Tag Archive: navigation


Nav? I’ll just follow the person in front…

… that was my strategy for the MdS, and it worked. I didnt die, or even get mildly lost, despite my ‘drip under the tree’ incident. However, I had a thought that the Spine Challenger would be a different story, particularly as there’s no mention of support from helicopters, or gimassive green lasers to guide the way, or indeed another 1000 runners on the course to follow.

Nav refresher it is then…

Thankfully we’ve recently got to know Charlie Sproson from Mountain Run really well (he’s also doing the full Spine coincidentally), and he agreed to help us out with the skills we’d need to prevent deathbybadnav in Yorkshire come January

So that’s how we ended up at Mountain Run’s nerve centre in Watermillock, drinking brews and eating over-priced chocolate hob-nobs (they saw Glyn coming, again). We had a great couple of hours chatting about kitting choices, and nutrition and hydration, getting some good tips in the process, and also reinforcing some of the decision we’d made. Glyn’s face made me chuckle a number of times as he went from glee to ‘oh crap i’m going to die’.

We then got our kit together, and piled into Chadderseses van for the trip to Dufton near Appleby in Cumbria, and the Pennine Way. Took us a bit longer to get there than expected, but I’ll not go into that, and we were out of the van and sorting ourselves out. It was like a Montane catalogue shoot with all the kit that we’ve got, and Charlie is another who’s getting support from them – not sure any of us will ever get a modelling contract though. Then we were off up the road chuntering away to each other.  We rounded a corner and Charlie kicked in to gear – right where are we, how long do we expect to be on this path for, when will we be turning a corner.  Glyn and Chads confidently answered the questions, I disagreed with them. Show me where you are Wayne…. Ah, that’s the problem, I’m going down the wrong path, starting in the wrong place.  I was off to a bad start as I’d got lost within half a mile of the van!

We got some experience in recognising our surroundings as we made our way slowly uphill, checking out where we were in the daylight to a pretty accurate degree.  And then hit the snowline!  And boy, was there a lot of it, which surprised me. This was pretty exciting, it was soon going to be dark, and finding landmarks was becoming more difficult in the snow, and then we looked around and saw the clouds moving in too. AWESOME!!

We hit a cairn on Green Fell and the wind hit us.  Flipping heck it was cold!  We were fairly well kitted out between us, and had been gradually pulling on buffs, gloves and hats on as we ascended the fellside, but the wind went through me.  The other guys started putting waterproof trousers on to get some wind protection to their legs, but I thought I’d be ok as I had Skins and walking trousers on – Lesson Number 1!!

Charlie asked me to verify where we were by finding a sheep fold that should have been around 50 metres or so away.  I put my head torch on and trotted over.  Nope, no sheep pen. Some massive boulders, but they’re too big.  Charlie used this as an excercise for us.  Use the compass, measure the distance, pace it out.  Nope, no sheep pen still.  Phew, it’s not just me then (I’ll be back when the snow’s gone to find that bloody sheep pen).

Darkness was now well and truly upon us, and we were into the bubbles of light on our headtorches and not much else.  Talking through buffs muffling our voices.  My finger tips were getting proper cold despite my gloves, so Charlie had us doing actions to get circulation going. Brilliant, they were warm again and Lesson 2.  Now it was my toes, and snow was up inside my trousers and down into my goretex boots – wet cold feet – need gaiters – Lesson 3!  These lessons were coming thick and fast now.

Back to the cairn.  Measure the distance to the next cairn. Take a bearing – bloody hell I got it right!  Then it’s ‘two hundred metres, two hundred paces, off we go…. how’s everyone feeling’ says Charlie, ‘Bricking myself’said I.  Good was the response, and off we went, off the edge of the earth (or so it felt).  Two hundred and two paces later, and a cairn emerged from the darkness and I was bloody delighted.  I couldnt get over the fact that I’d managed not to lose myself on the fell, although the other three had taken the same bearing and were walking alongside me counting too.  At the cairn, we did the same again, with a longer count, but did the same again! Awesome!  I was feeling comfortable and confident now as we took another bearing from cairn to cairn.  On the downside, I could feel the cold leaching warmth from my legs and arms now, and I was getting really cold.  I had a spare down jacket in my pack, which I was contemplating putting on, but then we made it to the final cairn and then agreed to get off the fell down a road and back home.  We took a bearing to the road end, where it met the path, and off we trogged through the snow.

We had a great wander back to Dufton by the road, which had some incredibly drifting snow across, which seems a bit surreal now.  Chadders and I were chuntering away for most of the trip, with Glyn and Charlie chatting away further back as we wandered through Knock, then Dufton back to the van and the rest of the chocolate hob nobs

As always, we had a great day on the fells, and it was good to introduce Charlie to some of our ‘banter’, which was at least 50% down due to the absence of Andy.  All in all the day was fantastic, and I feel much happier about being in the darkness somewhere on the Pennine Way come Yorkshire.  However, I’ll feel less confident in Chadwick, after the needle on his compass decided to reverse direction with North facing South, but that’s another story.

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A recce of two halves…..

Sunday 14th April saw a very early start to meet the rest of the crew at Hawes which we only just made. After a near head on collision with a VW Golf coming toward us  very much on the wrong side of the road was maybe just a sign of things to come……well read on.

We met the boys and ditched the motor at Hawes and made our way to Horton-In-Ribblesdale. The Cumbrian collective at this point were amazed at the value for money car parking charges being only £3.50 for the day.  Half the price than in the Lakes!!! #yorkshire #yorkshire #yorkshire

Upon our arrival at Horton the weather was overcast with a breeze and all was looking good. More astonishment at the car park charges, this time £4.00, but more still more than agreeable for a good day out and a bit like a buy one get one free but across the border.

