Tag Archives: peak district

Peak Skyrace ultra, UK Skyrunning – 48km, 2000m ascent, 7 August 2016

The Peak Skyrace is relatively short for the ultra distance, but since it is a Skyrace, don’t expect an easy day out. Over 48km there’s 2000m of ascent, and with most of the route on good runnable trails the time limit of 8hrs keeps you moving.

Starting from the race HQ in Buxton, the excellent route is typical of the Peak District. The first section seemed to go by in a flash, taking in a little bit of everything including woodland, the fell of Axe Edge moor, and some perfect rocky trails.

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Approaching the Roaches

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Fastpacking trip – running Manchester to Sheffield: 40 miles, 2 days, 1650m ascent

Fastpacking is a combination of backpacking and running. It offers an ideal blend of long distance running, freedom to camp, and the logistical challenge of carrying exactly what you need but no more.

It can open up opportunities for adventurous exploration in remote places, but it’s important to know in advance that all the gear and systems work. With my running buddy Bo, we decided on a test run from Stockport in Greater Manchester back to our homes in Sheffield. Continue reading

Thomas Theyer Fell Race – Thomas Theyer Foundation, Peak District 10.5k April 2016

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The rolling green hills and white limestone outcrops of the White Peak produced an undulating route for the first Thomas Theyer Fell Race. With sustained uphill stretches on tiny country roads, and long descents over pitted green fields and well-worn limestone trails, it made for fast feet. Continue reading

ShAFF 2016 Previews & The Outdoor City Weekender

The Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) is a weekend where outdoors people can get together and get inspired by watching the best adventure films.

This year ShAFF is at the heart of a citywide programme of outdoors events, The Outdoor City Weekender, so that whether you run, walk, climb, or ride, your weekend can include an adventure that fits neatly with the festival films.

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Litton Christmas Cracker Fell Race – December 2015 (12.2k – Category B Medium)

This is only the second year of the Litton Christmas Cracker, but Tideswell Running Club has created a race with all the ingredients of a classic Continue reading

Nine Edges race, Edale Mountain Rescue – September 2015 (21 miles – Category B Long)

This is the first time I have entered this unique race, and it’s already up there as one of my favourites. With a good variety of fell, rock and trail, the route is a perfect showcase for running in the Peak District. Continue reading

Grindleford fell race, Peak District – 18 June 2015

Grindleford is a small village in the Peak District. It has traditional stone cottages, gardens full of colourful summer flowers, and a cricket club with an immaculate green pitch bordered on one side by the River Derwent. Once a year by special permission, fell runners sprint, splash, or stumble through the river after a 4.5 mile dash up wooded hill and down rocky dale to arrive back where they started, outside the clubhouse. Continue reading

Grindleford Gallop 7 March 2015, 21 mile trail race, Peak District

This is the furthest that I have ever run, but not the furthest I hope to run! If you do want to increase your distance and try a longer race, the Gallop is a perfect choice. It’s a 21 mile trail race that starts and ends at Grindleford, passing through Eyam, Great Longstone, the Monsal Trail, Chatsworth, Baslow, and along Curbar and Froggatt Edges. On the morning of the race I was excited, after a winter of training and dreaming I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and see what the next 21 miles would bring.

Bo, Elise, Anna, relaxing at the end of the Gallop

Bo, Elise, Anna, relaxing at the end of the Gallop

I loved the atmosphere – I am more familiar with 10k races where people are concentrating, there is a sound of pounding feet and hard breathing and it’s over in a flash. This race was much different, although we were working hard everyone seemed more relaxed and I felt that we were in it together rather than competing against each other. You can enter as a runner or a walker and walkers start when they like, meaning that there are other people along the route as you run and there’s no pressure to race as hard as you can – just go at your own pace and enjoy.

