was nearer 10am but, since I had no other plans for the day, I set off determined to do the whole route. The Postboxes on Church St and Townhead Ave were duly photographed. I had opted to do a clockwise route in order to get the steep climb over the saddle and up to Warrendale Knots done early on. In deference to my advancing years, I did walk a little on this bit. After Warrendale, a pleasant descent to Attermire but then a very wet section followed before I reached Stockdale Lane. I stuck to the Settle Loop and then traversed round the back of Ryeloaf Hill and up to Trig point number 2. The next section up to the radio mast would have been better done in waders, I don’t think I touched solid ground for nearly a mile and it was almost a relief to reach the tarmac.

A long road descent was followed by a pleasant run down Lambert Lane as far as the quarries. My intention had been to then cut straight across to the Hunter Bark Trig point. However, I hadn’t reckoned on the barbed wire fencing, so had to go down to the stile and trek back up to Trig point 3, and then return to the Cleatop Woods path. Through Cleatop Woods, across the fields, down Watery Lane – appropriately named this morning – and into town where I photographed  Postboxes at the PO, the Market Square and  Kirkgate. Then home for endless cups of tea.

My thanks to Becky for the Lockdown idea which has got many Harriers back out running with a purpose. My 7 Challenges completed today were #2-3 trig pillars, #7-5 postboxes, #9 – 100km (my total for November is 75 miles which is 120 km), # 14 – cleaning my fell shoes, # 15 – cleaning Anne’s fell shoes, #19 – climbing 3000m (my total is 3371m) and # 20 – write an article for the blog.

Chris Beesley

(click pictures for full size)

Becky’s lockdown_2 challenges are a great motivator for dragging you away from another Netflix binge, and Roger and I fancied combining ticking a few trig points (Challenge #2) and some post boxes (Challenge #7). Three trig points seemed fair enough, but 5 post boxes was a bit on the easy side, so we spent hours analysing postboxes4nerds.com and cross-correlating with trigs4nerds.com.

This identified 3 trig points – one of which was new to both of us – and 21 post boxes / post offices, which looked like a feasible target from Settle; we just needed an optimum route between them. This is like the Travelling Salesman problem, which is notoriously difficult to solve – we clearly needed a quantum computer. Sadly, we didn’t have one, so we just resorted to shambling around aimlessly, hoping we’d accidentally come across our targets’ en route.

The first box – a standard Elizabeth II in Settle

Roger came up with the excellent idea of doing the run in Postman Pat fancy dress (lockdown challenge #16). I was all for this, but then it almost came to blows over who would have to be the cat. After relentless arguments we went for a vote, which I definitely won, but Roger refused to concede, so we had to scrap the fancy dress idea for the time being.

Our route was based around the 3 trig points with detours to collect as many post boxes as we could fit in. From Settle this was essentially up to Warrendale Knotts (whose official name is ‘TP S5521 Langcliffe’ according to trig point experts), via Langcliffe and Stainforth to Smearset Scar and then via Austwick to the last trig at New House Pasture above Black Bank before returning to Settle via Giggleswick.

 

Our route through Settle was pretty convoluted but cleared up all the boxes we knew about apart from three that were easier to collect to the way back. I later discovered that my online resources had let us down and had not listed the box at Limestone View, although we went with about 50m of it. So anyone wanting to repeat the route could Trump our efforts!

Warrendale Knotts to Austwick was all pretty familiar territory with 4 post boxes en route. While taking a photo of the Austwick letter box we got into conversation with a FEDEX guy who wanted us to know there was a golden post box in Eccleston near Chorley. I prodded Roger away with my 2m pole before he started getting ideas. 

From Austwick on, the paths were pretty unfamiliar to both of us. It’s worth running on those footpaths west of the A65 once in a while – just to remind yourself why you shouldn’t go running west of the A65. It was a succession of gloopy fields, suspicious cows and indistinct routes. To be fair, there were a few highlights. The Victorian letter box at Lawkland was the oldest we found and the one at Eldroth church probably the prettiest.

The trig point at New House Pasture was an odd one. I must have cycled within 100m of it loads of times without noticing it. It sits just above 200m in a wall corner on a sloping hill side that’s not remotely a summit. I guess it’s there to triangulate to Moughton and Smearset which you can see on the other side of the valley.

