It is bright and chilly when we leave the compound at Bletchley and navigate the planned peculiarity of the Milton Keynes roundabout system. Now firmly past the Watford gap we continue our journey further North. The drive should only take about 4 1/2 hours, including lunch and the usual pit stops, and the distances are comparatively minuscule to what my Australian counterpart is used to driving. But then she has never encountered the Birmingham/M6 bypass.
The rain begun once we hit Staffordshire, but some 4 counties and 100 miles later the rain is even harder. By 7pm, on a small country lane between Kendall and Sedbergh we are driving through a very wet, very dark cloud. We are mere kilometres away from our destination.
It is nearly midday, the next day, as I try to keyboard something interesting for us all to read (I was going to say pen, but since I am not using a biro that is strictly inaccurate and type sounds so clinical – mind you so does keyboard, but it has an awkward charm about it – you know linguistically – so I am going to run with that), the weather this morning has changed from bright sunshine and blue skies, to drizzle, to sleet like rain, and is currently aiming for bright but overcast. If we had a barometer here, I think it would be spinning as quickly as the hands of a clock.
Welcome to Yorkshire!
The River Thames has the Thames Path, the Pennines have the Pennine Way, Yorkshire, it seems, also has its own national trail path, the Dales Way, and part of it is about half a mile from where I am staying. Bliss.
After spending the best part of the last 2 weeks running Londoncentric, my runs have been on roads or in manicured parks. So I am looking forward to some proper trail running. The town of Sedbergh, apart from being a ‘book town’ is well within the borders of the Yorkshire Dales, so there are lots of walking paths to get my trail shoes muddy on. In fact my first attempt is a mere, Garmin charge away from happening.
The Run – Plan
I found a pamphlet with local walks around Sedbergh in a nearby walking shop, so my first run is up to the summit of Winder and back, a nice four mile(ish) circular course with the promise of impressive views of Sedbergh and pretty much everything else on a good day. The phone is coming with me so there should be some photos. Now, here is the initial data – it is a steep bugger and the walk has it at a 4 hour excursion – if you are a walker, so I may be an hour or two – must take some water with me.
The Run – Result
I manage to pick an opportune moment when there does not appear to be too much wind and rain, there is a little drizzle in the air and the wind is still pretty fierce so I do not feel too absurd in my waterproof wind cheater. In fact, I will soon come to appreciate it in many many ways. But we are not at that point yet.
The initial climb up Joss Lane to the start of the Fell is steeper than I expect but ultimately sets the pace for the entire adventure. I am a little worried about being able to find the path I have mapped out but as soon as I am in the fields I find that the various paths – and non-paths – are very easy to follow and as long as one doesn’t intrude on any sheep, nobody seems to mind where you go. I pass a couple of hardy walkers on my way up to the base of Winder Tor, it’s peak my mission of conquest today – by the time I am wading through the stream that I have picked as my path up, they are far enough behind that even if I maintain this fast walk, they are never going to catch me.
About a mile in
I am looking at my watch, I haven’t worn it for a while and I cannot remember if the distance measures are in kilometres or miles, I am hoping it is miles, but I fear it is kilometres. Some nasty looking Ram gives me a strange look although it may be because I am talking to it about how steep this path is, than my actual presence. The rain starts again. Except, it is not rain, it’s snow. SNOW!!! 😀 well, a flurry of something approximating snow anyway. As I turn to take a picture of the scene I watch the flurry drift across the hill lower down, then I watch it come up the hill. Ok, I am in the snow now and my hands are going numb as I need to take my gloves off to take a picture. Time to keep moving.
The top of the climb
As I near the top, the wind and the snow have picked up. This is insane, luckily visibility is still good and I know where I am going but the show and the wind have made me put the hood up on my jacket and it is now snowing AT me, not on me, or around me, but AT ME. Sideways. I have to walk with my back to the hill for the last few meters until I am on level ground.
Along the ridge to the tor
Wow! The sheer power of nature up here is incredible. My hood is flapping like I am in a wind tunnel and the noise the hood is making is trying to compete with the deafening roar of the wind. It is so loud up here that I cannot hear myself think. Behind me I can see the peaks of some of the other hills up here and I mental earmark them for a later adventure. Ahead, towards the way home, the ridge clubs slowly. The ground is severely soggy and it is still snowing sideways, I have to run with my hood pulled halfway around my face, just to protect my eyes from the snow is blowing with the force of bullets from a gun. But as I begin, what I hope is one last small climb, I see the marker. I am nearly at the top.
On top of Winder
I have the place to myself and the wind is even worse, I have to hang on to the marker to prevent myself from being blown off of the mountain and my fingers have gone numb from taking photos. Time to glove up and head down. Not bad for a first attempt.
I manage the whole endeavour. There and back again. In just under an hour.