Starting with a massive thank you to Tom for fabulous organising of us as always. He put together a brilliant plan for us with 2 brilliant days of running with various options for all of us to choose from. This takes a lot of work which we all very much appreciate – we were very sad that he and others weren’t able to be there due to illness but were certainly toasted in Jaipur and sticky carb drinks 🙂.
Thank very much to our wonderful leaders Rob, Matt, Steve and Catharine. We couldn’t be in better hands, nor Soles. To all the bakers, cooks and drivers and for such kind encouragement to each other throughout 🙂.
The grand arrival:
The entry to the beautiful Grasmere YHA was ravaged with gaping bags – like Fagin’s den, items strewn around the floor, rich for the pickings. That waterproof mitten is mine! We hauled these to our rooms – it’s a good job we weren’t flying – fill yer boots.
Delicious Dinner very kindly fashioned and served in style by Steph – we all came together – a lovely atmosphere of vegging and chilling – excited chatter about what the next day might entail – weather, as always was an unfortunately less than hot topic. The forecast was appalling
Le grand depart:
Day 1 –
Huddling under a bus shelter in the driving rain awaiting the Keswick espresso – all in the same leaking dinghy. A photo at Moot Hall and then off – all initially calm and damp, like the Tegg’s reservoir – keeping our reserves for what was to come. Up and up Skiddaw (this, Dolly wagon and possibly Hell-vellyn are the only names that stuck, like drawing pins in the map of the Sole 😉).
As we climbed further, I could hear Poseidon shuddering to life -driving, freezing rain – a scramble to pull on every manner of waterproof covering – survival mode – what if it is like this all the way round? does everyone feel like me? They did and we all stuck together, a few calming words shared, not far to go and then we drop down 🙂 – Poseidon at the Hell-m.
The very essence of bog ensued – the particular texture of mud, seeping, sloshing water, deep squelching – my seal has lost its’ very skin.
A ridiculous river crossing requiring frontal and derriere support – an electric Eel shock to the already weary muscles 😉.
Arriving down to Wendy at the end of Leg 1 was a real delight. Her kind and friendly face, a warm, dry boot full of flasks of coffee, tomato and chicken soup, water and lashings of cream, jam and ginger ale – some extreme faffery with filling water flasks left moments to neck the soup and stuff a damp but delightful peanut butter sandwich in kindly made by Craig and Kate.
The next climb I felt like Jack at the bottom of the beanstalk – stalk I did, with no beans 🙂 – across the tops – Rob kindly replying to the ‘what’s next after this crag’ repeatedly – knowing what to expect made the spectre of the Ogre at the top less fearful.
When will we arrive at Hell-velyn – I am sure my favourite Dolly Wagon was before this – so it erased it from my muscle memory. Enjoying listening to Steph and Barrie discuss Smorgasbords and the prices of deli chilli bites rather than sausages and Steve musing on the pros and cons of Satsumas at dawn.
A veritable stumble down a beautiful path to a tarn – a word I have only heard in the lakes – I imagined the old Norse gentleman fishing for old Soles in there, ready to fry. Not far now – only 3 miles 🙂 – not quite looking how you’d like to be looking running along there 😉 – back onto the road, a frightful slog brightened up by a newborn lamb, shaking to it’s feet and nuzzling into it’s proud Mum – surely a sign – it’s unsteady but by God it got up and got it down him!
A delirious return to the room – some incoherent greetings shared with my lovely room mates.
Off to Tweedies for dinner – Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee – everyone descended back to earth with various lumps and bumps – ‘basking’ in the after glow – proud and grateful to have got round the blasted thing and in such kind, encouraging company.
In a shorter summary, a lift of the slightly Tarn-ished Sole – a beautiful part of Leg 3 – lovely Spring still weather – peaceful views – I like this one, maybe I can do this 🙂)))))))) – even if I do still have to get over to those faraway peaks through every blessed boar trough along the way 😅.
As I looked at those beautiful peaks, I remember being a highly inexperienced, supported Mule at Carl and Graham’s brilliant BGs on Leg 4 – sunny, spring weather and lovely camaraderie – that was the vision that was etched on my memory.
I am glad that it has been replaced with the vision of Poseidon, despite his wrath, he carried us through and will do so again – this is now the memory and importantly of overcoming this and every other pulsating sinew – firing at me to stop. I must dredge this memory up 42 times, again and again and I will do this, carried along by the support of the wonderful Harriers.
This was a driving force all weekend – from filling boots with bursting bags to drive clubmates 100s of miles; baking delicious flapjacks; chilli’s; wrapping once dry peanut butter sandwiches to hand out; checking in throughout – how you doing; well done; not far now; pulling vacuum packed flasks apart; the moon shone all the way on this bit 🙂; this is awful – banging up the road section on Sunday morning 🙂; but we are together and we will do it 🙂)))))).
