River Lune Source to Sea

Finally I had no major commitments, I wasn’t recovering or training for anything, and the weather was forecast to be good. All I had to do was convince Diane - my sister – to drop me off somewhere on a track out of Ravenstonedale. I managed to overcome this last hurdle and on Saturday morning at 07:35 I set off to locate the source of the River Lune.

After 25 minutes of following a small stream then contouring onto the side of Green Bell, I was admiring the start of the Lune as it spread down the hillside and into the valley far bellow. As this was the first time I had been here I took a few moments to admire the vista in the early morning sun. A few wispy non threatening clouds licked the surrounding hills. I was luckily in the clear. Seeing this trickle, below my feet, start off on its journey 52 miles to the open sea was awe inspiring. Just as I imagined it would be.

Almost reluctantly I set off running beside the trickle as it formed into a stream. Criss-crossing it and thinking soon I wouldn’t be able to do this without wading or swimming across. Into Newbiggin on Lune and the first bit of micro navigation through farms and tracks took me onto the main road that my sister and I had travelled in on an hour ago. I tracked this for the next 4 miles. I could, at times, have been nearer to the River but I decided it was too complicated and often impossible to be right on the banks. So I decided I would track the line of it keeping as close as was reasonable for its entire length. After running on the grass at the side of the road admiring the view of the far Lakeland hills, I was glad to turn off onto a minor road towards Tebay. At Tebay I made a toilet stop in the Tea rooms, handy I thought as I left. But ½ a mile down the road I realised that I had left my main map behind. I thought of doing the run without it, but I had never done any of this part (I only new the section from Devils Bridge on) so this was not an option. Running all the way I retraced my steps looking for any signs of it just in case I had dropped it. I hadn’t I had left it on the toilets cistern; thankfully no one had used the toilet since. I grabbed it like a relay baton, and mighty relieved I continued

The next part tracked the Lune on farm tracks about 150 feet above it and level with the M6 on the other side of the valley. After a few wrong turns going through farms and lots of map reading I ended up on the Dales Way. This made navigation much easier but still didn’t stop me going astray just before Sedbergh. I arrived at Sedbergh having ran most of the 18 miles so far, I realised here that the farm tracks styles, gates, and navigation were making my progress slow. I think if it had been on roads all the way, it would have took me about 2 hours 45 mins to get there not the 3 hours 20 that it actually took. Never mind I would just have to do more running. I got to the bridge were I had stashed 2 bottles of Lucozade and 1 SIS energy bar 2 days earlier. I wasn’t shocked that the wildlife had eaten my energy bar, but I was shocked that they had drunk one of my bottles; thank god they didn’t want the other one. This meant that I would only have 1 ½ litres form the source to my next stop at the crook o lune. Not really enough for 28 miles and 5 ½ hours of running but never mind it would have to do.

A quick 3 minutes breather and I was off. Map in hand navigating more farms and tracks for a while then onto a main road. I could have stayed on the road all the way to Kirkby Lonsdale to catch some time back, but decided to be true to the line. I ventured off the road twice to be nearer to the Lune once near Hollins and once at Treasonfield. On the 2nd of these ventures I had my first bad patch and thought I had better eat and drink some more. I had an energy bar and in the process lost part of one of my back teeth, thankfully I had no pain from it. I then had a 4 minute break at Devils Bridge, sitting on the seats admiring the busy scene before me. I contemplated how much light I would have. It was 13:30 and on my recce run in August it had taken me 4 hours 20 minutes from here. I thought I would be pushing it light wise. I didn’t want to finish it in the dark. This was now a race against the sun.

All too soon I was back on the move running through the cow fields out of Kirkby Lonsdale. I new the route from here and was glad to be on familiar territory at last. I pushed it in the ever warming temperatures. Keen to finish the run before sunset. I loved this section it was much nicer than I remembered it from the recce. The cows seemed less threatening as well. I reached the Crook O Lune and had my longest break here. It was worth waiting for a gorgeous bacon and egg bun. 15 minutes later I ran off down the cycle track, I was on home territory now. So much so that, unlike the rest of the route, I barely even gave the river a glance. Head down I pushed through a, post large feed, bad patch. Recovered my stashed 2 bottles at Denny Beck and pushed it. I only had 2 walking breaks of 2 minutes each, all the way to the end. I noted the width of the river and how it had widened from a trickle to, for the most part 20 feet wide, then eventually to about 200 feet wide were I was now.

I made my way through Glasson and through the last farm to breast the small rise and catch my first close up glimpse of the end. Plover scar light house was fully out of the water. My run would be longer but more satisfying. On my last run I couldn’t get onto the light house as the tide was half in. I made my way across the skier and onto the edge of the lighthouse. I recollected standing at the trickle that starts the flow of this river; it certainly is a great journey. The sun was just about to set; I retraced my steps 2 miles to Glasson Dock car park just before dark.

In total I had run 57 miles, 2,707 feet of ascent and 4,370 feet of descent, and tracked the Lune for 52 (river length 44 miles) of the miles in 9 hours and 37 minutes starting at 08:03 and finishing at 17:40 hrs. Thanks to my sister (Diane) for her assistance, even when feeling under the weather.

Setting off for the source

Glasson Dock car park, after returning from the end at Plover Scar.