So which way, amazingly the 1st place we went was to the pub, well the car park of the Crown to where we picked up the Pennine Way. These were to be out first tentative footsteps of what will be our 108 mile epic in January 2014.

We made or way along the Pennine Way and the route which is well signposted and good underfoot all the way to Birkwith Moor and the edge of the forests. We crossed a stream or two and despite having waterproof socks on I was ridiculed for leaping these to ensure I kept my feet dry.

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We’d been doing some good map reading tests along the way following our navigation session with Charlie Sproson, Director of The Outdoor Warehouse, to ensure we knew where we were and paying much needed attention of our surroundings, height and picking up locations across the valley to make sure we worked our timing out from point to point.

We could see the snow capped iconic Yorkshire 3 Peaks, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside. We were also able to see the weather that was chasing us along our route, it didn’t look good.

Our pace was good and Crossing Sike Moor to join with the Dales Way we made great progress up Oughtershaw Side and on toward Dodd Fell. It was here the Cumbrians made good decisions and donned full waterproofs.

THE SECOND HALF

I was sporting a couple of base layers and my new Montane Minimus Smock (review to follow), full length A400 Skins, waterproof socks with Injini liners and my Inov8 295’s. Despite the fact that the wind had whipped up to what felt like gale force and the rain had started I was still toasty warm and didn’t feel I needed my waterproof trousers which were in my pack.

As we followed the track under the summit of Dodd Fell we had to negotiate to snow drifts that were covering the track. In places we were knee deep and underneath was either ice trying to bring us down or deep freezing puddles.

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I had my Kahtoola spikes in my pack but these wouldn’t have been much use as they would have clogged up with the snow being very wet as now the rain which was near horizontal was turning to hail and was making things pretty miserable.

A couple of slips on the ice jarred a few muscles trying to stay upright, much to the amusement of the rest of the boys, and battling our way through the drifts was using all our muscles. This went on for around 2/3 miles!

Working our way along the track towards Ten End seemed to take and age only to be made much much worse by my lace loops snapping causing my shoe to start working loose. I had spare laces in my 1st aid kit and also as a lanyard for my compass (just in case) but on this occasion this wasn’t the issue and the only thing that would have worked was duct taping my shoe to my foot had it got any worse. Note to self wrap some around my bottle just in case!!!

So the rain, which had now got even harder and colder had run down my jacket sleeves and soaked my gloves, it was also so loud on my hood despite my hat that we were unable to hear one another over the noise.

As we topped out at Ten End and crossed Sleddale Pasture I stopped to put on my Berghaus Vapour Storm jacket. For once id acted before I needed to, more as prevention on this occasion, as I was still quite warm but there was zero let up in the rain and I wanted to make sure I didn’t start to get cold. Wayne reminded me to eat here and I popped another chunk of Chris’s amazing Granola! 

What id noticed was that despite my waterproof socks my feet felt very wet. What I hadn’t noticed is that the fierce rain/hail had saturated my skins and was running down my legs, into my socks and in turn was filling them up! Even worse tho was I had bloody cankles!

Now this is an ongoing discussion amongst the Ultramadness team and I was happy to be proved wrong in saying that the waterproof socks/shoes are great, until you get water in them! Water can get in from crossing a river and going over the top of the socks and it being unable to escape, this can cause all sorts of issues if this is for a period of time.

So now I was running in a loose shoe and  waterproof socks with a pint of water in each that had run down my saturated skins! BRILLIANT!!!

Now had I put my waterproof trousers on there would have been no issue at all but as I wasn’t anywhere near cold I simply didn’t feel the need. Even when I stopped to put my GORE-TEX jacket on putting on my over trousers hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Never would I have thought my socks were going to fill with water in such a fashion so less an error more something to think on for next time!

So on we went descending into Hawes. The pasture was very wet and extremely slippery. Normally a fun trot down but my loose shoe was causing my foot to move in my wet sock and cause an issue. I knew we had maybe 3km to go at this point so we cracked on but any longer would be an issue for sure.

Chris had hit the deck 3 times coming down the descent. Fortunately he was able to control these and not aggravate his dislocated shoulder from a trot in the Lakes earlier in the year where he’d slipped on the ice coming down Red Pike above Buttermere in January!

We hit the road and the slipping in the shoe was starting to takes its toll and I felt some blisters forming. Having run down the hill with less coordination than usual had also started to worsen a lower back issue, thankfully only a dull ache was to be the issue! A trip to my Chiropractor to line me back up before our training starts proper is likely required to make sure this doesn’t get any worse, especially as we’ll be carrying so much more weight on the Spine!

We made it back to the car and changed into some warm clothes. My socks were emptied and a ridiculous amount of water was in them. Jury’s still out on this one boys but ill be giving them another go but im really not sure!

This recce had been really valuable for a number of reasons. My base layers, a Rab AEON  ls t-shirt, Montane Bionic t-shirt and Montane Minimus Smock had worked brilliantly with gloves and hat. I’ve been happy with my Skins and shorts for a while now but I’ve still to sort my socks out yet!

I made a sensible decision in putting on my GORE-TEX jacket before I’d needed too and the rain running into my socks was something id never ad even thought about so this had been a valuable lesson! Would anyone else have expected this?

I also had a spare thermal base layer in my pack had I needed it and my RAB Generator insulated smock so things are looking good as to finalising my kit for the Spine Challenge proper! Spare gloves, waterproof, and a spare hat and im pretty good to go in the clothes department.

We’ve a recce from Edale – Wessenden Head planned for the end of April so more fine tuning im sure but all in all a very eventful but invaluable first recce.

Next time we’re on this leg we hope to be finishing the Spine Challenge. It will be very dark, likely we’ll be ridiculously tired, and I suspect very emotional and willing our bodies the last 14 miles to Hawes!

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/297840807

 

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