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.