Thanks very much everyone for a wonderful weekend 🙂)).
Author: Kathleen O’Donnell
Some folk were thirsty, nervous or both, so headed to the 1769 Inn to enjoy some Grasmere Gold, virtually straight from the source. Some innovative and novel kit ideas were discussed – can’t disclose here due to intellectual property rights – and the fell running rule of 3 invented: Style, Speed, Safety. In that order. (Disclaimer, this isn’t in fact true, safety always comes first!)
A couple of pints. A bowl of chips. Some nuts. A couple of pints. A couple of pints. A bowl of chips. Then back to Grasmere YHA for Steph’s much anticipated veg chilli. I’ll happily admit that I scraped the bowl dry, it was perfect grub for the big day that lay ahead the next morning.
Saturday morning, very early and very wet. We got the bus to Keswick, chatter on the bus was excitable, everyone was looking forward to The Big Recce (legs 1 and 2 of the Bob Graham).
A quick coffee at Booths and the opportunity to have a ride on the porcelain donkey. The chatter seemed less excitable now. Skiddaw was fast approaching.
At 8ish we set off up Skiddaw, from a Keswick market stall. It was grim, head on in to a bitterly cold, northerly wind and driving rain. I had doubts that we would get round the whole route in this weather, it was some of the worst stuff I’d been up in. For a while we prioritized Style and Speed over Safety, keeping our legs on show and our waterproof trousers in our bags. About an hour in, up Skiddaw, the third S (Safety) was priority and we layered up which provided precious warmth. Some of the group wore their trousers way below the waist, to look gangsta and down-with-the-kids, to (crucially) maintain our Style. It was a real struggle up Skiddaw and to make matters worse Barrie waxed lyrical about Man City’s success and their uplifting “underdog” story.
Once we dropped off Skiddaw we got some respite from the biting wind and heavy rain. We navigated our way through the bogs that lead up to Great Calva, the Greatest of Calvas. As I called for us to channel our inner Pondskater spirit, Rob – with the comic timing of Kevin Bridges – fell on his arse straight in to a stinky bog. It helped lift the spirits after a tough couple of hours.
From Great Calva, the Greatest of Calvas, there is a wonderful crossing over the River Caldew. We just about clambered through the fast-flowing river which surged above our hips. Great fun! Frog Graham anyone? Onwards and upwards through the ever-sodden Mungrisdale Common. The arduous trek leads you to the saddle of Blencathra. Allen, Joe and I chose to descend Blencathra via the “Parachute” route. Due to the high winds I thought the “Squirrel Suit” route would have been a more appropriate name and approach. The wind didn’t throw us too far off course. We dropped down vertical grass, heather and greasy rock. Some proper rugged running and stunning scenery.
At Threlkeld cricket club we were met by Wendy, what a legend, who had made tea and soup for everyone. 4 cold and wet hours on the hill made the offer of a lift back to Keswick very tempting. Maybe my legs would have thanked me later if I’d taken the offer up. The others, who had descended via Doddick, the longer but more runnable option, joined us shortly after to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea. Craig immediately went about his business, he hung up his clothes to dry on a fence (not sure how effective this was in the rain) and invented a new Anglo-Asian fusion dish, Thai green chicken soup and peanut butter, a satay ramen if you like. All locally sourced from Wendy’s boot and Craig’s bag.
A brutally steep climb up Clough Head and out of Threlkeld. The climb is hard, but the reward is worth it, some beautiful running over the Dodds and over to Helvellyn. The air was still and humid, the rain stopped, spirits were high.
As we reached Helvellyn, brief windows formed in the clouds offering a tantalising glimpse in to another world of stunning scenery, we appreciated it after a few hours of tough running. Earlier in the day we had glided across the bogs as Pondskaters, now we trudged across the land like weathered donkeys (I only speak for myself here). Rob had been keeping track of the schedule all day. The most important checkpoints were in bold and capitalised: PRINKS and TWEEDIES. The decision was made to skip Fairfield and Seat Sandal in order to keep on time for the all-important parts of the day’s schedule. Young whipper-snappers Allen, Joe and Steph stuck to the original plan and summited Fairfield and Seat Sandal and added in The Travellers Rest Inn for good measure. Chapeau.
The rest of the group limped down to Grasmere as the sun peaked out casting a stunning golden orange veil over the fells surrounding Grasmere. It was a beautiful end to a hard but rewarding day. To quote Digby Harris in the Viceroy circa 2021, it was a “Connoisseurs fell run”.
We made it to PRINKS and TWEEDIES. Over some pints of Jairpur and grub we reminisced with the rest of the group, who had ran some of the Cumbrian Way, about what a fun and eventful great day out.
Everyone else got out the next day, sadly I was unable to due to some severe chaffing.
Great running All and thanks for a fab weekend. A special thanks to Tom Whittington to organise it all so brilliantly.
Author: Jake Dickinson