New House Pasture trig point

A few more gloopy fields, and we were safely back from the Dark Side west of the A65. Well, I say safe – but we still had the foot crossing of the railway, the Settle bypass and the unexploded ordnance of the Giggleswick School firing range to contend with.

We survived these and found ourselves clearing up the Gigg letter boxes and up to our final target on Cammock Lane. This one is a bit of a mystery as the lettering has been removed, but it looks like it could be another Victorian one. 

Anyway, here’s a picture of Roger trying to post his ballot there for the Postman Pat/Jess fancy dress vote – clearly fraudulent as the deadline had been yesterday.

 

 

 

An account of a post lockdown Lakeland long traverse by Simon and Loz…

What it’s about – Simon

The Joss Naylor Challenge is a route conjured up by Joss in 1990 when he was 54. It traverses 30 summits on its way from Pooley Bridge to Joss’ village in Greendale (in Wasdale). This is about 67km and 5000m of ascent or 48 miles/17000’ in old money.  The route has become known as the ‘old man’s Bob Graham’ and this had probably put me off the idea for a while as memories of how hard I’d found the BG 30 odd years ago still run deep. But then after Loz and I had run the Lakes in a Day ultra a couple of times, we realised that the JNC should be not much harder. It’s a bit shorter but with more climb, although, unlike the LIAD, the climbing is loaded towards the end of the route over most of the big Wasdale fells. The other factor that – unusually – worked in our favour is being relatively ancient. The time limit for completing the challenge is on a sliding, age-dependent scale so at 50 you only have 12 hours but this increases to 15 hours at 55, 18 hours at 60 and a leisurely 24 hours at 65. So for us that gave 18 hours which seemed like a viable challenge, at least from the comfort of an Excel spreadsheet at the kitchen table.

The route is divided into four obvious legs: From the start along the High Street range to Kirkstone Pass; crossing the Fairfield group over to Dunmail Raise; a longish hack up to Bowfell and over Great End to Styhead and then the final leg over the high fells around the head of Wasdale to the finish at Greendale Bridge. A very cold recce last November with Roger over the first two legs suggested the required pace was OK – at least over 7 hours or so. But then of course lockdown brought a halt to anything that wasn’t out of the back door.

Once Boris allowed us to venture a bit further afield Loz and I did a 9 hour recce of the last half of the route from Dunmail Raise to the finish. The logistics of this are a bit tricky as you end up a long way from your car. Luckily Tom Oxley had just got his provisional driving licence and was easily conned into the idea that driving Hilary over Wrynose and Hardknott to pick us up would be good driving practice. Gill was also there to meet us and asked how we’d feel about turning round and doing another half of the route. We looked at her like she was crazy and, as always, we felt we really needed to get fitter to take on the full Challenge.

However, looking at diaries and family holiday plans suggested that the long summer days could easily slip by without an attempt being fitted in. So we’d better just get a grip and do it. By mid-July the brilliant weather of the early summer had turned into unstable squally stuff but a good weather window was forecast for a few days’ time on Sunday. Roger was keen to join in (as a leisurely recce to see where the hours would be knocked off on his ‘proper’ attempt later on) but was unavailable that day so we assembled a small team of supporters at short notice for a low-key traverse with a 4am start from Pooley Bridge.

Leg 1 – Loz

I’m not one for early starts.  In fact, if this start had been any earlier, I’d have just made a late night of it, the evening before. I hate the restless hours in bed, in a funk over how horribly soon I have to get up.  Once up though, it was a nice pre-dawn, T shirts and shorts even at 3:30.  Just light enough not to need our head torches, which was as well, since they were in Mark’s bag to meet us much later. It’s a slightly odd start through a large static caravan park but then you’re soon on the fell. First peak: Arthur’s Pike, crossing the route of the Lakeland 50 en route.

 

 

The sun popped up just before 5:00, just as we were keeping our fingers crossed that a stream we thought we remembered was there. If not, we’d be going thirsty. We carried our own kit throughout, so kept water to the bare minimum needed to get to the next source. Filling up and a few dawn pics lost us 6 mins on the schedule. Incidentally, Simon’s computations (spanning many spreadsheets and furrowed brows) had come up with the strikingly precise projection of 17h 9 m for arrival time at Wasdale. We pushed on. At this stage of an ultra it’s good to keep the pedal off the metal, and move efficiently, rather than to risk early flame-out.  We were back on schedule by Kidsty and then saved another 6 mins by Kirkstone. The wind was a bit fresh and cool from the west, but only my hands were cold: unlike my sensible companion, I hadn’t brought gloves.

