It’s been a while since I’ve run in the mountains. The last time the rubber outsole of my shoes touched rock was at the Salomon Ring of Steall, some 6 or more weeks previously.
I ran in anger. Pressurised. It was a race after all.
This was different.
It was my terms. My rules. My choice.
There would be no fanfare, no aid station, competitors or marked course.Starting in Elterwater, I retraced part of the Lakeland 50 course, to the mouth of Stickle Ghyll. Broad, winding farm tracks, hard packed under heavy machinery, it was almost like road running; if not for the cattle grids and gates.
Starring up at the colossal face of Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle, my ascent began, working around sheep, sodden trail and ice.
As I was soon to discover, the first visual signs of winter were setting in. Whereas the Langdale Valley was awash with trees displaying all manner of brown, orange and autumnal tones, the flanks of the fells bear no fruits. Sheet ice started at around 300-400 meters, through few and far between at first. As things got higher, a change was all too clear.Stood beneath the buttress stooping over Stickle Tarn, I decided to explore new territory and the east flank of Pavey Ark. Ice covered bogs and mud led to a scrambling ascent, where cold hands met cooler yet grippy rock. Moisture was absent, aiding the ascent. Glimmers of white shone around as sun tore threw the thick cloak of cloud, for short spots.
Fresh snow greeted the saddle between Pavey and Harrison, a reminder of where the season was progressing. Despite all the conditions thrown at them, the Adidas Terrex X-King, with their Continental compound and mtb tread clawed the available terrain. Sticking to rock like a climbing shoe and handling off piste running well. Deeper lugs would have been the cherry to the descent.The overwhelming observation was silence. Not another being stood on the mountain, the lack of noise was almost deafening. I live in a village and yet I was taken aback by the peace. We could all benefit more from detaching from modern day life.
Looking across at faces holding a light dusting of the white stuff, the fact I was in a long sleeve top and 3/4 tights, was remarkable.
Ticking off Pike of Stickle, it was time to return to base and have some much deserved breakfast.
12 Miles, 900 meters of climbing & a true fell running experience. I may not be in mountain shape, but it was great to be back in the high country (as the UK goes) and giving my legs a test.
See below for a short video