Monday, 25 March 2013


Just a quick post to share with you some photos of the snow up here in the Dales from this Sundays run, up and around Grassington & Conistone hope that you like them.  By the way it was hard going.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Longer Days

Myself & Nigel heading for the hills

Over the last few weeks preparation and training has been going well despite the weather and a recent cold, so good in fact that i have been able to increase the time out on the fells in preparation for Mays Bob Graham attempt.
Last weekend saw 5 of us, Nigel, Simon, Bill, and Steve setting off from the village of Stonethwaite at the bottom of Borrowdale valley, where we ran up Greenup Gill which is the route for the Coast to Coast path and was going to lead us upto Low White Stones then onto High Raise which is one of the summits of leg 3 on the BG round. From the top of High Raise we headed across towards Thunacar Knott, with Simon doing the navigation for the day it was going to be a great test for him as visability was poor at times to say the least. With the snow being quite deep in places as well it was also going to be a good day for building some strength into the legs also. After reaching Harrison Stickle we made our way to Pike Of Stickle where we used the ice axes to give us a bit of help to pull us onto the summit. From here we followed the path around Langdale Comb to Rossett Pike,  instead of across Martcrag Moor to try and keep our already frozen feet a little drier, and as everyone knows who has been across Martcrag Moor it can be very boggy and wet. Upon reaching Rossett pike we decided to miss Bowfell out due to the weather conditions, and headed across to Angle Tarn then upto Esk Hause. Because we missed out Bowfell we made a decision to climb Great End instead just to give us a little more height for the days asscent. The wind on the summit was very strong and cold, so we did not hang around for too long and made our way back to Esk Hause through the deep snow. The next part of our run was up and over Allen Crags then across to Glaramara, were the snow was very deep in places. After Glaramara we made our way across to Thorneythwaite Fell, then decsended down to Thorneythwaite where we took the path back to Stonethwaite. Total miles for the day was 18.5.
On the Sunday Simon, Bill, Steve and myself also had a recce around leg 1 in not too brilliant weather conditions again to give us a total of approx 33 miles for the weekend.

Navigator Simon
Looking towards Harrison & Pike of Stickle

Monday, 18 February 2013

Long Hard Day In The Hills

Looking Towards Wasdale Head From Great Gable

After a couple of weeks of planning recces then having to cancel them at the last minute due to the weather conditions, I managed to get a recce in on Saturday over leg 4 of the Bob Graham round. Leg 4 starts from Wasdale and takes in some of the most challenging and well known hills in the lake district. Planning a recce over leg 4 can be hard for logistic reasons so we decided to start from Honister which would give us a longer day out but would mean that we could start and finish from the same place therefore making things alot easier for us. Leading us on the recce was the very experienced Simon Noble, along with Jack Davis, Lee Newton & not forgetting Lee's dog Jess this was going to be another great day out on the fells. Setting off from Honister we took the path that leads you onto Mosses Trod which is on the north side of the fells and takes you to Beck Head which is inbetween Great Gable & Kirk Fell. From here we descended down the side of Great Gable and into Wasdale Head following the road to the bottom of Yewbarrow which is the start of leg 4. Once onto the lower part of Yewbarrow we stopped for a quick bite to eat, then we headed up to the summit which was shrouded in low cloud and was going to be with us for the rest of the day. With still plenty of snow in places on the tops it was going to be quite hard at times and especially when the wind picked up after we reached Red Pike. Running across towards Steeple is where we encounted more snow, and when we reached the top of the path that descends down to Steeple the decision was made to miss this one out for safety reasons due to lots of snow and ice. After another quick bite to eat and to put some more warmer clothes on we set of towards Piller, and just to give you some idea how cold and windy it was on the top of Piller we came across some people inside an emergency storm shelter protecting themselves from the weather while they were having a break. From the summit of piller we made our way to Black Sail Pass then onto Kirk Fell. With us ascending Kirk Fell from the north side via the gully this is were we encounterd  even more snow and it was going to require a little bit of mountaineering skills to climb to the top of the gully, with Simon leading and making steps into the snow we all managed to reach the top safely.

Lee & Simon Climbing The gully On Kirk Fell

Myself & Jack Traversing the top of The Gully On Kirk Fell

Next up was Great Gable and by then we were all feeling a little tired from the hard going in the snow and wind, so from Beck Head all the way up to the top of Great Gable nobody said much at all and put their energy into the climb to reaching the top. Upon reaching the top the hard work for the day was done and the descent down Great Gable to Windy Gap was a challenging one to say the least with lots of snow covering the ground. Green Gable was soon reached as was Brandreth and Grey Knotts, and as we descended down out of the cloud line off Grey Knotts towards Honister this ended a great but long hard day in the hills. Total miles for the day was 17 with 7000 ft of asscent.