The section had been enlivened by a fox on Arthur’s Pike and couple of Bambi-style fauns on Raven Howe. Other than that and a couple of tents, we’d seen no sign of life. Dropping towards Kirkstone, I spotted a couple of people on a knoll and to my surprise, they got up and ran towards us.  Turned out to be Becky and Tom. That was nice but even better was to follow when they offered chocolate pancakes straight out of the pan.  Now that was definitely a first, and very enjoyable too – thanks guys! That little burst of energy helped us get the ideal line down to Kirkstone and our first support.

Leg 2 – Simon

Jude and Dominic Spracklen had readily volunteered for a 7:45am rendezvous at Kirkstone where a mini rave seemed to have been going on over night. Rejuvenated by the smell of weed wafting over the fell-side we started the grind up Red Screes. Tom and Becky had also managed to pack up their pancake kitchen and joined us for the climb before peeling off somewhere near the top. Across Scandale Loz and Dom seemed to be deep in conversation about the economics of biomass power generation while Jude kept me entertained by drip feeding raspberry flapjacks – more my level at this point. We seemed to be making good progress though across the Fairfield section and were 18 minutes up on the schedule at Grisedale Hause. Here Jude and Dom ducked off down to Grisedale Tarn and Loz and I last had sight of them swimming around 500’ below as we climbed over Seat Sandal. The BG descent route is a quick way down to Dunmail Raise but you’re constantly aware of your immediate destiny up the apparently vertical face of Steel Fell dead ahead. Hilary’s impressive picnic table greeted us at the road – the last road crossing on the route and the lowest point between the start and finish. This is pretty much the half way point in distance but with most of the climbing still to do.

It’s surprising we got much further after this enormous picnic (Photo: Tom Oxley)

 

Leg 3 – Loz

If Fairfield and Hart Crag had reminded me of Lakes in a Day, a blurred Dunmail feeding frenzy followed by trudging off up a horribly steep fellside was pure BG throwback. Thanks to Hilary though for all the cakes!  Martin Holroyd was with us from here, and he did sterling work to Sty Head. Steep Steel Fell came and went. High Raise is a bit of a plod too. Happily, Joss took pity on his followers around here, and let us off the intervening Calf Crag and Sergeant Man. After that bit, it’s a good downhill to cross just below Stake Pass and into the rockier terrain of the western half of the route.

On Rossett Pike, we got the right line after our recce a few weeks earlier.  Then the third water stop on this leg (which is well provided with streams compared to the rest), at the foot of Bowfell.  That big steep climb up Hanging Knotts was a struggle for me. I had a roll I was trying to eat (and eating gets harder the longer you run); I had my two poles to carry and I was trying to grab a drink as well. Coupled with needing to touch rocks to balance up the steeper bits, I felt like an octopus missing half its tentacles.  Eventually I emerged onto the plateau feeling like my legs were spiralled together. The others seemed to be packing away their almost-finished copies of War and Peace by the time I staggered up to the summit. Politely, they pointed out the direction of Esk Pike and I managed to redeem myself a little by finding the racing line which I’d re-discovered on an earlier recce. It’s the way the Langdale comes (going the other way), but my brain on that occasion had been deep into oxygen starvation by that stage, so I’d remembered nothing.

Esk Pike is a fine hill and I was almost managing to keep the others in sight ahead going from there to Great End. Martin kept musing about turning back – he had to reverse most of the route back to Dunmail – but then he would “just come along one more top” with us, and so ended up dropping down the very rough descent to Sty Head (the slowest bit of the whole route) to complete the whole section with us. A heart-felt thanks to Martin, you really helped us keep moving.

Leg 4 – Simon

We’d been on the go for over 11 hours and were half an hour up on our target time here and so had 90 minutes in hand on the 18 hour schedule. Although nothing was said out loud, it seemed to me that barring disasters we should make it round fine and this allows you to relax a bit and enjoy the trip.

