“Come here”, whisper the hills of Howgill fell. “Run me, you know you want to”. The geological femme fatale is hard to resist. A deadline also approaches, we are leaving Yorkshire on Monday.
Ever since that first run up to Winder, when the snow stung my face and tried to blind me, when the wind wrestled with my 80-odd kilo form and tried to blow me off the top of the peak. Ever since-
-Oh ok. So ‘ever since’ was last Monday. But still they have been calling to me.
I am not entirely sure when I decided I would start with the furthest peak. When planning this thing I had imagined I would tackle Haw first. But as I complete the 20 minute, mile long climb up the, for lack of a better word, valley that is cut between Winder and its neighbour Crook and look up (further) to the marker that denotes the highest point of Haw, I cannot face the additional steep 200 meter climb (just yet). The first mile involves a lot of walking and my rain jacket, due to a lack of wind, is acting more like a solar condenser than an element protector. I want to run. I take the bridal track and head for Calders.
Once I am back to a running pace I begin to relax into the landscape. The weather today is awesome, there were blue skies when I started and now it is a little overcast but the clouds are high and not threatening to dump on me. The hills of the neighbouring fells rise and fall into the distance, there are a few people on the hills today but none near me at the moment. I feel like I can melt into this landscape, become part of it.
On the other side of Haw, the path drops dramatically down to the valley between Haw and Calders, I can sense a big climb ahead of me, this is hard work. In the distance, coming down the slope I am mentally preparing to ascend, I see a small moving figure. Looks like a runner. Minutes later I can confirm it is. A local it seems, dressed minimally and without a pack, she glides where I flounder. Still we exchange polite nods. I am glad to see I am not alone up here. As I begin my assent up towards Calders, running as much of the 400 meter climb as I dare, I glance behind and see my other runner is also walking up the hills. Phew. To see that the experienced ones do this too invigorates my spirit.
By the time I reach Calders I have travelled nearly 3 miles in about 50 minutes. The Calf is only another 2 meters higher than this peak and a mere 1K away but I can see the path drops dramatically down about 10 meters ahead. Adding another 800 meters of ascent is uncomfortable.
Of course, getting off the fell is trickier than I expect. A miscalculation as to my position adds an additional 20 minutes of 1 1/4 mile scrambling past sheep and over streams as I track the dry stone farm boundary until I find an appropriate, public access, gate.