Jack, Lee & Simon On the Summit Off Grey Knotts

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Nice Day For A Walk

Great Whernside Summit

After a good couple of weeks training averaging 60-70 miles each week something had to give and I ended up going down with a cold. On a training run in the Lakes last Sunday with Lee & Ian in which we set off from Threlkeld and went up Blease Fell across the top to Blencathra then descending via Scales Fell before returning back to Threlkeld and is a route that normally I would find quite easy but turned out to be harder than normal with my body having no energy at all. So for the rest of the week it was a case of resting and letting my body recover from the cold. After 5 days off  on Saturday I meet up with another training partner of mine Eddie who has also been out of action with an injured calf muscle and we decided to do a walk instead of a run. On a lovely sunny but cold frosty morning we set off from Kettlewell in the dales and climbed to the top of Great Whernside. On reaching the top we had some fantastic views all around so good that we could see the Lakeland Fells in the distance. From the top of Great Whernside we made our way across to Buckden Pike, passing the memorial to the Polish airmen that crashed there during WW2, where we saw a couple of runners out on a recce of the 60 miles Fellsman route. After a quick bite to eat on the top of Buckden Pike we followed the path down to Buckden village then followed the Dales Way path back to Kettlewell to end a nice day out for a walk.

Polish War Memorial

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow Snow & more Snow

All togged up for another run
Winter has arrived with lots of snow, and boy is it hard work trying to run in it but great fun also. The last week has been a good one regarding training for myself despite all the snow. With the weather conditions as they are I decided to have a weekend off from a BG recce in the Lakes and train around home and  have managed to run over 60 miles for the week. Most of my runs have been on the fells, up and around Great Whernside, and Capplestone Gate area which has some good climbs on the routes that I run, the longest run of the week was 14 miles in very cold and snowy weather. On Saturday a pair off inov8 Oroc 340s arrived which  I ordered from Sport Shoes Unlimited for £45, a real bargain as their RRP is £120, and are made for running in snow and ice. So later on that day I did an 8 mile run over the tops with them on and all I can say is what a great shoe they are. The soles have some very chunky studs with little metal spikes set in them to give you grip on the ice, and the uppers are well insulated to keep your feet that bit warmer. I managed to complete my run without slipping once in them so if anyone is thinking of buying a pair I can highly recommend  them. And on mondays run I fitted microspikes over the top of the shoes, and they performed even better in worse weather conditions.
Below are a few Pictures of what it is like in Upper Wharfedale at the moment.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Words Of Advice

It is 6 years ago now that I first thought about having a go at the Bob Graham challenge. After years of competing in various events from fell running, xcountry, road and track events I was looking for something of a challenge that would test me to the limit. There are lots of challenges out there to be done but none of them test you in a way that the BG does. Being out there on the fells for nearly 24 hours you against the clock the terrain and the elements surely this must be the ultimate test for all fell runners to try. So when it came to seeking out some sound advice on the BG challenge I got in touch with a well known fell runner and friend of mine with plenty of experience in these matters and had done the BG before. He also achieved a total of 63 peaks in under 24 hrours which at the time was 2nd to the great Joss Naylors record on 72 peaks in under 24 hours this person was the late Bill Smith from Liverpool. Below is a later that I recieved from Bill with some good words of advice.