Mark Wildsmith had kindly made the big commitment to drive all the way round to Wasdale Head and met us at Styhead. His preparation for supporting us on leg 4 had been a 250km off-road bike ride the previous day – he rightly assumed we wouldn’t be pushing him too hard at this stage. The final leg is about 18km and 1500m with an immediate start-as-you-mean-to-go-on brutal bash up Great Gable. This was about the only place on the route we saw many other people but we were quickly down the other side and up onto Kirkfell. There’s a handy stream outlet from one of the summit tarns here – pretty much the last water before close to the finish. I think we carried about a litre and a half each from here.

Not a bad afternoon to be in the Western fells

Joss’s Gully is a rough but quick way down to Black Sail pass and we were then on the long slog up Pillar. In my mind this is the final crux and it seems sort of downhill after Pillar – psychologically rather than literally. It was somewhere here though that I suddenly felt light-headed and wobbly as Loz and Mark pulled ahead over the rocks. The sure sign of an incoming bonk – so I stuffed down a Mars Bar, quickly followed by a Snickers. On the whole I think we’d done very well on nutrition – eating pretty continuously and mostly proper food like sandwiches and pizza rather than fistfuls of Jelly Babies. But on these long runs you always seem to be not too far from hypoglycaemia so the emergency Mr Mars is a useful tool for me and I was fine again in 5 minutes.

After Pillar there’s a cunning traverse to avoid an unnecessary top and you’re on Scoat Fell. Confusingly Little Scoat Fell is higher than Great Scoat Fell and in between the two there’s the out-and-back to Steeple where we had great views across Ennerdale in the late afternoon sunshine.

Three hills to go now and Haycock doesn’t seem bad. There’s a choice of descent routes here and we opted for the fast scree shoot that we’d found on our recce a few weeks previously. There aren’t many runnable scree descents left in the Lakes so this one’s a bit of a surprise. Whatever time we made up here though was probably lost in the palaver of emptying small stones out the shoes at the bottom.

Seatallan was a grind but Middle Fell beckons as the final climb and is a great view point. This included a view of our parked vans down below in Greendale. Gill, Hilary and Tom had been swimming in Greendale Tarn but were there to greet us – although only briefly as we sped through the parking area on our way to the ‘true finish’ on Greendale Bridge 16 and a half hours after setting off.

Final thoughts – Loz

It was nice to finish and satisfying to have at least beaten Joss’s benchmark time. He must have been feeling generous towards the elderly when he set that one. It had been a brilliant day on the hills, as they usually are once you get going. We’d been lucky with the weather which was only cold a couple of times. And we’d had some very kind support given generously.

The route does have the feel of a real mountain route as opposed to a trail-type ultra. That makes it very worthwhile. I am glad we did it whilst still (just) able to put one foot in front of the other for long enough, and I’d recommend any other ageing runners to give it a whirl while they can.

GPX of the route

Here is a gpx file showing our route with some waypoints added with comments about route choices, water etc. added by Loz. You can upload this route for example at osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk but the gpx file should also upload to other software.

With Storm Denis on the horizon for last weekend I was considering my options on the Friday evening:

  • Bleasdale Circle on the Saturday – 8 km with 380 metres of ascent – a Settle Harriers Championship race
  • Or Barbon on the Sunday – 3 km with 360 metres of ascent – a Kendal Winter League race
  • Or both

Having studied the OS map for Bleasdale, curiosity got the better of me: a school, a church and a parish hall, all with no road leading to them??  I’d have to take a chance with Barbon and just hope that my knee would be up for another race on the Sunday.

The journey to Bleasdale was, thankfully, uneventful; it even stopped raining, and there was just one flood to negotiate which, so long as it stayed dry, I reckoned I’d be able to get back through.

I arrived in good time as I hadn’t pre-entered, but I needn’t have worried; with only 59 out of a maximum number of 120 there was plenty of room for everyone on the start line.  Spot checks were carried out to satisfy the full kit requirement, although by now a lot of runners were wearing most of their kit as it had started to rain again…

The route headed north from the parish hall, turned east to cross sodden farmland for a couple of kilometres past Bleasdale Circle (no time for sightseeing) and then climbed steeply up onto Fair Snape Fell at 510m.  While one couldn’t really describe the conditions as pleasant, the climb up to Paddy’s Pole on the summit was fantastic: the wind was so strong that I seriously considered unzipping my waterproof to harness this relentless stream of free energy.  Would this be classed as cheating I wondered?  In the end it was the reluctance to get soaked which made me desist rather than the ethics.