As I start to run longer races, I worry that I’ll go the wrong way or get lost. It might not always be possible to recce a route in advance, but in training we covered the Gallop in four sessions. It helped to build my confidence and meant that I could really take the time to look around and enjoy being out in the Peak District. I can’t recommend the race route enough, if you don’t want to run it in one go it’s still worth breaking it up and running the different sections. There is a magic moment when you approach checkpoint three (Longstone Edge) over the crest of a hill, and a whole new side of the valley opens up in your view. My heart always melts when I run through herds of deer past Chatsworth House, and being a climber, Curbar and Froggatt edges feel like coming home. If you don’t recce in advance though, don’t worry, there will be other people around, and there are signs at vital turning points.

Since I had never run so far I didn’t feel any pressure to be fast. I wanted to find out whether I really could do it and enjoy it. I didn’t have any idea how long it would take, although I had a target time of 3 hours 30 mins in mind I just wanted to complete the distance and aim for under 4 hours. I was nervous about running too hard in case I exhausted myself and couldn’t carry on, and because of that I never ran hard enough to be uncomfortable. Time seemed to go so quickly, the six checkpoints almost flashed by, and I finished in 3:37. I’m pleased with the time, but motivated because I know there is room to go faster.

On reflection, I still have a lot to learn. I believe the distance was a little too far for me at this point and I need to keep increasing my distance slowly in training to avoid any long term injuries. I need to practice more uphill (always more uphill!), and I need to work on my confidence, both in navigation and in running a bit harder. I like to eat eat plenty while I’m running and need to find suitable non-solid food. I also need to take the recovery more seriously, respecting the impact of running long distances on my body by eating right and taking the right rest.

Although the race was over in a few hours, the whole experience was the result of months of training. Although each person runs it on their own effort, we all support each other and will each other on. At the end of the race I was so proud of us for making it, and so happy to share it with Bo (uber training partner), Elise, Steve, and Ben. All the effort was worth it, the distance really wasn’t anything to fear. I tried to imagine that I was having a little break, and then would be running another 15 miles… the thought didn’t horrify me, in fact I’m looking forward to being able to increase my distance, run further and see more…

Ben, Elise, Anna, Bo, Steve celebrating at the finish of the Gallop... the start of training for the next race...

Ben, Elise, Anna, Bo, Steve celebrating at the finish of the Gallop… the start of training for the next race…

Kinder Downfall – winter walking in the Peak District

With snow and ice still in command this weekend I gave up on the idea of a 10 mile training run and took the opportunity to visit Kinder Downfall. We started from Edale up Grindsbrook, planning to hike across Kinder, then loop back down the Pennine Way to Jacob’s Ladder back to Edale, a round trip of about 8 miles.

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Gate framing the trail up Grindsbrook

The usual trail was buried in deep snow and we reached the top via an icy gully. Not a problem with good boots, although we were concerned about the tourists in trainers who were picking their way up behind us.

View down towards Edale from the top of Grindsbrook

View down towards Edale from the top of Grindsbrook

The view across Kinder was spectacular and intimidating, completely white with no points of reference. Thick cloud was blowing through, so visibility changed from just meters to miles and back in the space of a few minutes. I was cautious about setting off into such a featureless landscape, but once we found the Pennine Way it was easy to follow…

The Pennine Way

The Pennine Way

…too easy really, and it wasn’t long before we decided to leave the trail and make our way across the totally pristine landscape and aim directly for the Downfall area. What an amazing experience, there were no footprints except rabbits, birds, and then our own. The wind blown snow has a fluid feel, forming in peaks and troughs like waves, and at times the clouds seemed to be below us so that I felt even more that I had washed up somewhere totally separate from reality.

Featureless snowy landscape on Kinder

Featureless snowy landscape on Kinder

After some time surfing and wading in the general direction of the Downfall the view suddenly changed and a rocky outcrop was visible. At 30 meters Kinder Downfall is the tallest waterfall in the Peak District, and in winter conditions it becomes a beautiful and precarious pillar of ice. Nearing the top of the Downfall I noticed strange formations of ice coating the gritstone boulders, glittering in the last of the day’s sunlight.

