26th July 2008
16 miles 6,000 ft
On a boiling hot day Ian Will and I set off for Rosthwaite. We enjoyed the drive up their in the early morning haze. On arrival we had an inauspicious start to the recce, when we headed down the road the wrong way. But we soon corrected this (it seams to be a recurring problem of mine!) and we were soon heading off down the narrow passage- that in a weeks time we would be squeezing down with runners in the Borrowdale Fell Race. We soon started the first real climb up to Bessy Boot. This is the first steep climb on the route, but certainly not the last.
Once on Bessy boot we, or should I say I, got attacked by some nasty little flies, just at the moment I got my camera out to attempt to take some photos. But never mind I batted them off and got some good photos. The heat was now getting oppressive, and this was set to be the theme for the day. The heat continued to climb in the same steady fashion that we climbed the traverse along to Esk Hause and then eventually Sca fell Pike. Nearing Sca fell Pike we had our first respite as a small amount of wispy cloud shielded us from the sun for a few moments on the ascent, and also at an inopportune moment on the descent. It meant that we missed the track part way down as it went over a short climb and then to the right. We headed off left and ended up struggling to pass over a water fall. It all added on to the time that we were exposed to the ever increasing heat, especially now that the wispy cloud had completely disappeared.
We eventually made Sty Head, and despite the allure of a swim in Sty Head tarn, we continued straight up, onto Great Gable. I started to feel it now and the usual distance between me and Will on the climbs seamed to grow larger than ever, Ian was an equal distance behind me, clearly Ian was feeling the heat as much as I was, and we began to wilt in the afternoon sun. On reaching the summit Will and I basked in the heat trying to recover. Ian approached and we all sat on the rocks with the rest of the walkers to eat and discuss shortening the route. I decided the as the race was only 5 days away discretion was the better part of valour and we all agreed. The idea was to continue the route to Honnister and then part way up Dale Head, veer off towards Dale Head tarn on a lower traverse.
This went according to plan. Several stops for water and the customary dunking of the caps and we struggled up Dale Head to our traverse line. Rarely have I been so wiped out. The 5 ½ hours in the heat to this point had clearly taken their toll. We pressed on and finally descended down to the River Derwent, were we had a good well deserved wash.
Overall it was a great day out, albeit a testing one. We all hoped for cooler conditions next Saturday for the race.