On the summit conditions really were atrocious as the marshal grabbed me by the arm to steer me round the stone shelter in case I got blown away.  The race organizer had very prudently decided to shorten the course that morning making it a there-and-back to Paddy’s Pole rather than continuing along the ridge to Parlick; in fact at the start line he told us that the summit marshals had been instructed to descend if conditions worsened and that the turnaround point would be wherever you happened to meet them!

As it was, there was only one DNF, everyone got back safely, and I finished a very respectable – for me – fourth from last.  And back at the parish hall there was a seemingly endless supply of hot soup, hot tea and delicious home made cakes.  It was still raining.

Once I was warm and dry and fed, my mind turned towards the homeward journey.  I set off and eventually reached the flood which, to my surprise, was not as bad as I had remembered it.  I drove through it, rounded the next bend, and realized that that was actually a new flood: the original flood was now twice as long as it had been a few hours ago and was receding into the distance!

As I drove home I thought about my daughter Chloe; having signed up for the university caving trip she had driven from Cambridge to South Wales on Friday evening bombarded with dire warnings from her mother about being sensible and intelligent students, and I wondered where she would get her sense and intelligence from…

And Barbon?  Obviously I was devastated when the race had to be cancelled, but secretly I think my knee was quite relieved.

 

Jill Gates

Post-run pub chat at this time of year inevitably turns to our much-loved, iconic local classic, the Three Peaks Race.

In honour of this famous event on our doorstep – and to remind you to enter (it’s a club champ) –   here’s some fun peaky facts…

  • The Three Peaks as a round was ‘invented’ by two teachers from Giggleswick School who completed a circuit in 1887 in 14 hours and 27 minutes.
  • The first foot race took place in 1954, starting and finishing at Chapel-le-Dale. It was won by Fred Bagley, one of three finishers from a starting line-up of six.
  • The route has changed a few times over the years, most recently to use the ‘new’ path round Sell Gill, Penyghent summit, and the flagged route off Whernside. I think we can all be pleased it no longer goes across Black Dubb Moss – aka the bogs of doom.
  • The Daily Mirror sponsored the race for a number of years.
  • Yorkshire TV made a programme about the 1976 edition. Well worth a watch on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyRHE9chNyg&t=286s
  • Chris Hirst is the fastest Harrier, having clocked 3.10.50 and 12th place in 1992. Other fleetfooted completions include Alistair Scholey and Adrian Pickles who have both run 3.25.
  • Carol Evans is our speediest female with a PB of 3.54. Rachel Hill has also broken four hours.
  • Settle Harriers had 16 runners complete the race in both 2014 and 2016 – our largest turnouts.
  • Judy Marshall’s sister, Helen, was first female in 2006.
  • Steve Moor is always last out of the start field. It’s the law.
  • Judith Allinson has been known to serenade competitors with her flute on Ingleborough.
  • Mike Wynne’s marshal post on Ingleborough was legendary. The finest slurp of tea ever tasted.
  • The shoe debate is nearly as old as the hills. It’s possible, apparently, to run it in road shoes in a dry year. However, Andy Peace set his 2.46.03 record in 1996 wearing Walsh PBs and I believe Victoria Wilkinson’s 2018 record run of 3.09.19 was in Inov8 X Talons, both of which are very grippy!
  • The late John Rawnsley, long time organiser of the Three Peaks Cyclocross, which started in 1959, completed the fell race 30 times. That’s as well as riding the cyclocross 45 times! Wendy Dodds has run it 35 times. Jon Sharples has 22 completions to his name running for Clayton-le-Moors. We must have others with multiple runs in double figures – anyone? Who’s our club member with the most completions to their name?
  • If you’re still looking for qualifiers, try Black Combe (AM and a club champ) on March 7.

Anyone else got any fascinating or funny facts about the peaks?

Some ‘historical’ photos…

Julia Murfin

 

13 Harriers took part in the Skipton ParkRun on Saturday 7th December – the 2nd of the Settle Harriers ParkRun meet-ups.

Most were seniors as a lot of our juniors have succumbed to the lurgy going around the schools at the moment.

3 of our contingent ran “PB”s for the course (congrats to Charlotte, Jan & Julia) and we had 4 “first-timers (Sam, Carmel, Richard and Kath)

Well done to all !