Bill Smith
Bill & myself at Beetham Sports 2011

Letter dated 17/7/2011

Dear Mark,

Many thanks for your letter and LSPA calender.
I have never been to Killington Sports but i know Roger Ingham has been associated with it for many years. It certinly sounds like a great event. John Morgan told me that at one time Lupton Sports were held on the same day as Lowgill Sports, though in the afternoon which enabled runners to compete in both. Lupton fell race climbed to Scout Hill, which was also the turning point for a Kendal Winter League race from the late Phillip Robinsons farm, as you proberly know. Maybe you competed at Lupton yourself.
Sorry to hear about your calf injury and i hope your proposed comeback last week is working well, without any setback. The Sedbergh Sports you mention is now in the FRA calender. I went to Sedbergh Gala in May, as i have done for a good number of years now, and always see John there. Tommy Sedgwick ran last year but wasn't there this year, though his daughter Judith ran. I was interested to hear that Graham Moffat ran at Sedbergh Sports as i've not seen or heard of him for a few years. I do see Steve Carr fairly regulary, the last time at the Penyghent race at Horton - in - Ribblesdale Gala last month.
If your thinking of having a go at the Bob Graham Round, Mark i think the main thing is to get plenty of long runs, both training and racing, in over the fells for at least a year defore you decide on attempting the actual round. Also long runs or walks over the actual course, split into say 20 mile or more sections. Even if your not confident of finding your own way over the route on the day, you'll surely be able to enlist the help of pacers, working in relays, who do know the course and will also carry your spare gear(eg. food, drink, waterproofs, extra clothing). The route crosses roads in four places, where a support team can see to your needs for food, drink, change of clothing or footwear, etc and you can recuperate for 15/20 minutes or so before continuing. There is a Bob Graham Round website ( i'll get the address for you) were you can get probably any information at all that you need, as well as advertise for pacers. The attempt has to be registerd with the BGR club chairman Selwyn Wright, whose address and phone number i'll give you.
If your injury - free and have enough miles in your legs, i'd recommend you trying the following events this Autumn, the first two including " Bob Graham Peaks " Three Shires Race, Langdale Horseshoe And Tour Of Pendle.
All these events require you to carry a map, compass and whistle, windproof cagole & overtrousers, and emergency rations. For the later, i usually carried a small Milky Way bar or two (easier to digest on the run than a Mars Bar) and ate it on the way up Lingmoor in the Three Shires, up Blisco at Langdale, and Mearley Moor at Pendle, to give me a boost for the final stages. Nowadays some carry water bottles but i never did as there are plenty of streams en route to provide drinking water if needed. i'll be at all three races and will be marshalling at Pendle ( checkpoints 4 and 11 in Ogden Clough - though approached from different sides of the steam).
If you can get these under your belt this year, you could move upto the longer and more strenuous Dudden, Ennerdale, Wasdale and Borrowdale next year, with maybe a couple of long Pennine races early in the year like Wodsworth Trog on the moor above Hebden Bridge and the Edale Skyline in Derbyshire, or even the Three Peaks.
I'm hoping to be at both Ambleside Sports and Beetham Sports next week, so will see you there and we can have a chat about both these races and the Bob Graham Round, and i can then decide how else i can help you.
Fred Rogerson, founder of the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club, died last October and last Saturday the club held a memorial relay over the route in which Freds ashes were carried in a small box given by Bob Graham himself to one of his pacers in 1932. The weather was very bad, with continous rain and strong winds but i think everyone enjoyed it, I certainly did - though i wasn't actually running. A great day out.

hope to see you next week Mark,


Monday, 7 January 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone. Now that we are into the new year the hard work begins in preparation for my BG attempt on 17th/18th May 2013. The past year was about gaining experience for the challenge that lies ahead. So on Sunday it was out on another recce over leg 2 and this time the weather conditions were a lot better than the last time I went over the leg in December. Joining me on this occasion were Jackd, Keswicktoast, Keswicksimon & Vespa. It was a nice clear morning setting off from Threlkeld but looking up at Clough Head we knew that once we were on the tops  we would be in low cloud for most of the day. This time on the ascent of Clough Head we decided to skirt around to the left hand side of the fell instead of going up the front way for a change. With Simon doing the navigation for the leg this was going to be a great day out for all of us learning new ways over the route. From the off Vespa aka Roy set a cracking pace upto the Summit, and at first I thought it was me just having an off day struggling with my breathing but when we arrived at the top in under 50 mins I knew the reason why. From this point on we were in low cloud for the rest of the day. On our way up to Great Dodd we were passed by two other people out on a reece over the leg who we were going to bump into on and off over the course of the recce. From here on Keswicktoast aka Lee was putting his navigating skills to the test under the guidance of Simon and between them did an outstanding job in poor visabilty guiding us to where we wanted to be. On quite a few occasions we kept bumping into the other two runners who seemed to be struggling in the poor conditions. With Jack also doing an excellent job of  keeping track of our splits for the leg we were always up on our schedule. After reaching Helvellyn it was onto Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike then the descent down to Grisedale Tarn where we stopped for a quick drink and somthing to eat before the tough climb upto the summit of Fairfield. On the ascent of Fairfield it was Roy and Lee that were pushing the pace up front, but for me I was starting to feel a little tired in my legs but still managed to dig deep to reach the top. On the descent we learnt a new way down off the top from Simon which we all agreed was a good line. When we reached the top of Seat Sandal the hard work for the day was over, and  a brisk descent in under 16 mins to Dunmail ended another great day out on the fell with a great set of friends.
The day did not end here for me though, after getting a lift back to Threlkeld for my car I called into see well known fell running legend Kenny Stuart for a brew and chat to truly cap off a great day out.