Wednesday 12 November 2014

Ullswater jaunt....

Autumn view of Ullswater....(Click to enlarge)
     Running-wise, it was a leaner week than of late, with just 19 miles in the bank, but made up for it with some wonderful days walking in the Lake district over the weekend. We'd been invited by friends to stay at their luxury flat on the eastern side of Ullswater, between Pooley Bridge and Howtown, and arrived there around lunchtime on Saturday. After a quick snack there was sufficient daylight left for a six mile toddle round the southern end of Hallin Fell, over the bank to the shore path by Ullswater and on to Howtown pier. Unfortunately, I'd yet another painful fall on a slippery path by Martindale Church resulting in aches and pains to various parts of my anatomy that required mega doses of Ibuprofen to keep me moving. A planned five mile run on Sunday morning had to be substituted with a gentle two mile walk around Sharrow Cottages, Swarthbeck and Auterstone to ease the old joints back into action before running a slightly shortened route in the afternoon to the base of Hallin Fell and back.

      I spent the evening re-reading 'Feet in the Clouds' - Richard Askwith's inspiring book which he describes as a tale of
On reflection, we'd a short run on Sunday afternoon...
fell-running and obsession. If ever there was a tonic to counteract gloom and despondency, and get me firing on all cylinders again, this was the one I was looking for. Characters described in the book are credited with a masochistic disregard for danger and pain that verges on lunacy. What I'd suffered in that poxy little fall over in Martindale was nobbut a scratch compared to some of the accidents suffered by fell-runners on a more or less weekly basis. Some carried on running with broken bones, covered in blood and torn apart, but still got to the Finish before collapsing in a heap after giving it their all. Nearest I ever got to such heroics was running the last two miles of the Kentmere Horseshoe with a badly torn calf muscle to put the 2004 M70 Fell Running Championship beyond the reach of all my contemporaries. Since then I've become a bit of a wimp.

At the 'bridge of sighs' over Groove Gill...
Monday was forecast to be a cold, dry day but cloudy with very little in the way of sunshine. And so it turned out to be. Ideal for plodding up Fusedale and onto Pikeawassa without incurring too much of a sweat. Thanks to 600mg Ibuprofen before going to bed, to subdue any lingering aches or pains, I'd slept reasonably well so was able to match strides with my wonderful partner as she hared off along the bridleway to Mellguards to join the concrete farm track into lower Fusedale. She's not renowned for hanging about, as many of her regular U3A walking friends will vouch for, but speed doesn't prevent her from spotting any flora, fauna or points of interest that happen to be around. She pointed to a red deer stag and a pair of hinds on the ridge above us which my old myopic eyes would never have otherwise focussed upon.

      The steep, grassy path up Fusedale was muddy in parts and
Rest stop by the ruined building under Gowk Hill....
running with water. We stopped briefly at a bridge over Groove Gill at 1,250ft which over the years has become particularly meaningful to us. One of our favourite little spots in the Lake district. And I needed the rest! From there on, by a tumble-down building and on towards Brownthwaite Crag the rushy ground was particularly squelchy with some ankle deep areas that were difficult to avoid. Things improved as we followed a brackeny path to an awkward stile before striding upward to the turretted summit of Pikeawassa. Two well behaved Jack Russells, running free, totally ignored a herdwick sheep grazing by the path. And the Herdwick totally ignored them too. Funny how they know!
Old Runningfox on Steel Knotts above Ullswater...
A cold wind hit us as we reached the 1,360ft summit, ensuring we kept moving along the exposed ridge of Steel Knotts for a quick descent to Steel End and an easy walk along the road back to base. Pikeawassa is a grand hill with some wonderful views, east to High Street where we've had many a joyous run, south to the deer forest on The Nab where the annual rut is noisily elemental, west to the mighty Helvellyn range with its notorious Striding Edge, north west to those wonderful ridges of Blencathra and, down below, the vast expanse of Ullswater where Outward Bound school participants and yachtsmen spend many a happy hour ploughing through the water amid the most amazing scenery. As we reached the pier at Howtown a steamer, the Western Belle, was just leaving. A brief safety announcement floated across the water, followed by the words 'The bar is now open'. God, I could have murdered for a pint of cool lager! Next time, I thought, sod walking and running up those perishing hills. I'm going for a sail!


  1. Reading your stories I oftern wonder if I will still be about to run/walk up my mountain in 30 years time...

    Maybe next time you pack a couple of beers and take then to the top of the mountain for a drink!!!

    1. Of course you'll still be about in 30 years Coach. Think positive and don't ever begin to believe you're getting old.
      We rarely take anything up a mountain. The sum total of sustenance on Monday's jaunt was a mini Mars Bar....each!

  2. What stunning photos (as usual). How lucky to have a friends with a 'luxury apartment'! You've almost made me want to go for a hike instead of a run...