Making the most of an opportunity to skive a day off work on Friday (I work for myself) and with all the other guys busy I decided on a solo out and back run from Edale.
An early start meant I’d be there for around 9am, straight forward enough to get to but with some very narrow and steep roads taking down to the bottom of the vallley my first thoughts were it could even be an issue to make the start line in January if the weather is bad, salt bins by the sides of all roads leading in says a lot!!
Pulling into the car park at 9.10 with the sun trying hard to break through the thinning clouds made conditions great for running all was good, well all was good apart from a little lack in self confidence on my part with the map, I’m ok reading and understanding maps but this was the first time I’d been out somewhere completely unknown and alone, knowing the pennine way route should be reasonably clear on the ground helped to ease my concerns, my confidence issue should be put right with my upcoming Mountain Skills nav course with the guys at http://www.nav4.co.uk !
Leaving the car park and heading out to the start location with my map in hand it wasn’t long before my first challange…… Yep there I am walking along when a couple appear from over a fence and ask if I can set them on the right path as they think they’ve lost there way…… Trying hard not to look as lost as they do we consult my map and there route description booklet and realise they are indeed on the wrong path and need to continue on the road with me a little further, a quick chat about my outing and upcoming Spine Challange and were soon parting ways as they head off on the right path…… Good deed done and almost appeared to know what I was doing Phewwwww.
Head out on the Pennine Way and its a nice incline heading up and out of the valley

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All good on the route / map front and I’m soon at the foot of Jacobs Ladder, a short but fairly steep climb sees me at the top with a magnificent Cain marking a great view back down the valley

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Another short climb and I’ve got an amazing view looking across another valley with Kinder Reservoir out to my left, a quick check on the map and I can see Cluther Rocks ahead which is the next point to head towards, a rough flagstone path easily shows the way and I’m making good time and plodding along nicely, reaching the rocks and suddenly my route has disappeared and I’m faced with a boulder field !!!
Time not to panic check the map and move forward slight traces of footsteps here and there and the sight of another Cain in the distance confirms im right and continue on through the rocks

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It’s was shortly after that I made my one and only navigation mistake, I’d come to Kinder Downfall and was expecting a good crossing point or bridge to show the crossing of the stream at top of the falls but there was nothing, with the now clear again path continue in along the stream edge I followed the path for what must have been another half a mile, checking the map it showed the crossing as right at the head of the falls and I was now clearly a long way from there so I turned round and went back, checking I’d not missed the crossing I was soon back to the falls and still not seen anything, picking a safe route across keeping dry feet was easy and after a small climb over some rocks I found the path on the other side, lesson learnt don’t always look for a bridge ect but trust the map.

The route from here was well trodden and easy to follow, more ups and down before hitting a crazily steep decent before climbing back up Mill Hill

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Top of mill hill a quick bite to eat and I’m off running yes running !!!!! Down a flagstone path with Peat Bog either side heading towards the A57, nothing strenuous so far as accent or decent and open moorland on all side is making it a bit of a boring section…. Sometimes we’re spoilt with the views we get when out.
This soon changed when running toward a section of path that was covered by a large black mucky puddle, thinking I’d run to one side to avoid the deep middle bit I’m soon knee deep in the bog and laid face first in the puddle !!!! Yes I’d obviously stepped of the path edge and straight into the thick of it, several loud choice words later and I’m upright dripping wet and covered head to toe !!!

Lesson number two learnt….. Do not step off the path !!!!!!!

This section could be really tough if its thick snow up there in January, with the path been level with the side bogs its gonna be very hard to stay on the path, I had spare layers with me so a five min stop and I was clean and dry again and soon arrived at the A57 with a little over 12 miles under my belt, time to be sensible, turn round and start heading back before i get to far, a better crossing of the puddle of doom and making good time on the flagstones again i was soon back enjoying some great views back towards Cluther Rock this time from the opposite side of the water fall, funny how you don’t seem to be going for long but things look along way off when your heading back towards them, a perfect crossing of the stream at the correct point, a slightly better crossing of the boulder field and I was we’ll on my way back to Edale

Coming back down Jacob’s ladder I was starting to feel very thirsty and the on set of muscle cramps were starting to come fast and strong, after the surgery I’ve had on my legs circulation isn’t great and cramping in both quads is often a big problem for me, I’ve learnt that lots of electrolyte helps massively and started drinking as much as possible when i suddenly realised I’d drank the 1 1/2 litres of fluid I’d taken with me, a quick stop to take my emergency half litre from inside my pack and I was back on my way thinking how poor my hydration could have been with out the emergency bottle….. I’d passed no where that I could have re-filled with water and the one and only stream at the falls was a very yellow/orange colour that I wouldn’t have fancied drinking.

Considering I was now around 20 miles I was wondering how were going to make the one and only checkpoint at 50 miles during the event, certainly shouldn’t be sweating as much in January but I think this could still be an issue ???

Final pic of the run back into edale

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It was a very enjoyable if not a touch lonely day out on my own that totalled a little over 23miles.

So to sum the day up
1. My map reading and confidence in my ability to do so was improved, there really is no substitute for just getting out there and having a go, although knowing it should be an easy to follow route/path double checking and noticing feature on the map and landscape certainly helped.
2. Do NOT to step of the path around very boggy areas.
3. How very valuable emergency supply can be.

Onward and upward as they say, http://www.ultratrail26.com/ultratrail26/howgills.html is my next long trot out and looking forward to my next outing with the full http://www.ultramadness.co.uk chaps

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