Ice formed around boulders at the top of Kinder Downfall

Ice formed around boulders at the top of Kinder Downfall

There was nowhere safe to stand, so unfortunately I couldn’t take a photo of the frozen Kinder Downfall. Two climbers were reaching the top and reported that conditions at the the bottom were not good, although it hadn’t deterred them from their ascent. As the clouds parted again the view down to the valley was spectacular.

View over the top of the Downfall to the valley below

View over the top of the Downfall to the valley below

The sun was beginning to go down and after one last look around it was time to leave. This is the first time that I have been to Kinder Downfall and what an incredible time to visit.

Icicles forming over the roacks at the edge of the Downfall

Icicles forming over the roacks at the edge of the Downfall

It was an easy walk home from here, whipping down the Pennine Way – actually easier in snow than on a normal day as all the awkward rocky sections became soft snow to wade down. What an amazing day, I can’t wait to come back in the summer to see what it looks like when the water is flowing, the ground isn’t frozen under ice and snow, and the rock is dry enough to climb.

Anna at the trig point on Kinder, taking the Pennine Way back down to Jacob's Ladder

Anna at the trig point on Kinder, taking the Pennine Way back down to Jacob’s Ladder

Litton Christmas Cracker, 12.5k fell race, 14 December 2014 (organised by Tideswell Running Club)

Litton is a small and picturesque village in the Peak District, and this was the inaugural Christmas Cracker fell race. Runners registered in the tiny village hall and the start and finish line was on the perfect-looking village green, a triangle of grass overlooked by the post office, the village hall, and the traditional local pub, the Red Lion. This part of the Peak District has a gentler feel than the exposed brown moors of Kinder, it is greener with more rolling hills punctured by outcrops of white limestone. I wasn’t fooled though, this is a fell race and the route setters of the Litton Christmas Cracker weren’t thinking gentle thoughts when they chose 359m of ascent, one flooded river, and unlimited amounts of mud.

Having already run a couple of races in early December and completed a ten mile training run the day before, I wanted to treat this as a fun morning out rather than running it as a race. After the first brief uphill section, we queued for several minutes at a series of stiles and gates. If I’m honest I was grateful for the rest, but tactically I’d advise a fast start to get ahead of the crowd. Although I have never run in this area before, I have climbed, and the race went by some familiar places including Chee Dale, Raven Tor, Ravensdale, and Rubicon Wall at Water-cum-Jolly. It was nice to link all those places together by following the river Wye, it also meant that I knew what was coming as we approached Water-cum-Jolly. A fairly long stretch of what had been the path was now under water, and there was no way to avoid running through the flooded and icy cold river. It was so deep… so muddy… so fun!

The next section was mentally and physically the hardest for me, almost continuous uphill for a very long way, ending at an exposed trig point. This part of the race included an out and back section which actually made it really interesting. It was tough seeing how many people were ahead of me, shooting back down the hill and not looking like they were struggling at all. They were encouraging though, shouting to the up-hillers that we were nearly there and keep going. When I could finally see the trig point, for a long time it seemed to stay exactly the same distance away somewhere on the horizon. Finally I reached the top and as the wind buffeted me around the turning point I became one of those joyful people leaping with ease down the grassy slope. I was challenged again shortly afterwards with a steeper and more technical section, too scared of falling I picked my way down as more experienced runners bounded past. After one final uphill through some foot-sucking and very slippy mud, I was relieved to trot back down into Litton and be cheered by locals and runners onto the village green.

Overall I found this race tough, but I’m not a fell runner… yet. I now know I have to improve my endurance on long uphills, and my technique on steep downhills. The race was well organised, and the stewards were really encouraging. Tideswell Running Club are lucky to have such a beautiful and varied area to run in, thanks to them for organising this new race. I hope I get the chance to test how far I’ve come by running it again in 2015.

You can find out more about Tideswell Running Club at their website here http://tideswellrunningclub.uk/