 

Skipton ParkRun – 7th December

9 Sam BRUMMITT Male VM45-49 19:38 First Timer!
21 Simon OXLEY Male VM60-64 21:58  
29 Andy EVANS Male VM60-64 22:55  
50 Charlotte PEART Female JW11-14 24:50 New PB!
55 Jan-Friedrich WULF Male VM45-49 01:09 New PB!
69 Carmel RAMWELL Female VW45-49 26:08 First Timer!
73 Richard TIMMS Male VM50-54 26:37 First Timer!
81 Oscar WULF Male JM11-14 28:09  
115 Julia MURFIN Female VW50-54 30:59 New PB!
135 Kath DAVIS Female VW50-54 32:10 First Timer!
159 Sophie TAYLOR Female JW11-14 35:11  
165 Sharon TAYLOR Female VW45-49 35:52  

(Unfortunately Oliver Brummitt had to retire with an injury)

On Sunday morning (24th Nov), 4 of us drove down into deepest Lancashire to compete in the Lee Mill Relays. The event is in its 5th year running and this year there were 87 entries.

The course is just over 10 km starting along a narrow track up through a disused quarry then onto the open fell. The terrain was very wet due to rain and had a mixture of very steep short ascents, good downhills and flat open running.

I ran the first leg in 55:55 however I seemed to come back a different colour to everyone else one bog being a lot deeper than I expected! Next was Will Buckton in a time of 1:02:55 who came back a lot cleaner than me.

Mark Wildsmith ran the next leg in time of 56:00 before handing over to Tom Hare on the last leg who ran a fast time of 52:51 to boost us up into a final position of 15th and a time of 3:47:41.

Which I think was a very competitive all round performance. However, more impressive was a solo runner called Chris Holdsworth who ran all 4 laps of the course in a time of 3:43 beating us by 4 minutes!

A good event for a damp November day and hopefully we will have a team next year.

Matt Holroyd

(couldn’t find a photo of you Tom sorry)

Results here

On Saturday 19th October, 12 Settle Harriers made the 2 hour-plus journey to Fairholmes in the Peak District and joined approximately 250 other teams for the British Fell Relay Championships. Aiming to cut down on carbon emissions around the race-site, competitors parked 6 miles from the start and boarded a shuttle bus.  The whole day, hosted by Dark Peak Fell Runners, was impeccably organised and those in charge couldn’t have done a better job. The back-drop to the hand-over/start area was stunning; the imposing Derwent Dam was accompanied by the forest and craggy hills of the National Park.

The courses were over rugged terrain, with large parts of the courses off-path and over thick heather. A few bogs and steep sections were dotted about the courses, very much making it a proper fell race and one which would take everything out of our legs.

The relay consisted of 4 legs: a solo 5 mile leg with 360m climb; a mapped 7.5 mile leg with 480m of climb (2 runners); an orienteering route of 7 miles and approx. 550m climb (2 runners) and finally another solo leg of 5 miles and 375m climb.

First off for us was Matt Holroyd of the Men’s team and Catherine Speakman of the Mixed team. Both runners placed their teams in great positions for the following legs, with Matt picking off several runners on the descent before finishing 73rd and Catherine moving through the runners to come back 189th.

Our duos for the 2nd leg were Matt Fretwell and Matt Cardus (Men’s team), and Richard Timms and Sam Allsopp (Mixed team). Both teams moved up a lot of places on this leg, as Matt and Matt had the 41st fastest lap time and Sam and Richard had the 127th.

Leg 3 was the most challenging leg of them all, as the runners were only given a map of their route a few minutes before setting off. In addition, this map was not the most straight-forward of maps, and therefore tested their orienteering skills greatly!  Martin Holroyd and Zach Jennings had a cracking run as they propelled the Men’s team into the top 40, with a 48th fastest time of 1:34:45. Carol Evans and Sharon McDonald also had a great run, finishing 206th on their leg.

Several hours after the start of the relay, leg 4 runners eventually set off on their route. For the Men’s team, I moved us up into 34th and 27th Open Men’s team with the 59th fastest leg time and John Osborne propelled the Mixed team several places up into 168th and 18th Mixed team as he registered the 105th fastest time for leg 4.

Both teams had a stellar performance, but more importantly, everyone had an amazing time and the great fell running atmosphere was not lost in the competitiveness of this race.

Report by Sebastian Segger-Staveley