Bills Ramsay Round take 2

19th September 2009
Will and I Joined Bill on the 1st leg ; Glen Nevis to Loch Treig Dam.
20 miles and 10,500 feet

Hindsight tells me this round is very tough when done in the later months of the year, when there is less daylight. Bill admits it was a speculative attempt based on the fact that he could have completed all 3 rounds (B.G. P.B and RR) in a 12 month period. Remembering how tough the lack of light was on his BG – done at the same time of last year – this was always going to be a big ask.

Will and I steeled ourselves for supporting Bill on his first leg out of Glen Nevis, on a cold September night. At midnight we set off with Bill on the toughest leg of the round from Glen Nevis to Ferseit Dam. Will and I felt a bit loaded down for the long journey ahead, and by Red Burn Will agreed that we should have set off earlier and let Bill catch up at Red Burn to make it easier for us. No matter we were off and it felt good to be on the highest of Scotlands hills in the night and looking down on the surrounding lights. We traversed the Ben and Carn Mor Dearg without incident. However travelling on this rough ground at night a bit loaded down was more wearing than I had imagined. Bill was navigating as he was the most experienced on these hills (Will and I had never been on them at night). We took a line to far to the left off CMD and ended up lined up on a very steep grassy way up Aonoch Mor. This felt like torture – Bill has since apologised – Will and I felt beasted by this torturous ascent. By the top and the start of the out and back to the summit we were tired, we let Bill go and do the out and back and took a break on the wind swept plateau. Will and I hugged the ground to keep warmer out of the chilly wind.

All too soon Bill was back and we headed off over Aonoch Beag then a good line onto Sgurr chonich Mor. I felt we were moving fast, but as I recorded the times I noted that by now we were 20 minutes down on schedule (this schedule was based on daylight at this point). I think the combination of having a weight on your back and not being able to spring from rock to rock because of the weight in conjunction with the lack of light, made it feal like we were moving much faster than we were. Most of the route from the Ben to Stob coirie claurie we were trying to catch Bill.

As we took the summit of Stob coirie claurie and headed for Stob coirie an laugh Will began to fall back on the long undulating ridge so I made an effort to catch Bill and at the same time I was explaining out plan to miss out Stob Ban he suggested it. It would, in theory, give Will and I breather. Well that was the theory antyway. I waved Bill off. Little did I realise at the time that I would not see Bill for another 2 h 20 mins and Will wouldn’t see him again until meeting back at the climbers hut (the teams base).

In the still dark morning 5:40 I think, we made an error and ended up way to the left of Stob Ban on a really rough decent line to Stob Coire Essain. We realised that catching Bill anytime soon was going to be tough in our knackered state; the night had took its toll on Will and I wasn’t too great either. We made our way down and across to start a chase for Bill. Will soon told me to carry on and go on my own. I made my way for the col between Stob coire Easain and Stob a Choire Mheadhoin. When I got on the side of Easain I realised that I had to scramble up and over, going around was not possible, far too steep. As I crawled up and over the top I looked down to the col (my original target) and there was Bill just starting up Stob a Choire Mheadhoin. Renewed with energy I chased him as if in a fell race and caught him the top, I have never felt more wiped out. I gasped a few sorries and gave him some water and food. We were off for the dam now, and Bills first proper break.

Embarrassed by my foolish error I made every effort to encourage Bill for the next section. He was 1 hour down but had done the toughest part. The weather looked iffy. By the time Bill left the dam with his fresh supporters the wind had got stronger and was blowing white horses down loch treig.

Behind Will had bonked and was in a bit of a bad way. I had shouted from a scrambling position on the side of Stob coire Easain not to follow me. Luckily he didn’t. But whilst descending Stob coire Easain he felt worn out and rested at the col before re grouping and eventually getting to the dam 1 hour after we had left. Rob waited for him.

After re-fueling and sleeping at the Climbers hut, at 5 pm we heard the disappointing news that on the 2 hills into the Mamores Bill had called it a day. The weather had worsened to a point were it was knocking Bill around. With another set of darkness ahead and a long way to go, it was the right decision.

It was a brave effort but this is a tough round, and to have less light makes it very tough. I think it would have been a big ask even in perfect weather. Given a good day around the middle of next year I am sure Bill will tick the last of his big 3 rounds off.

Thanks to Ian Charters for the use of his photos (Ians Blog http://justusandafewfriends.blogspot.com/), taken on leg 2, When the weather varied between lovely sunshine and heavy showers.

The Hodder Valley Show Fell Race

12th Sept 2009
7.5 miles 1,000 feet
This was a good day out, as it was part of the Hodder Valley show. It had a good fun mix of activities and competitions including an entertaining tug o war.
I had a good run pushing hard on a course that was ideally suited to me – a nice undulating out and back course with a loop on some steeper ground. I managed to gain places on the return down the more technical descent and maintain my position on the rest of the undulating road and fields to finish strongly in 13th place out of 66 runners in 56:03. This was my best ever finish in a Fell race. Will also had a good run, he finished in 30th in 60:39 and Ian finished strong in 62:29.
It made me start thinking of trying to get a top 10 finish next year. Picking a small race and a bit more speed training, I may just be capable. It will be fun trying anyway.